Seoul Food Diaries: Well-being Korean food at Hangaram 한가람

Sometimes, dining out can get a little tricky for the health conscious. Sure – food tastes good and look so appetising, but just how healthy is this yummy food we are feeding our bodies? Visitors to Korea are often awed by hansik 한식, the traditional Korean food centred around rice, with soup, side dishes and sometimes meat. If you are a fan of Korean food, you would realise that a proper meal involves quite a spread of dishes. Enter Hangaram 한가람, a locally owned restaurant that serves hansik with well-being ingredients specially sourced from the mountainous regions of Korea, with no added MSG or preservatives. Now we’re talking! 

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We visited this place on a Sunday, and managed to locate it easily owing to the many news and magazine articles displayed at its entrance (yes, it is quite popular amongst locals!) The interior was cosy and traditional, with a slight modern twist.

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We were quickly seated and served with Hangaram‘s special water, which is actually brewed using lingzhi mushroom영지버섯, mountain hawthorn 산사 and red sage단삼. Apparently, this water is good for lowering cholesterol, building immunity and weight management. The taste was mild and we could feel the natural goodness entering our tummies! 😀

We then proceeded to order our food. We ordered four set menus to share (this came with rice, soup and side dishes or banchan 반찬). *side dishes are refillable. 

Before we introduce you to them proper, here’s a snapshot of our meal table for 4 pax!

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Are you hungry yet? 😀 

  1. Barley Dried Yellow Corvina Set 보리굴비정식 (25,000W)

Yellow corvina is a type of fish that is native to the East Asian region. In Korea, these fishes are usually dried and salted, and then served as a delicacy. The fish was very appetizing, and a bowl of green tea was provided for us to dip the fish in before eating it, to reduce its saltiness.

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2. Set Menu with Rice Cooked with Lotus Leaves 약선연밥정식 (10,000W)

This was a smaller set with steamed multi-grained glutinous rice in lotus leaves, topped with lotus roots, ginko nuts, red dates and assorted beans.

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3. Set Menu with Seasoned Cirsium Bibimbap 곤드레나물밥정식 (7,000W)

Instead of the normal white rice served in many Asian restaurants, Hangaram serves seasoned cirsium rice (also known as Korean thistle). Korean thistle is a type of sanchae or mountain vegetable, that can only be found on mountains in Korea. It is low in fat and high in fibre, and considered a super food in Korea. The rice is also seasoned with perilla oil. This meal is served together with other mountain vegetables and a refillable bowl of seaweed soup or miyukguk 미역국.

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4. Set Menu with Special Korean Style Ribs LA갈비구이정식 (22,000W)

What’s a complete Korean meal without some meat? We ordered a portion of Special Korean Style Ribs to complete our experience at Hangaram. The specially seasoned ribs are served on a generous portion of yellow bean sprouts or kongnamul 콩나물 , and garnished with leek and sesame seeds. Totally on point. 😀

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It is true when people say that food does make a difference to our health. Our meal was immensely satisfying and we ate to our hearts’ content, but we felt strangely refreshed and recharged (definitely not the bloated feeling we usually get after feasting)!

For the quality and quantity of good food we got at Hangaram, we felt that every penny spent here was well worth it.

Verdict:
2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif

Hangaram 한가람
Address: 188-3, Euljiro 1-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Phone: +82 2-318-3088

*This is a non-sponsored post. 

xoxo,
The Bears
cropped-cropped-three-wandering-bears

 

Seoul Food Diaries: Myeongdong Food (Summer)

Besides being a popular destination for shopping, Myeongdong 명동 is also well known for its array of street food. However, did you know that the types of (street) food vary depending on the season? Though some types of food are perennial, others inch their way and gain popularity during summer. We bring you some of these in this post – so be prepared to feast your eyes! 🙂

#1 Gyeran-bbang 계란빵 (Egg bread): This street snack has become increasingly popular in recent years because it is both simple and tasty. As its name suggests, it is a delightful blend of egg cooked on top of a special bread which has a muffin-like consistency. It is served piping hot, but works on a hot summer’s eve just as well because it is just so fragrant and tasty! Plus, the bread is light and fluffy and not too heavy on the tummy – perfect for a light snack at night as you shop along the busy streets of Myeongdong 🙂

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#2 Hwe-oh-ri Gamja 회오리 감자 (Tornado Potato) and Hwe-oh-ri Soseiji Gamja 회오리 소세지 감자 (Sausage Tornado Potato): This extremely popular street snack is a novel twist (pun intended, haha) to your traditional french fries. It is a never ending strip of deep fried potato curled around a stick, thus earning its name ‘Tornado Potato’. There is also another variant which comes with a sausage, with the potato wrapped around it tornado-style. This is a must-try snack if you love all things potato! After all, summer nights are great for french fries, too! 😀

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#3 Rabsuto Gu-i 랍스터 구이 (Grilled lobster): A new kid on the block, the traditional grilled lobster comes with a new look – it is topped with melted cheese. If you love seafood and you are a cheese lover, this street snack is a must try. You can smell the grilled lobster from a distance away! The fresh lobsters are grilled right in front of you, before a generous serving of cheese is added to them. Guaranteed to leave your taste buds extremely satisfied and wanting more!

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#4 Gunbam 군밤 (Roasted Chestnut) and Oksusu 옥수수 (Corn): Koreans are well-known for being health conscious, and when it comes to street snacks, healthy options such as roasted chestnut and corn are very popular amongst them too. An all-time favourite, roasted chestnuts and corn have been around for longer than we can remember. Although they may look somewhat less appetising than their elaborately seasoned counterparts, believe us when we say they are roasted to perfection and are absolutely tasty and worth trying! This is a great way to snack without piling on the extra pounds – and an awesome opportunity to snack like a true blue Korean! 😉

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#5 Ice cream 아이스크림: This needs no further introduction – it is summer, it is hot, we need something cold and refreshing! And Koreans are just so good at turning the usual ice cream into something as fancy as this! Check out the two-flavour rose petal ice-cream that Myeongdong is well-known for. You get your sugar rush in an aesthetically pleasing cone – almost too pretty to eat! Check out the variations in the picture below 🙂

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And… if you are all tired out and need somewhere to sit and relax, treat yourself to Korea’s best known summer dessert – Bingsoo 빙수! Bingsoo is a popular Korean shaved ice dessert that is topped with condensed milk, chopped fruit and other sweet toppings of your choice. For this dessert, we highly recommend checking out Sulbing 설빙, a dessert cafe chain that specialises in Bingsoo.  It is conveniently located in the heart of Myeongdong, on the second level, above  Etude House.

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The cafe is pretty spacious, but is always packed. If you get the chance and are lucky enough, try getting a seat by the balcony so that you can admire the busy streets of Myeongdong and watch passers-by below!

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While there are the traditional favourites such as Patbingsu 팥빙수 (Red bean bingsoo), Sulbing’s seasonal menu is worth trying too. Summer is a great time to try Mango Bingsoo, as the tropical seasonal fruit becomes available in Korea.

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The serving was generous, with whipped cream and a slab of special butter that went extremely well with the shaved ice. The sweetness level was just right and it was exactly what we needed on a hot summer’s night!

Verdict:
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Sulbing 설빙
Add: 20 Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul (Myeongdong 2(i)-ga)
Directions: Take the subway to Myeongdong Station (Line 4), Exit 8. Upon exiting the station, turn left onto Myeongdong 10-gil. Walk past Shinhan bank and soon you will spot the cafe on the second floor.

 

*This is a non-sponsored post. 

xoxo,
The Bears
cropped-cropped-three-wandering-bears

 

Seoul Food Diaries: Myeongdong Kyoja 명동교자

If you are a noodle fan, you’d definitely have to pay Myeongdong Kyoja (명동교자) a visit while in Seoul. This noodle stall started in 1964 as Jangsugang Restaurant, but later changed its name to Myeongdong Kalguksu, and finally, to Myeongdong Kyoja in 1978. Apparently, this was to differentiate itself as the original stall as many ‘copycats’ started using the same name following its success! Now, it only operates one stall in Myeongdong, Seoul, and you can easily identify it by the long queue forming outside its restaurant during meal times.

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Like many well-known and established restaurants, Myeongdong Kyoja focuses a lot on the quality of its food, and is an absolutely no-frills restaurant. The ambience is simple, and the restaurant specialises in just four main dishes, which are clearly displayed at its entrance.

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Myeongdong Kyoja is best known for its Kalguksu 칼국수, or Korean hand-made, knife-cut wheat floor noodles, which it first commercialised in 1966. It comes in a large bowl with broth and mandu (만두 dumplings), and is lightly garnished with minced meat and some vegetables. We ordered a bowl of this and wolfed it down in minutes! True enough, it did not disappoint. The chicken broth was rich and tasty, owing to the hours of boiling.

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We also ordered a bowl of Bibimguksu 비빔국수 (Spicy noodles). It was served cold, with Myeongdong Kyoja’s special blended sauce made of sesame oil and spicy pepper paste. The noodles were topped with a generous serving of sliced cucumber.

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We mixed everything together and started eating. The noodles were refreshing and extremely appetising. We dare say this was the best Bibimguksu we’d ever tasted! The sauce got a little too spicy towards the end, but that was neutralised by the Boricha 보리차 (Roasted barley tea) we had. The noodles were also served with a separate bowl of chicken broth. This bowl of cold noodles is definitely a great choice to beat the summer heat! We strongly recommend this tasty find 😀

The restaurant was very crowded, but the turnover rate was very high. Orders were taken promptly and payment was collected before the noodles arrived. We finished our entire meal in about 30 minutes, and spent 16000 won on our meal.

This place is popular with both locals and tourists alike, so be sure to beat the crowd by heading there early and getting yourself a seat! 🙂

Verdict:
2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif
(must try!)

Myeongdong Kyoja 명동교자
Add: 25-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: +82 2-776-5348
Directions: Take the subway to Myeongdong Station (Line 4), Exit 8. Upon exiting the station, turn left onto Myeongdong 10-gil. Walk straight for about 200m and Myeongdong Kyoja will be on your right.

*This is a non-sponsored post. 

xoxo,
The Bears
cropped-cropped-three-wandering-bears

Seoul Food Diaries: Gwangjang Market 광장시장

One of the things that Seoul is undoubtedly famous for is its food. Street food, traditional Korean food, fusion cuisine… you name it, they’ve got it! Unlike most of our other trips, much of our time in Seoul was spent hunting for good food at local haunts. Much of Seoul’s most delicious food can be found at its local markets, at a fraction of the price you pay in restaurants. One such market is Gwangjang Market (광장시장).

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Gwangjang Market is a wholesale market which is steeped in history, and its humble beginnings can be traced back to 1905. The market is an all-in-one stopover, where you can get good quality fabric, cloths, mattresses, bedding and small souvenirs. There are also shops selling local snacks and side dishes and ingredients (banchan 반찬) in big portions.

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The market is particularly famous for its Mokjagolmok 먹자골목 (translated: Let’s Eat! Alley), where you can sample freshly made local food in generous portions. Each stall specialises in a particular food item and you can have your fill before moving on to the next. This place is frequented by both locals and tourists, and can be crowded even on a weekday morning. It is the perfect place for breakfast and lunch!

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The place can be pretty packed during eating hours, but fret not as the turnover rate is very quick – people have a fuss-free meal and once they are done, they pay up, pack up and leave. Also, as stalls selling the same kind of food are congregated together, you can always hop to the next stall if there are no seats left. In fact, we have come to learn that the standard of the food is pretty much the same, so while some recommend certain more ‘famous’ stalls (i.e. those that have appeared on television programmes like Running Man), we soon realised that they are more or less similar. The only thing to look out for would be that you are served by a Korean ahjumma (아줌마 or auntie) if you want your food to be more ‘authentic’ because there is an increasing number of Chinese stall owners here. (Note: Some Korean ahjummas can speak Chinese very well)

Anyway, here’s what we tried (and recommend) at Gwangjang market!

#1 Mayak Gimbap 마약김밥 (translated: ‘Drug’ seaweed rice roll): Looks unassuming but the moment you dip it in the tangy mustard sauce and place it in your mouth, you just can’t stop eating! It is that addictive and quite different from the usual gimbap you get elsewhere.

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#2 Ddeokbokki 떡볶이 (translated: Rice cakes in spicy pepper sauce): Another popular street food amongst locals and tourists alike, the rice cakes at this market are particularly chewy and springy, yet soft and flavourful. We found the spiciness just right, but if you are not that into spicy food, this might be a tad overwhelming.

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#3 Bindaetteok 빈대떡 (translated: Mung bean pancake) and Makgeolli 막걸리 (translated: Fermented rice wine): Gwangjang market is particularly famous for its bindaetteok, which is made from freshly ground mung bean. You can watch the ahjummas laboriously grinding these beans in their mortar stoneware, and making the pancakes in front of you! This is best eaten when dipped in their special sauce, with a bowl of refreshing makgeolli.

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#4 Eomuk 어묵 (translated: Korean fishcake): This would be a sure winner for winter, but it you enjoy having a satisfying warm bowl of soup and you love fishcake, indulge yourself in a bowl of eomuk (soup is refillable free of charge). This goes particularly well with ddeokbokki if you need help with washing down the spiciness.

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#5 Jook 죽 (translated: Porridge): Jook is a popular breakfast option as it is easy on the tummy and is filling. The most popular types of jook available are Jeonbokjuk 전복죽 (Abalone porridge), Patjuk 팥죽 (Red bean porridge with glutinous rice balls) and Hobakjuk 호박죽 (Pumpkin porridge with glutinous rice balls). Patjuk and Hobakjuk are mildly sweet, owing to the ingredients used. Unlike other types of porridge, Korean jook has a thick consistency and the rice grains are blended before they are cooked, so the porridge feels smooth and very comforting. Korean glutinous rice balls also do not come with any filling, unlike their Chinese counterparts.  We tried the Jeonbokjuk and Hobakjuk – both were equally good!

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#6 Boribap 보리밥 (translated: Mixed vegetable barley rice): This might not be on the menu, or may be written as the more well-known Bibimbap 비빔밥 (translated: Mixed vegetable rice). The only difference between the two is that Boribap uses rice with barley instead of just plain white rice, and is a healthier and tastier option (not to mention uniquely Korean!) – Look closely at the picture below. So instead of asking for Bibimbap, try to ask for Boribap and chances are, the ahjumma would gladly oblige 🙂 The fresh vegetables are displayed before you, and the ahjumma proceeds to fill your bowl with goodness 🙂 Mix the rice with the vegetables and gochujang (red pepper paste) and you have a hearty meal before you!

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*****

Verdict:
2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif

(must try!)

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Gwangjang Market 광장시장
6-1 Yeji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 종로구 예지동 6-1
*Most stalls open from 830 to 9am
Directions: Take the subway to Jongno 5(o)-ga Station on Subway Line 1
3 minute walk from Exit 7 or 8.
You can expect to spend about 3000 to 7000 won per stall, depending on the size of the portion you order. It is good to travel with someone so you can share and try out more varieties of food. The food alley only accepts cash so be sure to bring ample loose change.

Onward to yummy and affordable food! 🙂

*This is a non-sponsored post. 

xoxo,
The Bears
cropped-cropped-three-wandering-bears

Highlights of Seoul: LINE Friends Store and Cafe

If you use the LINE messaging app on your mobile phone, you would probably be familiar with the adorable characters in the app, also known as LINE friends. Not surprising – these characters have taken the world by storm and have developed a cult following! Introducing to you… the characters of LINE!

  • Brown (Bear) and Cony (Rabbit): The main characters of LINE Friends, they are an absolutely adorable couple who are very much in love! This is shown in the various lovey dovey stickers that are found in the app (The stickers are also regularly updated during popular seasons like Christmas, Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, etc!).  Perhaps Brown’s and Cony’s popularity can also be attributed to how relatable their story is to most of our relationships. 🙂

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  • Choco (Brown’s sister): Best known for being a fashionista, she is always seen wearing different outfits and keeping up with the latest fashion trends. It seems that she is also quite a traveller – she often travels to different parts of the world to indulge in her favourite past-time, shopping!

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  • James: We all know of (at least) one friend who loves taking selfies and is a tad more… narcissistic, don’t we? Well, James could be that very friend! He can be seen taking selfies of himself almost anywhere and everywhere, and is absolutely consumed by his own ‘brooding good looks’!

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  • Sally (duckling), Leonard (frog), Jessica (cat), Edward (caterpillar), Pangyo (panda) and Boss: These are the fringe characters of LINE. Find out more from the video here.

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Anyway, if you haven’t known, LINE Friends hails from Korea, and if you were to visit Seoul, be sure to pop by their impressive store cum themed cafe! There are three main ones in Seoul – at Itaewon (flagship), Garosu-gil (flagship) and Myeong-dong (actual addresses at the end of this post). We visited the Itaewon store as we figured it would be the least crowded, and also because it was the biggest with a full fledged cafe at the very top!

To get to the cafe, we took the metro to Itaewon Station (이태원) on Line 6, and took Exit 3. We did an about-turn and walked straight for about 150m before we caught a glimpse of this huge poster of Brown peeking out of the glass window of a pink building! And yes, that’s the LINE store – the entire building belongs to them!

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The displays by the glass were enough to get us all excited even before we entered the actual store!

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Upon entering the shop, we were greeted by a HUGE statue of Brown, and we just had to take a picture with it!

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There were also smaller (but still larger than us) plushies by the side of the entrance, which were equally inviting, so we spent a good few minutes posing and taking photos here.

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The first storey was generally dedicated to LINE memorabilia – including stationery, stuff toys, t-shirts, travel accessories etc., as well as the cashier. The sheer variety was simply astounding.

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We then made our way to Level 2, which had a mix of themed rooms for photo-taking, as well as even more plushies, shirts and accessories.

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We spent such a long time taking photographs and exploring the goodies that were on sale! Famished, we finally made our way to the third level, which housed the LINE Friends Themed Cafe!

Again, more life-sized photo booths to take pictures.

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And of course, the FOOD! Not only were they aesthetically pleasing, they tasted good as well! There was a sizeable variety of food, cakes and drinks available. We were really impressed.

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We settled on a Green Tea and Vanilla swiss roll, as well as an Iced Caffe Latte. The swiss rolls were yummy, and the latte was thick and creamy, yet refreshing. The food was surprisingly good.

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We really enjoyed our time here! The only down side was that things were a little pricey, but we figured that for this dose of cuteness and quality, it was well worth the money spent! 🙂 *Be sure to claim your 7% tax refund if you are a tourist.

If you are intending to head to the LINE Friends Store and Cafe in Seoul, we highly recommend visiting the Itaewon branch on a weekday, as it is the least crowded amongst the three and the largest as well. Besides, you can also explore the surrounding Itaewon area, which is well-known for its eclectic mix of different cultural stores and eateries – think Mexican, Turkish, Chinese, Spanish etc. It’s quite a delight to the senses just taking a stroll down the street!

Verdict:
2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif

LINE FRIENDS Store Itaewon (Flagship) 라인프렌즈 이태원
126 Hangagngno-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: +82 2-790-0901
Directions: Alight at Itaewon Station (Metro Line 6), take Exit 3.

LINE FRIENDS Store Myeongdong 라인프렌즈 명동
9 Myeongdong 8na-gil, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga
Tel: +82 2-318-7942
(Note that this does not have a full cafe, only takeaway available)

LINE FRIENDS Store Garosu-gil 라인프렌즈 가로수 길
535-15 Hyundai Mansion
Tel: +82 2-3448-1764

Next: Seoul Food Diaries – Gwangjang Market >

*This is a non-sponsored post. 

xoxo,
The Bears
cropped-cropped-three-wandering-bears

Patagonia Day 21 to 23: Buenos Aires

*Our Patagonia trip was from 28 November to 19 December 2016.

After almost three weeks in the ‘wilderness’/outskirts, it was time for us to head back to Buenos Aires, or “Queen of the Plata” as the locals like to call it – a name befitting of the largest city in the Rio de la Plata estuary. We took a 3 hour domestic flight from El Calafate  and arrived at our AirBnB apartment (location: Recoleta) at about 10pm, where our friendly host, Gustavo, was waiting for us! 🙂

We were shown to our abode for the next 3 days in Buenos Aires, and were so impressed by our studio apartment!

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Hotel living at a fraction of its price (only SGD60 per night!), and a fantastic location to boot! The place was clean, well-maintained, and had everything we needed – from pots and pans to guide books and maps! Gus was also contactable 24/7 via WhatsApp, which made it very easy for us to get around town 🙂

Verdict:
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You can book your stay here.

***

Anyway, here are some of the things we did (and highly recommend!) while at Buenos Aires:

1. Eat like a Porteno

The term ‘Porteno’ is widely used to describe people from a port city, and in this case, people from Buenos Aires, as it used to be a bustling port in the 1880s. So when in Buenos Aires, it seems apt to dine like a Porteno!

We had long wanted to try the Parrilla that Argentina is so famous for.  Parrillas are the most authentic style of local restaurants and serve meat.  The term also refers specifically to the special grille that the meat is cooked on.  So basically, most parrilla restaurants are actually local versions of steakhouses.

We visited Parrilla Pena to feast on some local beef steak – we’d read so many rave reviews about it!

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For starters, the restaurant provided us with a mixture of different types of breads and stuffed baguettes. They also served us two meat empanadas, which were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It was so, so satisfying.

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We were somewhat embarrassed because of the generous portions – we were almost full from just the starters alone!

Anyway, we ordered a portion of their whole beef steak and grilled cheese, which were the restaurant’s signature dishes.

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The slabs of meat were not particularly aesthetically pleasing… but all that changed when we took our first bite. We were literally in meat lovers’ heaven. The steak was so juicy, so tender, and so flavourful! It was easily the best steak we had ever tasted in our lives! The grilled cheese was also quite a winner, and the perfect accompaniment to the steak and wine we had.

We feasted like there was no tomorrow, and spent a total of only SGD70 for this immensely satisfying meal. *bliss*

Verdict:
2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif
(must try!)

Parrilla Pena
268,C1020ADF, Rodríguez Peña 248
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Contact: +54 43715643

2. Try some local Pizza

If you have another night to spare and are looking for a lively and casual dining option, we recommend checking out Pizzeria Guerrin, which claims to serve the best pizza in town (they have been in operation since 1932). We went there on a Sunday night and its three-storey establishment was packed to the brim, with people lining the stairways as they waited for seats.

The waiter recommended us the Grande Pizza Special Guerrin, which was chock full of melted cheese, meat and olives. The wood fired oven thin crust pizza was delicious but the portion was too huge for us to finish eating.

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Our only complaint was that due to the size of the crowd, the service was quite substandard and we felt like we were hurried to complete our meal.

 

Verdict:
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Pizzeria Guerrin
Av. Corrientes 1368, C1043ABN CABA, Argentina
Contact: +54 11 4371-8141

3. Go outlet shopping at Villa Crespo

Villa Crespo is an emerging middle-class neighbourhood, that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its young, artistic crowd. What remains quite a well-kept secret is the fact that it is home to many local leather goods stores that specialise in bags, jackets, shoes and more! Besides, if you are into outlet shopping, it is good to check out Calles Aguirre y Gurruchaga, where notable international brands such as Lacoste, Timberland, Armani Exchange, and local brands like Prune provide massive discounts. If these aren’t enough, Avenida Cordoba, located 5 streets away, provide more shopping options to satisfy the shopaholic in you 😀

We did some research prior to our trip and decided to zoom into PRUNE, which is an iconic ladies fashion brand in Argentina. They specialise in leather purses, bags, etc and can only be found in Argentina!

Prune Outlet Store
Gurruchaga 875, C1414DHQ CABA, Argentina
Nearest metro station: Malabia

4. Take a Free Walking Tour around the city

One of the greatest ways to explore Buenos Aires is by foot. It’s an added bonus if you have an experienced local guide to take you through the nooks and crannies of this bustling city teeming with history. So, what better way to explore Buenos Aires than by embarking on a Free Walking Tour? There are a variety of tours to choose from, depending on your interest. Tours depart daily and all you have to do is turn up at the designated meeting point to meet your guide. You can visit their website here or pick up an official brochure from tour agencies or the airport.

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We took two free walking tours- the ‘Walking through Recoleta Tour’ and the ‘City Centre Tour’. The walks took us past the Congress building, Presidential House, Plaza de Mayo, and more. We had absolutely no regrets and were so happy to learn more about Buenos Aires through an experienced local guide. Of course, the added bonus was that our guide gave us some ‘additional information’ in the form of local tales and legends!

Here are some glimpses of Buenos Aires:

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image4Did you realise that these windows are painted, and are not real? 

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It was an amazing experience immersing ourselves in Buenos Aires’ historical and architectural splendour. We strongly recommend the Free Walking Tours!

Verdict:
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Free Walking Tours
http://www.buenosairesfreewalks.com

5. Spook yourselves out at the Recoleta Cemetery

Perhaps one of the highlights of Buenos Aires is the fact that it has a huge cemetery, the Recoleta Cemetery, that is located right smack in the city centre. This place houses mausoleums in which the tombs of famous Argentinians lie. Think Eva Peron, José Figueroa Alcorta and the like. Basically, if you are a notable political figure or have a high social standing or are just impeccably rich, you can buy yourself a spot in this famous cemetery.

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We recommend taking a guided tour as there are many (spooky) stories worth hearing, and you might need a guide to navigate through this maze of mausoleums. You definitely don’t want to get lost here and be locked in for the night!

We took a paid tour with the walking tour folks and had a most informative and interesting session!

6. Visit the San Telmo Sunday Fair

If you happen to visit Buenos Aires on a Sunday, we highly recommend you check out the San Telmo Sunday Fair located at Defensa Street. Locals set up stalls along the cobbled pavements, selling a variety of items that make good souvenirs. There are the popular and quaint handicraft stalls, as well as shops selling ‘antiques’, clothes, bags and stuffed toys. It is definitely worth a visit. Walk a little further down the street and you will reach the Antique Market. We even managed to spot a temporary street stall selling grilled meat and sandwiches, which we happily dug into while seeking shelter from the rain.

We couldn’t take pictures as it was raining the whole time we were there, but here’s a pretty decent shot we managed to grab off the web:

6a00d83451b2c969e20128768f9ca8970c.jpgPhoto credit here

Verdict:
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San Telmo Sunday Fair
Location: Plaza Dorrego, corner of Defensa & Humberto Primo,
San Telmo, City of Buenos Aires
Getting there: Take the metro to Independencia station, then walk to Avenida 9 de Julio and Avenida Independencia.

Tip: If you are looking for public toilets, head to Starbucks at Calle Defensa 1102. It is probably the most accessible toilet there.

7. Pick a book (or two) in one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a Porteno is the love for reading. The reading culture here is very pervasive and it is very common to find people sitting at cafes and spending the afternoon with a good book and coffee. As such, bookstores thrive in Buenos Aires. Perhaps the most famous bookstore here is the El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a bookstore that is housed in a former Opera House. In 2008, The Guardian placed it as the second most beautiful book store in the world.

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True to its name, the book store itself is really a sight to behold. It houses a variety of books and has multiple reading corners and a cafe. Sadly, it has a very limited English collection but if you understand Spanish and love reading, this is the place to be!

8. Indulge in local dessert: Alfajores

If you are a foodie and would love to buy some snacks home, we highly recommend buying alfajores, which is a traditional sweet/chocolate native to South American countries like Argentina, Peru and Chile. These caramelized goodies are filled with sweet pastes such as vanilla cream, coconut or chocolate, and coated with a layer of wafer and chocolate. They are usually sold in individually wrapped pieces.

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We tried a variety of brands and decided that the ones sold by Havanna were most delectable. Their stores are located all around the city so it is definitely easy to get your hands on. They also have a dining outlet at the airport, which we visited.

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From left: Dulce de leche Latte and Chocolate Y Avellana Latte

In fact, we were so engrossed in our meal that we almost missed our flight back to Singapore! :O

***

This amazing city was the perfect end to our Patagonia trip, and left us with wonderful memories of South America. In fact, we literally fell in love with the beauty of South America and its people, and we just can’t wait to be back again!

< Previous: Day 19 & 20: El Calafate’s Glaciarium and Perito Moreno Glacier

*This is a non-sponsored post. 

xoxo,
The Bears
cropped-cropped-three-wandering-bears

Patagonia Day 19 & 20: El Calafate’s Galciarium and Perito Moreno Glacier

*Our Patagonia trip was from 28 November to 19 December 2016.

After 5 wonderful days in El Chalten, we boarded the 8am bus to El Calafate, which was a mere 3 hour ride away. Located near the southern Argentinian end of the Patagonian Ice Field, El Calafate is widely known as the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park and, of course, the world renowned Perito Moreno Glacier.

Upon arriving at El Calafate, we checked into our accommodation for the next two days – El Puente Apartments. The room was spacious with a king-sized bed and a super single bed, and well-equipped with a kitchenette and an en-suite bath, as well as wi-fi connection and cable TV.

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The place was clean and well-maintained, with a perfectly manicured lawn – couldn’t resist taking a picture with the pretty roses! The weather was perfect, and we were soon greeted by our friendly furry friend.

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Service was prompt and the owner was friendly – we even had a welcome bread basket, which was exactly what we needed after a long bus ride. All this for only USD 67 per pax! Awesome.

Verdict:
2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif

Cabanas El Puente
Address: Avenida Del Libertador 647,
El Calafate Z9405AHE, Argentina
(within walking distance from the main bus depot)

We washed up and then quickly made our way to the bus terminal for our highlight of the day… the Perito Moreno Glacier!

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Ta-da! 

The Perito Moreno Glacier is undoubtedly one of the things that this region is famous for – throngs of tourists come in busloads to El Calafate just to visit Perito Moreno. It is the 3rd largest glacier field in the world, coming only after Antarctica and Greenland. An amazing fact about this glacier is that it has actually been advancing since the 1900s, unlike most other glaciers which have been retreating over time.

After a two hour bus ride from El Calafate, we finally reached our destination!

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We spent five hours on the walking circuit. It was well-designed, providing us with opportunities to view the glacier from different elevations and vantage points. The various trails were also well-marked with an indication of the difficulty level to cater to the different needs of visitors.

And now, we’ll let the pictures do the talking 🙂

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Perito Moreno glacier was immense – we were awestruck. You might wish to check out our short video of the glacier here.

What was even more amazing was, from time to time, we could hear a loud thunderous clap that sounded like an avalanche was happening. Before we knew it, we witnessed parts of the glacier collapsing into the lake beneath it due to the warm afternoon sun! Watch our video here.

Perito Moreno was simply amazing beyond words.

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And one for the album! 🙂

Verdict:
2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif 2bd1ec238e4d5c5864d2a75bf086f07c_cubs-directory-archive-paw-clipart-bobcat-paws_703-690.gif
(must visit!)

Perito Moreno Glacier
Address: Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

 

The visit to Perito Moreno Glacier so piqued our interest that we decided to head to the Glaciarium the next day to learn more about glaciers! Yes… geo-geeks in the making, heh 😀

We boarded the free shuttle bus and within 30 minutes, we arrived at the glaciarium. The glaciarium is only accessible by this shuttle bus, or by car. It was literally in the middle of nowhere. Haha.

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No photographs were allowed beyond this point, but dare we say that it was really informative. There were interactive exhibits of the world’s glaciers, and of course, lots of information on the Patagonian ice fields. There was also an interesting aerial video of natural attractions around El Calafate. We learnt quite a bit about glaciers from this visit!

Verdict:
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Glaciarium El Calafate
Address: A 5′ de El Calafate,
camino al glaciar Perito Moreno
Ruta 11 km 6.

We spent the rest of the day shopping for souvenirs, and El Calafate, being a very touristy town, was not lacking in this aspect. Still, the stuff were a tad pricey and we had to watch our purse-strings!

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Souvenir and handicraft shops everywhere! 

< Previous: Day 14 to 18 – Hiking about El Chalten 

Next: Day 21 to 23 – Buenos Aires >

*This is a non-sponsored post. 

xoxo,
The Bears
cropped-cropped-three-wandering-bears