Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ibis Seoul, Gangnam

This Ibis may be the best Ibis I have ever tried (as compared to the one in Cannes, Nice and Hong Kong). It's in a good location, just one block away to COEX and the airport express bus station. It's about US$130 though - still cheaper than COEX Inter-continental at US$210 or Grand-intercontinental at US$300. And there are some convenience stores nearby. Think I will choose this one for my future visit in Seoul.

Grand Inter-continental, Seoul

This is a nice hotel on a very convenient shopping/convention/entertainment complex called COEX. You can spend a whole day in COEX. However, most hotels in Seoul are quite expensive at around US$150-300. This one may be close to US$300. Alternate choice is the COEX Inter-Continental (wthout the word "Grand" but it's still very nice as I tried twice).

Toenjang Pibimbap, Seoul

This one is really nice. It's called Toenjang Pibimbap. My friend told me "pibim" is kind of "mixing". Follow the photo, just to put the bean paste and the rice into the vegetable. Then stir them until you think it's mixed well - the 4th photo. It's quite cheap - only 5,000 won (US$5). BTW, it's good to have some meal without meat!

Insadong, Seoul

This is the famous Insadong - lots of cultural things and tea houses and nice restaurants. It was a nice sunny day with some cool breeze. Really had a nice time in this place though I didn't buy anything.

Samsung Bldg, Seoul

OK, my colleague told me an interesting story about why Samsung built these 2 buildings separately from each other in the same area. Look at the old mansion in front, on the left photo. It's because the owner (aged 80) didn't think money can do anything. Well now he is aged 80, pretty sure after he died, his descendants may not think the same. Mmmh. what if his descendants or successors sell it to LG?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Mama's Kitchen, Seoul

After having quite a lot of famous Korean food, I was brought to this home cooking restaurant called Mama's kitchen. Certianly, Mama is still so busy with preparing such a variety of food. So please salute to all the mothers in this World, with "謝謝 (Chinese)", "thank you", "kum sa mi da (Korean)", "Khor Khun Krup/Ka (Thai)", "Terrimagazin (Malay)", "Guen Ung (Vietnamese)", "Merci (French)", "Arigatou (Japanese)".....

About the dishes, they have "Yellow Flower" fish. Sorry I don't know the English name of that fish but we call it "Yellow Flower" in Chinese. They half marinate the fish with some salt, like the my Grandmom used to do the same and we call that as "salty fresh". So you don't need to get any seasoning. Then 2nd one - I think for those who have tried Korean food should have tried this one - glass noodle. For the 3rd one, I am a bit impressed. It's kind like in between the Cantonese roast pork and the Sichuan boil pork, but they eat it together with Kimchi. The 4th one is to entertain your eyes - see how busy the Korean mama is. The last one reminds me of some dish in Beijing - kind of a chewy cake with vegetable. Again, the Korean cuisine is with a lot of vegetable, which is really good for health.
All right, Jimmy and Donald shouldn't be missed for long. So the bottle of water they behind them is from Cheju Island - an Island south of Korea peninsula. My friend told me Cheju Island has only 3 things - windy, volcanoes and she forgot telling the last one - probably rain because that's how she related it to the bottle of water. Then next to that bottle of water, it's a ricebran tea - so refreshing for my morning time. The 2nd photo is a resting area for my colleague's office. Resting there with a cup of tea and enjoying some sunshine!

Brought to this restaurant in Yongshan shopping complex (a big shopping complex on the Yongshan train/subway station). My local friend told me all these dishes are more for local people. So the first photo is Korean pancake. They put scallion, seafood (or whatever you feel like when making it at home) in the pancake. Then the 2nd one is the cold noodle with chili paste. It's quite chewy and tasting quite refreshing as they put some pear slices to offset the hot taste. This is the good thing about the Korean food culture - balancing. Like they make kimchi. The cabbage and radish are "cool" stuff for the Chinese herbal doctors. They make it with chilli paste and fish sauce, scallion, ginger, carrot...etc. to make it balanced to the hotter side. Then the 3rd one is clam with hand made noodle (using a knife to slice the noodle). The soup base is nice with a lot of clams. Then the 4th one is the Korean buns. Personally, I don't like it as they make the bun a bit too soft. Then the last one is the pumpkin soup and kimchi!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Hangang River, Seoul

The name of the river is pretty Chinese. Han means "China in ancient time". Gang is a big river. North of the River is the old area of Seoul and the southern part is the newly developed commercial and residential area.

City Hall, Center of Seoul

Finally got to the Center of Seoul. The one at the top is the City Hall. Then the middle is some kind of temple. In front of the temple is the traditional Korean drum. Then the last one is Seoul Plaza Hotel - kind of a typical classic hotel.

Gwangtonggyo, Seoul

Alright, this is something historical - around 600 years ago. Gwang is Kwan in Chinese, Tong is Tung and Gyo is bridge. So you will find the stone of 600 years ago under the bridge on the photo at the right.

Ching Kai Stream, Seoul

This stream is a very long stream from City Hall and it goes through all the way passing Dongdaemun. Actually this stream should be called Cheonggyecheon in Korean. I just romanised their Chinese wording. I do find a lot of Chinese characters in Seoul. This stream is just like what it means in Chinese. "Ching" means clear, "Kai" means stream. So you can tell from the top photo. On the middle, a school class was there. Then the last one, you will see some people walking along the stream. Guess there should be some scenes from those Korean TV drama.

Myeong Dong, Seoul

Myeong Dong is a trendy busy place for the shoppers, especially girls - lots of nice and interesting shops. Saw two interesting buildings in this area. The one is SK something. Then the one in the middle looks like something high-tech. Then the last photo is the busy street of Myeong Dong.

Jimmy, Donald and Jason in MO BKK

As I got some feeback comments on the below blog about how Jimmy (the Geo Bear) arrived HK and hit the road with Donald (a cowboy dog given by my nephew Jason). Here are some photos of both of them and also Jason holding them at our breakfast on the riverside cafe of the Oriental Bangkok in 2006 summer. That was a very enjoable trip.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Slow food Cafe, Seoul

OK, if you are bored with too much fast food, then go for this one - slow food Cafe. Nowadays "slow"means "time". "time" means "luxury". "luxury" means "expensive". A cup of coffee is about US$10 something. Certainly they will serve it slow. Just like what I heard from friend in Paris - making a salad for 1.5 hours and charged for Euros 200. I hope the airline won't take this theory. I don't want the plane to fly slowly.

No stress Cafe, Seoul

What a name we really want to have. This place is crowded with many hip and trendy people. I just passed by it. There are increasingly lots of this kind of restaurant and cafe coming up in not only Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore....almost everywhere.

Gorilla in the Kitchen, Seoul

Well, if you think there is a gorilla in the kitchen, then you would be surprised. The restaurant is run by the famous male movie star Pei Yun Jun (not sure the exact spelling) but (my Korean friend) please correct me here in the blog). This area is now the hittest place for movie stars, artists and designers - forgot the name "xxx dong".. haha, must be dong in the last anyway, as dong means "area".

Samwong Garden, the flagship shop, Seoul

Finally I was brought to Samwong Garden again in Gangnam district. This time it's their flagship shop. Classic Korean design and courteous staff. If you will go to Seoul, this restaurant is a must for you to try.

BBQ beef rib, by Samwong Garden

The beef rib is just like pork rib - meat with some bone and a little fat do taste a lot better. Also noted is that the beef wouldn't be over burnt. Then they would be put aside around the hot charcoal place. Note that they wouldn't put the freshly burnt charcoal. Half burnt charcoal is the best for average heat. That reminded me of Arirang Korean BBQ in Bangkok. Now I can verify Arirang is really Korean style.


Look at how nice of those condiments. That's why I enjoy the Korean food so much. The colorful condiments already cheer up your mood. A good mood is a good beginning for a good meal and to make yourself good in every good way!

cold noodle

This is the one I missed for the past 7 years. I tried this one in Hong Kong but the noodle and the soup taste is not the same. I also recall in some restaurants they would put some pear slices in it to make it taste even fresher. Interesting I thought I was definitely to get my stomach upset as I can't take chewy food. This time I am ok. Probably it's from the various vegetable I took. Most of all, it's not oily!

cold kimchi soup and onion salad

Samwong made this cold kimchi soup so nice! Actually don't think that kimchi should be extra hot. The Korean hot is unlike the Taiwanese food hot or Thai food hot. Their hot is with a strong flavour of vegetable. Actually I can taste their chilli is a bit sweet (not that sweet from sugar). The Korean culinary culture is awesome in using a lot of different vegetable. Just one cold soup, they put more than 7-8 different types of vegetable. You will also note that they do care about the cutting technique (what we call "knife skill" in Chinese cooking).