On Sunday March 23rd 2014 I was lucky enough to meet up with my brother Chris’ friend from Ontario, Rob Taylor to go tour around Dongdaemun and hit up the unbelievable Gwangjang Market among other places. You may have noticed I already posted about this market and the wonderfully delicious Korean pancakes they serve there (if not check out “Gyeongbokgung” post).
I met Rob early in the AM on Sunday at the “Dongdaemun History & Culture” subway station. This station brings you right into a little area known to me as “Russia Town”. The reason I refer to it as “Russia Town” is because for a moment it felt like I was in another country. If any of you have ever been to a “China Town”, think of that, but only Russia.
We walked around in search for an old shop that Rob was familiar with, which sold lamb meat pies. After walking up and down the short street once or twice he realized that the shop he was looking for had vanished and is now a telecommunications store. Don’t worry…. We continued to walk around and eventually found another similar shop/market that sold the same things! “Yessss!” I thought to myself once we had found them! We went into the store and got ourselves the delicious lamb meat pies. These tasty treats are triangle in shape and look like a bun. If you can picture those triangle buns you can get in bulk from Costco, that is what they look like, but much greasier, golden brown in colour, and crispy looking! My mouth was already salivating before I even had one in my hand. We got our meat pies and devoured them in minutes!
Next, we went to the new History and Culture Museum. The museum just opened about a week ago and it was Fashion Week there as well. The place was bustling with people! There were people of all nationalities in attendance and most were dressed to the nines.
After a little tour around the Museum it was time to hit up our next food stop! Next, we went to the Gwangjang market where I had my Korean pancake experience for the first time! One word: foodgasm. Let me tell you again, these pancakes are friggin’ awesome! If you ever go to Korea, get to Gwangjang Market and get one, or five, of these things inside your belly! After we demolished some Korean pancakes and washed them down with Makgeolli (rice wine)we headed down to the next part of the market where they serve beef sashimi and beef tartare. Most of you have probably heard of sashimi (sliced raw fish) that is served at sushi bars. Well, all of these restaurants specialized in serving raw beef to their patrons. At first I was a little hesitant about eating raw beef, especially in a foreign country, but then I remembered why I was there; to adventure and do and see as much as possible! So we went into the first place we walked by.
The older Korean men sitting at the table next to us were amazed that two foreigners were in the beef sashimi place and immediately started conversation with us saying things like, “Amazing!”, and “I can’t believe it!”. They were very friendly and perhaps a little intoxicated. We could only assume from all the empty, scattered Soju bottles on their table. They continued to chat with us and one older man was kind enough to give us a bottle of Makgeolli he had pulled from his hiking backpack. The beef tartare was surprisingly delicious! It comes piled on top of julienned pear, topped with a raw egg yolk. I will definitely be back to indulge in some fine raw beef again!
After eating we ventured off to hike a mountain peak that was nearby. It took us about 25 minutes to get from the base of the mountain to the top. It was a short hike, but it was definitely a work out to get to the top. By the time we made it to the top my legs were burning and I had a good sweat going. I would just have to do it two or three more times to burn off all of the calories I took in at lunch though.
After we descended from the mountain top it was time to hit up our final eatery. We took a bus and went to a place that serves BBQ freshwater eel and BBQ chicken feet. This was my first time ever having either and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. To be quite honest I didn’t think I would enjoy the chicken feet. I mean, who would really think that they’d like chicken feet!? To my surprise I actually enjoyed the chicken feet more than I did the eel. They were sauced up in a spicy chilli sauce, deboned, and grilled to perfection at our own personal Korean BBQ table. The freshwater eel wasn’t bad, but I found it a bit chewy and a little bit bland.
We finished dinner around 9:00pm and parted our own ways home.