The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Going to South Korea Next Week, Woohoo!

I don't have any photos of Korea, so this will have to do.

I've been waiting all week to say this: I'm going to South Korea next week! Seoul to be specific. The 7th Annual Tteok Fair, to be specific-er. Byyyeeee!

...Okay, not yet. Monday = Me + Korean Air = 14 hours of non stop flight goodness! (I've been on longer flights before, but not non-stop.) Dan of Seoul Eats and a map will be my guide for a week as he shows me tasty things and I stuff them into my mouth and keel over from gluttony. What's on the agenda? Um...I haven't had any time to plan things, but right now I'm going with RICE CAKES, weird pizza, fun street food, dumplings, tofu stew, socks (a friend told me to get socks, I'm just doing what she says!), everything from Millimeter/Milligram (or maybe half of everything), and lots of pastries?

Many thanks to Dan and the Institute of Traditional Korean Food for inviting me on this trip. (This is a Serious Eats-related trip, so I'll be blogging about it there.) I've never been to Seoul before and I don't know any Korean! LOOK AT HOW not PREPARED I AM! I'm hoping that everyone will be able to tell that I'm Chinese or American so I don't embarrass myself too much with rudimentary Korean that I will have to teach myself on the plane. Um.

In I have any readers in Seoul? I assumed not really, aside from Dan. If so, please speak up!


carrie / May 1, 2009 7:29 PM

yo. there are a band of ex pats over here that follow serious eats and its writers. don't worry too much about not knowing korean. politeness and bowing go a long way. everyone doesn't know english but they are well versed in dealing with foreigners and hand signals. i hope you have a lovely time here. seoul is a lot of fun.

Lauren / May 1, 2009 7:30 PM


I have been enjoying your blog for a quite a while.......probably a couple of years. Not only is it a great read but it's a great entertainment.

You can count me as #2 Korean reader via NYC and a fellow foodie. I have been to Korea twice for a business trip (last trip in 2002) so I won't be much of help for your trip but however I will be in Seoul for a business trip either in May or June so I am eagerly looking forward to reading your future blog about Seoul.

I guess you will have your fill of soft tofu stew, seafood pancakes, spicy rice cakes, kimbob and Korean Chinese dishes(Jjahjangmyun).


Tina / May 1, 2009 7:47 PM

I don't have any info on Korean food for you but I hope you'll have fun and a safe flight!

P.S. I think you'll be back the day after I'm from my Hong Kong vacation. Oooh...Asian pastries tradeoff?

Michelle / May 1, 2009 7:52 PM

I'm in Korea!
Not sure what I have for suggestions..My favorite restaurants in Seoul are not Korean ones haha.

Ummm, street food is a must. Both the dessert foods and dukbukki and tempura-style veggies.
As is Samgyupsal, the soft, juicy, savory slices of pork will just melt in your mouth like butter.

If you can handle ridiculously spicy food, try dalkgalbi, or uh, fire chicken. Yeah. The translated name hints at the yowza spicy level.

You can get around with no Korean, most expats, when they first arrive, just go to restaurants, point at the pictures and nod. And there's English everywhere.

Have a good trip!

Jasmine / May 1, 2009 9:23 PM

Argrahmrah. I'm so envious. I love Korean food and I wish I had some spicy rice cakes right now. Have fun!

bionicgrrrl / May 2, 2009 12:24 AM

I am so JEALOUS!!!! Um... you can take me and I can pretend to be your biggest fan in Korea. ;) Anyway, you will have lots of fun. Seoul is such a good eating/drinking town. Don't miss out at eating at a pojangmacha (outdoor night restaurant). It's a must.

Emily / May 2, 2009 1:35 AM

Oh! I wish I was there while you were going... seriously, all I do while I'm in Seoul is eat, sleep, snack, eat, sleep. It's a vicious cycle -- what a hard life I lead, huh?

But enjoy Seoul! I'm jealous you're going to the tteok festival. If you get a chance, go and eat some dak kalbi. I haven't seen that served in any of the K-Town NYC restaurants, although I hear it's available in Flushing. SO. GOOD. Wah.

Seouleats / May 2, 2009 2:18 AM

Wow, Robyn. I guess you can feel the love huh? Let me see who I can rope up to meet you. Pojangmachas sound fun.


bobogal / May 2, 2009 5:12 AM

You must try the ginseng chicken (in a broth with glutinous rice stuffed inside the chicken), it is the best! Just try not to burn your mouth as I always do, being too greedy and cannot wait for it to cool down.

SK / May 2, 2009 5:56 AM

Korean in NYC here. I echo the calls for pojangmacha (the ultimate in late-night hawker-type food), dak galbi (chicken en super fuego), and samgyupsal (especially if it's followed up by kimchi grilled on the same grill!). I was never a big fan of Western pastries but I do like this one shop called Kim Young Mo 김영모 과자점 located in Gangnam-gu Dogok-dong 강남구 도곡동 ... the funny area name will make sense once you're in Seoul. :) If you're in a splurge-y mood, Buddhist cuisine is worth checking out. The other end of the extreme is hanjeongshik, where you're sort of assaulted by 20+ side dishes all brought out en masse.

Man, I miss my old 'hood!

Jiny / May 2, 2009 7:42 AM

I absolutely adore Sanchon ( for its overpriced, vegan, buddhist temple cuisine. I like go there once every time I'm in Korea - just for the fun of eating heaps of overpriced "yummy green stuff I'm not quite able to identify" :D

(overpriced meaning 22,000 KRW for a lunch course for one - which is overpriced for korean food, since you can get a table full of yummy stuff for a fourth of that price)

Dave / May 2, 2009 8:09 AM

Not gonna lie, I'm super jealous haha. My recent trips to Korea usually consist of hanging out with the fam while stuffing my face with as much food as humanly possible for the duration of my stay... Not to mention I've been pretty much dreaming about tteok since I saw the posts about it on seouleats a while back =P. My favs:

1. sam gyeop sal - bbq pork belly - preferably from black pigs from jeju island. I mean really, it's pork + fat + your mouth.

2. I really love the rice flour twist doughnuts rolled in sugar (I'm sure Dan can find you some).

3. While I'm on sweet things, I also love hoddeok - it's a sweet rice flour based pancake type thing with a sweet cinnamony filling (

4. I have an unhealthy obsession with grilled chicken skewers from street vendors (

5. Jja jang myeon - hand pulled noodles with black bean sauce (though apparently someone put out a documentary about how some vendors were less than clean and these places are vanishing over there?). Regardless I have to eat this accompanied by korean sweet sour beef (tang soo yook).

Other things I like:

Soondae (blood sausage), Mandoo (dumplings), banana flavored milk (fake banana flavor - I'm guessing this is probably a holdover from my childhood lol), mandarin oranges from jeju (pretty much the best oranges I've ever had), korean fried chicken (it's fried twice!).

Anyway, hope that helps!

p.s. love your blog =).

Merisol / May 2, 2009 11:16 AM

Seoul has really, really great street food...seriously, anything sweet and deep fried is a must-have. I was stationed at Camp Casey, SK, and right off-post there was an awesome open air market. I'm not sure what it's called, but they have this sort of steamed cornbread and chestnut type of thing that I was addicted to for the length of my tour...they cut huge triangles that barely fit into the plastic grocery bags they give you and are insanely cheap. Go nuts, man. Have a great trip!!

Edd / May 2, 2009 11:35 AM

Wow thats a lot of miles in such a short time! Millimeter/Milligram is adorable, but whats with the socks?

Neener / May 2, 2009 12:21 PM

I just came back from a trip to Korea and I completely second the hoddeok and the socks, which can both be had at a steal for under $1 (US) each! Dukbokki can also be had on the street! Just try the street foods. Most popular seem to be the fried things and I think I saw lots of corn dog type offerings, even some made with fishcakes.

I tried the ginseng chicken, which is not only good (kind of a comforting concoction I liken to the chicken version of sul long tang), but it's also supposed to be good for you!

A previously unmentioned recommendation - budaejigae! It's so good. It's a stew filled with all sorts of deliciousness - duk (rice cakes), ramen, spam, hot dogs, kimchi, etc. Love it!

And also Korean strawberries! They're insanely delicious.

Although I second pretty much everything Dave recommended up above, I have to say I tried the Jeju mandarin and wasn't all that impressed. Maybe I got a dud?

And finally, as someone who has been traveling for the last two and a half months, I have to say that Korean Air had the best airline food of any of the flights I was on... hahhahah

janet / May 2, 2009 2:18 PM

AWESOME!!!!!!!! i'm envious to the max. please have tons of fun and eat lots for someone who hasn't been to the motherland in like 20 years.

roboppy / May 3, 2009 1:20 AM

HOLY CRAAAP so many recs and advice..thanks guys! Ye never let me down. I don't know how I'm going to eat all this stuff. WHERE IS IT GOING TO GO?!!?! My stomach is gonna cry.

Su-Lin: Thanks!

Carrie: Now I must practice my bowing. Eeeeep.

Lauren: I want all those things you mentioned. Yes.

Tina: We'll see what pastries i can shove into my luggage..hehehe..

Michelle: Uh that pork thing sounds amazing. On the list it goes. I love spicy food! Even when it makes my stomach hurt.


Annie: shhhhhh.

bionicgrrrl: I look forward to watching other people get drunk as I stay sober..and take photos.

Emily: I think that's the correct cycle to enter when in SE Asia. :D I shall find the dak kalbi!

Graeme: And after Korea, it's back to!..uh..not traveling.

Jasmine: I will eat enough spicy rice cakes for all of us!

bobogal: ..yes, I want that.

SK: whoaohhohhho so much stuff..I definitely want the hawker foodz. And perhaps 20 dishes at once. :)

Jiny: Thanks for the rec! I likey the vegan food. I'll have to offset all that other stuff I eat, eh?

Maja: As much as I'm looking forward to this trip, I'm also looking forward to not traveling..and not getting fat. Eventually.

Dave: Thanks for reading mah blog! And whoaaoohhh ok, all that needs to get in mah belly. Especially the cinnamon pancakey things.


Edd: Commenter below says socks are awesomely cheap!

Neener: I'm not a fan of corndogs, but I will eat the Korean ones. :) Also want that "stew with everything in it." And I'll have to report on Korean Air foodz.

Morten Båtbukt / May 3, 2009 5:17 PM

Have an excellent trip, Robyn!

It's cool to see that things are going your way, and I'm already looking forward to seeing what you write and shoot from South Korea. Please put a direct link to it here so that I can't miss it :)

june2 / May 3, 2009 6:43 PM

I went to Seoul a few times when I lived in Tokyo, to renew my visa, and I was not expecting nature to be SOOO beautiful there! I thought it was spectacularly gorgeous - so green, I mean more than I had ever seen anywhere, from what I saw on the ride into town from the airport. I wish I'd taken at least one hike or visit out of town.

I hope you do a Serious Eats meet-up too, and blog it! Prolly tax-deductable, then, ya?

SuperChomp / May 4, 2009 6:33 AM

I have no infos. But I wish you safe trip, and super awesome foodings.

bionicgrrrl / May 4, 2009 1:57 PM

Oh, I almost forgot. Don't forget to eat Korean white peaches in Korea!!! It's nothing compared to the white peaches here. Really juicy and sweet, like honey.

Rose / May 4, 2009 3:24 PM

Being that I am Korean, I am totally jealous! Eat lots of delicious food and think of me!

Michelle / May 4, 2009 6:59 PM

Trying not to sound entirely creepster, but I will be in Seoul from Weds-Saturday, so if you need a guide or have a TGWAE meetup, feel free to get in touch. I promise I'm normal and don't bite :)

carrie (not the same as the first poster) / May 5, 2009 6:22 AM

i've been reading you for quite awhile, serious eats and roboppy. i'm living in seoul, won't be at the ttok fest, but am interested to know what else you'll be indulging in while here. kalguksu. i hope that is on your list along with dumplings. and neng myeon. hope you have a great time while you're here!

Jen S. / May 5, 2009 5:35 PM

i'm so jealous you're going to korea. i can't wait to see your posts/stories and pictures when you get back. eat lots of good for me.

von / May 5, 2009 10:29 PM

I haven't been to korean in a year but despite your aversion to alkie I would still recommend the Soju. I had this amazing strawberry soju which tasted NOTHING like alcohol and EVERYTHING like little bubbles of happy strawberries bursting on your tongue. yummers.

I remember a restaurant called Seoul Garden where we had nothing but bbq bulgogi beef and shredded cabbage. It was free flow and the nice lady kept opening tupperware containers full of the yummy beef. It was in/near Itaewon I think.

Have fun on your trip! When u gonna come to SEA?

d / May 6, 2009 10:15 AM

long time reader. used to live in new york but now in seoul. i recommend kyochon chicken, tteok buk ki (great street food), fresh fruit juices and yogurt drinks, green tea or sweet potato lattes, pat bing soo, potato/curry croquettes and korean doughnuts (esp with red bean), kong guk su or mul naeng myun (cold noodles), ojingo bulgogi (squid in spicy sauce). you also have to try the korean take on pizza - sweet potato pizza (we love our sweet potatoes).

for non-korean food, french/italian are very big now - check out seorae maeul (french village) where the french expats are. it has a lot of restos, cafes and bakeries. american style brunch is also big. i recommend they flying pan blue in itaewon for brunch. for authentic nepalese/tibetan/indian food, everest in dongdaemun is excellent. cupcakes, macarons and doughnuts are popular. cupcakes are eh. macarons are better. there are doughnut plants here but not as good as the one in nyc alas :(

Katie / May 6, 2009 2:55 PM

The only Korean I remember now is considered pretty rude - "Please don't fart"..have no idea how to properly spell the pronunciation, but it's something like "pongu kichima" and "Please don't burp," is "turim hajima"...I think. I was hanging out with about thirteen Koreans about seven years ago and we were saying "pongu kichima!" as a greeting...they thought we were nuts. I wouldn't use it if I were you..but you never may be helpful. ;) Have fun! I'm jealous!

amelia / May 6, 2009 3:33 PM

You are so lucky!! I just got back from Seoul a couple of weeks ago. The food is great, have some gimbap (korean sushi) for me :)

FatManSeoul / May 7, 2009 3:45 AM

It was a pleasure to meet you the other night and go on our pork-and-kimchi rampage through the neighborhood! Hope to see more of you while you're in town!

Sue / May 7, 2009 11:27 AM

Hi Robyn!
I'm Sue. It was awesome running into you at TBS
e-FM earlier tonight. I host a two-hour music show right after the 'Evening Show' hosted by Sid Kim (the one chef Yang appeared as a guest today). I visit your blog regularly and have been giving tips to my sister (who moved to NYC two years ago) on great places to eat in the city based on your observations. It was the weirdest experience running into you on the sixth floor because earlier today, I had visited your blog to see if you had posted anything new. hehe.
Have fun in Seoul...who knows? I might run into you again in some totally random place in the future. It's such a small world. =) If you have time before you leave on Tuesday, try "dakhanmari" (which literally translates into "one whole chicken") - you'll find a number of places that specialize in this hearty dish in the back alley of Jongno 5-ga(near Dongdaemun Market). One thing though...don't expect good service or top-notch hygiene. Just go for the's soooooo good!

yuri / May 8, 2009 8:06 PM

oh my gosh - bionicgrrrl... right on! the white peaches in Korea are AMAZING. the best thing you will ever ever taste in your life. the smell of them is enough to make me faint with excitement.

after high school, my parents shipped me off to Korea to visit family for the whole summer before college. i was a cranky, homesick teenager who didn't know how lucky she was...

the only things i would eat for a the first weeks were white peaches and soon dubu (spicy silky tofu soup). those remained my staples but by the end of the trip, i was no longer a vegetarian. ;)

hope you're having a splendid time!!

kate / May 11, 2009 7:23 AM

Love your blogging. i lived in Busan (a city to the south) for a year. Try sanackchi (not sure of the English spelling, sorry!) or 'live' squid tentacles, and kaybul, or dogs' penis (not really a dogs' penis, but a sea urchin type thing that looks disturbingly like one). They make for fun food stories after your trip is over.

lauren / May 12, 2009 1:42 AM

Hi there Robyn! I'm bummed that we didn't have a chance to eat together! Next time we will have to actually hang out, not just cross paths before crashing for the night! I hope you enjoyed Seoul, I'm fairly confident that my flatmate was a good host. Really looking forward to reading about your adventures in SeoulLand. I think you are probably departing right about now, safe travels! take care, lauren

parisbreakfast / May 13, 2009 7:08 PM

I was in Seoule for a day and 1/2...
I don't think that counts..beautiful temples there as well to see..
All I remember sorry
Bon Voyage Robyn!!!

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