Seoul seller / 서울셀러

03/25/2016
by David
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The Pancake Epidemic / 더 팬케이크 에피데믹

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The Pancake Epidemic was created in LA as a space for designers and other creative types to meet over good coffee. However, only those with invitations were able to experience it. Thankfully, when choosing to open a branch right here in Seoul, it was decided that it would be open to all.

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TPE is notable for being the only cafe in the country which brews Stumptown, one of the big name US coffee roasters. As well as the standard range of coffee on offer they sell tea, lemonade and beer too.

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Despite the word being in their name, TPE never intended to serve pancakes at all. However, a considerable number of customers complained after being left disappointed by a pancake-free visit and they were forced to add them to the menu. I wasn’t expecting much but they were really great, much better than the ones at Original Pancake House

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I’d heard great things about their cold brew coffee and I was excited to try it. They brew gallons of the stuff and it’s served via tap. If you fancy it to-go they sell bottles of it too.

It went down an absolute treat. Dark, rich, smooth and full of flavour. Just fantastic. It was my first time having actual cold brew coffee in Seoul and I was blown away. I’m already thinking about when I can go back for more.

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Nestled awkwardly between Apgujeong and Apgujeong Rodeo stations, TPE is not a cafe you will simply stumble upon during a weekend stroll but rest assured it is definitely worth the considerable effort it takes to find it.

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DIRECTIONS: Easiest way to get there is to take Apgujeong Rodeo exit 5. Walk straight, take the second right and then continue up that street until you see The Pancake Epidemic above the Stussy store.

 

03/03/2016
by David
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Mozzie

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Mozzie is a restaurant which has been generating a great deal of buzz since it opened at the end of last year. It is attached to the ITW Hotel up on ‘hooker hill’, an area hitherto deprived of the mass gentrification undergone throughout the rest of Itaewon. However, the emergence of Mozzie may be a sign that things are about to change.

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The restaurant occupies a huge space of which the centrepiece is undoubtedly the tremendously long bar. It almost runs the entire length of the restaurant and is carefully divided between beers, wines and spirits. Having the beer taps suspended from the ceiling is also a nice touch, if only for the novelty factor.

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The restaurant’s owner is from New Zealand and the menu is formed of Aussie / Kiwi comfort food. Being Irish myself I grew up eating a lot of the menu items and I was having a hard time selecting only two dishes as almost everything sounded amazing.

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We eventually decided to go with the Captain Cooker Chops and Red sky at night, Shepherd’s Pie delight.

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It’s fair to say Mozzie are definitely not stingy with their portions. The chops were huge with very little fat and tasted lovely and juicy.

We were treated to a very generous helping of mashed potatoes which was also great. I’m always hesitant to order mashed potatoes at a restaurant because I find they often veer away from ‘mashed’ and slightly more towards ‘creamed’ which I’m not really a fan of but Mozzie nailed it down to a tee.

The onion gravy was delicious as were the peas. It would have been nice to have had mushy peas as an option but obviously they are not so popular outside of the UK and Ireland.

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Shepherd’s Pie has always been one of my favourite home-cooked meals. A no-nonsense dish packed with potatoes, meat and veg, it’s perfect comfort food for those freezing cold Seoul nights. I’d never seen it on the menu at a restaurant before and I knew I had to try it.

It was the highlight of the meal for me and I enjoyed it so much I couldn’t stop smiling for a while afterwards. I’ll definitely be back for more.

I can’t recommend Mozzie enough. If you’re after hearty comfort food this should be No1 on your list.

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Very happy customer

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 18.37.32DIRECTIONS: Take the train to Itaewon station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Walk straight until you reach the intersection then take a right. Walk across the road, take a left and Mozzie will be on your left 50m up the road opposite Old Town.

You can also contact Mozzie via their Facebook page.

 

 

03/02/2016
by David
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Chansbros Coffee / 찬스브로스

I never used to drink coffee at all before coming to Korea. While I did have a brief dalliance with Tesco instant coffee during my final year of university, several ill-advised exam period all-nighters which ultimately ended in tears, I had always got my caffeine injection from copious amounts of tea or coke. However, this soon changed once I landed in coffee-mad Korea.

Seoul is said to have more coffee shops than any other city on the planet and, after living here for more than a year, I can well believe it. Cafe culture is dominant and it is nigh on impossible to walk down any street without passing at least one coffee shop.

While I’m certainly not of the opinion that all chain coffee is awful, I quickly grew tired of paying through the nose for mediocre drinks. I wanted something better. I became eager to discover cafes which could provide a higher level of quality.

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Chansbros, situated opposite Street Churros in Gyeongridan, has established a strong reputation for great coffee so I decided to check it out as I was in the area.

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The cafe is very small with room for roughly 20 people and during peak times a miracle is required to find a seat. Luckily, I popped in just before lunch when it was almost empty.

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The menu is large and varied. As well as the usual coffee drinks, both Optimum blend and single origin, they offer teas and smoothies.

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We decided to play it safe and order the latte and cappuccino. After reading so much online about Chansbros I couldn’t help going in with high expectations. I needn’t have worried though because after the first taste it was clear that my expectations would not only be met but surpassed. Both the latte and cappuccino were delicious.

Chansbros exudes an air of tranquility and it is the perfect place in which to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the hustle and bustle unfold outside.

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DIRECTIONS: Take the train to Noksapyeong station (Line 6). Come out exit 2 and walk straight until you reach the underpass. Go down it and leave via the right exit. Walk straight past Standing Coffee and you will find Chansbros at the end of the street. I should mention that there is a second Chansbros branch nearby which is marked as B on the map.

03/01/2016
by David
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Original Pancake House

Due to my being a lazy sod it’s not often I’m out and about in Itaewon in time for brunch. However, this past Monday was an exception and I decided to visit Original Pancake House, a much talked about American diner which has only recently opened.

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The place is huge and they have nailed the American diner theme very well.

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The menu is gigantic and you could spend forever deliberating over what to order.

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We finally opted for a full portion of french toast (₩12,000) and eggs and bacon (₩13,000). It must be noted that with a large number of the menu items, including eggs and bacon, 3 buttermilk pancakes are given as a side order. We also had a (small) glass of orange juice (₩6,500).

I did enjoy the pancakes but they were quite mushy and I’ve honestly had better from my local supermarket back home.

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The bacon was also very tasty and deliciously crispy. But, after paying ₩13,000 for 2 eggs and 3 rashers of bacon, I couldn’t help feeling a little robbed.

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Lastly, the french toast was just not to my taste at all. I don’t mind a little sugar sprinkled on top but these were overwhelmingly sweet to the point where I had to stop for fear of gagging. I’m aware that this is just my personal preference and the restaurant is catering to the majority who enjoy french toast this way.

Before complaining about price I should mention that the food is expensive because a lot of the ingredients are imported and of course being an American franchise in the centre of Seoul it was never going to be cheap anyway.

However,  I feel that the quality on offer simply does not justify the relatively expensive prices for what is fairly simple food. I’m sure people familiar with American diners will enjoy it, even if only for the comfort of home, but it’s a definite thumbs down from me.

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Me before eating the food and looking at the bill.

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DIRECTIONS: Take the subway to Itaewon station (Line 6). Come out of exit 1 and walk for roughly 200m and you will see Original Pancake House on your right, above Agra and underneath Coffeesmith.

02/22/2016
by David
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Changdeokgung Palace / 창덕궁

Having visited each of Seoul’s five great palaces it’s difficult not to think “once you’ve seen one palace you’ve seen them all.” However, Changdeokgung is noteworthy because it contains a ‘Secret Garden’, a vast space beyond the regular palace grounds. This exclusive area has fascinated me ever since I saw some stunning photos online and I finally decided to check it out for myself.

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Donhwamun, the main gate.

The ticket booth is located right next to the main gate. One ticket for the regular palace grounds is ₩3000 and you can walk around at your own pace. However, if you would like to experience the Secret Garden it’s necessary to purchase an extra ticket (₩5000) and you must follow an organized tour led by a guide.

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The royal library of the Joseon Dynasty.

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The gates, while magnificent structures, all tend to look very similar.

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These photos would suggest that winter is probably not the best time to visit the Secret Garden. The ponds were frozen, the trees were bare and everything was just a bit miserable. Obviously my complete lack of photography flair didn’t help matters either.

While I was slightly disappointed by what I saw I would definitely recommend the tour as it is genuinely very interesting and a nice way to spend an afternoon. In the concrete jungle that is Seoul opportunities to escape the hustle and bustle are few and far between and Changdeokgung is a welcome oasis.

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Directions: The entrance to Changdeokgung is B on the map above. I personally believe the easiest way to get there is to take Jongno 3-ga (종로3가) station exit 7. Come out, turn back on yourself, take a right then walk straight and it’s impossible to miss it. Alternatively, take Anguk(안국) station exit 3 and walk straight until you reach the entrance.

02/13/2016
by David
1 Comment

Emoi / 에머이

Once upon a time, when I was a fresh-faced university student and working at a bar, I had a customer come up to me and ask “Hey do you know of any good Vietnamese restaurants nearby?” At this point in my life I was completely unaware of Vietnamese food and all I could do was look at him blankly and mutter “No I have no idea, sorry.”

I still hadn’t eaten Vietnamese until this time last year and I’m forever kicking myself that it took me so long to try it. Pho is now comfortably one of my favourite foods and I’ve been to a variety of restaurants in search of the perfect one. And I think I’ve finally found it at Emoi.

IMG_0251Situated in Jonggak (종각), Emoi is a relatively new place serving authentic Vietnamese cuisine.

IMG_0246I always order pho but the other items on the menu are fantastic too, especially the spring rolls.

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The noodles really are the highlight of the pho and perhaps Emoi itself. Made from scratch every day by Vietnamese cooks they are a delight and once tried they make it very difficult to enjoy the standard noodles at lesser Vietnamese restaurants.

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Vietnamese food has never been expensive admittedly but for the high quality on offer the price here is very reasonable indeed.

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DIRECTIONS: The easiest way to find Emoi is to use Jonggak station exit 9, walk straight and then take a right at Starbucks where you will see a big inflatable Emoi sign pointing towards the restaurant.