Monday, February 17, 2014

Seoul 2013: 가로수길 (Garosu-gil)

I hope everyone has had a great Lunar New Year! For once, I was out of town for the first part of CNY. Daddy decided last minute to travel out of town during the festive period, and somehow or other, it became a family trip.

We considered locations like Korea (rejected as they have three days of public holidays and we were afraid shops would be closed), Australia (last minute tickets were too expensive!), before finally settling on Japan. I was quite apprehensive actually, for it wasn't too long ago since the radiation saga occurred, but since the family didn't had any issues, Japan it was.

It was a very short trip as I could only take two additional days of leave. The Sis, the Bro-in-Law and I flew there on CNY eve night, after having our reunion dinner at home, while the elders flew one night after us. Will talk more about the trip next time (well, in the future coming months ahead, time TBA, haha as it is in the queue after my 2013 vacations to Korea and Australia).

So, to hurry along the process of vacation travelogue posts, here's the third post for my Seoul 2013 trip. We popped by Garosu-gil in the early morning, and basically ate (and drank) our way through the day there. Food spots of the day:
  • Deux Creme
  • La Eskimo
  • Pain De Papa
  • Hanchu Fried Chicken
  • La Alaska
  • Independent Coffee

가로수길 (Garosu-gil), 2013

I'd previously blogged about 가로수길 (Garosu-gil) in 2012 in my post > here. As I had said, Garosu-gil is one of the many perfect suburbs to cafe-hop in Seoul. Perhaps if I were to visit Seoul again this year, I'm considering doing up a top 5 (or 10?) cafes to visit list in Seoul post? What do you think?

Had visited Deux Cremes in 2013, review and details of the place are in the my previous post. The tarts on display were as stunning as ever, making it a hard choice to narrow down on what to order.

Bingsoo in the making
Very berry tart + Passion fruit mango tart

We eventually settled for the above two tarts. Since the weather was still quite cool in April, we did not think to order the bingsoo (which I had hoped to try). It's okay...there's always another year, another chance. ;)

One of the girlfriends wanted to stop by here as we all had not had our first cuppa of the day and she wanted hers, like now, now.

Cafe: La Eskimo 라 에스키모
Address: 서울시 강남구 신사동 546-3 2층 (2F 546-3 Sinsa-dong Gangnam-gu Seoul, Korea)
Phone: +82 2 512 9244
Opening Hours: Daily 10:00am -10:30pm
To try: Bagels

I didn't realise it was actually a branch of La Alaska (a bakery we visited later in the afternoon)! The place was huge, and besides food, they actually also has an area full of pretty kitchenware. *swoons*

They had a quite a few varieties of bagels on offer, and the girlfriend couldn't resist picking one up with her order of caffeine.I pinched a bite of it and it was pretty chewy and good. I wonder if they would serve the bagels with any spreads if you dine in, cos I imagine it would taste great with some butter or cream cheese.

Walking on, we dropped by the awesome multi-storied F21 at the end of the street, before popping by Pain De Papa. I had snapped a shot of the bakery last year but did not stepped in. I read quite good reviews about the bakery, thus I wanted to try it.

Bakery: Pain De Papa 뺑드빱바
Address: 548-5 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Hyundai Bldg 106 (서울시 강남구 신사동 548-5 현대빌딩 106)
Get there: Sinsa Station, Exit 8 or Apgujung Station, Exit 5
Opening Hours: 09:00 am - 10:00 pm [Closed on Sunday]

I should add that besides cafes and coffee joints, there are also tons of individual bakeries or bread shops in Seoul. I bought a croissant to try, but wasn't too impressed with it. Perhaps cos it wasn't as flaky as my fave Seoul bakery. It was cold when I bit into it, so I can't judge based on a cold croissant. If given a toaster, I wonder if it would have been a different story though. Hmmm. Or I should have tried the artisan breads instead, which look pretty good actually.

I do love KFC, and I don't mean the Colonel Sanders kind. Fried chicken is pretty much a standard Korean thang, and when I Googled for the best KFC, most sites point to this Garosu-gil joint.

Shop: Han Chu 한추
Address: Sinsa-dong, 549-9, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Get there: It’s located around the corner from the new Forever 21 on 가로수길.
Opening hours: 5.00pm – 3.00am
To try: Fried Chicken (후라이드), Fried Green Pepper w/ Pork (고추튀김)

Meal times for us in Korea were not fixed. We ate whenever we felt like it (though we did try to stick to the usual morning, lunch and dinner hours when possible. Our "lunch" that day was at 3.45pm. Thus the restaurant was as empty as it could be, given the odd hour that it was.

Yes, that's soju on the table. We had soju at 3.45pm. We're on vacation. Come on. I'm pretty sure you would have done the same. (Or maybe not.)

We ordered the popular recommended dishes - the fried chicken, and the green pepper with pork, to share. Sad to say, we weren't impressed with both dishes. Both were pretty greasy, and I'm so not a big fan of grease.

Pickled radish is usually served alongside fried chicken, probably to help provide some relief from the oil. I nommed on quite a bit of the radish to help to cut through the oiliness of the fried food, but it provided little relief. We tried our best, but we didn't finish the food. In fact, I'm not too sure whether we ordered the correct fried chicken dish though, cos when I looked through Instagram after our meal, there were photos of 양념 치킨, which is seasoned fried chicken, with sauce, while ours were the kind sans sauce.

Bakery: Le Alaska 르알래스카
Address: 서울시 강남구 신사동 550-22 (550-22 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul)
Phone: +82 02 516 5871
Opening Hours: 9am - 11pm

We were walking along the many lanes near the end of Garosu-gil in the late evening, and we saw a whole stretch of cafes and shops which I did not see in my previous trip. We stumbled across the beautiful shop front of Le Alaska. I recalled that I had seen the bakery mentioned on a few websites while googling for bakeries in Seoul, but I didn't include it in my list to visit. Anyway, we girls couldn't resist a pretty shop, so we stepped in for a look.

Sigh. I swear it's just not me. We are all bread-aholics. I mean, hello, just look at the above? How can you resist that sight? The rustic shop furnishings, a gorgeous chandelier, and racks of baked pastries and breads. Swoon.

We decided to pick up a few breads for breakfast since we were planning to visit Nami Island early next morning.

There was a dine-in area inside the bakery too, and I think they serve light stuff like soups, salads, sandwiches and drinks. It was a pretty shop inside out, for the indoor furnishes were equally as pretty as the exterior.

My camera battery decided to die on me while I was in the store. So no photos of the dine-in area to share. We had two unpleasant experiences in the store. The first was when my cousin wanted to try a piece of bread. I mean, in most bakeries in Seoul so far, there were samples provided at most stores for the breads. In Le Alaska, it wasn't the case. But there was a cutting board and bread knife right next to a loaf, so my cousin asked the sales staff whether we could cut it to try and it seemed that the answer was affirmative. I guess it was more of a miscommunication (due to language differences), cos we ended up paying for the small slice she had cut from the loaf.

The major unpleasant thing that happened was while at the cashier, this sod trodded quite heavily on my cousin's foot, and had the nerve to glare at her after doing so. Without bothering to offer an apology. I must say that, while I do love visiting Korea, one thing I can't get over is the people. I can't outright say that they are rude, but they are just not very friendly and it's a place where when people knock into you on the street, or step on your feet or such, they don't apologise. Which I think is really impolite. I mean, the guy in the shop could have looked guilty at the very least. What was with that fierce look seriously. It was quite uncalled for and we were quite taken aback actually. Meh.

Our final picks

Moving on, we decided to stop to rest our aching feet after the whole day of walking. Along the back lanes, I presume to be the area Serosu-gil (side streets of Garosu-gil), we found an indie looking coffee joint. We stopped to order some hot coffee in the midst of the rapidly dipping late evening temperature. No address for this coffee joint cos I've tried Googling "independent coffee" but just couldn't find a match for this coffee house.

Nothing better than a hot cuppa that warms you right up in cold weather. I miss the indie cafes in Seoul. Sigh. Can't wait to be back there again. I need to start scouring for travel buddies for this year. Hopefully, I'll manage to visit Korea in the later part of 2014! Till then.

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