Meal Top: Seoul sweet treats

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Fished out the hidden mochi in the hot red bean soup :)

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Point at the menu board to order if things get lost in translation…

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Everybody loves dessert, young and old :)

Summer in Seoul can be unforgiving, but it’s also the perfect time to indulge in lots of bingsu (dessert ices). My all-time fav is still pat-bingsu i.e. shaved ice topped with swirls of condensed milk and lots of crushed sweet red beans, introduced to me by my Seoul sista Heajin :)

Meal Top, at the very top of Hyundai Department Store, is reputed to be one of the most popular go-to-places for bingsu, and of course the FOMO piglet in me knew it was never a question whether I should head there before leaving Seoul hehehe.

The place is cute and spacious, very airy and bright, with menus placed atop the counter for easy reference. They were doing a brisk weekend business, but I was seated and served within 10 mins flat – man I love the uber efficient service in Seoul!

After numerous Seoul ice-capades, I decided on the hot red bean soup as it reminded me of the red bean desserts my mum used to make while growing up, anddd which I haven’t had for way too long :( The red bean soup arrived steaming hot, with lots of fragrant smells wafting from that bowl of joy. It wasn’t too sweet (yay!) and had little glutinous balls mixed with red beans which were cooked just perfectly soft. Every mouthful felt like being at home again having home-made dessert on the weekend, and it was gone before I knew it (despite a BIG BIG meal barely an hour before that oh boy…)

It’s a little steep at 7,000 KRW per bowl (you can get it for ~4,000-5,000+ KRW at other cafes), but portions here are hearty and it’s a very convenient place to drop by for a quick pick-me-up in between shopping at the gazillion shops in the complex :)

-Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Meal Top (5th Floor of Hyundai Department Store, map here)
517 Teheran-ro
Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Seoul Eats: Milk ice-cream at Paul Bassett

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Go on, eat me!

For cheat Friday, I grabbed a chocolate croissant from the Paul Bassett cafe at the basement of Gangnam Finance Centre as a TGIF prez. The place looked really promising from the outside with a cozy chic vibe; wouldn’t expect anything less from a cafe in the Gangnam area :) Anyhoo, the croissant was mediocre at best – flaky pastry was way too dense and oily, and the chocolate filling didn’t ooze out with each expectant bite sigh. A far cry from the amazeballs salted caramel flaky almond croissant at the Joel Robuchon bakery in Tokyo (back in beloved Tokyo in 2 weeks and can’t wait yay!!)

So when Bo (who has this awesome recipe blog on modern Korean cuisine) suggested Paul Bassett for coffee, I was a teeny bit apprehensive…but she swayed me with the promise of milky milk ice-cream (3,500 KRW) which I must try!

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TGIF! Bring ’em ice creammmmm

And oh boy, Bo was r-i-g-h-t. It was the most deliciously creamy soft serve I’ve ever had, like a McDonald’s soft serve infused with crack A-grade cream. Who knew that Paul Bassett, winner of world champion barista in 2003 (but not champion croissants), could come up with such heavenly soft serves?

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Oh organic milk, you make such milky soft serves!

According to Bo, the secret x-ingredient comes from the organic milk produced by the Sangha brand. This organic milk is what gives the ice-cream its incredibly silky texture and extra milky taste. Throw in a crunchy cornflake-like cone (ask for the cone, not the cup when ordering!), and you’ll be screaming for more ice-cream :)

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Coffee is serious business, and calls for a branch diagram on the wall

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So while the weather is still swirling with the Summer heat, cool down with lots of milk ice-cream swirls from a Paul Bassett cafe near you! One might not be enough :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Do a quick Google search on the nearest Paul Bassett cafe in your ‘hood. I had a delicious ice-cream Friday at the branch in Gangnam Finance centre, on level B1.

Seoul Eats: Fried chicken FTW

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The first time I had chi-mek, a deliciously sinful combination of “chicken” and “mekju” (beer in Korean), it was enough to make me wish this awesome combo wasn’t just exclusive to dining in Korea! Nothing, I mean nothing, beats a Korean fried chicken – all golden crispy deliciousness, with an added spiciness thrown in for extra kick. When you wash it down with cold alcohol, fooooh heaven is a place on earth. I much prefer having chicken and soju (Korean rice liquer) though – beer makes me full and take up precious tummy space which could have downed a few more spicy fried chickens :D

While back in Seoul this time, I dragged Jeff to check out this fried chicken place HANCHU (한추) in Garosu-gil, touted as THE BEST PLACE EVER for fried chicken and stuffed peppers on a food blog. THE BEST? Hot damn that’s a pretty big promise to put out there in a land full of heavenly fried chickens.

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A little soju and complementary crackers to kick things off…

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Stuffed peppers with a golden crispy coat

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Sundobu chigae (spicy tofu stew)

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Fried chicken in all its golden glory!

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Jeff’s tastebuds totally not overwhelmed by the spiciness. Not at all :)

Jeff, Sophia and I (mostly me, followed by Jeff hehe) ended up polishing the stuffed peppers, spicy fried chicken (pic at top of the post), fried chicken and sundobu chigae a.k.a. spicy tofu stew.

The verdict? Spicy fried chicken was the bomb! It was fried to golden perfection – not over fried or greasy. In fact, it actually looked like it was baked or air-fried (or one of those fancy new-age frying thingamajig). We asked the owner if he baked the chicken and he was like “Err no, its fried, dude”. My bad whoops. Anyhoo, the sweet and spicy sauce which coated each nugget of heavenly chicken bites was thick and flavourful without being overpowering. The sesame seeds tossed over each succulent bite provided a nice crunchy texture. I much prefer the spicy chicken over the normal fried chicken which was good, but lacked that extra taste-factor. What’s unique about the fried chicken here is that chopped green peppers are mixed in when frying the chicken, so that you get a nice zing-yin to the chicken’s yang.

The stuffed peppers were pretty good, with a succulent meat filling beneath the layer of crunchy pepper and golden batter. We ended up dipping the peppers in the spicy chicken’s sauce (instead of the other soy sauce they gave us), because delicious sauces are meant to be spread over errthang :)

Amidst all the deep fried goodness, the sundobu chigae was a major letdown. The fiery stew looked promisingly spicy, but was utterly tasteless. Credit must be given to the tofu though, which was extremely fresh and wobbly and yea..the only saving grace in the dish. That said, we pretty much had the entire dish simply because who can say no to tofu, eggs and enoki all together!

We ended up paying ~15,000 KRW on average for each dish. Portions are hearty here, and I waddled home with fried chicken twins… It’s a great chicken place (not too sure if it’s THE BEST, still need to investigate other chicken offerings across Seoul), but definitely a joint I would go back to when I’m craving Korean fried chicken while shopping along Garosu-gil…or after a night out as they open till 3am :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

HanChu 한추 (한잔의 추억)
549-9 Shinsa-dong
Gangnam-gu Seoul

Seoul eats: Buncha time at Tang

Buncha meat

Tang (땅), a 5 mins walk down the road from the Ritz Carlton in Seoul, does a kickass Vietnamese-Korean fusion. Billing themselves as an Asian dining place, their signature dish is buncha – a Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and vermicelli.

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We were transfixed by Tang’s version of buncha, which was fresh, delicious and grilled to perfection. The pork was grilled just nicely to seal in its delicious sweet taste and retain its fatty tenderness (plus points for not being too oily till death becomes it!). The vermicelli came with THE MOST AMAZING dipping sauce – a combination of piquant fish sauce, tangy citrus and a slice of lemon to add even more citrus-y goodness. Dipping the noodles into this crack sauce, followed by a mouthful of crispy salad, and rounding it off with juicy slices of pork is the most amazing combination of sweet, tangy, salty tastes. Ever.

Buncha fried rice

We gave the green fried rice with prawn a try, which turned out a little bland. The saving grace was the juicy little prawns, which burst into fresh succulent flavours with each mouthful (but not enough to save the overall meh-ness of the fried rice).

We ended up paying 54,000 KRW for 3 buncha sets (which came with soft drinks) and the fried rice. A little on the high-end for quick one-dish meals, but it’s refreshingly delicious, and the decor is clean and cozy.

Buncha decor

Apparently they’ve outlets across Tokyo, London, New York, Shanghai. Give it a try if you happen to swing by those cities,. Remember to stick to their specialty buncha for some Vietnamese-Korean goodnessand you’ll leave a happy foodie :)

–Sulsuls

Wherefore art thou?

Tang (땅) (Turn left when you exit the Ritz-Carlton, and keep walking down the main road for 5 mins. You’ll pass by Bandi (a huge nail salon), and Tang is right after that)

1F Yonwoo Bldg
601-1 Yeoksam-dong
Gangnam-gu