Who said sushi couldn’t be hot and loud (map)

Who wouldn’t like to be cheered welcome by three bowing sushi chefs upon entering the restaurant? And then enjoy picking pieces of tasty beautiful sushi pieces from a conveyor belt? Exactly!

I wrote about such a place located in Myongdong in a previous post but a couple of days ago we discovered one of its sister restaurants just at exit 12 of Gangnam Station. This place seemed to be even louder and we finished our dinner 15 plates later and 60 000 won (approx 60$) poorer. Hurray for conveyer belts!

The second place puts up quite a show if you sit at the bar. Suddenly without any warning your view is blocked by a big flame of fire. The first time this happens will definitely get everyone’s “Wows”. Here you will be served a large spicy seafood soup full of taste, that they themselves say they are famous for. Make sure to stop eating a bit before finishing it completely because it becomes extremely spicy at the bottom, burning your lips for the rest of the meal. Share one of their Sushi and a Yakisoba.The two floor Izakaya is located on the restaurant street parallell to the U street in Gangnam (close to the “beehive building” that houses the Urban café).



This morning’s wake up call

A video says more than thousand+ words…

Directions: Kangnam Station, exit 10

Where the performances are taking place today 21st of September
Gangnam Station, exit 10

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The free Wi-Fi paradox (free Wi-Fi map)

Seoul is acclaimed to be one of the most connected cities in the world. Yet, when attempting to find free wifi spots you start to realize that it might not be completely true for people without a Korean mobile subscription. Unfortunately you will now face two somewhat annoying issues:

1) the risk of owning a foreign phone that is country locked and doesn’t work with a Korean SIM card

2) the concept of pre paid cards not existing in Korea.

To get yourself a subscription you need to commit to a number of months or pay a fine if terminated in advance. It is not horribly expensive, but hey – all this hassle to be able to connect?

There are however some nice cafés in the area that offer their customers wifi – one just needs to look a little. Tom N Toms, Konabeans, Homestead Coffee, Book Café, Brownaholic and Study Café all offer pretty good connection. So basically, one Green Tea Frappucino or Hazelnut Latte order and you are set to go.

Map with free Wifi cafés close to Kangnam Station

Map with free Wifi cafés close to Yeoksam Station

Fish foot massage in Gangnam (with map)

After all the walking in Seoul the first two months my feet started too look rather rough.  I had tried the fish massage in Thailand once, and having fish eat dead skin of my feet was exactly what was needed. Extreme measures needed to be taken to get my feet into shape.

After some googling I came across a blog post on Tripologist.com (Getting Eaten Alive: Dr. Fish in Seoul) that mentioned a Dr Fish café just here in Gangnam. The directions in the blog are great and I would not have found the place without them – even with the directions it’s a bit tricky to find the correct entrance.

I had not told my sister about this place since I wanted it to be a surprise but unfortunately the screaming from the people at the two fish tanks next to the windows made her discover what I had planned for us rather quickly.

In the beginning I thought that the girls dipping the feet and screaming were exaggerating, but when seeing the size of the fishes in the second tank I understood why. Here we are not speaking about these small tiny fishes ( if you don’t dare trying the larger ones, you can dip your feet in water with the smaller fishes in the first tank). No, these are large piraya like creatures that follow you as soon as they see your shade approaching. Not screaming is NOT an option. I’ve seen some guys after us screaming, not being able to keep their feet in more than 5 seconds.

The next week we took J there and as seen in the pictures his feet were rather popular among the fishes.

TODO: Invite one of your toughest (preferably male) friends and see how they will react. It’s simply hilarious. 3000 won per person and you are set for 15 minutes of great entertainment.

Directions: From Gangnam Station (exit 10). Walk straight until you come to BSX (on your left) and a large crosswalk on your right. The small entrance is just after the BSX building. Take the elevator to the second floor .

Amazing shopping: Sinsa and Garosu-gil

When my sister was coming to visit I quickly started doing a lot of research on where we could find great shopping. She had warned me that she was coming with only one small suitcase and that she was planning to go back with three (yes, she did succeed in doing that – in fact, returned back home with 4 ginormous bags). In my research I stumbled upon the truly great design blog Design*Sponge and its Seoul city guide for Seoul.

And this is how we ended up in Sinsa the very first time and spent a whole day visiting vintage stores, coffee places and small cool fashion shops.

I have seen parallels being drawn to Soho in New York or the Champs-Élysées in Paris, when Sinsa is mentioned online and in magazines and I have to say that it is one of my favorite areas to just wander around in when in Seoul.

Note a small confusing part. Garosu-gil in fact is named Apgujeong-ro on the maps and that Serosu-gil isn’t just one single street but in fact the streets intersecting with Garosu-gil. This took me some weeks to figure out.

In the Seoul city guide at Design*Sponge the following spots are mentioned (I have highlighted them in the map. This would have helped me in the beginning and saved a lot of time to say the least):

Café Papergarden, Hall:a bright, airy place to grab a bite to eat. Upstairs you’ll find Hall, an equally bright store with a well-curated selection of clothing, books and homewares — think Comme des Garçons, Korean label Talk/Service and Acne Paper.”

Scoop Garden:a leafy outdoor cafe — perfect for taking a break from shopping to enjoy a glass of wine and a sandwich.”

O’HEYA: “This home-style Japanese cafe gets fairly busy (best to make a reservation or arrive early – especially for lunch!). Their broiled salmon melts in your mouth.”

Deli Heinzburg: “Although dining here can be a bit hectic, there is something to be said about Deli Heinzburg’s sandwiches. They have a wide selection, delicious breads and are very generous with the toppings. Their pickled red cabbage and daikon are also amazing.”

Sett Sensitive Pancake Café: “This is my favorite brunch place in Seoul. The prices are very reasonable (especially for Sinsa-dong) and you can’t beat the atmosphere. It’s cozy and their pancake sets are a perfect start to any day.”

DARE: “Dare is most definitely the best vintage shop I’ve ever been to. It reminds me a bit of Toronto’s 69 Vintage, and the stock is heavy on the denim. They also have very unique homewares (think crucifixes and taxidermy). Everything in the shop is available to buy or rent.”

9owls: 9owls sells vintage goods from the 1920s to 1980s — they have an exceptional selection of handbags.”

Vivasell. “Located through a sliver of a doorway and down a dangerously steep flight of stairs, this vintage shop is worth venturing into. Like 9owls, they too a have highly covetable collection of handbags.”

Some of the places we went to:

Mug for Rabbit/Cork for Turtle: This cafe has become one of my favorites, not because of the bunny theme and not because they have strange lattes such as wasabi and ginger, but because the have built in touch screens into their coffee tables that let you play board games with your friends. Genious!

Le Alaska: We were lured in by this café’s cozy atmosphere while walking through the back alleys of Sinsa. It is the first place I have been to were you can see the bakers do there thing. The capucino and chocolate cake  I ordered was however a so so.

ÅLAND.  Coming out from ÅLAND looks confusingly alike exiting form Åhlens. They have a very similar way of using the letter “Å” on their paper bags which was quite fun to see. The very first Åland that we were to was actually in COEX but I have spotted them in many other locations such as Hongdae, Sinsa-dong, Apgujeong and Myeongdong (as Design*Sponge also mentions).

Spain Club. A Tapas places with quite decent food. Rather pricy and watch out to not to order to many dishes where they use olive oil. Can get a bit too much.

School Food. Here you can eat many different kinds of Topokki than the normal street Topokki found at the street stands during evenings. My favorite is the Topokki Carbonara – extremely tasty and extremely heavy! Don’t miss out on trying School Food’s Gimbap.

Screen golf – Rainy Day’s TODO

Golf is huge in Korea. Just walking around in  Seoul you will run into several large driving ranges. Many say that golf in Korea is truly only for the rich. Since I was keen on taking up where I had ended (I managed to complete a beginners course back home last summer), I did some research on what it could cost to start improving my golf skills.

These are the prices we came across:

10 lessons à 20-30 minutes with an instructor: 500 000 Won.

20 coupons each valid for 70 minutes at the driving range: 400 000 Won

2 month membership which includes 70 minute at the driving range per day: 300 000 Won/month

Realizing in the end that the opportunities for us to play wouldn’t be too many with the season soon ending and that the money would therefore be spent better elsewhere, we decided to do what allother Korean golf enthusiasts on a lower budget would do. We went playing screen golf!! I have to say it’s quite a good way to practice your swing. For only 10 000 Won per person you get an own room where you can enjoy playing 9 holes on the course of your choice. The first time we played was actually on a rainy Sunday on Jeju island. We ended up killing 3 hours in that Screen Golf cafe.

There are supposedly a large number of Screen golf places here in Gangnam since it is a popular after work activity for business men when leaving their offices in Yeoksam.

We will start trying them out and I will keep you posted!

Rainy days’ ToDo’s

Cat cafes, Dog cafes, DVD bangs (bang =  rooms in Korean), golf cafes, Wii rooms, karaoke, 24h cinemas and Korean bath houses (jijimbang). The explanation I have received to the existence of all these hang-outs, is the limited apartment sizes in Seoul. Many Koreans apparently even don’t have a bathroom in their apartment.

As a complement to traditional tourist indoor activities (a visit to museums, shopping malls, art galleries and the like) these spaces are excellent for spending a rainy day in Seoul.

Just yesterday we visited one of the board game cafes in Gangnam. To my surprise this place had  board and card games such as Monopoly, The Labyrinth (which btw was a complete flashback to the days I was 5 at kindergarten!), Rummikub and Manhattan. Comfortable sofas and good coffee made us spend several hours playing, almost forgetting about dinner.