Plan Your Trip
Still mingling with the same ol’ crowd in Apgujeong? Maxed out on blue-lit bars and cafes straight out of a socialite’s boudoir? Feeling a bit of the brain drain from all the brand new, unique hangouts that, when viewed collectively, become basically cookie-cutter? A word to the wise: quench those parched synapses and your thirst for knowledge, carnal or otherwise. Relive your youth at a place where you’re always backing to school.
Its Street name: Daehangno, a.k.a. University Street. (Named for the Seoul National Universities College of Liberal Arts and Science that once stood here; now only the medical school remains). Its MO: urban art culture. (Home to the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation, 30 small independent theaters, 80 independent art galleries, and a host of behemoth theme cafes and bars). Its mission: think Berkeley in the 60’s. (A haven for controversial subject matter, the exchange of new ideas, and progressive expression. Also, just a cool place to hang out).
* Brain Food
You should now be a gourmet in fusion, Hanjeongshik, and French cuisine. So let’s round you out and go bipolar.
You’ll recognize Mucheon by its little entrance with the giant mural of a miners gritty face. This restaurant is dedicated to the class of blue-collar workers who slaved away tirelessly where the sun don’t shine. Self-proclaimed food-making miners recapture the aesthetic and cuisine of 1960s Korean miners in this authentic underground dig. Decorated with the original doors and wall panels taken from the homes of old mining towns, as well as other mining paraphernalia, Mucheon evokes an atmosphere of post-war Korea. Barbed wire, telephone poles, and a megaphone-like speaker atop a wooden structure similar to ones seen in prisons or concentration camps add to the mood. And what post-war experience would be complete without down-home, make-do cooking? Mucheon serves up all types of Korean comfort food, including the 20th century favorite Budae Jjigae. Literally translating into army stew, Budae Jjigae is a spicy stew made with just about everything, including the hotdogs and Spam that the American soldiers brought over as a part of their military rations during the Korean War. That’s right -- Spam is the main ingredient in this fiery dish.
Of course, for the refined palates of discriminating gourmands today, Budae Jjigae has been upgraded with crab legs, squid, and clams, but the hotdogs and Spam are always must-haves, as are tofu, squash, slices of pork, and even ramen noodles. The tasty stew is brought to a roiling boil at your table and everyone digs in -- every man for himself. And with rice served in a little covered tin, tin water cups, and sectioned tin plates for the kimchi and other side dishes, the dining experience is almost complete.
Almost -- because without some homemade Makkoli, the poor man’s liquor, to wash it all down, can you really say you’re down with the people?
Hours: 12 pm - 11 m
Located next to Boogie Boogie Bar
Budae Jjigae 5,000 won
Seokkeo Jjigae 6,000 won
Mushroom Jjigae 7,000 won
Galbi 7,000 won
Makkoli 5,000 won
Set Menus for 2 21,000 won
Definitely an anomaly among the too-large and adorably tacky cafes and bars ubiquitous in the area, Caterina brings more to the table than just a measure of familiarity for the visiting Gangnam-ite. With Caterina, you get a lesson in history, oenology, and major European languages.
* School Supplies
Nakwon Tteok Jip
Just in time for Chuseok, this hole-in-the-wall provides perfect handmade songpyeon (rice cake filled with sweetened sesame seeds) by the dozens for you to present to co-workers, friends and family (and score major points). Located on Daemyung Gori, a generally carless brick-paved road lined with all sorts of cafes and fancy stores, Nakwon Tteok Jip has been here for 17 years and their rice cakes are selling like hotcakes. From honey tteok to pumpkin and squash tteok (a health freak’s favorite) to yakshik (yellow sugar rice with pine nuts), all neatly packaged and laid out on bamboo matting, you’ll find it all at this mom-run shop.
Daemyung Gori, Jongno-gu, Seoul
(02) 742-4676, 1703
Hours: 11 am - 9 pm
Tteok ranges from 2,000 - 5,000 won per package
Large orders and gift baskets possible; please allow at least 24 hours
Tteok made fresh daily
For a truly one-of-a-kind find, get educated at Silver Tree. Run by jewelry designer Hye-sook Kim, this sublime boutique features the most delicate, intricate and ethereal pieces in the neighborhood. As suggested by the store’s moniker, most of the pieces are made of natural materials like stone, glass, leather, wood, silver . . . there’s even a fabric doll with steel wool hair. Not all the pieces are handmade by Kim; she showcases her designer friend’s work as well. Displayed against a backdrop of antique Korean curio chests, worn cabinets, and sheer plates of chartreuse, the collection of jewelry (and the odd embroidered bag, steel clock, and ceramic tea set) makes for an eclectic, unique, and always beautiful array.
Information 1-79 Dongsung-dong,Jongno-gu, Seoul
Silver necklaces from 10,000 - 100,000+ won
Kim’s bold silver rings from 20,000 - 50,000 won
Hours: 12 pm - 9 pm, closed Sundays
Located next to and behind Mokkumto Craft Space
* School’s Out
Sure, you can patronize one of the humongous 3-story theme bars and cafes that loom over the bustling alleys, reminiscent of Disneyland’s New Orleans Square on steroids. Any one of them should provide a good sense of the crowd and feel for Daehangno nightlife. But why not try one of our favorites . . . one that will surely expand your librationary lexicon, not to mention impress your local friends.
For the best in traditional and authentic Korean liquor, in an atmosphere just oozing with old-time atmosphere, Cheonghak-dong is the place. Named after the little village in Jeolla-do Province where the inhabitants still dress and live as if in the Joseon Dynasty, this underground drinking establishment was built using the original wood taken from a century-old hanok (traditional Korean home) and is delightfully decorated with ancient manuscripts, traditional instruments, paper lamps, bamboo farm equipment, and wooden spirit posts. The floorboards are squeaky, the lighting dim, the ceilings low (don’t forget to duck!), and the booths intimate and rustic. I loved it.
Grab a friend (or ten) and get a table upstairs in the loft where you’ll sit on colorful silk cushions in an elaborate treehouse-like setting (don’t forget to take off your shoes before you go up!). Ask for an English language menu, if necessary, and go local! The Dong Dong Ju is the epitome of mid-level traditional Korean rice liquor. Served in a big deep bowl with a wooden ladle, the slightly sweet, tangy, milky drink is a favorite of farmers and the working class, but a step up from the literal bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings making up Makkoli (the peasant’s brew). And for 7,000 won for a bowl (which will happily fill at least five cupfuls each for a party of three), you’ll feel like a yangban (Joseon Dynasty nobleman).
Of course, if you’re a bit of a connoisseur, then go for the Andong Soju which, while it may set you back 50,000 won, comes in a beautiful ceramic flask that you can take home as a souvenir. Andong Soju is a rare specialty of Korea and one of the most representative liquors of the culture. Or the Bokbun Ju is another good choice, not just because it comes in a pretty glass orb pockmarked like a golfball, but because its mountain strawberry ingredient is reputed to give men that extra oomph they need in the more . . . ahem . . . intimate moments of life. But whatever you order, you have to order the Seafood Pajeon with it to complete the experience. Thick, doughy, and more than enough for three, this traditional side dish goes hand in hand with Korean liquor.
21 Saegi Bldg. B1, 1-33 Dongsung-dong, Jongno-gu (located next to Lotteria)
Hours: 1 pm - 6 am
Dong Dong Ju 7,000 won
Andong Soju 50,000 won
Igang Ju 40,000 won
Bokbun Ju 18,000 won
Jindong Hongju 10,000 won
Maehwa Ju 8,000 won
Baekse Ju 7,000 won
Seafood Pajeon & other side dishes 9,000 - 15,000 won
How to get to Daehangno:
City bus # 109, 150, 171, 272, 8272 from Sejong Center for the Performing Arts to Ihwa-dong (20 mins.)
City bus # 150, 160, 162, 172, 710 from Jongno 1-ga to Ihwa-dong (10 mins.)
Subway Line No. 4 to Hyehwa Station, exits 2 and 3
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[2009-01-23 15:59 Input / 2011-03-09 14:00 Modify]
Article source: Seoul Metropolitan Government Tourism Division