Today, we find M., a French-speaking Korean girlfriend we met thanks to our long time friend J. (we were talking about it here). I appreciate his company more and more, because we discover a lot of things in common
Mr.’s husband is Korean, too. Based in Paris, he has been an entrepreneur and tour guide since 2002. He designs personalized trips in France and Europe for small groups of Koreans (up to 8 people). He has a spacious vehicle, he drives and accompanies clients at the same time. If you ever have Korean friends looking for a Korean guide in Europe, passionate about history, gastronomy and French culture, contact him by email kleshan[at]naver.com or discover his blog (the site isn’t updated regularly but he can always be reached via his blog if needed)
Ganjang Gejang: Raw marinated crab
M. told us about this restaurant selling crabs marinated in soy sauce(Ganjang Gejang). The restaurant(Jinmi Shikdang) is very popular, you have to book at least 2 days in advance (even during the week) and as M. speaks Korean, it helped us a lot
The legend (internet) says that you can show up in front of the restaurant without a reservation, but in this case, you can only buy take-out.
When you arrive at the restaurant, you actually realize the quality of the restaurant: two Michelin 2017, 2018 logos on the front door + a lot of logos of Korean gastronomic sites
There are 4 men in suits in front of the restaurant who look like they are waiting for someone. A few minutes later, seen the way these 4 men bow in front of another guy who arrives in a car with tinted windows, we say to ourselves: it is surely a big boss. And if a Korean big boss comes to eat in this restaurant at noon, he must be almost Michelin starred 😀
When we arrive, we are just asked how many portions we want, because there is only one dish anyway => no menu. M. tells us that other restaurants also sell this type of dishes but you have to choose your restaurant carefully, because the crab is raw
They bring us a lot of side dishes, including very original and difficult to make seaweed leaves. And finally 3 crabs, cut in 4, and full of egg + the 3 crab shells
We are given plastic gloves to eat. The crab, super fresh, has already been marinated in soy sauce for 3 days. So it is raw but the marinade gives it a luxurious sashimi taste: all the crab is salty enough to have taste, but not salty enough to become bitter. A spicy version of this dish can be found in South Korea, but not in this restaurant, which only makes the marinade with soy sauce. JB shows you here how to eat this dish
In general, crabs that have a lot of eggs, lack meat. But this isn’t the case here, there are a lot of eggs, which remain on the meat, on the shell – but the meat is also excellent and has a lot of taste. In terms of taste, it tastes just like super fresh sashimi. And the eggs have the same taste as raw eggs cooked in salt, which you put in Japanese ramen
I am BLUFFED ! Honestly, if I ever come back to Seoul, I’m going to eat this dish directly (by the way, before leaving Seoul, I came back to eat here a second time with Mr. hehe). The portion costs 39,000won, which is very reasonable considering the quality of the crab and the quantity of side dishes => a super local address to discover absolutely
Note: those who aren’t used to eating fermented dishes (like JB for example) will find this dish good, but not excellent
Practical information: Restaurant Jinmi Shikdang (진미식당)
Address: 186-6 Mapo-daero, Gongdeok-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone number: 02-3211-4468
Only one dish (39,000won/person)
You must take off your shoes before entering
A high table can be requested instead of sitting on the floor.
Gilsangsa Temple (길상사)
After this good meal, we take a cab to go to a temple. The estate belonged to Kim Yeong Han, a former gisaeng (the equivalent of geisha in Korea)
Very much in love with a poet, but hated by his family, she never married. She ran a high-end restaurant (Cheongamjang, renamed Daewongak), where many artists and politicians of the time frequented. When she died, her large tea house/restaurant and the garden were given to Beopjeong Sunim, a well known and respected monk. He refused the offer many times, but after 10 years, he finally accepted and transformed the estate into a temple
The walk in the garden is really pleasant, the temple is small vs. the other temples in the city but we have, for once, really the impression to be elsewhere than in Seoul and enjoy getting lost in nature
At one point, we discover a plaque with a poem written by the poet she is in love with. A poem full of melancholy that will melt even the most insensitive hearts (it is written in Korean but M. translated it for me). Here, there is still a small monument dedicated to Kim Yeong Han
Practical info: Gilsangsa Temple
It is better to take a cab to go there because it is on a hill, you can walk from the subway but why impose such an exercise when the cab is cheap in Seoul?
Sangheo Lee Taejun’s House
Then we walk to a teahouse, which was once the home of a writer. I love traditional houses like this (the hanok). And we have the chance to occupy a small corner of the house, like a veranda giving a peaceful view of the garden, and decorated in a traditional way with a small piece of lacquered wooden furniture and ceramic bowls
I forgot to take a picture of the tea house, here is a small picture found on visitkorea.or.kr to illustrate my point
We are served tea, real Korean tea, hot or cold. I opt for a revitalizing hot tea, because I’ve been having a little bit of insomnia in the last few days. The tea is served hot with lots of good things in it. If you’re not tired, opt instead for (cold) tea with 5 flavors, a Korean delight! We also ordered a (typically Korean) patbingsu (팟빙수) folded ice cream with red beans and pumpkin on it, it’s super good!
We spend a long time talking… and I learn that Korean men have 2 years of compulsory military service. They choose to do military service before or after university. So compared to young women of the same age as them, all Korean men have 2 years less work experience
Practical info: type Suyeonsanbang (수연산방) on Naver Map to find this teahouse.
Even if we aren’t hungry anymore, we are still very motivated when M. proposes us to go eat his favorite ravioli right next door (20m from the tea house). It’s a restaurant that has existed for a very long time, and despite its bui-bui side, there are a lot of people from 5:30 pm. Here is the name of the restaurant
We order two plates: original recipe + kimchi recipe. We almost ordered in addition to the noodles but considering the size of the two plates, we quickly cancel the noodles
We aren’t hungry, but the ravioli are so good that we ate everything. We like the kimchi version the most (at the bottom of the picture). The ravioli are to be eaten with a soy sauce a little vinegar
As our SIM cards are expired after one month, we have to come back to Myeongdong to buy another SIM card (which is only sold in tourist places). After buying the card, JB goes back home to work, leaving two women all excited to go shopping in Myeong-dong 😀
In Myeongdong, I just went shopping (for clothes) at Lotte Young’s, so this is the opportunity to go with Mr. to Shinsegae, another department store, duty free… like Lotte
Note: Shinsegae and Lotte in Myeongdong is the equivalent of Parisian department stores such as Printemps, Galeries Lafayette, Le Bon Marché.
There is a food court in the basement of Shinsegae, it doesn’t look too expensive
The second floors are for “normal” shopping. But from level 8 on, all purchases are tax-free and delivered directly to the airport. To buy here, you have to show your passport (or a scan of the passport on the phone) and give the flight number and the date of departure. Prices are displayed in $. Everything you buy here will be delivered directly to the gate where your plane leaves from
Note: apparently, you can still request that the products be given to us right away, but they will be sealed (they are supposed to be used when you leave Korea).
So what is the point of buying here and not at the airport duty-free? There is more space so the offer is more varied vs. what you see at the airport
And compared to shopping in the streets of Myeong-dong, the advantage is to have all the brands gathered here (Korean and foreign brands), and everything is tax free, with no minimum purchase (while in the stores of Myeong-dong it’s from 30,000won)
It is while shopping with M. that I realize that Korean executives mostly use high-end brands such as Sulwhasoo, History of whoo, SK-II… or brands known at home such as Clarins, Estée Lauder, Sisley..
Foreigners and Korean teens are the most likely to use Korean cosmetics for economic purposes 😀
As M. speaks Korean and talks a lot with the saleswomen, she translated some confidential information for me 😀 e.g. at one point we hesitate between a La Neige cushion and an IOPE cushion, at the same price. And the saleswoman does everything she can to defend her IOPE cushion when it has less convincing marketing messages than La Neige. She says that for La Neige, “only Chinese tourists buy them”. I don’t know if this is true 😀
I take advantage of the presence of an SK-II booth to make a skin diagnosis (remember, since I discovered the SK-II brand in Japan, I go there once a month to make a skin diagnosis (free of charge) and see if there is an improvement). This time, I’m super happy with the results even if they’re not perfect yet: at least it proves that my new routine suits me well. By the way, I wanted to buy the SK-II masks (nicknamed THE mask to put on the day before a coffee with your ex – to be too beautiful and that he regrets to death) but it’s out of stock (like all the other best-sellers of the brand)
We then walk through the shopping streets of Myeong-dong to stumble upon stores like this: selling thousands of models of circle lens (to enlarge the pupil) or simply colored lenses
The street-food in Myeongdong is very varied and after several hours of shopping, it feels good to eat this mixed skewer (everything is good except the 100% vegan piece). M. tells me that this food truck has been around for several years and it is so successful that there is always a queue in front of it. 4000won the skewer
we end up in front of another food struck selling huge snails. Intrigued, we buy a plate (10,000won anyway). It’s a strange recipe, I won’t buy any more
M. and I get along so well that we don’t see time passing and when we finish eating and chatting, we realize that even the street food stands are closing and the streets are suddenly super quiet. M. takes a cab home while I take one of the last subways to get home. Luckily we will have the opportunity to meet again another time before I leave Seoul, which I will tell you about in the next article
Did you like this article? Discover all our Seoul & Jeju travel diaries:
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #1 : Discovery of Myeongdong & Lotus Lantern Festival
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #2: Namdaemun Market, Namsangol Hanok Village and Gangnam
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #3: Changdeokgung Palace, Insadong, Noryangjin Fish Market, Hongdae, Namsan Tower, Seoul City Tour Bus
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #4: Seoul with friends
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #5 : Lotte World, tickets, flagship attractions, magic pass
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #6: War Memorial Hall of Korea, Barbecue, Lenses and Shopping
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #7: Marinated raw crab, Gilsangsa Temple, Suyeonsanbang, shopping in Myeong-dong
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #8: B2B Market, Palais Royal, Notre-Dame de Paris, Barbecues