Wednesday, August 22, 2018

[Seoul] Namdaemun Market 남대문시장 Sights and Eats

Stayed at Park Hill Hotel and this was really really close to Namdaemun Market. Just about 6 minutes walk away. This was a budget hotel and located on a slope. Wasted about an hour just trying to locate this place. Take Exit 7 of Namdaemun Station and look out for this landmark: Starbucks, Ediya Coffee and 7-Eleven. If you see these 3 together in a row, then head towards this and turn round the corner to find the hotel.

station exit 
Park Hill Hotel
hotel room

Let's take a walk round Namdaemun Market, shall we?

food shop
too early, at about 8+am
King Dumpling shop
making dumplings
coffee shop
There is Noodle Alley, if you fancy noodles. But, it didn't look that appetizing. So went off to look for other food to eat.

noodles shop
The street food carts would be opened by about 930am.

will buy from this ahjusshi later
grilled goguma and octopus leg

For breakfast, I prefer to eat at the shops. They do open as early as 8am on Sunday too. Full meal for breakfast? Keke, why not! Randomly wandered into this shop that seemed friendly. It is called Myeongsin. 


kimchi self-serve
Ordered the galbitang for breakfast. It came with a bowl of rice, seaweed sheets, pickled radish, pickled octopus and blanced vege. Kimchi is always placed at each table, so help yourself.

galbitang 갈비탕
I loved it when the ₩8000 was well spent. Look at the breakfast feast! The soup was light but tasty. There wasn't alot of meat but it was adequate for breakfast. The seaweed works wonders with the rice. Kimchi was good but the best side dish was the octopus. So so tasty!

marinated octopus

For lunch, I really wanted to try the spicy braised hairtail stew at the Galchi Jorim Alley in Namdaemun Market. Although I did some research prior to embarking on this mission, the popular shops had a lot of hungry people awaiting for their meal. Hence, I went to the one beside it that seemed less busy and managed to try some.

It was already late afternoon and way past lunch hour. Galchi Jorim Alley is simply a stretch where one could find many shops selling galchi jorim (hairtail stew).

deep in the fish alley

Must confess that I did feel intimidated going into shops with many people when I am dining solo. I think the shop that I went into was Uri Sikdang. Funny thing was, I realized I actually did not know how to order the dish that I wanted. Galchi jorim, right? Sounds easy peasy but I forgot the name when I sat down in the shop and there were a couple of fish stew on the menu. Hahahaha! Too hungry, me thinks.

shop interior
Fortunately, they would've guessed that wanderers to this alley were looking for that one particular dish. So the shopkeeper decided to just bring me lunch. There was a whole bunch of stuffs that came along with the fish stew. A plate of kimchi vegetable (that's ok because everyone knows it was part of the banchan), a box of seaweed (not sure if this box is shared with other tables or all for me? But I ate quite a lot!). Another plate of side dishes but wrapped in cling wrap. Was I suppose to eat this or would I be charged extra if I take this? Not sure too!

I was surprised when the staff brought out a tofu stew. Was about to say that I didn't order this, but she said it was "service". Ahhh...that I understood. "Service" means complimentary. Great!

치조림 galchi jorim ₩8000

Discovered that the hairtail fish contained plenty of large pointy bones so one needed to eat it very carefully. The flesh itself was rather mushy. Though the stew looked fiery red, the spiciness kind of grows on you as you eat. It sort of became tastier the more you ate it. 

hairtail stew

But the most impressive dish was the tofu stew. It was just wow. The broth and spices are different from the fish. Do try it when you are in Namdaemun Market. Must try.

In Seoul, most people seemed to like to drink Americano. I wonder why. Do you know the reason? Anyway, I tried Ediya Coffee as there was one near the hotel. The place was smallish and the service staff polite. Main reason I snucked in? For the airconditioning. This was after I went round and round trying to locate my hotel.


Coffee was not too acidic but should have asked for double-shots. In general, when in Seoul, always do double-shots unless you really dig weaker tasting coffee. My favourite drink when in Korea? No...not soju nor makgeolli although I do like those as well....Guess again. Why, it is flavoured milk by Bingrae. Can they please please come up with a less sweet version too, so that I can drink more of those! Actually, they do have a Light version. Keke.

strawberry milk

At night, I went out to get those street food skewers for a light dinner. Of course, again to nearby Namdaemun. I'd always wanted to try the foldered skewered fishcake (eomok) that those people in Korean dramas always stand by the cart and eat. So I got myself the fishcake skewers and chicken skewer. Street food is not exactly cheap as those already cost me almost a full-meal price.

the earlier stall with the orange tshirt ahjusshi
eomok 어묵 ₩4000

Fishcake oden was plump but abit too hot to eat quickly. And I didn't want to bring it around the market. So was just sitting down next to the ahjusshi and there was no other customers so it was just basically him watching me eat. So awkward, haaha!

Then, I requested for a cup of the oden soup. Again, this was influenced by the too many dramas that I watched. Actually, to let you on a secret. The soup was rather bland! The oden soup in Taiwan were much tastier.

닭꼬치 chicken skewer ₩3000

I think they must've used chicken thigh for the chicken skewer, otherwise how else to explain the tenderness and juicyness of it? Yummy. And, if they asked whether you'd like it spicy, I'd always say less spicy or not spicy unless I have a death wish...

street food
Got some mandu from the stall next to this, but the taste was rather weird. The dumpling skin was too thick, the meat inside wasn't good and all masked with too much vinegar. Nope, this was a wrong choice1

skin too thick, and too much vinegar

Finally, after the sightseeing and adventures in Busan, the group congregated back again in Namdaemun for breakfast on another day. I brought them to a random stall again. Glad that they have display sets in front for us to decide what to eat before we went in.

menu pasted on the mirror

Can you guess what I had? Hahaha, galbitang again. Just to compare. The version here is less beefy with a lighter soup stock. More peppery. Maybe it was because of all the spring onions in there. I think the secret ingredient ought to be seaweed. This shop doesn't offer seaweed to its diners.

galbitang again!
gnaw on the bones

Let's see what the rest ate.
tofu stew

I tasted the tofu stew that Ivan was having and concluded that the one from Galchi Jorim alley was still the best.

One thing to note is that the porridge sold in these shops are rather expensive. Cheapest seemed to be ₩5000 per bowl.

Otherwise, expect to spend about ₩8000 for a single-pax meal. Coffee at places like Ediya is about ₩3500 to ₩4500. Or, banana milk from 7-Eleven and there was a promo of buying 3 for the price of 2.


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