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Asia eats, korea eats

thursday part 2: cafes and north korean food

So after our fish market crawl, my family and I headed towards a place called Terrace Street for a dessertish something. Terrace Street is a road filled with small cafes, bistros and Anthropology-like boutiques, perfect for walking through when you want to look at cute outfits or a bite of something sweet. And that’s exactly what we did; my aunt parked her car near one end of the street and we just window shopped, enjoying all the sights and looking for anything that might catch our eye.

One thing that did grab my attention was this:

a doughnut plant in seoul?

I’ve heard rave reviews about Doughnut Plant’s PB&J doughnuts, and I’ve kinda been wanting to go there. But Korea was the last place that I was expecting to see a DP – I guess NYC is inevitably encroaching on Seoul’s dessert territory. I did peer inside to see what it looked like and it was your average bakery setup. They did have the infamous jelly doughnuts, but this one was blueberry creme. I guess I’ll just try the PB&J when I get back to the States.

We passed Doughnut Plant and looked at all the little different stores, wondering which one would have the best eats. One cafe that did grab our attention was called ‘daily coffee 121;’ just slightly larger than the other ubiquitous coffee shops/bakeries that are scattered everywhere in Seoul these days, this one was adorable, quirky yet vintage at the same time.

outside terrace of daily coffee 121

This place also seemed to take their coffee seriously – the inside of the cafe had 2 entire walls dedicated to their process of roasting and grinding beans.

coffee bean gradient

My mom and I are easily enamored by this kind of cute coffee shop atmostphere, so in the end we decided to eat here.

hand-drawn menu

My mom ordered 2 iced coffees, but I insisted we also get bingsoo. I mean, come on, if you’re talking about summer desserts, it has to be bingsoo right? Since there were 6 of us (my mom, aunt, grandma, dad, sister, and me), my mom ordered 2 bingsoos. They were about $12 each and took a while to make, but in my opinion, they were definitely worth it.

regular pat (red bean) bingsoo

The bingsoo servings were huge, plenty enough for 3 people. The regular pat bingsoo came topped with of course, aduki red beans, but also a huge variety of fruit (watermelon, kiwi, watermelon, grape, pineapple). There were also mochi rice cakes and slivered almonds sprinkled over a scoop of raspberry-vanilla ice cream. The ice was shaved really fine with milk drizzled over it, and mixed all together, this bingsoo made for really good summer eats. I’m pretty sure I ate about half of it, even though I was sharing with my grandma and my dad.

The other bingsoo we got was of the green tea variety:

green tea bingsoo

The toppings for the green tea bingsoo was the same as the regular; the only difference was that it had green tea ice cream in it. That’s right, it had green tea ice cream IN it, not just a scoop of it on top. Underneath all the fruits and nuts are alternating layers of green tea ice cream and shaved ice, resulting in an intense matcha flavor. I appreciated how this place didn’t wuss out by just dolloping a little bit of green tea ice cream on top and calling it green tea bingsoo.

The service here was also really good – waiters brought everything to your table and cleaned it all up when you were done. Not to mention that the employees here were all pretty good looking. Not that I was staring or anything :P

After our sweet teeth had been satisfied, my dad decided he needed to get even MORE pants, so we went shopping at 2001 Outlet. Afterwards, my grandpa brought us to a North Korean-style restaurant near their apartment.

this place is not the enemy!

Inside, it was a standard, sit on your butt cross-legged, Korean-styled restaurant.

people happily nomming away

Because this place specialized in North Korean cuisine, almost everything that was served here was made in the PyongYang style.

banchans are all pickled

mung bean bindaedduk

The bindaedduks here are made larger than normal, but they were still deliciously crispy and hot, made from ground-up mung beans and filled with vegetables and pork belly.

Even though this restaurant’s specialty is nengmyun, my sister wasn’t in the mood for it; she ended up getting mandoo.

huge, north-korean style dumplings

It might be hard to tell, but these dumplings were GINORMOUS. Each one was about the length of my hand, and fit to bursting with delicious fillings.


North Korean-style mandoo doesn’t usually have a lot of meat; it uses a lot of tofu and vegetables instead. Even with their lack of animal protein, my carnivorous sister finished her entire plate, which means they must’ve been delicious.

The rest of my family got nengmyun for our main course:

oh yes. cold buckwheat noodles in beefy broth for the win.

Because this nengmyun was made in the PyongYang styles, these noodles were made with a higher buckwheat to starch ratio. So instead of being all chewy and springy like South Korean nengmyun, these noodles were a lot more easily bitten through and disconnected. The broth was also really delicious and refreshing; each nengmyun house has its own broth recipe, but at most place the base starts with a beef stock. It’s the additions of chicken stock, pork stock, or maybe even kimchi stock that gives each respective bowl of nengmyun their unique, nuanced flavors. Real PyongYang nengmyun, like this one, has a small ball of pheasant meat bobbing around in it; the meatball is purposefully formed with small bones still in it, so when I was eating mine, there were parts where I was actually crunching down on the small pheasant bones. As you can see, my nengmyun came with radish, egg, cucumber, scallion, and thin slices of beef brisket. I loaded my bowl up with Korean mustard and proceeded to slurp it all down. My entire family agreed that this was legit North Korean nengmyun.

After the delicious dinner, I headed back home to pack for my trip to China. Beijing was definitely a great experience – but that’ll have to wait for the next post. There are 4 days worth of pictures and blogging coming, so be on the look out for my next update!!!



5 thoughts on “thursday part 2: cafes and north korean food

  1. doughnut plantttttttt<3
    when you come back lets hit brooklyn for papusas/horchata/lobster and doughnut plant :)

    Posted by Euna | July 12, 2010, 3:27 pm


  1. Pingback: july 15: mercury poisoning…? « you eatin' nice - July 17, 2010

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