Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My Korean honey cookie obsession

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    Yakgwa is a traditional Korean dish. This cute little cookie is made from only 3 ingredients: honey, sesame oil, and wheat flour. How can something with only 3 ingredients be such a problem in my life? I simply cannot stop eating these perfect and not to mention beautiful cookies. Especially when they are bite sized and seem to be a match made in heaven for a cup of green tea.
    Yakgwa can be purchased throughout Korea at specialty Korean restaurants where they are made by hand, or at your local Mini Stop. Everyday on my walk to and from work there are dozens of freshly made yakgwa sitting outside of traditional Korean bakeries in Jongno. They are very inexpensive and will cost you about 1,000 won for three large cookies. If you buy a small package of mass produced yakgwa from a Mini Stop they will only cost 600 won!
    Freshly made honey cookies will be very soft and moist on the inside. Usually when I buy them from one of the bakeries they are dripping with honey and there is actually condensation inside the package. However this honey is not like the super sweet and over-processed honey that we have back in the States. It is a light and delicate taste which compliments the chewier shell. The problem with these cookies is, that they are not so sweet so I actually find myself eating more and more because my stomach doesn't feel sick from too much sugar!
    Luckily, my body doesn't regret all of these cookies because they are actually said to be healthy for you. In Korea during the Joseon Dynasty yakgwa was referred to as a medicinal confectionery. This is because honey was considered extremely good for your health, which still holds some truth today.

If you have any questions or comments about yakgwa please leave them in the comment box below or email them to 

Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Celebrating Thanksgiving in Seoul

Unfortunately we can't bake turkeys in our washing machines
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    Most of us would love to go to Costco in Seoul and pick up a huge turkey for Thanksgiving, the only problem is that we don't have ovens. If your like any other expat living in Seoul with a washing machine in your kitchen instead of an oven don't worry. There are plenty of restaurants here that have Thanksgiving dinners for the big day. If you work a night shift and can't make one of these dinners don't worry; there are also a few options to celebrate on Saturday.

$$$$$ Fancy Feasts- no kimchi stuffed turkey guaranteed

1. Hilton Seoul Hotel’s Alpine Deli
This buffet offers turkey with herb stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, apple strudel, and more. This is not only for Thanksgiving, it runs through December 31st. The cost is a steep W165,000 plus 10% service charge which will run you about W195,000. A 2 days notice is required so email or call 02-2287-8271 to make your reservation.

$$$ Mid range pricing - there might be some kimchi on your table (jk!)

1. Hilton Seoul Hotel’s Buffet Restaurant
  This Thanksgiving dinner includes a glass of champagne and a glass of wine. The buffet begins at  6 pm and costs W70,000. There is a 2 day notice required so email or call 02-2287-8271 to make a reservation.

2. Suji’s
     Since Suji's is a well known restaurant catering to the expat scene in Itaewon of course there is a Thanksgiving buffet. There will be fresh green salad, seafood chowder soup, roasted turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, cornbread sausage stuffing, herb stuffing, grilled mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and a glass of wine or apple cider. There are two sittings, one at 5:30 – 7:30 pm, and another at 8 – 11 pm. The price is average for adults, about W45,000 – W50,000, and children get a cheaper meal ticket at W25,000 – W30,000 (excluding tax). There is a non-refundable cash deposit (20%) to be paid if you have over 5 people at your table. Reservations are required 02-797-3698 and keep in mind that Suji's is always crowded as it is, so expect a very crowded and less intimate Thanksgiving celebration.

3. Beer O’Clock

  Spend the night in Sinchon at a foreign owned bar watching football games while you eat turkey! This is a more low key Thanksgiving which includes dinner, 2 draft beers, and dessert.  The restaurant opens at 5 pm, and dinner starts at 7 pm and lasts until 2 am. The price is a reasonable W40,000 and tickets can be purchased at the bar. Visit their website or call 02-333-9733. 

Saturday Nov. 27th Thanksgiving feasts

1. Big Rock Brewery in Gangnam
This Thanksgiving feast is popular among the younger expat scene. There will be deep fried turkey with stuffing and all you can eat buffet. The first session starts from 5 – 6:30 pm for a low price of W35,000. The second session starts from 7:30 – 9:30 pm for a more expensive price of W50,000; however this includes all you can eat/drink food and beer. Past attendees have stated that by the end of the night there is all you can drink bottles of wine! Make a reservation by sending an email to or calling 02-539-6650. 

2. Thankgiving Day Potluck Dinner with Ongo Food
O’ngo Culinary School located in Insadong will have a potluck Thanksgiving Dinner on Saturday Nov. 27th from 3-7 pm. There will be all-you-can-eat turkey and side-dishes. At only W30,000 a person, this is by far the best priced feast in Seoul and if if you bring a homemade dish you can save W10,000. RSVP at  or call 02-3446-1607. Check out their Meetup group to see who else will be going at the Seoul Eats Meetup page.

If you have any questions or comments about "Celebrating Thanksgiving in Seoul" please leave them in the comment box below or contact

Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Enjoy fresh, simple, and elegant Italian food at Vapianos

    Vapianos is the best Italian food I have had so far in Seoul. With locations in 39 countries, Vapianos has set out to show the world what fresh and authentic Italian food should be like.
     All of the food at Vapianos is made to order. Upon entering the restaurant you receive a swipe card and are seated. Then you take your swipe card and order your food at one of the many stations which include pasta, pizza, salad, dessert and wine bar. The cute Korean chefs are happy to take your order and customize your meal as they cook everything right in front of you. You can stay and watch them cook your meal, or you can return to your table and they will serve you.

    All of the prices are very reasonable and you can have an appetizer, main course, wine, and dessert for around 30,000 won per person. I recommend ordering the bruschetta for an appetizer only 4,000 won, and the carbonara pasta as a main course. The carbonara is only 12,000 won and comes with fresh Parmesan cheese, a light creme sauce, egg, and bacon. Definitley save room for dessert. The panna cotta is topped with raspberry and is served in an adorable mason jar.  As a pretty picky Italian eater, I was pleasantly surprised with how fresh and simple the ingredients were at Vapianos. This is one of those restaurants where you want to savor every single bite; and you are so satisfied that you might even leave a little food on your plate so that you don't feel too full!

    The wine selection at Vapianos is truly amazing without breaking your budget. Order a glass of the Barbera D'Asti for only 8,800 won which comes from the province of Asit in northern Italy near Torino. My good friend Andrea drank this wine every week when she lived in Bologna. This red wine is stored in oak barrels which gives it a sweet yet deep and robust flavor that goes good with almost anything on the menu.

    The coolest part of Vapianos its signature style. They are known for their color red, and providing an urban and upscale interior. Each room has its own style, while keeping with the natural atmosphere. There are hundreds of fresh basil plants throughout the restaurant and if you want you can go ahead and pick your own to eat; however there will be plenty of fresh basil on anything your order!
   This is one restaurant where you can get lost in time. I spent about two hours soaking in the low key yet modern atmosphere. The hip fire place and dim lighting throughout the restaurant made me feel right at home. Not to mention the outstanding service of the chefs, waiters, and clerks who were always checking to make sure you were absolutely perfect.

   There are three Vapianos located in Seoul. Personally, I recommend the location in Gangnam. Simply take Line 2 and exit no. 5 where Vapianos will be directly on the corner on the second floor above the Smoothie King. Gangnam is known for being the much newer and upscale Manhattan part of Seoul, and Vapianos is a perfect way to experience what Gangnam has to offer. Still curious about Vapianos? Visit their international website at Finally, thanks to Christine one of my coworkers students at YBM for sharing Vapianos with us and showing us a great night out in Gangnam!


If you have any other questions or comments about Vapianos please leave them in the comment box below or email

Creative Commons License  Gone Seoul Searching by Marie Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at