Seoul is an absolute food heaven for those who love to eat, like myself. It's also hard not to think about food all the time while walking around the city because every corner you turn, there is something to eat! Many of our food finds are chance encounters while some are recommendations from Korean friends. Either way, I'd be happy to go for seconds at any of these places we've come across.
The long line at Milky Bee never seems to disperse. And one taste (and look) of their ice cream explains it all! You can choose from their visually-pleasing rose gelato in a cone or their signature milky ice cream series. Whatever your final choice is, you won't be disappointed.
I opted for their top 2 item on the menu called the Honey Combs - milky ice cream with a piece of honey comb + drizzles of honey. My mom opted for the rose gelato on a cone with yogart + strawberry flavors. The ice cream is ultra smooth and has a delicious whole milk flavor. It reminds me of the Japanese milk-flavored chewy candies I had as a child in Hong Kong. The gelato is equally tasty.
The rose gelato is gorgeously done and my mom keeps saying it's too pretty to eat! 3 to 4 people behind the counter feverishly work on each rose petal creation. I watch them for a while and truly appreciate their patience and dedication to making every cone the most perfect one. Every time I see such passion in food-creation, it makes me enjoy it that much more.
My second try of another Milky Bee signature - The Milky Bee Original. This time it's just the milky ice cream without any toppings - I want to taste the pure flavor of their milky creation. I am in ice cream heaven.
Milky Ice Cream Series: Small 3500 - 4800 Won / USD $2.99 - $4.10. Large 6300 - 7600 Won / USD $5.38 - $6.49 (Photos showed small)
Rose Gelato: 2 flavors 5500 Won / USD $4.70; 3 flavors 6000 Won / USD $5.12 (Photo showed 2 flavors)
Milky Bee is located in the Myeongdong neighborhood, also known as the beauty district where every street is filled with retail stores of all the popular Korean beauty brands.
The exact address is "11 Myeongdong 8 ga-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul", with "8 ga-gil" being the street name. Be careful not to confuse this with a perpendicular street called "8-gil". The actual cross street is "10-gil". If your app has trouble locating it, try searching for Creto Hotel Myeongdong or The Grand Hotel Myeongdong first. Milky Bee is on the same street, about a 5-7 minutes walk from these hotels, in the direction toward the hustle and bustle of the beauty district.
Using Seoul Subway System - Easy & Straightforward
You can also take the subway. Exit at the Myeongdong station on Line 4 (lighter blue). Seoul subway system is very easy to use, from using ticket machines to locating stations on maps. Multiple languages, including English, are available. If you buy single-use ticket, you have the option to obtain a 500 Won refund after exiting your destination station. There is a refund machine where you can insert the used ticket. Location of this machine varies by station, so you will have to spend a few minutes looking for it. It's not a big amount, but money is money!
The official tourism site has an extremely helpful and detailed page showing you everything you need to know about using the subway. Go here for info on maps, basic fare, ticket machine, gate, refund, etc..
The Myeongdong Kyoja came highly recommended by a friend's spouse, who's Korean. Their signature item is their "kyoja", aka dumplings. The restaurant began in 1964 and officially became Meyongdong Kyoja in 1978 in order to distinguish themselves from the copycats.
We actually passed by this place on the first day without noticing it - That's how unassuming it is. And their menu is simple with only 4 choices - Kalguksu (A traditional Korean chopped noodle that comes with dumplings), Kongguksu (Another traditional Korean noodle dish served in cold soy milk broth), their signature dumplings steamed without broth or noodles, and a spicy noodle dish.
We really want to order all 4 dishes, but knowing that there's no way we could finish that much food, we went for the Kalguksu (chopped noodles).
Both me and my mom let out a "wow" after our first bite. The noodles are chewy. The broth seems thicker than what I am used to, but it is tasty. And the dumplings may be on the skinny side, but they are super yummy and the skin is made so thin that it must require some skills to make the dumplings without breaking the skin. All the flavors are just right. We vow to come back for a second visit.
Myeongdong Kyoja has two locations. The one we visited is located at "29 Myeongdong 10-gil, Jung-su, Seoul". The cross street is "8-gil". The other location is just up the same street. The entrance may appear to be a tourist trap kind of place at first glance, but look here for some photos of the entrance to help you locate the restaurant. If using the subway, exit at Myeongdong station on Line 4 (lighter blue).
Know the Drills
One thing that maybe surprising is that the waiting staff will ask you to pay immediately after they have taken your order. Each dish is 8000 Won / USD $6.83. Also, try to go before or after the usual lunch and dinner rush hours. We did that and waited for a few minutes for a table. Otherwise, the wait can be 45 minutes.
I was poking around as my mom was shopping in a Myeongdong store. I somehow walked into what I thought was an alleyway, but it turned out to be an entrance to a small hotel. Then I looked up and saw this hidden gem.
The coffee was just ok, but I didn't come here for that. I came for these lovely and giant shaved ice dessert. Just look at those giant mochi's with sweet red bean filling. To die for. The Korean dessert trend is becoming pretty popular in selected parts of the U.S. such as Southern California. Boston is still trying to catch up with one store opened, so needless-to-say, I am in food heaven here, yet again.
Another place I'd recommend is Caffebene. It's a popular chain in Seoul that serves similar giant shaved ice desserts. There's one in Myeongdong as well.
SEOUL'S STREET FOOD CULTURE
Another Korean friend told me that my visit to Seoul wouldn't be complete if I didn't try the street foods...and so we did. If only I could eat more, but here are a few that we tried and they were soooo good!
The Sweet Red Bean Bread Homemade pastry with sweet red bean paste filling. It was so toasty and every bite is filled with the sweet taste of red beans. The cute fish design just brings a smile to our face. Also, the wife of this lovely husband and wife team always keeps a smile on her face and we all know how a smile can be so contagious! I love the Japanese version of this tasty treat, but the Korean version is just as good. There are similar stalls around Seoul. This particular one is located on our way to Namsangol Hanok Village. Price: 1000 Won / USD $0.85.
Grilled Squid It's almost grill-to-order as the inventory at this stall disappears quickly with the beauty shopping crowd in Myeongdong. The chef coats each squid skewer with a secret sauce as it is being cooked on the grill. The combination of the grilling action and this secret sauce sets off this aromatic fragrance in the air and that's what drew us to this stall in the first place. Price: 1000 Won / USD $0.85.
The Egg Bread I couldn't resist this stall with their stacks of eggs as I love eating eggs. I assumed it's some sort of seasoned boiled eggs, but as I pick up my piece, I realize it's a close-to-over-and-easy egg on top of a piece of bread. And as I bite into it, Oh My God, it's a combination of the saltiness of the egg and the sweetness of the bread. I tried to get a second one, but one is already so filling and I have to save space for other good stuff. Location: Myeongdong, across from the large Nature Republic store (The one with green vines on the outside wall). Price: 2000 Won / USD $1.71.
The Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich Not exactly a cultural food, but both me and my mom have a sweet tooth, so naturally we are drawn to this stall. So was the little boy standing behind my mom (in the photo) who, after seeing my mom holding two of these delicious monsters, talked his mom into buying him one. The stall-owner is super nice - There are already-made waffles, but my mom asks him for the fresh ones he's making and he kindly offers them to us. A mix of sweet waffles and ice cream, who doesn't love that?! Location: Myeongdong, near TeenieWeenie. Price: 3000 Won / USD $2.56.
The Juice Stand Finally, some refreshing and freshly-squeezed juice. I'm usually not a huge fan of grapefruit, but for some reason, the grapefruit juice from this stand is so sweet (no sweetener added) and I totally love it! I also love how this comes in foldable plastic bags that can be carried easily even if there's no trash can in sight. I devour the first bag and order a second one. The stall-owner chuckled at the sight of me sucking up the juice in 20-seconds time. Location: Myeongdong, near Banila Co. Price: I can't recall, but probably between 1000 & 3000 Won / USD $0.85 -2.56.
Going Back for Seconds
There are so many other street food stalls and local food choices. What we tried was just a fraction of them. I was telling my friend that I spent most of our time shopping for K-beauty on this trip...and we'd have to go back just for a food tour. I hope you've enjoyed this intro to Seoul food culture and maybe I'll bump into you on my next journey there!
Let me know your thoughts!
To leave a comment, scroll to the bottom of this post or click on blog post title and scroll to the bottom.