january bites...


Welcome to Seoul in the City!

I would like to thank my avid readers and followers since 2009! I'm absolutely blessed with all the encouragement and continuous support that inspires me to keep up with my journal.  I will abide with my fellow partners, and hope that 'my love affair' with food, travel and design will never cease...

As my first official post for my new site, I would like to re-introduce one of my favorites-coffee bangatgan-커피   방앗간 in Samchungdong.  It's a treat when I go to this spot, since it's a bit far for me. Their novelty: to leave your mark, you can write notes or doodle on their custom napkins, and just tape it anywhere in the cafe...literally. 

Whenever I go back, I try to look for the notes I left behind the previous time...but never can find it! Perhaps it blew away...or someone loved my note and snatched it away? hahaha...

The photos below will make you hungry...such a tease...Enjoy:)


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solbin's superdog in apkujong

tina and i getting excited to eat our 'midnight' snack at superdog-in apkujong

One of my favorite late nite snacks in Seoul-Solbin's Superdog in Apkujung! Introduced by my friend Tina last summer, I don't know if it's a curse or a blessing! Hahahaha...both I guess.  Tina and I always make a stop before heading to Sahm bar...sometimes we'll even go twice (before and after Sahm).  Yes, 2 crazzzzy ladies can never get enough of these dogs!
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the beautiful bar

I'm about to reveal this hidden treasure in Apkujung...

Good friend Tina and I have discovered this bar this past summer, making a pact that it would be our 'secret' bar. Sahm. Needless to say, it's THE perfect spot for us!  There is simply no other bar like this in Seoul! They opened their doors late spring of 2010, mainly attracting folks in the bar/entertainment industry.  It's tucked away in the alleys near the famous Rodeo drive in Apkujung, so it's hard to spot stragglers just dropping a visit.

The owner and former model Jonghwan Shin, has been working in the industry for over a decade, and brings his honed skills to create 'his sanctuary'.  Not to mention the 2 other bartenders are currently models as well...uh hum. Well, this isn't the sole reason why Tina and I make this our second home, as everyone teases us about.  To me, Sahm is where 'The Green Mill meets The Violet Hour'. Two Chicago bars that are truly dear to me, and absolutely miss!

The lure: making your perfect drink.

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a love letter to audrey

audrey at her 1st birthday-february 2010

This is a love letter to my beautiful niece Audrey Haeun Lee.  A letter long overdue...for my close friends, you guys know how crazy I am about this little bean! There hasn't been one get together where I wouldn't go online and showcase her photos! kkk.

Unable to run around with her, since my arrival in Seoul 10 months ago, was pretty brutal. Thanks to skype and facebook, I feel that I'm somewhat living her life vicariously through the images posted by my brother Ray and his wife Jiye.  Not to mention in the earlier days (my family claims this), her baby photos resembled me when I was young! Of course over time, she is an absolute mirror image of Ray, along with Jiye's sweet femininity and charm! Hahahaha...

My heart skips a beat every time I think of her...
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my first christmas in seoul

sally bought this christmas cake for party, but we ended up bringing it home! and i've been eating it ever since...oh geez...

Missing home like crazy this holiday season...must say it really didn't feel like Christmas here in Seoul! The traffic-road and foot- was absolutely crazy on the 24th and the 25th.  Everything was pretty much open both days, and all of Seoul was out and about.  I stopped by Myung-dong on the 25th with my roommate, I just about died in the crowd...plus the weather was quite brutal this past week!  All in all, I'm very blessed to have close friends around me, who have made my first Christmas in Seoul amazing! Would not have have spent it any other way!

To my devoted readers out there-thanks for keeping up with my blog, I am truly grateful for your encouragement as well as your continuous support.  You guys are my true kindred spirits!
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some of my favorite things...


amazing hand drip coffee at 'cafe may' in garosugil

For my readers out there, you may have noticed that I have so many 'favorite' spots around Seoul...but I wanted to blog about a few spots that are truly dear to me, and love taking my close friends to! I was tempted 'not' to blog about this for a while...but oh what the heck! Sharing is caring :) This is to my fans out there...perhaps I'll bump into you at these spots one day!

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german food in seoul?

open kitchen at barlin german restaurant

Barlin (pronounced Baerlin)-a modern, mid-range German restaurant located in Susong-dong,  heralds a glimpse of Europe to Seoul.  I recently stumbled upon this place with Chef Darren, and we both looked at each other and said 'finally, proper sausages in Seoul!' Authentic German Cuisine is truly a hard to find in Seoul.  Although I wasn't a huge fan of their starter bread (nothing like The Spice's bread!) and their sauerkraut...it was just okay. However, their sausage mains were spot on, and the service was deserving.  Loved their open kitchen concept with the custom mural above it, which added a refined element to the space. Definitely would like to revisit soon to try their sausage schnitzel! 
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seoul food week 2010

Seoul Food Week 2010 was held at Coex on November 18th-21st.  Over 600 companies participated in the exhibition, with more than 80,000 domestic and overseas visitors!  The purpose of this exhibition was that at least 6 kinds of food fairs will be held simultaneously so that exhibitors and visitors will be able to learn a variety of information about general food, agro stock, rice, food packing, kitchen machinery, hotel & restaurant, etc. under one roof.
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After spending an afternoon at Changdeokgung Palace near Insadong, I decided to drop a visit to one of my favorite areas in Seoul-Insadong. Something about this place always warms my heart.  The galleries, the street food vendors, traditional tea houses as well as the amazing Korean restaurants that won't kill your budget! For 5,000-6,000 won, you can eat until your stuffed! Now that's my kind of meal :)

This day was spent to pamper Sarah...I found the mandoo place that I so craved for all these years!  'Sadong Myunok - 사동면옥' is a famous mandoo (Korean dumpling) restaurant that my cousin took me to 4 + years ago, and couldn't find it a few months ago. But this day, I just couldn't leave Insadong until I found it. Their mandoo soup totally hit the spot, then picked up a 'hoduk' on my way to a tea house.
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changdeokgung palace

i'm always in awe with korean architecture...

Friends have been telling me to check out Changdeokgung Palace since I got here, and I picked the most perfect day to spend my day off...the weather was amazing!  The changing of the leaves were absolutely speechless.  Inside the palace, you can tour the 'queen's secret garden'-a 2 hour tour for 8,000 won. Note-there are specific tour times, and must get there early to reserve a spot!

My group was close to 100 or more, a pretty diverse group.  A few loners like myself, with their cameras ready in one hand, and hot coffee in the other.  It was a sweet, leisurely walk throughout the palace grounds...great time to spend with your significant others, or friends in town!
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the page

the brunch menu at 'the page'

Spent a Saturday afternoon with friends to check out this fairly new brunch spot 'The Page' in Bangbae-dong.

Their menu-pretty straight forward with very reasonable prices...really enjoyed most of the dishes, however my friends and I came to a conclusion that the portions are smaller than it looks.  So if you do go there, I would advise getting a side of waffles (mini waffles start at 3,000 won).  My favorite was the English egg muffin (their take on eggs benedict with beef instead of Canadian bacon).

The interior is to the point.  Minimal, the way I like it.  3 floors, with private sections if you would want to hold meetings.  Wi-fi available, valet available, however they do not take reservations.  The place is quite large, so you shouldn't have a hard time finding a table!
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sculpture by the sea exhibit


Last weekend, we had a chance to walk along Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach, and see all the beautiful sculptures part of the 'Sculpture By the Sea' exhibit. They only have it for 2 weeks, and I'm glad I was still here to see it! The concept for Sculpture by the Sea is the culmination of many years thinking, where a new step in the thought process came up every year or so. It was absolutely stunning!
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yummy mummy's!



Kristi recently explained the term ‘yummy mummy,’ which is a trendy, urban mom who mostly spends time taking care of kids, doing yoga, and having coffee at the parks with their other yummy mummy friends! Not to mention, they have the resources to really take advantage of the ‘yummy’ part. Hrm...this sounds like some of the mom’s I know in Chicago! Last week, we spent an afternoon at Centennial Park with Kristi and some of her friends...enjoyed a picnic lunch on a beautiful day, with 2 adorable kids! I was just amazed at how many mums and their kids were at the park, on a Thursday afternoon...what a life I tell you! It seems like Sydney is a great place to raise a family-so green, the pace of life is great, and people here take their ‘free time’ seriously. I guess when the weather is perfect almost all year round, how can you not be out and about with outdoor activities!


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breaky 2

single origins special breaky single origins special breaky

Part of the October food fest, 'Single Origins Cafe' was also having a special breaky. First, they made coffee of my choice, with a morning muesli and fresh fruit...followed by a ‘Colombian’ tamale with fresh pico de gallo, matched with a pot of colombian coffee. Food was excellent, and the best part-I met the manager (actually I think he’s the owner) of this cafe, and I received a special goodie bag at the end of my breaky! Gotta say, quite nice when you start chatting with the chefs/owners...they definitely take care of you! This cafe is absolutely the best here...not just by recommendations from friends, but I am already addicted! It’s quite a walk, but I’ll be making my frequent stops there for a ‘flat white!’


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One of the buildings that I absolutely adore is the ‘Queens Victoria Building,’ a.k.a. ‘QVB.’ One of the oldest buildings in downtown Sydney that was built in 1898, has stunning architectural details that include stained glass windows, intricate mosaic floors, and two large mechanical clocks-each featuring dioramas and moving figures from moments in Australian history. The QVB takes up an entire block on George Street, which originally housed street markets. Now it houses 200 shops, cafes, and restaurants! I was also fortunate to have high tea at the tea room, located on the top floor. The best high tea ever, and I think I ate a whole bowl of clotted cream myself!!!

The photos will speak for itself...  

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sydney international food festival

One of the main reasons why I am in Sydney in October, is to participate in all the activities at the festival. The highlight of the fest was the chef food showcase, where the best chefs from all over the world, presented their favorite recipes, held panel discussions, signed autographs, as well as taking photos. The ticket to attend a program for one day was $285! However, it was so well worth it! Unlimited coffee, lunch (I had sushi!), cupcakes, dumplings, wine, and fruit were provided all throughout the day. I really didn't know what to expect from a 9:30-5:00pm program schedule, where all the food demos were held in one room. I enjoyed every segment, every food demo, and most of all, actually meeting these chefs in person! I think I was the only one in the room from the U.S., and during one of the panel discussions, I mentioned I was from Chicago. Then people started coming up to me about how they would love to go to visit 'Alinea'! I soon found out most of these chefs have been to Chicago, specifically to visit Alinea and Charlie Trotters. Of course I had to give my plug on other Chicago favorites. My 'Chicago' connection has never sparked so much interest from these chefs, when I was asking for their autographs. I was able to get 3 more minutes of their time, more than the others that were eagerly awaiting to shake their hands. Woohoo for me! Edward Kwon was one of the chefs that I definitely had to meet! He is one of the top chefs from Seoul, who has a restaurant and his own cooking show. During his segment, I think all the Koreans from Sydney came out of the woodworks, just to see him. I had a chance to meet him after his demo, I presented him my business card and discussed Chicago, (spoke to him in English the whole time, he's quite fluent!). I also had a great discussion with one of the top food critics of Paris-Sebastien Demorand. He is a fan of Rick Bayless, and loves Chicago. Even though I gave him my contact info, I forgot to get his...and ever since I have been pounding my head for that. Here are the chefs I met at the Chef Showcase (all from just one program, there were 6): Sergi Arola (Madrid-www.sergiarola.es/) Alexandre Bourdas (Paris-alexandre-bourdas.com) Cheong Liew (Adelaide-www.thegrangerestaurant.com.au) Edward Kwon (Seoul-www.edwardkwon.com) Justin North (Sydney-www.becasse.com.au) Alvin Leung (Hong Kong-www.boinnovation.com) Peter Gordon (London, NZ-www.longrain.com) Sebastien Demorand (Paris) Matt Preston (Host of the Master Chef Australia) chef sergi arola from madrid chef sergi arola from madrid fresh dumplings during our morning break at the showcase fresh dumplings during our morning break at the showcase chef alexandre bourdas and food critic sebastien demorand chef alexandre bourdas and food critic sebastien demorand prepared by chef bourdas-snapper with oyster, local vegetables, seaweed and lemongrass prepared by chef bourdas-snapper with oyster, local vegetables, seaweed and lemongrass lunch time at the showcase...very nice! lunch time at the showcase...very nice! chef edward kwon (left) and one of his assistants (right) chef edward kwon (left) and one of his assistants (right) 'chilled chicken with ginseng'-a deconstruction of the traditional korean dish-sam gye tang, prepared by chef kwon. absolutely amazing! 'chilled chicken with ginseng'-a deconstruction of the traditional korean dish-sam gye tang, prepared by chef kwon. absolutely amazing! chef peter gordon, chef alvin leung, and sebastien demorand chef peter gordon, chef alvin leung, and sebastien demorand
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hello sydney...

Hello there...as this is my very first blog entry, I decided to finally create a blog dedicated to my love affair with food...with design...with travels. I am on holiday for 2 months in Sydney, and arrived here on October 2nd. Why am I here? First of all, my good friend Kristi has been trying for years, to figure out every possible way for me to make my way down here. Sydney is one of the cities that I had to visit, and also known as one of the food capitals of the world, why not come and check it out myself? October is the Sydney International Food Festival (SIFF) month, with endless things to do all food related. 2 months is quite a long holiday...but I had to take advantage of this food fest, as well as taking the time to explore the city inch by inch. It's only been a little over a week, and I am absolutely in love with this city! The air...the water...the food...and the coffee. Oh the coffee!!! 'Flat white' as they say...shot of espresso with milk, is my choice of coffee here. Kristi gave me the run down on how to order a coffee, thank goodness. Aussie's take their coffee very seriously, and boy they definitely don't mess around! One place in particular that is known for their coffee, with their special brewing-'Single Origin' was amazing...check out the photo in this entry! It will be difficult to have coffee in Chicago after I leave Sydney. the view from kristi and stephan flat white
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