Today I got to meet up with an old friend from college. She took me to this cute Vietnamese restaurant in Gangnam, Seoul in South Korea.
The first thing you see when you come in is the Vietnam Street Food Market concept, hence the name of the restaurant. The design is so cute! I haven’t been to Vietnam in my adulthood yet but I can imagine that this is what it would look like.
I also like that there is a huge variety of Vietnamese food in the menu. I’ve been to many Vietnamese restaurants in South Korea but there is usually a limited option. So the many food options is definitely a plus!
I’ve been trying to find the best pho in South Korea so of course that is what I ordered.
The restaurant is owned by Vietnamese people so the broth tasted amazing! Not like the canned broth you taste in the bigger chains like Phomein. My friend said that the pho they serve here taste just like the pho in Vietnam. I only know the taste of American pho so I can’t compare but I would say the broth is almost as good as my grandma’s (of course nothing can beat my grandma’s cooking).
For the meat lovers, the amount of meat you get is a huge plus. I noticed that most places will only give you 3-4 slices of meat but I honestly prefer it that way. After being vegetarian for so long, I don’t like to eat too much meat. Another thing I didn’t like is that bean sprouts are already added into the dish instead of given to you as a side dish. I like to add the bean sprouts in myself.
And not to mention the price! My friend and I ordered two bowls of pho, a sugar cane drink, and a calimansi drink. We paid 25,000 (about $24) altogether. Overall, I really like the restaurant and would definitely go back again. My favorite part of the restaurant is the street food concept!
Location: Gangnam Station
Take the green line (line 2) to Gangnam Station. Get out at exit 9, turn left, walk past the Mega Box and go straight down the alley. The restaurant is at the end of the alley, across the street from eight 8.
The best thing about living in Ansan is the multicultural city at Ansan Station. The moment you get off the train, it’s like stepping into a Southeast Asian country, kind of like the wardrobe in Narnia that leads you to another world.
There are a ton of factories in Ansan which means there are also a ton of immigrant workers. These workers bring their families to South Korea and with nothing to do, they open up restaurants! Being away from home is already hard enough but to live in another country for work is even harder. The thing people usually miss most about their home country is the food (myself included). You can bet that the food here is authentic otherwise these restaurants would go out of business pretty fast!
The restaurant looks small from the outside but it’s a lot bigger on the inside. It was actually really crowded with many tables crammed in next to each other. I’ve also been told that this is the most popular Vietnamese restaurant in the area so there were a lot of people inside.
I’m trying to find the best pho in South Korea so I went with the Pho Ga (Chicken Pho). Just based on how it looks, I like that it’s very simple with only a few ingredients. And honestly, I must say that the broth tasted just like my grandma’s! This means the broth must have been simmered for hours (my grandma usually simmers it overnight). The only thing I didn’t like was the chicken. It was really dry and didn’t taste fresh at all. Next time, I want to try the pho bo (beef pho).
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (I give it 5 stars simply because of the broth).
Location: Ansan Station, light blue line (line 4) and get out at exit 1. There is a highway outside the exit. Take the underground path to get to the other side of the highway, walk straight for a block, then turn left. The restaurant will be on your right at the end of the street.
For Chuseok this year, my friend Julie and I went to Ulleungdo together. Ulleungdo is a small island to the East of South Korea with a population of about 10,000 people. It is the island every Korean want to visit but most foreigners don’t know about. This made the island a nice getaway as it wasn’t populated with tourists.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
Getting to Ulleungdo is not easy. I live in Ansan and had to take an hour and a half subway ride to Seoul, then transfer to a bus to Gangneung Port which took 3 hours. Finally, the ferry ride to the island was another 3 hours.
Unlucky for me and the hundreds of other people on the ferry, the ocean was super rough on the way there. Everyone, and I mean everyone, got sick. The boat was enclosed and the AC was on full blast. It was cold and everyone was throwing up. I felt fine the first two hours but in the final hour, I felt sick and was unable to get a vomit bag in time. I ended up throwing up all over myself.
Three hours felt like forever but we eventually made it to the island! The first thing we did was check into the hotel and rested for a bit. Four of us were assigned to a hotel room and luckily we got the rooftop room! The view from the rooftop was gorgeous. After resting for about 2 hours, we went to eat lunch. Julie and I didn’t eat much though – we were still feeling too nauseous.
The first thing on the intinary was to hike the Haengnam Seaside Walkway. The hike itself wasn’t difficult. It was mostly bridges and stairs and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking.
The path eventually led to the Haengnam Lighthouse. The hike up to the lighthouse was a little more difficult as the main path was closed for renovations.
But it was worth it in the end considering the view at the top was stunning. My photos don’t do the scenery any justice.
On our way down, we stopped for a bit to bridge jump. I was too chicken to attempt the 7 meter jump off the bridge.
Later, we went hiking up to the Dokdo Museum and Dokdo Observatory. Japan and South Korea has been fighting over Dokdo for hundreds of years. I personally don’t care too much about history so I didn’t spend much time at the museum. I did enjoy taking the lift up to the observatory though!
Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
After breakfast, we took a four hour bus tour around the entire island. It was relaxing after a long day yesterday.
After the bus tour, we drove up to the Nari Basin (나리분지) in the center of the island. This village was built on top of a crater and the people living here often get snowed in during the winter! 😮
For lunch, we ate bibimbap made with the island’s herbs. A lot of people on the trip complained about the lack of meat but I really liked it. I’m not a vegetarian anymore but I still prefer to eat vegetarian dishes over meat.
After lunch, half the tour group went on a 6 hour hike up Seonginbong Peak (성인봉). Julie and I decided to skip this intense hike and explored the island instead. We walked around and found another coastal walkway. This one, however, was closed for maintenance but we were still able to take some beautiful pictures.
Monday, September 24th, 2018
Our last full day on the trip. Most of the people in the trip went on the Dokdo tour but Julie and I used our free time to explore the island instead.
After exploring the waterfall, we met up with our roommates, Lois and Janice, and took them to closed coastal walkway to take pictures. We relaxed for a bit on the boardwalk.
We were very lucky on the way back to catch this amazing sunset on our way back to our hotel in Dodong.
Tuesday, September 25th, 2018
We only had a few hours before catching the ferry back to the mainland so we used our time to buy souvenirs.
Final thoughts: I feel like I didn’t do that much on the island compared to everyone else in the tour. Next time, I want to attempt that intense hike up Seonginbong Peak (성인봉) and go to Dokdo. Ulleungdo is a small island and can easily be explored in a weekend trip. I definitely want to go back again!