So Far, Seoul Good Day 3 – Tosokchon Ginseng Chicken, Coco Bruni, Seoul Collection, Korea Furniture Museum & Night Out at Itaewon

The best of travel days are the ones unplanned for.

Apart for a museum trip later in the afternoon, we had the entire day wide open to all sorts of possibilities. Do we eat to our heart content? Do we want to soak in some culture? How about some shopping till the credit card max out?

We decided to do everything of course. Here’s our tale.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

To start the day right we made our way to Tosokchon, probably the most famous place in Seoul to have traditional Chicken cuisine. The restaurant is housed within a complex of traditional Korean houses and even at that hour in the morning, it was already packed with visitors and locals tucking in to pots of samgyetang (chicken stuffed with rice and ginseng, cooked in soup) and plates of roasted chicken with ginseng.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Yes, the specialties of the house is chicken with ginseng, which was refreshingly light and void of your usual MSG. For good measure we also thrown in a spring onion pancake, but combined the three dishes were too much for the two of us. So we took our time and soak in the buzzy atmosphere and helped the next table (a couple of HK girls) deciphering the menu and how to order.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

After that we just kinda worked off our chicken overload walking around the area, which wasn’t as interesting as Tosokchon itself. I got quite excited seeing a Popeyes; not so excited walking pass Sejong Village Food Street which was mostly closed. As it turned out we were pretty near to Gyebokgung Palace, and I recalled passing by a bookshop on our way there yesterday, so we decided to drop by that instead.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Seoul Collection is a quaint traveler shop located at the basement of a building. Part cafe, part bookshop, it has lots of books dedicated to the English traveler, a small menu of drinks and postal service for the odd postcards you might want to send home. I perused a couple of their Korean Essentials and bought the one for food. You can never learn too much of a country’s food.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Since we still have some time to spare, we thought a spot of light lunch would do nicely. And so we dropped by Cocobruni, a stylish, classy building of three storeys with a patio seating that was perfect to while away an afternoon doing some people watching. We had the French toast set, which was to be honest was to be honest a tad weird because of the combination of the sweet toast and then some egg with bacons, but hey when in Seoul…

Anticipating a long ride up to the north of Seoul for the museum, we made sure we had an hour to spare before taking a cab. The cab drove up the winding roads of some hills, which reminded me of my Taiwanese, before dropping us right in front of our destination… in five minutes flat.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Which wasn’t that bad a thing being early to a destination of course, but as Korean Furniture Museum is a private museum, it isn’t opened to public, and visits are only possible by booking the private guided tour. As such we were kinda stuck in front of the museum, so I took the opportunity to do some power nap. God, that felt good.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Soon 4 p.m. draws near and a couple of other visitors appeared, and dainty tour guide speaking in very good English opened the door of the museum… drawing much gasps from the group. The gateway opened into the group of a complex of ten traditional Korean houses transported to this compount from various parts of Seoul, and I swear to God, walking through those gates felt like as if we were transported back through time to ancient Korea.

I learned a lot about the Korean culture and history during that one hour tour on the ground. Here are a couple of things which I thought were worth taking note of:

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

The Koreans never plant a garden around their house. Apparently, in Chinese chartacters, combining the word “house” and “trees” meant the word “proverty”. The Koreans believe that by keeping the surrounding of their house bare, their garden is their world.

They also don’t like their house to face the peak of the mountain. Apparently this was in the believe that such positioning will make the house dwellers too competitive for their own good, and being genial Koreans, their houses face the mountain shoulder instead.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

The room with the best view of the house is often granted to the ladies. All furnitures within the house (and God knows I have seen so many pieces that afternoon enough to last for a lifetime) are lower than the height of a person. This creates better flow of energy around the house, creating a sense of peace and well being for the house dwellers.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Much were said about the furniture and its designs that afternoon. Had it not been for this tour, I wouldn’t have known that so much thoughts can be given to the building of furnitures. Design consistencies were important, and the Koreans’ probably can be best described as Bauhaus – simple, geometric designs that are practical. I was particularly drawn to the design of its stackable bookcases, as well as how the butterfly motives represent the male (and the flowers represent the female).

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Koreans of different social status have their house size defined different as well. So much so that there are exact measurements of the distance between two pillars in the palace house, the nobel house, and the common house.

After such a wonderful evening of culture, we decided to go back to hotel to have a simple dinner at DINE Hall, only to discover it was closed! On a Saturday! How atrocious. But probably it was a good thing to happen, as because of that we ventured into the surrounding again and found outself at a Korean BBQ restaurant with no English names.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Every single other tables were packed with locals, just the way we liked it. A few ajumma (the Korean name for middle age, working class women) fussed over us as clearly we don’t posses the fine art of Korean BBQ. I was delighted with all the attention, and even had my first Soju experience. Clearly, the dinner for the night was a winner. Oh, did I mention that they used a charcoal instead of the usual gas stove? Prices were definitely much cheaper as well (damage for the night was some KRW39,000 for three plates of meats).

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3

Stinking of BBQ smell but couldn’t have been happier, we retreated back to the hotel for some power nap, before dolled ourselves up for a night out at Itaewon. And wow, it was like the travel guide’s description of Itaewon coming to life. The place was thronging with foreigners and English-speaking locals, though for a Saturday night I would have expected larger crowd. Everything was courteous, friendly (including the few very large, slight scary drag queens) and well-behaved (especially at the classy bar Almaz).

And oh, I went back to Sultan Kebab, the place where I keep repeating for years for having the best kebab I had ever tasted. I thought perhaps my memory wasn’t to be trusted fully, but one chicken kebab in I was convinced my assessment was right. Still the best kebab in the world. Right here in Seoul.

See more of my So Far, Seoul Good posts:

Eating Out & Restaurants

Tosokchon
85-1, Chebu-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: +82 2-737-7444
Opening Hours: Daily 10:00 am – 10:00 pm

Cocobruni
Hanganjin station, Line 6, Exit 2, walk for 5 minutes, its on your left
Tel: +822 732 1875

Almaz
1F, 136-6, Itaewpm-Dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul
Tel: +82 2 3785 0834

Sultan Kebab
Yongsan Gu Itaewon Dong, 127-28 Seoul
Tel: +82 2 749 3890

Exploring Around & Attractions

Seoul Collection
Near Gyeongbokgung Palace

Korean Furniture Museum
330-577 Seongbuk-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Tel: +82 2-745-0181

So Far, Seoul Good Day 3 - Tosokchon Ginseng Chicken, Coco Bruni, Seoul Collection, Korea Furniture Museum & Night Out at Itaewon by

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