So Far, Seoul Good Day 5 – Isaac’s Toast, LOTTE Basement Food Hall, Shinsegae & Namsan Hill Seoul Tower

It was a rainy, rainy day in Seoul.

Just for the record, I discovered that it snowed the day before I flew to Seoul. Which got my hope up a little, seeing how much I love snow and all. But when I get to the city, it was either sunshine in-your-face bright, or raining like today. Then the better half told me it will be snowing again on Wednesday – the day after I have left.

Seriously, I have the worst luck with snow.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

Back to my fifth day in Seoul, which was also my last full day here. We braved the incessant rain (I mean, would YOU have stayed in your hotel room because of a little rain?) to find this hole-in-the-wall sandwich joint, Isaac’s Toast which was popular among the locals. We found it after some meandering around Myeongdong. By then the rain got slightly heavier and I got slightly hysterical at the prospect of having my breakfast drenching wet.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

However, once the ajumma started making our order – a steak sandwich – it was easy to see Isaac is popular. One word – BUTTER. Richly, generously slathered on two pieces of thick toasts, then topped up with a piece of steak-like meat and some vegetables and sauce. Result: In one word – AWESOME. It was hard to be, well, hysterical in the rain, when you are devouring such an awesome and warm sandwich, even if it is at a little hole-in-the-wall joint like Isaac.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

Post-sandwich we were still hungry and I was very much aware that our feet were wet. In need of a shelter, we retired to this second floor shop which serves some mediocre bibimbap and snapping good fried rice for second lunch. Just because we could. It was the Korean version of fast food restaurant, so the food wasn’t something write home about. Though it must be recorded for all to see I mistaken a pot of soup for hot water and filled two glassful of that. I should really learn to read some Koreans. Or at least pluck the courage to ask.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

After lunch, we succumbed to better half’s desire of his real reason to visit Seoul – SHOPPING. Our first stop was Lotte Basement Food Hall, and I was transported to foodie heaven.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

Readers, I bought and eat. And eat and bought. And eat some more. The Lotte basement is my version of Aladdin’s Cave. Instead of treasures I found cakes. And kimchis. And edible flowers, chocolate, too-cute-to-eat cupcakes, toffee apples… well, there was only so much this foodie can take, so instead of stuffing my face with them (not that I haven’t already), I brought some for home instead. Plus some for my colleagues.

One for the team!

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

Before we go on to our second destination – which was Shinsegae – we took a little coffee break at Dunkin’ Donut. I have been nursing a terrible cravings for the creations of rounded awesomeness and finally – FINALLY – I get to try them. Okay, so the pumpkin with cream chesse was a little weird, and that choco almond thing wasn’t as good as the peanut one, but hey I was in Dunkin’ Donut, and it was three days into my donut-free day. I could live a little!

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

Shinsegae felt like the older, more mature sister to Lotte. Everything seemed to be priced out of our range, and the selection was older, more stylish, and much wiser. Which was my long winded way of saying that the fashion was much too pretentious (read: expensive) for young people like me. That, plus I was broke from all the shopping at Lotte.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

The food gallery was a far cry from Lotte’s, but it is always to get out and try out new place, see? So we ordered Japanese from one of the stalls, served by some very smiley Ajumma. The variety of food they can put into a bento box was staggering, and it took great pain for me to only taste half of each. I mean, I had dinner to think of!

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

After a brief rest in the hotel, we decided to brave the cold (by then, it was close to 4 degrees out, though it certainly felt like below zero!) and venture up to the Namsan Hill, where Seoul Tower was at. The last time I was there, it was afternoon and I spent some deligthful hours in the Teddy Museum and some not-so-delightful minutes at the observation deck. I did wonder, what else could I do this time round?

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

On the way there, I suddenly realised that Christmas is truly approaching. The city is transforming itself into a sea of twinkling, fairy-like lights. As I breathe in the cold air, it was hard not to feel happy to be where I was right there, right then.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

The cable car ride was dark and not as scary as last time, probably because I couldn’t see how high up I was perched above the mountain. Namsan Hill was transformed into a sea of Christmas and love. Twinkling trees, thousands of padlocks and declarations of love from those who have come before us, was chained up for all to see.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

What did a self-respecting guy do in that situation? Why, to leave his own love note there, of course! That, plus a cup of hot chocolate and a stick of churros to protect one from the cold. It was also hard not to feel awed by the sprawling view of Seoul in front of us. This is a city of culture and history, of fashion and arts, of hardworking ajummas and courteous locals, where preserving one’s traditions is often more important that progress for progress sake…

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

Post-Seoul tower, we made our way back to Myeongdong and went into this very local-looking Korean restaurant for a bit of kimchi stew. It’s name was an unpretentious “Korean Traditional Food”. It was proven to be a great choice, as the fiery broth and warm soju warmed our stomaches after such a cold night out. It was worth noting that we were served by a very smiley and friendly ajumma, whom made all the difference to our last dinner in Seoul. Unfailingly polite, exceedingly mothering… even if we couldn’t splurge on some pricey BBQ meat, we were made to felt like valued customers instead of cheapskate who went for the half-priced stew.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5

It was still early after dinner, so we decided to walk around Myeongdong one last time. After spending five days in the city, I concluded that I like Myeongdong the best. It combines the best of street food Seoul has to offer, and the kind of cutting edge fashion for those on budget as well as those with a discerning, luxurious taste. You could get endless cosmetic here, catch a Nanta performance or a movie, or move to second levels to some funky-looking bookshops, or money exchange with good rates.

I looked around at the throngs of people at Myeongdong, took in the Shinjuku-like bright lights and ajumma packing up for the night and thought….

… I was a lucky guy to be here. I never thought I would get back to Seoul for a second time, but perhaps it was the return visit that made all the different.

See more of my So Far, Seoul Good posts:

Eating Out & Restaurants

Isaac’s Toast @ Myeongdong

Lotte Basement Food Hall
37-3, Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Korean Traditional Food
Myeongdong Area
Tel: +822 722 9024

Exploring Around & Attractions

Shinsegae
52-50 Chungmuro 1ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

Seoul Tower Namsan Hill
105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

So Far, Seoul Good Day 5 - Isaac's Toast, LOTTE Basement Food Hall, Shinsegae & Namsan Hill Seoul Tower by

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