So Far, Seoul Good Day 4 – The Cookshop, Paris Croissant, 10 Corso Como & Noryangjin Fish Market

So Far, Seoul Good Day 4

The day started rather late, as we both slept in to compensate for the night out we had in Itaewon the day before. I also realised that with the passing of age, “sleeping in” becomes relative. When you are used to wake up at seven in the morning, waking up past nine is considered luxury. We did take our time and decided to spend our day doing what Seoulites love to do on a weekend – shopping!

So Far, Seoul Good Day 4

The destination of choice was the Gangnam district area, made famous partly thanks to the Korean pop star Psy who took the world by storm. To reach Gangnam, we took the metro up to the Apgujeong and started walking from there. The moment we hit the ground, it took us less than three seconds to realise what else was the area famous for, besides shopping.

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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.

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So Far, Seoul Good Day 2 – Gyeongbokgung Palace, MMCA of Seoul, Bukchon Hanok Village, Gwangjang Market & Dongdaemum Night Shopping

It was certainly a packed, eventful day.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 2

Every traveler worth his salt knows that the key to starting your day right is – but of course! – having a good breakfast. That’s why we were to be found at Dine Hall, the classy-looking restaurant attached to our hotel for a bit of a noms before we start out for the day. Food was rather uninspiring but sufficient, with portions so little, it was hard to imagine that this was a buffet. The upside was that we were served by a rather surly-looking, Harry Potter-look alike complete with the rounded glasses and suspenders. But it was unfortunate that he wasn’t as hairy as the real Harry.

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So Far, Seoul Good Day 1 – Hotel ShinShin, Myeong Dong & Nanta Cookin’ Show

The Seoul I remember wasn’t this cold.

What I did remember, though, was the long, meandering journey from the airport into town. This time round I have wised up and took the airport express. Being “express” is relative; it still took us close to an hour to reach the humongous Seoul station.

So Far, Seoul Good Day 1

And then it was another adventure finding our way to the City Hall station. I had my first dunkin’ donut (side note about this creation of awesomeness: did you know they have it almost at every corner of Seoul? It’s like 7-11, only far more delicious). I was happily devouring my choice while waiting for the better half to return from the toilet… to be entertained with his tale of being peeped at the urinals.

Less than one day in, and we already have our first pervert attack!

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The One With The Mon – Japanese Dining Stage

My first attempt to have a dinner at The Mon wasn’t a pleasant experience. Granted, we didn’t think ahead to book a table earlier. Walk-ins were told there was a two-hour wait for a table, which means we won’t get to be seated until at least 9 p.m. It wasn’t a palatable option, so my friend and I went to Hainan Shaoye instead.

The Mon

Fast forward a year. This time round we booked ahead, within the same day, and was told that we will get two seats at the bar at 9 p.m. Granted, it was a Friday, but really, what is it about Japanese restaurants and its hordes of fans? Was The Mon really that popular that we had to wait until that ungodly hour just for a dinner?

We were about to find out.

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The One With La Cantoche – Smashing Party Menu

Just like my first time to La Cantoche, I was lost again. I blame it for the lack of the sign board that used to signal the entry to the Wa Lane, where La Cantoche is located at. But my feet hurried the hungry self in anticipation of the “party menu” that was just launched at the popular French-Vietnamese restaurant.

You see, the restaurant has just launched a “group menu” that allows you to book dinner for a large group, anything from a rather intimate table of eight to a rowdy party of thirty. Depending on the group size, the chef will fire up the kitchen to cook up various dishes from the menu, so all you need to do is to sit back and let the food and drinks – choose from red, white or rose – flow endlessly throughout the night.

And so the feasting began, and I am happy to report that La Cantoche hasn’t lost its charm since the last time I visited. If the dishes served to the table for the night was anything to go by, it seems like the kitchen got better since they opened more than one year ago. Here were some winners from the night:

La Cantoche

Just like my first visit, the signature Rice Krispies lettuce wrap was easily the best dish for the night. Mixed with bits of pork, shiso leaf and spices, the Rice Krispies is devoured wrapped with lettuce leaves. The result was a refreshing combination of fresh greens with spices and puffed up rice (of which I kinda learned how to cook that night). It was a secret recipe of the owner’s mom. When asked if she ever did try the version at La Cantoche, the owner cheekily told us that she gave it a 90% rating. That made me wondered what was the 10% missing ingredient, coz to me this was already close to perfect on its own!

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The One With Amporn – Fiery Thai Food In Kowloon City

If you ask a local where to get great Thai food in Hong Kong, inevitably they will recommend that you take the road less traveled to Kowloon City, where a great number of Thai eateries line up its streets. After living here for some four years (wow, time flies!) I had to say that I agree. But to find a gem amongst the many somewhat mediocre Thai restaurants require steadfast determination and more than a dose of luck.

It was with both that one day I found myself at the third floor of a wet market digging into mounds of great food at Amporn Thai food.

I have been to Amporn two times now, and I have tried enough dishes on its menu to know what is good enough to be on your list of must-trys, and what is to be avoided at all cost.

Amporn Thai Food

MUST TRY – deep fried cat fish with sour mango salad. The deep fried cat fish is a work of genius. It was crispy without being overly oily, and went perfectly well with the sweet and sour mango salad. The contrast of texture made this a very refreshing dish, enough to tempt one for a second (or third, or fourth) helpings despite being filled to the brim.

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The One With Oyster Island – Fresh In The Valley

I have been eating round a lot in Happy Valley lately, trying out new places and venturing into unfamiliar restaurants. Though I have been here for almost two years now, it wasn’t until I have a buddy to do this with did I dig into with gusto recently :)

Oyster Island, without a doubt, was one of those little secret of Happy Valley that came as a pleasant surprise. Tucked at the end of a quiet road in the Valley, the restaurant was quiet looking for an eve-of-public-holiday-night. But the other half wanted oysters, so in we went into the blue, mysterious looking restaurant.

Oyster Island Happy Valley

All was well. Because we were the only occupied table, service was attentive and we felt very comfortable with the wait staff. To start off the night, we pondered over the selection of oysters available, and opted for the lighter and sweeter variety, Rocky Bay and Namibia, to the denser, heavier tasting Gillerdeau and Sydney Rock.

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The One With SimplyLife – Living Up To Its Namesake

Simple things in life were meant to be enjoyable because of its simplicity, and SimplyLife is one of those restaurant that is living up to its namesake.

Simply Life

I have been to the restaurant in IFC a couple of times now (and once to its branch in Quarry Bay), and never once I was disappointed. Granted, the food wasn’t spectacular, but it did the job nicely as a chill breakfast spot with some excellent sandwiches and desserts. For the life of me I couldn’t remember the name of these nosh I had now, but they were all equally enjoyable in low-key, fuss-free way.

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The One With Tokyo Heya – All You Can Eat Japanese

Japanese places are a dime a dozen in Hong Kong. There is just something about Japanese food that is irresistible to Hong Kong-ers. One can find all sorts of Japanese food here – from the low end, hole-in-wall ramen joint to the very high end, thousand-dollar sushi. And then there are those everything in between. So if you eat out at a Japanese place, particularly at those buffet-like eat all you can joints, it can be very much a hit-and-miss experience.

Which is why after a very filling meal at Tokyo Heya, I could honestly say that the food is worth your dimes and time.

Tokyo Heya Japanese Eat All You Can

There were many choices available from the menu, which you order by filling up these multi-colored sheets and pass to the milling waitresses. Tokyo Heya offers almost everything you can think of on a Japanese menu – sashimi, sushi, handroll, teppanyaki, sukiyaki, tempura… the list was endless, so we were spoilt for choice. Instead of stressing ourselves, we asked for the captain to recommend us some of their best recommendations, after which we added some of our own. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss from the menu:

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