Street food with Seoul

Street food with Seoul
Celeste Chong, co-founder and marketing director of nightclub The Butter Factory.

Celeste Chong's TRAVEL BLACK BOOK

Who: Celeste Chong, 34, co-founder and marketing director of nightclub The Butter Factory.

Favourite city: Seoul

Why: What I love most about Seoul is the food. My main holiday priorities are usually eating and drinking, and the Korean food you get here in Singapore just can't compare with the food in Seoul. I've been there twice in the last three years, with my most recent visit being in March last year.

Best place to stay

If you're on a budget, you can try the M Chereville Service Apartment (1316-31 Seocho 4(sa)-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, tel: +82-2-447-9959) in Gangnam.

The rooms are a bit old and the Wi-Fi connection doesn't work all that well, but the apartments are spacious. A single room costs about $120 a night, so it's cheap and in a very good location.

It's also right next to my favourite cafe, Butterfinger Pancakes (see below).

Favourite breakfast spot

Butterfinger Pancakes (88-9 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, tel: +82-2-3448-1070, open daily from 7 to 3am). I've been recommending this place to everyone I know who visits Seoul, and so far everyone has thanked me.

I never even used to like pancakes till I tried the ones here. Their regular breakfast pancakes are fantastic, and the chocolate pancakes are a must-try too. A pancake stack costs about $20 and they are the best pancakes I've had.

On top of that, they are open from 7 to 3am, so you can get your fix almost any time you want.

Favourite places to shop

I very rarely shop - it really depends on who I travel with and, if left to my own devices, shopping would not be on my itinerary.

On my last trip to Seoul though, I was with my business partners Bobby Luo and Ritz Lim, who are absolute shopping experts, so I tagged along.

Some shops they took me to which I would recommend are A-Land (534-18 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, tel: +82-70-7820, open daily from 10.30am to 10.30pm), Daily Projects (1-28 Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, tel: +82-2-3218-4075, open daily from 11.30am to 8.30pm) and Boy Plus (663-15, Shinsa-dong, Gangnum-gu, Seoul, tel: +82-2-548-5379, open daily 11am to 10pm).

I got a really cute T-shirt at the Boy Plus store by Korean brand Drink Beer Save Water. The black T-shirt has the word "pen" written on it in a white font, and the vertical line of the "P" is actually a pen that you can remove and reattach when you need it. How useful!

Favourite bar

Moon Jar (644-19 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, tel: +82-2541-6118, open daily from 5.30pm to 2am) is one of the best Makgeolli bars in Seoul.

I love Makgeolli (Korean rice wine) and we got to try a few really yummy ones here. The food was also pretty good and, as an extra plus point, the Korean waiters were quite cute. I think it would make a great date place too.

Favourite club

Octagon (New Hilltop Hotel Basement 1 and 2, 152 Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, tel: +82-2-516-8847, open Sundays to Wednesdays from 8pm to 2am and Thursdays to Saturdays from 8pm to 9am). It's huge and has a nice crowd.

The manager heard we were from The Butter Factory in Singapore and even arranged for a food platter with a welcome message to be brought to us. The service is top notch.

Must-do activity

Every visitor to Seoul has to try the city's street food and BBQ restaurants. To be honest, I never really liked Korean food before I visited Seoul. I didn't plan which restaurants to visit, but just popped into random BBQ restaurants and stopped at various streetside stalls to try the street food. Now I love the food.

One dish, in particular, is Topokki (Korean rice cakes). I tried it on the streets of Seoul and it was so tasty - absolutely nothing like any I had eaten before. So those who like it already must visit Seoul's Topokki Street in Sindang-dong. I can't remember how much it cost, but it was definitely cheap.


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