Great news for Muslims visiting Seoul. There are now many more halal food options for you to try out. Best of all, they are authentic Korean food. So you no longer have to depend on just Muree at Itaewon (where the food is only so-so).
Let me share about the ones I discovered on my recent trip.
I’m a member of Wander Women, a meetup group set up for female travellers in Singapore. Had the chance to do a sharing about visiting Korea (focusing on Jeju Island and Suncheon Bay) to the group on 30 May. Thanks to the Korea Tourism Office in Singapore for providing us a space at Korea Plaza to hold the session. Thanks as well to Melody, Wander Women founder, and fellow speakers Wendy and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was our star speaker for the day – she is a travel ambassador for Korea under the KTO Global Seoul Mate programme and has blogged extensively about her trravel exploits on https://polkadotyyann.wordpress.com/. In the spirit of sharing, below are the slides that I prepared for the event. (Wave to those who were at the session! Do leave a comment below to say hi :))
I first started putting together this map for my first trip to Seoul in Apr 2014. It indicates halal/halal-friendly/vegetarian eating places and shopping areas. Decided to add on to it as I plan my 3rd trip to Seoul (in Aug this yr). It is still a work in progress and will be continuously updated over June-August 2015. You can zoom in and click on the icons for more details. Give me a shout-out in the comments section if you find it useful 🙂
Actual days of travel: 13-14 Apr & 16-19 Apr in Seoul
While there are quite a lot of halal restaurants in Seoul, they are not evenly distributed around the city, with many concentrated in the Itaewon area. As I chose not so stay in the Itaewon area (as it is far from other attractions), before the trip I had to do quite a bit of research to find out where I could get vegetarian/halal-friendly food around the places I planned to stay at or visit. The research paid off and I rarely found myself hungry with no viable options nearby (people who’ve travelled with me before know how grumpy I can get when it’s lunchtime but we can’t find food or need to travel some more to get food). So here goes, my brief review of the places I had a chance to dine at back in April 2014. They include Oh Sae Gae Hyang, Gwangjang Market & Murree Restaurant Hope fellow Muslim travellers or vegetarians will find the post useful.
The autumn trip finally happened and needless to say, I had a fantastic time! The photo above captures one of the key highlights of the trip, which was cycling along the Han River. In that sense, my dream of cycling IN Korea really came true, though that is really not the same as cycling across Korea, which I hope I get to do some day.
Anyway, here goes, my trip itinerary. Will be updating with hyperlinks to posts about each day’s activities as those get written. So this post will function as a sort of directory for the posts on this trip.
Who’d have thought I’ll be going to Korea twice in a year? Just happens that I’m getting a few weeks break in between jobs and thus have a chance to travel. Korea is the natural choice given how much fun I had on my trip there this past spring, It’s also much easier to plan a trip to somewhere one has been to before. Yup, just like the last time, I’m self-planning the trip. It’s not easy, with a million and one decisions to weigh, but so very fun!
In anticipation of future posts on the trip this time round, I started a new blog category (Autumn 2014) and commemorating it with this post 🙂
Let’s start with my itinerary. For now, only the first 3 days are more or less confirmed.
Seoul is well known for its street food, as K-drama or K-variety show fans would know. Unfortunately, most of the snacks are not suitable for Muslims due to non-halal ingredients or cross-contamination with non-halal ingredients.
One of the street snacks that I really looked forward to, which I was very sure is OK to consume is hotteok. It is a deep-fried “dumpling”, with brown sugar and nuts encased in dough. Sounds yummy already right? I looked around for it over the several days I was in Seoul and finally found it one morning on a side-street along the way from our hotel to Jongno-gu 3-gil. It only cost 1000 won (around sgd 1.20) and the ahjussi uncle selling it is a smiley genial man. He must be used to tourists ‘cos even though he didn’t speak English, he guessed we didn’t know the drill and gestured to us to pick-up the folded white paper cup from in front of his stove and hand it to him to fill in the piping hot hotteok. My first bite into the pillowy soft dough, followed by the burst of flavor from the sweet and nutty filling was unforgettable.
Unfotunately, we didn’t see the ahjussi again and I didn’t manage to get more hotteok on the other days. Saw some at Namdaemun market on my last day there, but the queue was long and I didn’t have time to wait cos I only had a short time there before my flight. Recently, I came across this video at Seoulistic, and was pleasantly surprised to see the hotteok cart I’d bought from featured in it. (Ahjussi’s cart appears as the first of four hotteok places introduced)
Check out the original post on Seoulistic for maps to all the places mentioned. Ahjussi’s cart is the first on the list.