Itaewon

Itaewon Reborn

The gates to the famous district in Seoul, South Korea

The gates to the famous district in Seoul, South Korea

I must admit that I never really liked Itaewon until now. It just seemed like too wild of a place. I think that it stems from a night where I tried to find a hostel there and found myself walking up Hooker Hill. I was then promptly grabbed by a large Russian prostitute and almost dragged into a seedy bar. Her Schwarzenegger-like accent demanded me to “have a good time” but I broke free and ran like hell.


Top 5 Vegan (and Vegan-Friendly) Restaurants in Seoul

I often get many e-mails requesting recommendations for vegan eats in Korea. While I appreciate vegan food, and have had some fantastic dining experiences at vegan restaurants in the city, I'm most certainly no expert. So, I enlisted the help of someone who is. Amanda from SoKoreazy.com has graciously offered to share her top five vegan (and vegan-friendly) restaurants in Seoul. Without further ado, here they are:

1. Cafe Suッkara (Sukkara) (vegan-friendly) 

My favorite vegan restaurant in Seoul is not actually a vegan restaurant, though vegan-friendly dishes and drinks feature heavily on their menu. Cafe Sukkara is nestled in a quiet, cozy, and rather nondescript building (noticeable only because of its huge, green wooden door) located between Hongdae and Sinchon. Cafe Sukkara has the perfect cafe atmosphere: dim lighting, low, comfy seats, and a completely open kitchen surrounded by bar stools. In the summertime, they slide the glass doors at the front of the cafe open, and you can enjoy your meal outside on their deck.

The cafe prides itself on using local, mostly organic, ingredients, and the menu changes seasonally. There are usually at least two vegan main dishes on offer, in addition to their always present vegan yeast bread, soup, and salad set. They also offer many vegan desserts, such as carrot cake and raw vegan cheesecake, as well as amazing drinks! I love their seasonal mojitos, made with homemade candied fruit, and their homemade ginger ale is the best I've had anywhere, with the perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness.




Our Commune: Putting the Community Back in Gyeongnidan

The neighborhood of Gyeongnidan, which is nestled not far from the bustling main strip of Itaewon, was once a peaceful residential neighborhood inhabited mostly by international expats and elderly Koreans. Over the past few years, however, it has been popularized by food bloggers and television programs, transforming into an overcrowded commercialized district of lifeless cafes and restaurants established with priorities placed on the wallets of their proprietors rather than serving a community.

 
While the gentrification of Gyeongnidan does have its upsides, any traces of the neighborhood it once was have seemingly all but vanished. Long term residents of the area are disheartened by this, longing for a relaxing space they can come together, without having to wait in preposterously long lines. While such a place might only seem like the stuff of dreams these days, the newly opened Our Commune, located on the main road just next to the GS25 (previously 7-11), is the answer to residents’ hopes.


Guilty Pleasure: Authentic Southern-Style Comfort Food in Itaewon

Something about the cold weather really puts a damper on my mood. So, what do I do when I've got the winter blues? I eat! And while I've managed to find comfort in certain Korean foods over the years, nothing really puts a smile on my face like the fatty goodness that is Southern food. Fortunately enough for me, there's been a renaissance of Seoul's international food scene over the past year, with a growing focus on Southern-style barbecue and comfort food. Yet, no one seems to have hit the nail on the head quite as well as Guilty Pleasure.



Take Out Drawing: A Cafe that Inspires

I've been working on a few big writing projects recently (more news on that to come soon) and as such, I've been seeking quiet cafes with an ambiance to inspire. While there are plenty coffee shops throughout this city, so many of them are too loud, with their crowds and looping K-pop playlists, too dark or too sterile for my taste, at least for when working.

The exception, however, is Takeout Drawing, a cafe chain that fuses design, imagination, and caffeine. With its distressed concrete walls, abundance of windows (which are kept open in nice weather), and minimal decor, Take Out Drawing resembles an architect's studio more than a coffeehouse.

Sometimes it can be hard to find a good sandwich in Korea....











Sometimes it can be hard to find a good sandwich in Korea. Admittedly, in Itaewon, Seoul it’s a lot easier. One of the places I like to visit there is Rye Post.


Where to Buy English Books in Korea

Winter is coming in Korea and it’s a great time to snuggle up with a few new books. This past January I made a goal to read 35 books in 2014, and I can finally see the finish line! I’ve read 26 books so far, so that leaves 9 more to go in under 2 months. That’s a lot of reading, so I decided to order some new books to motivate me to reach my goal.

I ordered them from What the Book, the popular used book store in the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul. Many of you have probably heard of or visited the store, but you may not know that you can also order books from their online store and have them delivered to you anywhere in Korea! Even if you’re looking for a specific book they don’t have, What the Book can order it for you online and send it to you.


A Taste of Home at Two Broz Burgers

Seoul has most certainly come a long way in the past few years in terms of serving up tasty international cuisine. Burger aficionados, in particular, no longer have to suffer their way through bites of patties smothered in mystery sauce or trek across the capital in search of the real deal. There are a number of burger joints in Seoul nowadays, but perhaps the biggest concentration is in the multicultural district of Itaewon. Here, diners have endless options, but for those craving a no-nonsense, unpretentious burger before a night out on the town or a quick bite during lunch, Two Broz is a great option.

Itaewon Festival

Every day is a festival in Seoul. There are festivals for a particular flower when it blooms, festivals for the seasons, for foreigners, and many many more! Festivals are also celebrated to introduce the people to a particular area / museum / monument that has been recently open to public. Pretty good tactics!

Wolhyang – Itaewon (월향 3호점)

 

Name: Wolhyang (월향)

Location: Itaewon


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