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Thoughts: If you’ve got a hankering for camping but just can’t seem to get out of iron grip of Seoul, you can head for the bar hell bent on simulating the outdoor camping experience indoors. Camping themed restaurants and bars seem to be lingering trend in across Seoul, but what sets this place apart is the focus on Korean traditional alcohol. Outdoor Lessons (야외 수업) is an outdoors camping themed bar, but rather than focusing on makgeolli, it is developing a name for itself in soju.
When you hear the words ‘soju bar’, it might conjure images of dozens of green bottles and a very rowdy crowd. However, Outdoor Lessons has a range of popular, mid-range and hard to find sojus and even cheongjus (약주/청주), without the rough crowd. The food is delicious, and combined with the relaxed atmosphere it makes for a very different soju experience than the usual hof.
Seafood Pajeon (해물 파전): *** 3 Stars ~ Crispy, Generous, Satisfying
Wagyu Beef (와규 소고기) : 4 **** Stars ~ Tender, Succulent, Silky
Raw Beef Sashimi (육회) **** 4 Stars ~ Fresh, Soft, Delicious
Herb Grilled Pork (허브 삼겹살) *** 3 Stars ~ Fragrant, Juicy, Moorish
What we liked: The Concept. Although we tend to primarily visit makgeolli bars, the reason is because there are very few soju bars that offer a variety of quality products at a reasonable price. That’s not to say there isn’t a whole world of soju beyond the 2,000won bottle at the BBQ restaurant, as there quite a few decent products both established and emerging for the soju lover. However, most dedicated makgeolli bars either stock the top or the low end, not leaving much wiggle room for the middle range.
The best part about the Outdoor Lessons concept is that it is un-pretentious and relaxed, whilst still offering some interesting liquors. One Mama said ‘I have never been in this kind of environment before ~ I like it!’. The favorite bottle of the evening was surprisingly the Bokbunja, as most people at the table agreed they were not usually Bokbunja fans. Another Mama said ‘It’s not like the candy you usually get, I could drink quite a bit of this.’
What we disliked: The Lack of a Good Makgeolli Option. It’s not really the most fair criticism, seeing as Outdoor Lessons primarily stocks soju and cheongju. However there is makgeolli on the menu, and for those that are not ready to hit the hard stuff, having a good makgeolli on hand would keep everyone happy. From the bottles we tried, the one that did not win raving reviews from everyone at the meeting was the Arirang Hongju, with one Papa exclaiming ‘I still feel the burn’.
Recommendation: If you would like to have a relaxed and casual night with the opportunity to try a range of not so common Korean alcohols, Outdoor Lessons is your bet. It’s very large, has outdoor seating and can accommodate just about any size of group you have. It has an unpretentious atmosphere for kicking back and trying a lot of interesting booze, without the astronomical price tag.
Directions: Come out of Hongdae Station (Line 2) and walk straight. Cross the road when you see the Tom and Tom’s Cafe on the corner and turn left. Take your first right up the main clothing store streetand walk about a block, and turn left up a small hill (There used to be a Hello Kitty Cafe up this street). You should see the bar on the right hand side.
2 years have flown by. 1 week til I leave Korea. #feelslikeyesterday #memories #epikorientation #teachinkorea
Why Running Dictation is Awesome
Running dictation is a classic ESL game because it’s fun, covers all 4 skills in a single activity and it also gets students up out of their seats and moving around. It’s like the gold-standard of ESL games! You can use it for adults, university students, kids-whoever! My variation of running dictation addresses the biggest negative of the game-the yelling and cuts it out completely.
How to Do It
Time: 10-20 minutes
Level: Beginner to Advanced, 8+
Materials Required: Printed sentences, blu-tack
Running dictation requires a bit of prep before students arrive. Ideally, you will have two areas: one for the sentences to be posted, and another for the “secretaries” to sit and write. Runners can only dictate, they cannot write for the secretary. Spelling words out is fine. You need to emphasize to the runners that they can only whisper to their partners and not speak in a normal voice. If you let students speak in their normal voices, they will start shouting from across the room. I have a one-strike policy—any voice above a whisper and the game is over for that team.
Students should be divided into two main groups: runners/dictators and secretaries. The runners will find the sentence strips/story, and will memorize as much as they can. Then, they will run back to their secretary and dictate what they remember. They will repeat running and dictating until they have correctly dictated the entire passage.
For lower level students, I use individual sentences unrelated to each other, one sentence per strip, using vocabulary and grammar from the lesson. I make the activity more challenging by using sentence strips which must be dictated, then arranged correctly into a dialogue or story. Another way to make the activity more challenging is to post the passage intact, but use a letter or a list, so the runner must dictate the proper layout.
I have even done this activity with multiple classes (ages) at the same time by using different colored paper for the strips. Each team was told which color paper to look for. I posted the strips in three classrooms, and the secretaries were located in the fourth classroom. I have even hidden some of the strips under desks to make it more like a treasure hunt.
Like this Activity? There are 38 more of them:
I suggest this activity for ages 8 and up, but really, your students need to be able to write without visually copying. If your students are older than 8, but still are not able to write from dictation, this is not an appropriate activity for them. On the other hand, I’ve worked with 6-year-olds who were quite capable. You know your students. Always keep their abilities in mind when planning your lessons.
- Before students arrive, prepare the classroom, by moving the desks into a “secretary area” and leaving an open area for students to run back and forth. In the open area, post the sentence strips or story on the wall.
- When students arrive, divide them into pairs.
- Have one student from each pair sit with a pencil and paper. Have the other run back and forth between the sentence strips and their partner, until they have dictated the entire passage. Emphasize that students must only whisper but not talk or yell.
- You may need to remind students periodically that the runner can spell aloud, but cannot write anything.
- If the sentence strips form a story, have the partners work together to correctly order the sentences.
- Finally, have a volunteer read the entire passage while the other groups check their work.
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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.
It's easy to see how much care and attention to detail the staff put into the food, literally, since you can watch your food and drinks being made right in front of your eyes! Their dishes are healthy and quite unique, and I love how frequently they change up the menu. My favorite seasonal dish has been the Lotus Root Patties: melt-in-your-mouth roasted lotus root slices topped with miso gravy and served with pickled carrots, seaweed soup, and brown rice. This is my top pick, for food, drinks, desserts, and atmosphere, they've got it all covered.
Address 327-9 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul; Ph. 02-334-5919; Hours 11am-12am (last order 11pm)
2. PLANT (vegan)
Before I came to Korea, even before I became vegan, one of my favorite blogs to follow was Alien's Day Out, run by the multi-talented artist, baker, and bunny-lover, Mipa. She set up her Alien's Day Out bakeshop from her apartment and used her blog to showcase her art, beautiful baked goods, and reviewed nearly every vegan-friendly cafe, restaurant, and eatery in Seoul. So, I was super ecstatic to hear that she was opening her own cafe in Itaewon the very year I finally moved to Korea!
I spent my first year in Korea in Ulsan (where I became vegan, in part because of the overabundance of meat and seafood everywhere), and caught the KTX up to Seoul during holidays and long weekends. PLANT was like a miracle to me then, and it still is, to so many vegans and homesick expats alike.
Mipa's layer cakes are out of this world: so light, moist, and made in classic American flavor combinations such as chocolate peanut butter and pumpkin gingerbread. For healthier options, check out her scones and fruit-filled muffins. PLANT also serves lunch, such as noodle or rice bowls, wraps, and burgers; the menu changes weekly, and there are usually three different options. And, if you're a chai-addict like me, you have got to try her soy chai lattes: they are THE BEST.
The only downside to PLANT is that it's located in a very small space, and since it's SO popular, it can be difficult to get a seat. Luckily, everything is available to take away, and they also sell plenty of pre-packaged goodies such as cookies, powerballs, brownies, and even vegan doggie biscuits!
Address 63-15 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul; Ph. 070-4115-8388; Hours Tues-Sat 11am-8pm
3. Everest (vegan-friendly)
Everest is by no means a vegan restaurant, but is instead the best-loved Indian restaurant in Seoul (maybe even in all of Korea?!) It makes my list of the best vegan restaurants in Seoul because it is freakin' delicious, it is very reasonably-priced (their curries are all under ten thousand won, while at most other Indian restaurants in Korea, you can expect to pay up to seventeen thousand won,) and it is very accommodating to vegans!
There are a variety of vegetable curries on the menu (my favorite is the chickpea-loaded chana masala), vegetable starters such as pakoras and samosas, and plenty of yummy breads. Before you order, make it clear to your server that you don't want any butter or cheese in your food, and you're good to go! Their breads are usually glazed with butter, but if you specify that you don't want any dairy in your meal, they will cook the bread on a separate pan to avoid contamination.
All of the staff speak English, so don't worry about any language barriers. Even though it's located in the kinda run-down backstreets of Dongdaemun, the restaurant's interior is so bright and decorative, and their spacious booths are super comfy.
Address 2-1 Jongno 50ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul; Ph. 02-766-8850; Hours Daily 11am-11pm
4. 산촌 (Sanchon) (vegan)
If you're looking for a fancy vegan feast, or if you really want to impress your guests, you have got to check out this temple food restaurant located down a labyrinth of alleys in Insadong.
You can choose a lunch or dinner set (priced at 33 thousand won and 45 thousand won, respectively,) but be sure to come here hungry and with plenty of time to spare.
The meals are served in a procession of beautifully-presented courses complimented by fermented pine needle wine and tea. Though the food is inspired by Buddhist temple food, it is seasoned with onions, chilies, and garlic (usually omitted from Buddhist cuisine.)
I love bringing visiting friends and family members here because it's delicious, vegan, and they can get a taste of so many different Korean specialties, ranging from jeon to jjigae to kimchi. Their menu also changes seasonally, so you know they're using the freshest available ingredients. The interior is just magical, with ornately carved wooden decorations, creaky wooden floors, and lotus lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The restaurant is mostly Korean-style floor seating, but Western-style table and chair seating is also available.
Address 30-13 road (Gwanhun) Gwanhun 14, Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul; Ph. 02-735-0312; Hours Daily 11:30am-10pm
5. Mimi and Kelly's (vegan)
Mimi and Kelly's is one of the more recent vegan cafes to pop up in Seoul, and I sure do hope it sticks around! If you're looking to snack on some scrumptious vegan comfort food, this is definitely the place to go! The cafe is located just a short walk away from the touristy streets of Insadong, and shares its space with a Vietnamese restaurant (sadly, non-vegan.)
Their drink menu is huge, featuring many specialties such as lassis using vegan yogurt, virgin cocktails, various teas and soy coffees, bubble tea, and amazingly thick and creamy milkshakes. Their food menu is quite small. It's not really the sort of place you'd go to for a meal, but their snacks are very hearty and really hit the spot.
You can choose comfort food classics such as mac and cheese, coconut cheese toast, and even vegan Korean honey bread (y'know, those big loaves of bread covered in syrup and cream which you can get in all the Korean dessert cafes.) They also usually have a couple of cakes in their display case. And, they have vegan soft serve ice cream!
Sometimes they offer special dinners featuring dishes which aren't available on their menu, such as pizza and pasta. These dinners are open to a certain number of guests, and you can sign up for them via their Facebook page. The cafe itself is quite spacious, with a large communal table and a number of smaller tables. It's definitely worth checking out if you're in the mood for something sweet or covered in ooey gooey cruelty-free cheese!
Address 188-4 Insa-dong, Jongno-gu; Hours Weekdays 3-9:30pm, Weekends 11am-9:30pm, Closed Wed
About the Author
Amanda is an American expat who has spent the majority of her adult life living in the UK, and the past few years in Korea. She became vegan six months after moving to Korea, and hasn't found the vegan life here anywhere near as difficult as many would expect! She uses her blog, SoKoreazy.com, to review vegan restaurants in Korea and beyond, as well as to write about cute and quirky sights and shopping spots.
So Mamas & Papas it’s that time again. Another 3 weeks passed since out last meeting at the lovely Manjok in Hongdae, and It’s time for us to go out and enjoy the brews and review another Makgeolli bar.
This meeting will take us south of the river to a place that we visited last fall and were very impressed with. However, since our last visit the store has moved to a different location, and we have been dying to check it out!
How would you like to join us for a laid back evening of fine makgeolli, scrumptious food and hearty banter? Any interested parties should send us a little email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will pop you on the list and give you the full details of the meeting in our follow up. Easy as Makgeolli pie.