Champagne Sugar Ball at Sona Gangnam Garosugil

Sona Dessert Cafe 소나 | Champagne Sugar Ball

Sona Dessert Cafe 소나 | Champagne Sugar Ball

Sona (소나) is a dessert café located in Gangnam and is famous for their beautiful sweet treats. With the many restaurants and eateries in this area, a dessert café like Sona is a great addition to the neighbourhood. Located on the second floor of a side road, Sona is well-hidden from the busy garosugil shopping street but is a convenient rest point after a full day of shopping.

Following a delightful meal at Mimi Myeonga, we stopped by Sona to have some desserts. Sona offers an extensive dessert menu, showcasing their well-loved classics and some seasonal items. As each dessert was brought out, the pastry chef presented and explained the creation. To go with their desserts, Sona also offer coffees, teas, alcoholic beverages, and some special house made options. Sona’s cakes are pretty, and some of their drinks are equally beautiful.

Vacherin Dessert Raspberry Sorbet Vanilla Ice Cream

Vacherin – Presented like an entremet, encased in the Chantilly Cream Frosting are distinct layers of Raspberry Sorbet and Vanilla Ice Cream. Served with Dried Yogurt Meringue Sticks and sprinkled with Raspberry Meringue Powder.

Sona Cafe Rose Summer Fruit Cake
Sona Cafe Vacherin Dessert
Sona Cafe Rose Scented Chantilly Cream Hazelnut Dacquoises

Rose Summer Fruit Cake – With a base alternating between layers of Hazelnut Dacquoise, Rose Scented Chantilly Cream and a Watermelon Slice, this Summer cake is topped with crushed roasted pistachios and rose essence infused seasonal fruits including blueberries, grapes, and cherries (amongst others).

Champagne Sugar Ball at Sona Gangnam Garosugil

Champagne Sugar Ball – Undoubtedly Sona’s most recognised dessert, this champagne sugar ball makes a frequent feature on social media. This beautiful handcrafted sugar ball contains within edible flowers, champagne foam, strawberry panna cotta, and fresh strawberry slices. The bauble lies on a bed of cheese cake snow. Dramatically smashing through the thin sugar exterior is fun, although it takes very little force and I severely underestimated my strength.

Sona Cafe Champagne Sugar Ball
Sona Cafe Interior

소나 Sona

Address: 서울특별시 강남구 강남대로 162길 40 201호
#201 40, Gangnam-daero 162-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Tel: 02-515-3246

Soba at Mimi Myeonga 미미면가

Mimi Myeonga (미미면가) | Sea Urchin Soba in Seoul

Mimi Myeonga (미미면가) | Sea Urchin Soba in Seoul

Mimi Myeonga (미미면가) is a soba specialty restaurant in Gangnam. Located close to the trendy Garosugil, Mimi Myeonga brings innovative approaches to traditional soba noodles. This cosy noodle bar is famous for its buckwheat noodles presented in soup, and offers diverse topping choices including sea urchin, mackerel, beef, as well as prawn (both raw and deep fried). Mimi Myeonga’s soba are made with one-part buckwheat to three-parts wheat to best present the delicate buckwheat flavours while maintaining the noodle’s characteristically bouncy texture. A simple yet delicious meal, Mimi Myeonga is listed in the Michelin Guide 2018.

Knowing that Mimi Myeonga is an especially popular restaurant, we made it a point to arrive early to avoid the snaking queue. Yet even though we reached before lunch time on a weekday, the restaurant was already filled and a line had formed. It was a 30 minute wait for us (though it felt like forever under the hot sun), and we were given a menu to pre-order.

Mimi Myeonga Exterior 미미면가
Mimi Myeonga Restaurant Interior 미미면가

Mimi Myeonga is a small restaurant and adorning the walls are their many media features. Mimi Myeonga is not so much a restaurant to relax and take your time at, but rather gives off a strongly “efficient” vibe; we were additionally informed that each meal seating is 30 minutes.

Soba at Mimi Myeonga 미미면가

We ordered a trio of sobas – one shrimp, one conger, and of course one of their famous sea urchin sobas. Of these 3, we had 2 cold sobas and chose to have only the conger soba served warm.

Conger soba at Mimi Myeonga

The conger soba came with a huge piece of fried conger, even larger than the bowl itself. The flesh was soft and delicate.

Prawn soba at mimi myeonga

The prawn soba came with two plump pieces of prawns, juicy and coated in a delightfully crunchy batter.

Uni Soba at Mimi Myeonga 미미면가

The Sea Urchin Soba is the real star and stole all our hearts. The soba broth, with its slight salty tinge, allowed the sweet and rich sea urchin to take centre stage. Each piece of urchin was creamy and rich, complementing well with the mild tasting soba broth. As you tuck in, the sea urchin melts in your mouth, adding its own rich flavours and creamy texture to the soba noodles. The sea urchin soba not just tastes good but looks amazing as well. If you are a fan of sea urchin, the sea urchin soba at Mimi Myeonga is a must order.

At Mimi Myeonga, the noodles are thin, chewy, and highly satisfying. The broth was delicately salty, coating each strand of soba noodles with flavour. The cold soba comes with a lighter broth, and for me, the cold soba is better than its warm counterpart – especially on a warm summer’s day.

Clearly, having fried food as a topping on soup noodles would represent confidence in their frying abilities. In addition to the sobas, we had fried burdock and a fried lotus root stuffed with prawn filling.

Fried Burdock at Mimi Myeonga

Fried Burdock

미미면가 Mimi Myeonga Fried Lotus root with Shrimp

Fried Lotus Root with Shrimp filling

Fried Lotus Root with Shrimp filling at Mimi Myeonga

This lotus root with prawn filling especially stood out. The batter was especially thin, yet well coating the crunchy lotus root which encases the sweet prawn filling.

Mimi Myeonga Persimmon Dessert

Dessert was this assembly of persimmon, cream cheese, cashew nuts, and raisins. It was the only dessert available that day, but nicely ends off the meal with a subtle sweet note.

After this simple but delicious meal, we walked to Sona Café just nearby for more desserts.

미미면가 Mimi Myeonga Michelin Guide 2018


Tel: 070-4211-5466
Address: 서울 강남구 강남대로160길 29

gopchang daechang eomtong at sinchon hwangso gopchang

Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang | Grilled Beef Intestines in Seoul

Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang (신촌황소곱창) | Grilled Beef Intestines in Seoul

Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang (신촌황소곱창) is a Gopchang (곱창) specialty restaurant boasting 60 years of history. Gopchang specifically refers to the small intestine of the cow, and is served here “gui” (구이), grilled on your table in a hot pan over fire. Alongside Gopchang, my other favourites include Daechang (대창, large intestine), and Makchang (막창, the abomasum aka 4th stomach).

I hope that didn’t scare you off!! Now now, before you retreat and press the “back” button, I’d like to say that I previously brought a group of friends to Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang and right up till the last minute, they were unconvinced by the idea. Yet after just one bite, they were converts and remember gopchang as their most memorable (in a good way, yes) meal in Seoul. Matjib, (맛집 which directly translates to “tasty house”) is a Korean word referring to restaurants serving delicious food and Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang is an absolute matjib.

Located close to Yonsei, Ewha, and Sogang University, Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang attracts a huge crowd every night. Gopchang is rich in nutrients and is remarked to be especially popular amongst ladies for its immense amounts of collagen and the associated anti-aging properties. I arrived slightly after 6pm on a Thursday night, and the ground floor seats were fully filled. This was the first time I was led to the basement dining area, and I was amazed to see how large (and really, how immensely popular) the place truly is.

sinchon hwangso gopchang crowded
appetiser of Saeng-gan 생간, raw liver Cheon-yeop 천엽 omasum aka the 3rd stomach at Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang

Upon being seated, we were served an appetiser of Saeng-gan (생간, raw liver) and Cheon-yeop (천엽, omasum aka the 3rd stomach). I eat this every time I visit, and I can still never get used to it. For sure I will say that it is worth eating once to try the taste and texture – after that, you can decide if you want to try it twice.

gopchang daechang and eomtong at sinchon hwangso gopchang
gopchang cooking by the ahjumma at sinchon hwangso gopchang

We started with an order of gopchang (곱창, small intestines) & daechang (대창, large intestines) and were given a side of eom-tong (염통, cow heart). Look at how especially plump the daechang is! Cooking is expertly done by the ahjummas, who will season and slice the items into bite-sized pieces. We anxiously waited for them to crisp on the pan as we stared at the glistening chunks.

gopchang daechang eomtong at sinchon hwangso gopchang

I wish I waited a bit longer to take a perfect picture! This was taken before the beautiful crisp fully developed. Ahhh, what a pity – but I really couldn’t resist getting started!

Gopchang and Daechang both have a characteristically rich and complex flavour, however they vary distinctly in texture. Biting into gopchang, the inner lining contains a grainy texture (somewhat like fried beancurd puffs) and gives a delightful nutty taste. On the other hand, a beautifully seared piece of daechang is crispy on the outside and luscious within.

Dip these delicious bite-sized bits in the sauces provided and top them up with a small serving of chives. That is harmony in a bite.

hwangso makchang

Our next order was makchang (막창, the abomasum aka 4th stomach). Unlike gopchang and daechang, makchang does not bring the “melt in your mouth” sensation but is instead firm. Its texture is enjoyably springy.

ready to cook fried rice at sinchon hwangso gopchang
gopchang fried rice with kimchi and seaweed at sinchon hwangso gopchang

Finally, we asked for their delicious fried rice to end off the meal. Here, the fried rice is not just simply a staple to “fill your stomach”. Alongside other simple ingredients, the rice gets tossed in gopchang oils and every bite is a delight. Leave the heat high and scorched rice will form, giving that extra crunch!

gopchang fried rice is delicious at sinchon hwangso gopchang
sinchon hwangso gopchang shopfront

In the past, gopchang was a cheap nutritional supplement for the poor. Today, gopchang is no longer cheap, but I believe the cost for good gopchang stems from its elaborate preparation. To make delicious gopchang involves a tedious process of thorough cleaning, trimming, and marinating. I assume many will have concerns about unpleasant odours or aftertastes, and I am happy to report that there is none of those at Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang.

신촌황소곱창 Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang

서울 서대문구 연세로9길 31 (창천동 52-148)
52-148, Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Tel: 02-337-2640

Cooking Hanwoo Beef at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Majang Meat Market (마장 축산물시장) | 한우 Hanwoo BBQ?!

Majang Meat Market (마장 축산물시장) | 한우 Hanwoo BBQ?!

Noryangjin Fish Market attracts hordes of tourists every year, and is consistently a highlight for many people visiting Seoul. Having enjoyed my experiences there, I went on a search for something similar – to buy high quality but wholesale, and then have them cooked on the spot. For the foods of the sea we have the market at Noryangjin, and for the foods of the land there is the equally fantastic, yet relatively unknown market at Majang (마장).

Entrance to Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

As a meat market, what else to better welcome you than a greeting cow and pig?

Majang Meat Market is the largest meat market in Korea, and boasts that it sells fresh meat arriving every hour from all over the world. Of course, many come here for Hanwoo 한우. This cattle is native to Korea – it is a source of national pride and is regarded amongst locals as the premier beef.

Majang Meat Market buying meat

Majang Meat Market is the real deal – meats hang from everywhere. Actually, not just meat because we also saw loads of intestines, lung, heart, stomach, and uhm…. Wind pipe? How do you even eat wind pipe? Someone please enlighten me.

Expectedly, this place also smells like a meat market. So be prepared for that.

assorted cuts at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

The Majang Meat Market works like this – you first head to the stalls to buy whatever beef or pork you fancy. Then, you can get referred to a restaurant where you will have your BBQ party.

You can choose to order part by part, or just go along with a platter. Prices are overtly displayed, but that doesn’t mean that they’re non-negotiable! Beyond talking prices, you can also ask the store owners for more meat. They’ll throw some in.

Hanwoo Korean beef platter at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea
Korean bbq at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Restaurants are typically on the second floor, above the stores where you buy meat from. For about 5,000KRW per pax, you get your banchan, salad, and the barbeque necessities.

Cooking Hanwoo Beef at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea
Cooked Hanwoo Korean beef at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Upon hitting the grill, the beef sizzles and gives off a heavenly aroma. I was already excited to have a taste, but the smell took this anticipation to a whole new level.

This simple cooking is the perfect way to taste their brilliance, look at these nuggets just glowing under natural light. First savour them on their own, then try another bite with a dab of salt. The texture is beautiful, they cut like butter and melt in your mouth.

Being well marbled, I would expect that Hanwoo 한우 might not be suitable for the BBQ flame. Since the oil might lead to a messy fire that will spoil the cooking. Remarkably that didn’t happen, perhaps this was already thought through in the grill’s design.

One issue though – the previous time we visited, eating too much beef became cloying. My mum had a fantastic idea. This time, she brought some Korean fruits to go along with our meats. The restaurant staff were happy to help wash and cut them.

Cut fruits pears and strawberries at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Strawberries and Pear.

Pork tenderloin for bbq at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Pork tenderloin. We got some pork too for variety.

Beef on bbq at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Majang Meat Market is a great place to taste Hanwoo 한우 and have fun while doing it. I love Korean BBQ for how social an activity it is – it is always filled with interaction and plenty of laughter.

Although the beef was delicious, it is surely not the best. Firstly, famous restaurants probably have first dibs on the best beef. Secondly (also, more importantly), how can my grilling skills compare?

I will never forget my first bite of Hanwoo 한우 at Mingles.

Beautiful Stream scenery near Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Post lunch, we took a short walk around the area. We strolled along the Cheonggye Stream (청계천), which was beautiful.

Ahhh, I love Korea. 😊

Majang Meat Market 마장 축산물시장

Address: 40, Majang-ro 31-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 성동구 마장로31길 40 (마장동)

Ganjang Gejang soyce sauce crab seoul korea

진미식당(Jinmi Sikdang) | My Date with the Rice Thief

진미식당(Jinmi Sikdang) | My Date with the Rice Thief

진미식당(Jinmi Sikdang) is a restaurant specializing in 간장게장 (ganjang gejang). I was sceptical upon realizing that this was raw fermented crab, yet at the same time I was inexplicably curious. My dad exclaimed that this is a test, because “if my stomach can take this, I can eat anything”.

Ordering was a simple affair. So simple, that there was no ordering. Upon being seated, the staff, like clockwork, progressively brought out the side dishes.

Following which, came the star of the night.

Ganjang Gejang soyce sauce crab seoul korea

My eyes lit up with my first taste of ganjang gejang. Yes it was raw, but it wasn’t fishy. Being uncooked, the meat was smooth and silky. The flesh was delicate, extremely exquisite. Its natural sweetness was accentuated by the soy sauce marinade. The greatest joy came from the roe, which were as robust as roe can be.

Ganjang Gejang soyce sauce crab seoul korea

Eat it alone, mix it in rice, or wrap it in their different varieties of seaweed.

It is obvious that ganjang gejang demands intricate preparation, precisely striking the harmony between subtlety and flavour. While the menu is limited, it is evident that serving one dish is good enough, if the restaurant can make it this delicious. We visited near closing time on a weekday night, and Jinmi Sikdang was fully packed.

진미식당 Jinmi Sikdang

Address: 186-6 Mapo-daero, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone: +82-2-3211-4468