After my tennis at the Hannam-dong tennis courts this Saturday morning, I ran to the Dongdaemun bag market to look for a bag as a present for a friend who did me a big favor back in Manila. I roamed around the bag market and without any luck for me (and without any sleep for the vendors!) I left the building. Yes, the vendors didn't have a wink yet. The bag market at NPH building opens at midnight and closes at 1PM the next day.
From NPH building, I made my way to Seoul's Dongdaemun Station (not to be confused with the Dongdaemun Culture and History Station, okay?). That alley has always interested me. It has lots of mom-and-pop restaurants and shops, which I prefer to patronize over those big chain stores.
Right at the Exit 1 of the Dongdaemun Underground Shopping Center, there was an old Korean lady selling boiled corns, ttoek and a lot more. But what caught my eye was her huge boiled sweet potatoes! I had to buy! I asked for two big ones which cost KRW5,000 for both; still warm and ready to eat! I used to enjoy these boiled kamotes in the Philippines by skinning them, slicing them and bathing them in condensed milk. Yummy!
(I bought sweet potatoes from this couple at the corner spot)
Not contented with the sweet kamote, I walked further and saw a vegetable shop, which was also selling ripe persimmons! For KRW 2,000, you'd get about dozen, very orange, succulent and sweet persimmons! At other vendors in Seoul, you'd only get six pieces for about KRW5,000! So, at KRW2,000, this was a steal! Adding to my tennis bag, I now carried root crops and fruits! Ha-ha-ha!
(Big sweet potatoes!)
A few meters down the sidewalk was a bakery selling glutinous bread which had sweet red bean paste inside. This bread was covered with white sugar and was just freshly made! And for four pieces at KRW2,000, the Korean lady vendor added one more pack to my handcarry baggage! Ha-ha-ha!
(A mandu shop still steaming their dumplings)
(I got this red bean bread covered in sugar)
(The cheapest,yet tastiest persimmons I ever bought!)
A couple of years ago, I went to the Dongmyo toy alley, which was accessible from Exit 6 of Dongmyo Station. Reading the map of this area, I realized that alley can also be accessed from the Dongdaemun Station. And since I was already here, I decided to visit the toy alley, not to buy any costume or toy, but to take a look once more at the place, where, on weekends, is full of kids and their parents looking for toys and other kids' stuff.
(A vegetable and fruit shop!)
From Dongdaemun Station's Exit 4, just walk for a few meters until you see a marker that has a colored balloon on top. Turn right into that alley and you'll see shop after shop with colorful displays of toys, costumes, masks, stickers, party favors and other fun stuff.
It was already mid-morning when I found myself crossing the street toward the bus stop, walking away from Dongdaemun Station's row of bakeries, restaurants, fruit and vegetable stall, household wares and tools, and just anything you need for your home, for your kitchen and in my case, for my breakfast! Ha-ha-ha!
(A fish shop)
(The toys alley marker with a colored balloon!)
Walking around this area and buying these goodies were just as fun as my tennis this morning. I don't get a kick when I roam the aisles of a big supermarket, but today, the excitement of discovering mom-and-pop shops that make and sell yummy baked goods and other Korean delicacies added a little extra to my weekend, knowing that I can always visit this place and enjoy their recipes anytime.
(An umbrella store!)
I have always said that I'd rather patronize these small and family-run shops than buying goods from big supermarkets and restaurant chains. Not only do these small restaurants and bakeries actually serve and sell good Korean dishes, snacks and delicacies, their prices are way cheaper, too.
I was thinking of making this place part of my Saturday-morning-after-tennis tradition. After all, my first experience in this neighborhood made my morning (and my breakfast!) special and it was a delightful visit worthy of a blog.