Sunday, 15 March 2015

@ Gwangjang Market: Dinner Is Served!

Gwangjang Market is one of Korea's oldest markets. Although I pass by this market most of the time either on my way to Hyewha-dong or to Dongdaemun, I never had the chance to savor the bindaetteok this market is famous for. My binddaetteok usually came from Namdaemun Market as it's closer.

So, when my friend, Sasa's nephew Neil came to Seoul for his research, a chance came up! I invited my other two friends, Joonho and Hyunsung, to join me and Neil at the Gwangjang Market. 

We went there on a cold Thursday night, and were surprised that most restaurants and stalls were full! We couldn't even get a table at a restaurant; we had to wait!

               (A crowded night at the market)

       (Flaglets adorning the ceiling of the market; 
                         no Philippine though)

But after checking other bindaetteok places, we finally got lucky; we got a table on the second floor on one of the more popular restaurants. 

Bindae-tteok, or mung bean pancakes, are like hash browns in texture, and are made by grinding those beans and frying them in round shapes. I saw a Korean ajumma downstairs frying those binddae-tteoks. I wondered how many of these did she actually fry in a day. Must be hundreds! 

We ordered a binddae-tteok and a haemul pajeon, or seafood pancake, which was a mix of seafood, onions and other ingredients held up in a batter and also fried. The haemul pajeon usually needed a sauce dip.

And with bindae-tteok and haemul pajeon as our dinner, we introduced Neil to Korean cuisine at one of the oldest markets in Seoul. But the introductory lesson for Neil didn't stop with these dishes. 

After cleaning up both plates, we went around the market and decided to eat some more! This time, soondae

                (Mung beans being ground)
                         (Haemul pajeon)
                   (Bindaetteok on a plate)

I would usually enjoy soondae in a hot stone pot with rice, but this Korean delicacy is usually enjoyed as street food served in slices on a plate coupled with slices of cooked liver. Yes, liver!  

As if our Korean dinner at Gwangjang Market wasn't interesting enough, the Korean lady at the soondae stall told us she had been working at the market for about 50 years; she was in her 70s. She must know a lot of about the market's history! If only the stall could talk! Ha-ha-ha!

            (Bindaetteok: frying and cooked)
                       (Whole soondae)

       (Soondae slices topped with liver slices)

I have always enjoyed patronizing these markets in Seoul, where their delicacies could match those of pricey restaurants. Their dishes are not only better tasting; they're cheaper!

So, on a cold week night, our dinner of bindaetteok, haemul pajeon and soondae was served at one of Korea's oldest markets! I hope Neil enjoyed his introduction to Korean cuisine... with a piece of Korean history. 

(The Korean lady's soondae stall number; 
                         I plan to visit again)

PS. When in Seoul, Gwangjang Market is a few meters out of Exit 8 of Jongno 5-ga Station (Line 1). Just follow the smell of deep-fried bindae-tteok.

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