SEOULFUL ENCOUNTERS [BUSAN/SEOUL 2017] STAYING IN MYEONGDONG

myeongdong

One of my favorite places to come back to whenever I am in Seoul is obviously Myeongdong. It is a paradise for shoppers and foodies and while always evolving, it is still home to some of the old-time favorites, both of the locals and tourists like me. I have written about Myeongdong for the first time in 2012 and for the second time in 2014. Despite having been to Myeongdong twice in the past, visiting Myeongdong everyday during the 5-day Seoul leg of my trip felt like it’s always the first time. There’s always something new to experience, something new to discover. Myeongdong continues to excite me (and my palate!), and if you are visiting Seoul for the first time, please make sure that you allot ample time for Myeongdong.

I have a lot to share with you so please be prepared to read a massive wall of post. I stayed in Myeongdong (right outside Exit 2 of  subway station to be precise) and I am going to write a quick review of my guesthouse. I will also update you with my foodie finds in Myeongdong and they’re all drool-worthy that just thinking about them makes me feel like I’m going to pass out from extreme craving. And as usual, I will be ending this post with a clip of our nightly walk from the guesthouse to the famous Myeongdong shopping streets.

*All references to Myeongdong in this post will be hyperlinked to www.myeongdong.org, a great reference for all things about Myeongdong.

MYEONGDONG MOM HOUSE

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In my previous visits to Seoul, I stayed at 126 Mansion which was then operating in Palpandong, Jongno, in the heart of Samcheongdong. Had 126 Mansion been operating still, I would have stayed there again this time. However, they closed their guesthouse in Seoul and moved to the countryside which left me looking for a place to stay in for my recent visit. Searching led me to Myeongdong MOM House and I’m just glad to have found this gem.

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If you’re a fan of Super Junior, specifically Kyuhyun, you would probably be familiar with Myeongdong MOM House. It’s a relatively new guesthouse, established sometime in 2014, which is situated so close to Myeongdong Station and right across the famous and busy shopping streets of Myeongdong. The station is about 80 meters away from the guesthouse and walking across to the shops will take less than 3 minutes. Another great thing about it is that the bus stop for airport limo bus 6015, the airport bus that stops in Myeongdong, is just across the street so going from/to the airport to reach the guesthouse is a breeze.

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But apart from this guesthouse being in the center of it all, what I like about it is that the rooms are clean. They’re small but neat and has the basic things I need like hair dryer, heater, mini ref, TV, and wifi, among others. Breakfast is also served which may be simple but it’s a convenient freebie that I’m thankful for because I need not worry or think about what/where to eat in the morning. And lastly, their rooftop is nice and it’s a place I used to go to when I wanted some quiet time after a tiring day of nothing but pure walking. Their rooftop has a view of N Seoul Tower to boot!

I got Room C for 2 days and transferred to the Family Studio Suite when my husband and preschooler arrived. Their rate is not cheap as compared with the other guesthouses in the area but the location is definitely worth the extra penny.

MYEONGDONG MOM HOUSE INFORMATION

  • Address: Myeongdong MOM House, 11, Toegye-ro 22-gil, Jung-gu, 04629 Seoul
  • Telephone: +82-02-779-0000
  • Website: http://mom2014.anywiz.co.kr/
  • How to get there: Take Exit 2 of Myeongdong Station, walk for about 30 meters until you reach the corner of Hotel Prince. Turn right and walk for another 40-50 meters until you see MOM House/De’ete Espresso.

MYEONGDONG CATHEDRAL

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For me and my family, no visit to Seoul is complete without hearing Mass at the Myeongdong Cathedral. When we used to stay in Samcheongdong before, and because we traveled to Seoul in big groups, we would always visit Myeongdong Cathedral by taxi. It’s easier to take a taxi for big groups and it’s more cost-efficient. This time though, since it’s a short distance away from Myeongdong MOM House, we just walked going to the church.

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I was still amazed at how disciplined the church goers were. They waited outside for the next Mass unlike here where people squeeze themselves inside the church even if Mass has already started and even if there are no more seats available. In Seoul, church goers are able to follow the Mass because they have pamphlets, Bibles, and monitors evenly distributed inside the church. Everyone gets to a chance to donate regardless of the amount and it is as orderly as the Communion. As always, it is something I hope to experience here in the Philippines.

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In my most recent visit to the church, my family had to wait for the next Mass which was why we were able to check out the church’s compound. There’s a mini park at the back with Mama Mary’s grotto and there is some sort of an annex where we were able to find a branch of one of the best cafes in Seoul (the main store, I believe is in Hongdae)Coffee Libre.

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MYEONGDONG CATHEDRAL INFORMATION

  • Address: 74, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 명동길 74 (명동2가)
  • Telephone: +82-2-774-1784
  • Website: https://www.mdsd.or.kr/english/parish.asp
  • How to get there: The nearest route is from Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. Walk for about 10 meters until you reach the first street corner. Turn left and walk along that street for 320 meters until you reach an intersection. Your landmark is Olive Young. Turn right and walk for about 110 meters until you see the ramp/stairs going up to Myeongdong Cathedral. It’s not really a steep walk but if you need to take a lift, before you reach the ramp going up to the Church, you’ll find a flight of stairs going down to some shops. Take that and follow the signs to the lift. It will take you up to Myeongdong Cathedral.

COFFEE LIBRE MYEONGDONG

  • Address: Seoul, Jung-gu, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Myeongdong-gil, 74 102호(명동2가)
  • Telephone and hours: +82 2-774-0615 / Open from 11am to 9pm
  • Website: http://coffeelibre.kr/
  • How to get there: Similar to how you get to Myeongdong Cathedral, take Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station. Walk for 10 meters then turn left at the first street corner. Walk straight for 320 meters until you see an intersection with an Olive Young branch. Turn right and walk for about 100 meters. You’ll see a parking entryway and then after that, a flight of stairs going down. Go down and follow the directions going to where Coffee Libre is. This building has an elevator going up to Myeongdong Cathedral.

For easy reference on where Coffee Libre is or where the elevator to Myeongdong Cathedral is, please see below:

coffee libre myeongdong and myeongdong cathedral

NAMDAEMUN MARKET

I haven’t had the chance to visit Namdaemun Market in my previous visits to Seoul which was why I made sure that for my visit last spring, and considering that MOM House is in the center of everything I needed to visit in Myeongdong, I had to head over to Namdaemun Market and check out the place.

Namdaemun Market is accessible by subway through Exit 5 of Hoehyeon Station, one station away from Myeongdong. In this post though, I’ll show you how I walked from MOM House to Namdaemun Market. You can actually walk along the main street but I chose to walk inside the shopping streets of Myeongdong so that it doesn’t get too boring as I pass through the shops.

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From Myeongdong MOM House, I crossed towards the shopping streets which popularly start from Exits 6/7 of Myeongdong Station. The view from the point is what you’ll see from the very first photo in this post. From there, one can already see the huge Nature Republic wall at the left. I walked towards that corner and turned left. A little walking led me to Line Friends Store in Myeongdong.

If I may digress, you may note a small foreign exchange shop in the photo above which is just beside Line Friends Store. I checked out different foreign exchange shops in the area and for my first 2 days in Seoul, that shop was the one that offered the best exchange rate for Philippine Peso to Won. For the last three days, the shop that offered the best exchange rate was the one in front of Myeongdong Theater. There, you’ll see a Teenie Weenie store with a small entry beside it. Go in there and take the lift to the foreign exchange shop.

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Going back to Line Friends Store, there’s a queue for a pictorial with this huge teddy bear so I had to fall in line too. Thankfully, some gracious tourists took my photo. That pose though was something I copied from previous tourists who had their photos taken. I thought it was the “norm” because everyone before me did it but later on I realized it was crazy of me to think that way. Of course, we’re free to pose however which we like but I just didn’t think of that. It was maybe because there was a slight pressure to pose fast as the queue was getting long, and copying those before me definitely was the faster way to do it.

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So I continued walking from Line Friends Store for about 200 meters more until I saw Shinsegae Department Store at the other side of the street. The street is a major one which means it’s big and there’s a designated pedestrian lane to cross to the other side. I just walked through the pedestrian lane and continued walking along that street in between Shinsegae Department Store and Shinsegae Main Building.

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After another 100 meters more of walking, I reached one part of Namdaemun Market. From Myeongdong MOM House to Namdaemun, following my route, it was about a 600-meter walk all in all. It is definitely not far and for those who are not used to walking, please trust me when I say that this would not hurt you even a tiny bit. The shops and the vibe in the shopping streets will entertain you such that you won’t realize how near Namdaemun Market is.

janiscooking map myeongdong to namdaemun

That’s the map of my route to Namdaemun Market. The market is huge so I added some captions on areas where I found certain items. Actually, you can find accessories, for example, in several stalls in the market but I  added a caption for certain areas where there are a lot of accessory shops situated near each other. IMPORTANT: Note the two parallel red lines with the caption “GALCHI JORIM.” It’s the famous hairtail alley. I don’t have a picture and I know that you gotta take a shot or it didn’t happen. It sucks, I know. But. If you happen to go to Namdaemun Market, please try eating at the Galchi Jorim Alley/Hairtail Alley. You won’t regret it. Promise.

Namdaemun Market is massive. Personally, I think I need one whole day for it. Be prepared to shop but know that the items are priced low as compared to those you’ll find in Myeongdong shops or in department stores. Happy shopping!

NAMDAEMUN MARKET INFORMATION

  • Address; 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 남대문시장4길 21 (남창동)
  • Telephone and hours: +82-2-753-2805 / 23:00-17:00 (the next day) *Operating hours will vary by shop / Closed on Sundays
  • Website: http://www.namdaemunmarket.co.kr/01_int/01.php
  • How to get there:
    • Option 1: Walking from Myeongdong Shopping Streets to Namdaemun – Take Exit 6/7 of Myeongdong Station and walk to the corner of Nature Republic. Turn left and walk for about 300 meters until you reach a big street with Shinsegae Department Store in front of you. Find the pedestrian crossing to go to the other side. Continue walking after you crossed for another 200 meters or so until you reach Namdaemun Market.
    • Option 2: By subway – Take Exit 5 of Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4).
    • Option 3: Buy bus – Namdaemun Market & Hoehyeon Station Bus Stop
      • Green Bus: 0013, 0014, 0015, 7011, 7013, 7017, 7022
      • Blue Bus: 130, 104, 152, 162, 163, 201, 202, 261, 406, 500, 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 506, 507, 701, 708
      • Red Bus: 2300, 2500, 9411
      • Airport Bus: 605-1

RESTAURANT FINDS

I got to try a couple of restaurants/cafes in Myeongdong this time. Before going on my trip, I already listed the restaurants I wanna visit in Myeongdong and even plotted them on my map but there wasn’t just enough time to even try a couple of them. Later, I’ll share with you that map for reference.

YOOGANE CHICKEN GALBI

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One of the restaurants that I tried was Yoogane with their popular Chicken Galbi dish. The branch that we visited was the one near Exit 8. I’ll show it in the map later.

If you’re bringing your baby with you, know beforehand that they won’t allow strollers inside so your baby should be able to sit on a chair already else he/she would need to be in a baby carrier with you. If you order chicken galbi, the minimum order is 2 servings but what you’re seeing above is 4 servings. They will bring the ingredients and cook everything for you at your table so all you need to do is just wait for the dish to cook and you’re ready to eat. My husband loved the food. I liked it but I’ve tasted better chicken galbis. The one from Nami Island that I tasted way back in 2014 was by far more delicious.

MYEONGDONG KYOJA

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Outside Yoogane was a new branch for Myeongdong Kyoja, known for their kalguksu and mandu. It was still under construction when we were there but on the day of our flight, it was open already. I was amazed at how quick construction in Korea is. I can just imagine that it would have taken months and months for contractors to finish the work here in Manila! (Building our house took more than a year and I can rant without end against our contractor but I’d rather not *sheesh*)

TWOSOME COFFEE

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I also got to try Twosome Coffee at their branch above Olive Young in Myeongdong. Actually, there’s Twosome Place  a few meters away from MOM House (see photo below) but I purposely visited this Twosome Coffee branch above Olive Young because they said that it used to be owned by Choi Si Won of Super Junior. I loved their coffee. Actually, I like coffee in Korea even the slightly diluted one served at the guesthouse. I ordered two slices of cake, the chocolate cake with berries on top at the bottom-left of the chiller and a slice of a regular New York cheesecake. The chocolate cake was so-so but the cheesecake was good.

TWO TWO CHICKEN

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You may have noticed the Twosome Place near Pacific Hotel in the photos. That’s the Twosome coffee shop near MOM House that I was telling you about. That’s one block away from the guesthouse and the street where it’s located is in between Exits 2 and 3 of Myeongdong Station. In case the street photo looks familiar, it might be because you searched for how to get to N Seoul Tower via the cable car. Most blogs will tell you to walk towards Pacific Hotel, that’s why.

Anyway, that’s the route going to Two Two Chicken. It’s one of those chicken restaurants in Myeongdong that has been popularly blogged about. Since it’s just a few steps away from our guesthouse, I decided to take out a chicken box for dinner. The fried chicken was delicious. It’s not breaded and tastier than Max’s Fried Chicken, a little greasier, but flavorful. The pickled radish was a great side dish for it takes away that oiliness inside your mouth.

GREAT KING OF CASTELLA, CAFE DE PARIS, MILKY BEE & GELA ROSA

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And then there’s this junction near Exit 8 of Myeongdong Station that is worthy of a food stop. It houses three great dessert places in one location and tell you what, they’re one of the reasons why I am going to stay in Myeongdong again in my next visit. At the top is Cafe De Paris and that’s where you can have a taste of their fruit bonbons that are served in big cups like Starbucks’ venti cups. And then there’s Gela Rosa where you can buy ice cream that’s carved like a rose. How cute and yummy is that? And that yellow stall beside Milky Bee & Gela Rosa is The Great King of Castella where you can get the biggest, meanest, and fluffiest Japanese sponge cake ever.

And because I love you, my dear readers, I am graciously sharing with you this Myeongdong foodie map that I prepared so that you can easily find your next food destination in Myeongdong! There are many branches of Yoogane, Myeongdong Kyoja, Twosome Coffee/Twosome Place so I marked the ones I visited in blue.

SEOUL-MAP MYEONGDONG FOOD

STREET FOOD IN MYEONGDONG

And finally, I am going to share with you the different kinds of street food I saw in Myeongdong. I was able to see some old ones like those I found in 2012 and 2014 and there’s definitely a lot of new dishes this time.

 

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Strawberries were so much in season last April. In Myeongdong, 1 pack costs 5,000 won. Back in Busan, a tub (yes a tub!) costs only 3,000 won.

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Mixed fruits in a cup for 3,000 won. I got a cup like that in Tongin Market for only 2,000 won.

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Gyeranbbang

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Bungeoppang

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Sweet Potato

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Fried fish cakes with filling

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Grilled octopus

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Halal Food

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Steak

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Tteok Galbi

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Grilled Scallops

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Cup Chicken

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Grilled lobster tail

Whew! What a long post, my longest actually! I hope you didn’t have such a hard time getting to this part. As I end this post, here’s a quick clip of our nightly walk from MOM House to the popular Myeongdong shopping streets. Please drop by again for my next post! Annyeong!

 

 

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