Typically I brown bag it everyday at work, however a building mate asked me if I’d like to join him for lunch nearby at a friends restaurant. Although my peanut-butter, banana, topped off with local honey on whole wheat sounded very satisfying, lol, I said sure!
The restaurant is located off the Main Street and tucked away in an alley near the Bosan subway station and US Army installation Camp Casey. When we pulled up to park, I quickly realized why I had never seen the restaurant before, it was because of the discreet location.
Don’t let the unassuming exterior and location fool you, once we stepped inside my nose immediately told my belly that I was in for a treat. I learned that the food is always freshly made after you order, so be prepared for a bit of wait. You do have the option to place a take out order, as well as call ahead to place your order to eat dine in. If Charlie isn’t available, the restaurant does not open, it is a one man wok show. You see the pride Charlie takes in his food quality, the prices are very reasonable and you are served generous portions.
I ordered a 2 entrée combo meal because I couldn’t decide between the beef with broccoli, and General Tso’s chicken. With the combo you also decide if you’d like fried rice, or chow mien. I ordered chow mien based off of recommendation. The recommendation was spot on!
^Building mate’s garlic chicken and General Tso’s chicken
Overall, I was pleasantly pleased with my order. The menu offers a small variety of standard Chinese American staple choices and price points. Sure, this isn’t a gourmet 5 star restaurant, but it definitely is a great little neighborhood find!
You must excuse me for the lack of post from last weekend. The majority of our July has been spent staying outside until the last very last second possible, or until the rain moves in. We are in monsoon season here in S.Korea so getting out and about when the sun is shining is imperative if you are trying to squeeze every ounce of “clear” sky out of the dwindling summer.
We trekked slowly up the base of Soyosan to marvel at the lush green trees. Soyosan is prime people watching too! During the hot season’s Korean’s often lounge and cool themselves in the trickling streams that come off the base of the mountain. You never know what you might see or get invited to join.
I have a new Korean friendship blossoming and we enjoyed a really nice dinner together at a unique little restaurant near both of our homes. We dined on duck and a soup made of perilla leaves.
Not familiar with perilla leaves? Don’t worry it is most likely because it grows in Korea, China, Nepal and India. It’s a flavor I really cannot explain. The taste is quite pungent and has a nutty peppery taste to it. It is a herb that is often referred to a wild sesame. I was told that this heart-shaped leaf is a Korean staple and you can find it almost year round served in Korean homes. Plus it gets better! Of course it has healing components to it as well. If you are feeling tired, suffer from frequent headaches, need some anti-inflammatory relief, detoxify fish poisoning, combats morning sickness. WHOA! Talk about a marvelous little leaf!
We hopped on an AM train into Seoul and ran about in the on again off again rain to a vegan bakery called PLANT owned and operated by the sweetest girl, Mipa. Enjoyed a peanut Thai bowl and grilled chickpea sandwich. Both incredibly sumptuous and we shared one anther’s lunch family style. We are family after all! We then went to Maybell Bakery where I introduced Kelsey to a fabulous European bakery with freshly baked focaccia, baguette, croissants. I think it’s safe to say she’s in heaven.
One of the many, many, things that I adore about Korea is the endless mountain trails that you can hike. If you have followed our blog up until this point, you know that we have hiked some beautiful places in various parts of Korea.
I feel like hiking is taken to another level in Korea. To be considered a serious hiker, you need to dress the part. I am talking dressing to the nines. Matching hiking boots, hiking pants, hiking jacket, hat, sunglasses, gloves, backpack, and walking poles or stick. PS. your backpack better come packed with the essential makgeolli or soju too. These people know how to have a good ol’ time while they get their hike on. As you can see…I am not a serious hiker. I mean come on, what tee-shirt am I wearing? “Lettuce, Turnip, the beets” ha-ha-ha!
Back to the topic of actually hiking, some of my co-workers and I woke up bright and early and hit the trails near our home this morning. I struggled getting out of bed so early knowing it was a Saturday. The snooze button may or may not have been hit a handful of times. Once I got up, grabbed a cup of joe and a banana, I was good to go!
The sun was shining! Birds were chirping! The air was so fresh! Bits of greens and flowers were starting to peak from the earth! The endorphins were pumping! Plus we beat the Korean billy-goat crowds! It was an absolutely wonderful morning and great time getting to know one another more outside of the office.
Early rise this morning. I made an appointment at the hair salon in Seoul for Rebecca and myself. I was in desperate need of a trim and highlights…I know, complete shocker these sun kissed blonde highlights are chemically engineered.
I was really eager to introduce the sweet girl that cuts my hair. I knew Rebecca would really enjoy her. Rebecca got a pedicure and picked out the cutest color pink to boot.
We took the subway down to the appointment. I knew it would be fun for Rebecca to experience public transportation in South Korea. Super convenient and super easy to use. Basically all your main areas are located along the subway line. Rebecca commented and said she couldn’t get over how clean the train and subway was compared to the DC metro. It really is rather clean and well kept after.
After the hustle to get to our hair appointment, we we’re able to enjoy not being against the clock. Take our time. Stroll. Ha-ha! Well as much strolling that my long legs will allow, they are rather long.
We walked around the Insadong area. Rebecca picked up some ceramic duck chopstick holders for a gift. We also poked in and peaked around some of the little shops.
I knew I want to let Rebecca try a Korean summer treat. Pat bing su. Rebecca tried egg bread and some other little vendor finds. Eventually after I drug her all over Insadong, we found a quaint second floor tea room serving pat bing su. Rebecca loved it! We both loved getting to sit down, chat, and catch our second wind. God bless her heart! I’m so thankful to have such an amazing bestfriend!
After out Pat bing su we walked around a bit more and decided to continue on to our next destination.
The Next stop was the Gyeongbokgung Palace. We stopped off at a Dunkin Donuts to grab a drink and of course see the crazy koreanized donuts. Take for instance the glutinous rice stick. I know doesn’t sound very appetizing, folks you don’t know what you are missing out on.
At the Palace we took an English guided tour. Again, it never gets old to me. I learn something new each time I revisit a place. We had a great time wondering all over the palace grounds.
We snapped some photos. It’s just incredible how the mountains and trees surround the back of the palace backdrop and the front is tall skyscrapers and the hustle of Seoul city life. It’s truly a place were you can see the old meeting the brand new.
After wondering through the Palace grounds we decided to head towards the subway and mosey home.
Once we arrive home we had to tackle one of the most important questions ever…WHATS FOR DINNER?! HAHA! We had endless amounts of our Korean meal from the night before…or we could go grab a bite elsewhere. We decided to go out. CHICKEN! Grilled Chicken!
We got off to a late start today, but thats okay because we had no real formal plans in place. Typically I’m notoriously known as a planner, I drive Mr. B nuts needing to know or have some sort of back up plan in place. Since Rebecca’s been in town I’ve really surprised myself and we have been taking everything day by day.
Today Rebecca was interested in checking out some Buddhist temples near our home. We decided to hike up to the Soyosan Temple. The hike was really nice, we lucked out with another day of gorgeous weather in Korea.
We snapped some photos, people watched, and hiked our way up to the Temple.
We all laughed and giggled at the air machines that the hikers were using to to spray off their hiking boots with. We also couldn’t get enough of all the little Korean children running around enjoying their summer weekend. What fun we had just people watching.
After our short 2 mile hike we went to Lotte Mart and exposed Rebecca to a Korean grocery store. Rebecca described it as sensory overload, you know I’ve got to agree with her on that one. There are just people everywhere, loud speakers blasting with Korean, free samples of various foods, not to mention the endless amounts of foreign grocery goods to explore.
A shopping cart full later we purchased our dinner for the night. We decided to have a fun cook in Korean night.
Mr. B cooked, Rebecca chopped, and I stirred, prepared the tofu and cleaned up around the kitchen. We sipped on Soju and some wine. Made Kimbap, pickled quail eggs, chopchae/japchae, Bulgogi, fried tofu, and grilled garlic chips. What a feast! We may have went a tad bit overboard…quickly realizing that we cooked entirely way to much food. Plenty of lunch leftovers to go around. Rebecca can now proudly say she knows how to cook chopchae/japchae and roll some kimbap. Memories I know I’ll never forget, I don’t think she will either.
Sunday we decided to take a stroll up Soyosan to the buddhist temple. The last time we had hiked up there, the temple grounds had seen better days. Yes, the flooding from the heavy rains last year really did a number.
The air was quite brisk, but the sun was actually shining through the bare tree branches keeping us warm on our hike.
Once on the hiking path, we were glad to see that the grounds were in full swing of repair. The park crew already had water runoffs dug alongside of the roadway leading up to the base of the mountain.
Now…all we need is the beautiful spring weather! We just might get our request later this week!
Woot-Woot!! Check out that weather forecast!! Okay, don’t look at the snow folks..it’s the 50’s we are digging!
Tonight we made plans to grab a bite to eat at a restaurant very close to our apartment. The restaurant we decided to try out is called Shin-Hung. We finally had some free time to meet up with our good friend Mary G! We have to mention on our blog that Mary’s husband is incredibly sweet! Robert stayed at home (on his birthday, mind you) with their twins so that she could have some “adult-time”. Thanks again Robert!!
Okay, back to dinner…Shin-Hung is a restaurant located at the base of the Soyo Mountain in Dongducheon. Shin-hung is pretty popular and known for various dishes among the Koreans, so we are told. The restaurant is fairly large in size, the staff are nice, but do not speak any english. If that is a cause for concern to anyone, don’t let it be… you can simply point at the menu and they will know what you are after.
After looking at the menu we went with Samgyeopsal (Pork-belly). After dinner we all decided that we would come back sometime and try the mushroom stew. We got to see the mushroom stew at the table across from ours and it looked delish!
After a nice dinner with great company we continued our night by walking up the road just a bit to get to the Rock Festival. We were pretty impressed! The festival was FREE! There was a HUGE professional stage with lights and camera coverage! Plus, the music wasn’t half bad and we could people watch! Score!
Have we told you lately just how much we love Korea?!
The weather in South Korea has been changing ever so quickly. Each morning and evening seems just a littler cooler then the day prior. We Bee’s are originally from Central Pennsylvania so we are used to experiencing four seasons. To us there is nothing like being able to go to sleep in the evening with crisp cool fall air creeping in through your bedroom windows. In all the places we have lived or traveled to, we both agree that Pennsylvania has some of the most breathtaking fall scenery. However, we are giving Korea a fair chance and will await to see when the leaves start to turn on the mountains what it has to offer up.
With that being said, today we woke up to another cool September morning here in Dongducheon. We decided that we were going to take advantage of the weather and try to hike our way up and over Soyo mountain located only a few minutes away from our apartment. The weatherman was calling for showers but the sun was still peeking through the clouds and really didn’t look like it was going rain. We decided to take our chances and just go for it.
What we both like about Soyosan is that you park and have to walk up a beautifully tree lined paved road until you reach the base on the mountain. A few posts back you can see where we messed around with the camera and snapped some pictures of us together on this road at night. Along the tree lined road runs a crystal clear stream. During the spring and summer months it is a very popular location for Korean’s to be picnicking and dipping their feet in the water to cool off. Today, as we mentioned is a bit cooler so there were not as many people spotted along the stream.
Before you can continue walking to the very base of the mountain where you begin your hike you have to pay a 3,000 won admission fee. Unless that is, you have have a Dongducheon Korean license, then the admission is FREE!
As you know from prior blog posts we have visited Soyosan numerous times. However, we have never actually hiked the whole trail.Typically we only go up to the Buddhist Jajaeam Temple snap some pictures and turn around. This time…we were ready!
Looking back on the hike we determined that depending on your physical physique you can basically reach the top of the first peak within 30-45 minutes. Now we took our good old sweet time, snapped a ton of pictures, rested for about 45 minutes, and ate some snacks along the trail, so it took us roughly an hour and a half to reach the first peak.
As we mentioned, we snapped tons of pictures and they are included within the post at the top. We also snapped pictures for various Korean couples along the way too! We met a sweet couple that insisted we try their Korean cake. Mr’s B enjoyed it but Mr. B was not a fan. We encountered many couples and each tried to share whatever they had with us including Makkoli the Korean-rice wine. Uhhhh yeahhhh we didn’t tell you that we were very bad and didn’t start the morning off right with a nice hearty breakfast… wine would have made that hike really interesting.
After reaching the first peak we were pumped and moved fairly quickly to the next two peaks. Along the way in between each peak there are areas where you have to crawl over some rocks, use a rope to guide you along narrow stretches of trail, and go up or down a lot of stairs.
Because of the time and our plans to host dinner for some friends we had to get a move on it and truck it back down the mountain, and unfortunately that meant missing the last peak. Again, looking back we should have just hiked the last peak because the path we took to get back down the mountain was insane! The path was totally washed out from all the rain and flooding South Korea experienced in July and the trail was full of rocks that just tumbled down the side of the mountain. We were part of the way down and there wasn’t a person in sight. Ms. B started to say what in the world were we thinking?! How did we get ourselves into the mess… It was a bit to late to turn back so we just had to commit to the rest of the hike down. It ended up taking us a little over a hour just to get down because of the unstableness of the rocks and lack of actual tail. At last we spotted some Korean hikers climbing their way up the path and we heard a family not to far behind us. Okay, we were not the only crazy people on this trail…Mrs. B’s feeling better. Well, that was until Mr. B said make sure you are watching for snakes! Snakes?! Ah! that’s not even a thought that crossed my mind as I was crawling down the rocks (Mr’s B.) Luckily, no snakes were spotted, the rocks didn’t crumble down and crush us, and we eventually made it. Mr. B would like to think this is all due to his advise of “three points of contact”. Mrs. B would like to think it is due to her uncanny direction capabilities ha ha! Nevertheless, WE MADE IT! In one piece… well, not quite, Mrs. B ended up falling due to sliding on the steep slick dirt and catching herself by putting all her weight on her arm and shoulder (she’s a bit sore). Mr. B’s knee gave out a few times on the rocks (needless to say he will definitely be feeling that in the morning). But again, WE MADE IT and that is all that matters!
We understand if you are dreading the initial thought of a hike or might be unsure about trying it after reading over our post. In all seriousness we had a blast and we promises that the picturesque views overlooking the US Army base Camp Casey are worth the hike alone! Not to mention spotting multiple Korean war era bunkers (how cool is that!)!
Cheers to all the baked ziti with sausage and caprese that we will consume tonight without feeling guilty!