Today I will reveal the second of first things I did while travelling abroad; had no written or printed itinerary for the whole trip. I think this one was an extreme change because I’d always planned my travel abroad in detailed. Travelling abroad was never easy for me, especially about preparing budget and getting visa, therefore I always made it detailed; where I wanted to go, what I would do, how much, each meal budget, transportation from one place to another. A very detailed itinerary you might ever expect from someone as careless as me. You might be surprised if I put one example here. That time I only had general plan like I wanted to go to any palaces and traditional market, tasted any Korean food, N Seoul Tower, visited Cheonggyecheon, and one of mural villages. That’s all. No detailed plan like I used to make.
So what it had to do with Gwangjang market? Of course I had never heard about this place before my Korean friend took me there.
I just asked master Google about Gwangjang Market (광장시장). It is the oldest traditional market in Seoul and one of the largest. Gwangjang Market was first constructed in 1905, has been renowned for high quality silk and hand made goods, vintage fashion, Korean traditional attire, home furniture, and various Korean street food stalls.
Even though it seems always busy every day, especially on weekends, it’s lesser crowd from tourist, and I like the last fact. I clearly requested him about the last issue because I traveled in budget and usually the touristy areas would be more expensive. 😀 Besides that, it sounded more original. 😀 (too many excuses here).
Since my friend already knew that I was tempted to taste various Korean street foods than any other issues, he directly led me to the food section and we skipped the fashion, silk goods, and the others.
There were so many food stalls on both sides of each tidy alley of Gwangjang market and also various alluring Korean food. It made me confuse which stall to choose and what to eat. So, I asked him to take me to his most favorite stall, but he said that we could pick any stall because it would all have the same quality. Since he said that Gwangjang market was one of his favorite places to have those kinds of food, I just believed what he said and then picked the stall which was owned by an ajumma with no customer (when I first sat).
Once again, I became a spoiled tourist; I let him ordered anything (he already figured out what I wanted anyway), and then I did the best job, tasting it one by one while he mentioned each food name and then wrote it down for me. Great. 😀
My first attempt was tteokbokki (떡볶이 – spicy rice cakes). I thought it was the fastest to serve. For the Korean lovers, tteokbokki is a-must-try-street-food in Korea, and I gave it a try. However, I wasn’t really satisfied with it. Since it was widely known, I had high expectation for its taste. All I could taste was plain rice cake, which was served with strong spicy sauce. So, the taste didn’t get me. As far as I remember, that was my first and last time having tteokbokki in Seoul.
Kimbap (김밥 – rolled rice) was my next attempt. kimbap’s diameter was smaller than the common size (later I found out that Gwangjang market is famous for its mini kimbap). For me, the size was right because I only wanted to try a bit for each food, besides that, I couldn’t have lot of rice when I still had so many things to try. 😀 Ajumma’s mini kimbap was tasty and slightly oily. I liked the taste.
Chicken feet’s skin (Jung didn’t write its Korean’s name), I didn’t intend to try this one because I often had it in Indonesia. But, Jung insisted me trying it because ajumma generously served it for us for free. And yes, the taste was almost similar, a little bit spicy and salty. Kekekekekeke.
From all of the foods I’d tried that night, I really loved Sundae (순대 – blood sausage). The diameter of sundae was bigger (about twice size) than one I often saw on television, and the taste was savory, even without additional sauce which had been prepared by ajumma. One nice point of this ajumma’s stall was sundae was served with slices of liver, pig’s head, and lung. I didn’t like liver and lung that much, but it was worth trying.
That was all my attempts from Gwangjang market. There were lots of foods to try, but I just couldn’t because I still had to give a space for our main menu at Young street.