[Seoul] Ilhochic 일호식

Having read about this new restaurant that serves healthy and hearty meals, I definitely had to check it out so made a reservation for dinner one evening with friends (I recommend to make a reservation beforehand especially during dinner time).

Ilhochic is located in tucked behind a main street in Hannam-dong and the nearest metro station is Hannam Station. The restaurant is on the ground floor of a four storey building and the entrance is very simplistic with just its sign on a square wood block.

We were ushered to our table which was facing the bar table so you could see the kitchen area. The atmosphere was relaxing and all the tables by the windows were already taken up by mature men and women. This is definitely not a place for the young and hip but rather for those who are into their healthy food from time to time (me!).

The menu was simple and consisted of single dishes and the Prix Fixe – the fixed price set meals which is inclusive of the side dishes. The five of us went for a set meal each and our choices included brown rice with beef and soft boiled egg, grilled mackerel with brown rice and a Korean style omelette to share.

The food was fresh and hearty and I thoroughly enjoyed every dish laid out in front of me! The price is probably a bit overpriced compared to similar restaurants but it was comfortable and cosy. Next time I would come back here and try the dinner menu and other delicacies on the menu such as the braised kimchi with pork belly and the fish cake stew. If you are looking for something healthy and hearty and tasty then give Ilhochic a try.

For those of you who don’t know, Ilhochic actually means 一好食 in Chinese. This loosely translates to Number One Tasty and the way its pronounced in Cantonese is very similar to the Korean pronunciation. Coincidence? I think not.

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[Paris] Hopping around in ‘le gay paree’

We hopped on the Eurostar for a few days of sun in Paris back in August this year. I feel like having been to Paris for so many times, I know the city pretty well that I know where to go and what to do during my days out here.

My go to place for crepes is definitely Crêperie Suzette which is in the hustle of Le Marais where you have your quirky coffee shops and non stop shopping. My favourite is the galette Barbette which is a savoury pancake made from buckwheat with cheese, potatoes and bacon inside topped with crème fraîche and a drizzle of basil dressing. It’s amazing – just get it!

Nothing is complete without an early lunch at the famed Carette in Place des Vosges. We opted for the French onion soup, a sandwich platter (Parisien ‘Duo’) and a lemon crêpe for afters.

We were on our way to the Eiffel Tower when a small Popellini caught our eye. Must go to get my pistachio fix! Deliciousness every time, small but filling and one is certainly enough.

We lazed around on the grass with a view of the tower in sight. It was a lovely afternoon before saying ‘Au revoir Paris’ and then ‘Hello London again!’

[Seoul] Mr. Holmes Bakehouse

When walking past bakery shops, I always have to stop and peep inside for any pastries, buns or cakes to satisfy my sweet cravings. I passed by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse and was immediately drawn to the baby pink neon signs (especially the cute peace sign) outside the shop and OMG cruffin alert!

We opted for the chocolate brioche donut and the famous cruffin! Two of these should be enough to share between the three of us! We found the donut was a little bit sweet but the cruffin was really moreish. The pastry was crispy but flaky at the same time and the chocolate creme really complimented it well. But definitely these delights are to be had once a few months! I really recommend the cruffin which is great for sharing. I have also heard that there is now a concession in Shinsegae department store in Gangnam so there is now another place to go to if you want to avoid the crowded Garosugil.

[Jeju Island] Hyeopjae Beach 협재해변 & Hamdeok Beach 함덕 서우봉해변

I was very excited to visit Seoul this summer along with a one day trip to Jeju Island! I have always wanted to visit Jeju Island but summer seemed like the only season to go and I am one who tries to avoid the hot weather as much as I can… Anyway it was a really good time to go (mid-June) and I travelled with my sister, our friend and her husband who only had two hours of sleep the night before and drove us around all day in Jeju Island (while we slept in the car…thank you again!!!).

Our first stop was at Hyeopjae Beach which was a two hour drive from Jeju Intl Airport. We arrived at around 9:30am and the sky was grey! We walked towards the left side of the beach as there were less people and there we could see the black rocks.

As you can see from the photos above, it was cloudy but still pleasant enough to enjoy the views of the sea. It was just lovely gazing at this wonderful place which we did so for the next hour or so.

We moved to our next destination once we felt refreshed and it was Hamdeok Beach – which was another two hour drive. I do recommend to rent a car once at Jeju Island because public transportation may not take you to all the places you want to go and exploring by car is the best option (in my most honest and humblest opinion!).

Once we arrived at Hamdeok Beach, the sun came out to play! Can you see the difference in the sky? The aqua green water was breathtaking and we even stood on the black rocks to get a better view of the scenery.

There is a cafe on the beach called Cafe Delmoondo so you can stop by for your coffee / cold drink fix before heading over to the beach. Unfortunately we were not dressed to play in the water which was a shame, given that the weather was lovely for playing in the water.

We left Jeju Island around 9pm that evening, having had a fun filled day even though we were all knackered from the lack of sleep! But hey, once you’re still young, you still have it in you to seize the day! I definitely recommend Jeju Island for a short trip if you plan to stay in Korea for more than a week in the summer months.

[Seoul] Eungbongsan 응봉산

Having visited Seoul during three out of the four seasons, I finally managed to plan a trip in early April which means yes, I have now completed my trips to Seoul during the four seasons! I still must say that Autumn is my favourite in Seoul but Spring is a close second followed by Winter and then Summer.

So as you all may or may not know, Spring means bloom which means flowers, flowers and more flowers! South Korea in particularly is popular during Spring where they have many festivals and not to mention the cherry blossom festivals where thousands flock to see their blooming beauty.

After an unsuccessful viewing of the cherry blossoms in Yeoido due to bad weather and time limit, I was taken to capture the less popular but still lovely forsythias in Eungbongsan. To my surprise, the mountain and park is in the centre of Seoul – between Oksu and Wangsimni station on the Gyeongui-Jungang railway line which made the trip ever so easy and accessible.

We were lucky as the weather was simply perfect for a relaxing hike up the mountain whilst being able to see the forsythias in full bloom – a field of sunshine. The walk from the train station up to the mountain was not difficult and not as high compared to Haneul Park. One could make it to the top easily within 20 minutes.

Once we reached the top, we were able to see a clear view of Seoul Forest and Han River which during the wonderful weather we had that day, was of course a lovely sight! There were not many people when we went so we had the enormous pleasure of taking pictures to our hearts content without any huge crowds in sight!

I highly do recommend this short trip to Eungbongsan as it is a lovely stroll through the park and whilst the forsythias are in full bloom, it is truly a wonderful experience! If you cannot survive the crowds when going to see the cherry blossoms then Eungbongsan could be your second choice as there are also some cherry blossoms in the park to gaze at. If you cannot make it this time around then mark it in your diary for next Spring.

[Hong Kong] Butao Ramen

As many people may know already, a few years ago, the ramen wave started in Hong Kong. These ramen places have popped up all over the place in Hong Kong with Ichiran becoming one of the most popular ramen places with constant queues. I was not a big ramen fan before but I was intrigued as to what makes people go crazy over these bowls of noodles in pork broth.

I have passed Butao Ramen on Wellington Street in Central for countless times and have only made my first ever visit last Friday. We got there just before 6:30pm and there were still seats available as I did expect there to be some queuing since it was reaching peak dinner time. We were seated at the bar table just in front of the open kitchen and could hear the chefs tending to the orders left and right.

We were given a glass of water and the menus with two order forms. As I flicked through the menu, I was immediately taken with the ‘Black King’. It contains black sauce made primarily from black garlic and squid ink are immersed together with their original pork soup stock to create a black soup base. Well why not try something new and black, right? Once you choose your soup base out of the four options, you can add / adjust the level of spiciness, garnish, etc to your liking before choosing the texture of your noodles. I picked ‘hard’ noodles as I prefer to chew the noodles.

When our order arrived within 5 minutes, I was really excited to try the ‘Black King’. As I added some spicy beansprouts from the table which is self service and sprinkled some sesame seeds over my bowl, I was ready to begin. I picked up a part of the black ball in the middle of the bowl and tried it without hesitation. It was minced pork but coated with black sauce. The taste was not strong but very unique and in the end you can taste that it is indeed pork. I then started to dig into my noodles swimming in my bowl of black soup. The texture was perfect and the soup base was amazing. You can taste the pork broth but also a hint of squid which gives it a bit of a seafood kick. The slices of pork were cooked to perfection and I was left feeling very satisfied with the meal.

I would definitely recommend the ‘Black King’ because it really is so tasty and everything about it is spot on. The next time I come back here, I would like to try their ‘Red King’ which are their spicy noodles. Butao Ramen currently has four locations in Hong Kong and we went to the one in Central. Staff are friendly and the restaurant, although not big, has a nice atmosphere but not one to stay long in, so just eat your noodles and go.

[Hong Kong] AMMO Restaurant

So when you hear a restaurant is located in a former explosives compound site, you immediately become so intrigued that you rush off to make a visit… right? Actually we stumbled across AMMO which specialises in pasta dishes, through a friend who knew we were looking for a comfortable but unique place to have lunch. We had never heard of AMMO and was surprised that it is located just opposite the British Embassy up in Admiralty on Justice Drive.

As we stepped inside the entrance leading to the restaurant, there was an outdoor seating area with cushions and a grass border on the right side of the pathway. The restaurant itself is not big but contains a bar with high chairs which you will see just as you walk in with dining tables next to the windows and sofa seats with low tables on the left hand side. Because of the high ceiling and windows, the beams of natural light gave the restaurant a lift, complimenting the small lights hanging from the staircases above.

We were a party of four so we ordered everything to share amongst us. For starters, we ordered the pan seared tuna salad, the Japanese scallop carpaccio and the marinated black cod. We had the Boston lobster spaghetti and the crab ravioli as the mains and the apple tart and chocolate passion fruit crème as the perfect ending to our lunch. While most people may have thought that five dishes would not be enough to share for a party of four given the fact that the portions were not big – think again, the food was spot on and perfect for the four of us as we shared and was content with tasting each dish. Not to mention that they gave us each bread and olive oil to begin with before the food arrived, which probably already made us half full.

The apple tart took around 10 minutes to prepare which gave us plenty of time to digest and take a breather before the final round.

The apple tart along with the vanilla ice cream was a perfect match and you can actually taste the passion fruit within the chocolate crème. Both desserts were satisfying and we were all very full by the time we finished devouring both of them.

For the price and service you get at AMMO, in my honest opinion, it is worth the money to give it a go. We had kind staff serving us and given the location and the setting of the restaurant, it is not difficult to come here. AMMO seems secretly hidden up the hills of Admiralty but if you are looking for somewhere unique with good food then here’s your next place to try.