Day trip to 대전

Last week I wound up having to go to Daejeon (대전) for a day and discovered a charming city with a laid-back atmosphere and really nice food. I only had a few free hours of spare time so I decided to try some of the well-known food before I went back to Busan.

Daejeon is known as a transit city because it’s in between Busan and Seoul and many travellers pass by here. Because of that, many interesting shops and restaurants are all located right around the KTX station which is really convenient!

I first decided to try some 국수 (noodle soup). The noodles in 대전 are usually made by hand and rolled and cut with a knife which makes them have a thicker texture than usual. I found a place called 오씨칼국수 and tried their 칼국수 which is a type of noodle soup with clams. It was so delicious and the handmade noodles turned it from a typical dish to something special. The flavour was subtle and light, and was extra delicious with kimchi. For only 6 000원 I got a bowl that was probably initially meant for two but I was so hungry I ate it all 😋

You can get here by leaving exit 1 of 대전역 and walking south for a few blocks!

Afterward for something sweet I went back to the station and visited one of the most famous bakeries in Korea called Sung Sim Dang. This historic bakery was started in 1956 and has expanded into several branches but they are all only in 대전. People literally travel to this city just to order their bread so I knew this was a must-do. Their fried papa-streusel bread (튀김소보로) is one of their most famous and comes with several types of fillings for whatever suits your fancy. I’m on a real 고구마 (sweet potato) phase and when I saw they had that filling I didn’t hesitate to order it. Also I tried the original 팥 (red bean) filling. They have box sets for different prices and I got a pack of 6 for 10 000원. The chewy rice cake-like texture and flavours are AMAZING. I totally see why people travel just to try their bread because it’s worth the hype.

If someone is ever stopping by 대전 please take a moment to try it’s food. Totally recommend it~

Cafe Review~ Zapangi Cafe

What seemingly is an ordinary but cute vintage vending machine is actually the door to a cafe!

It’s a really fun vintage atmosphere which is totally opposite to the traditional feeling of the city outside. We got here by exiting the Mangwon station (망원역) and walking a few blocks away from exit 2. The entrance is impossible to miss! Also, usually you’ll see a small crowd of people waiting to pose in front of the door so it can take a while to actually get inside!

The desserts here are amazing. I’ve gone twice and first ordered the orange crepe and then the second time around I ordered the tiramisu cake. The crepes took a long time to make but we really appreciated the care and effort the workers took to make them. You could tell they really cared about the result and it turned out to be unforgettably delicious. It was verrry close tie to my grandma’s special grand mariner orange crepes :). We had different milk tea’s to complement our fancy breakfast’s and they were very high quality and lovely to drink. Although it’s expensive (the crepes are around 10 000원 or more), all of the things I’ve tried here are just as tasty as they look which can be rare to find!

Cafe Review!

Coffee / Tea: 4 / 5

Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5

Food: 5 / 5

Service: 4.5 / 5

Price: 4 / 5

Their Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/zapangi_official/

Until next time~

Korean Cooking~ 한국 음식을 요리하는 것

Ever since my first trip to Korea a few years ago I became motivated to learn how to cook Korean-style food. I did it mainly to bring back the memories of being there and also because it’s so so tasty. Korean culture believes that food is more than just something to eat – it’s seen as medicine for the body and also gives a reason for family and friends to gather and talk and share the experience of eating together. In fact it’s so integral to the culture that in the language “밥을 먹었어요?” (Have you eaten?) is equivalent to saying “how are you?” In English.

In Seoul we journeyed to a less touristy part of the city in Dongdaemun and ordered ingredients in a local market and cooked together as a part of a tour called OME Cooking Lab. The tour guide was so friendly and guided us through the winding alleys of 경동시장, which is a HUGE market spanning around 300 000m. I still feel intimidated navigating the different markets in Korea so it was nice to have someone to rely on to find what we needed and to also find our way back without getting lost. 🙂

Once we reached our cute little workshop room, we made several different recipes- bulgogi (불고기), kimbap (김밥), soft tofu stew (순두부찌개), spicy rice cakes (떡볶이), five-grain rice (오곡밥), and green onion pancakes (파전). We managed to make this whole feast with the guidance of our guide and her 엄마 in just over an hour. Personally I loved the rice cakes and soft tofu stew because of all the vegetables we added and the fact that it was spicy. During the colder months spicy food is just so comforting and brings warmth back after a day spent outside. Especially with makgeolli (막걸리) 😋

Here’s a link to the tour we went on:

http://www.instagram.com/ome_korean_cooking

http://www.5-tastes.com/

Christmas Festival~ 크리스마스 트리 문화 축제

Christmas in Busan has been completely different from all the Christmas’ I’ve spent in Canada. It feels strange to live in a place that never snows.. this is the one time of year where I actually love having snow blanketing the ground and trees. Generally not many places here (besides cafe’s) really decorate for Christmas, and because I’m spending most of my time with friends of different countries and cultures I realized that Christmas is definitely for the most part a Western and European holiday.

However, I was so happy to stumble upon one area of Busan that turns into a Christmas wonderland in December. I was luckily traveling to Nampo one day and came across a street filled with thousands of glistening Christmas lights and the sounds of Christmas music and caroling. Briefly, I felt like I was home again! It turns out this is a yearly festival called the 부산 크리스마스 트리 문화 축제 (Busan Christmas Tree Culture Festival).

One thing that was really amazing was the LED Christmas tree that’s built in the center of Nampo’s main square. It has to be at least 5 or 6 stories tall. It becomes the hub of most of the Christmas festivities with many carolers and spots for people to bring their instruments to play to their hearts content. We came across a group of 아저씨’s singing and it was so cute and heartwarming to listen to them sing together.

Nampo is also really famous for it’s street food. Actually the main reason why we came here was to try out 호떡- a famous food that’s especially made in Nampo. It’s so light, buttery and filed with so many nuts and seeds. By then there was a lot of hype surrounding this snack because we were looking for it for so long, and honestly it lived up to the hype. I now feel the urge to eat one each time I’m near Nampo.

We also tried 어목 (fish cakes) and 유부초밥 (Yubuchobap), which is fried tofu stuffed with rice and veggies, and was served with a broth that was really comforting to sip on in the chilly evening weather. Everything tasted SO fresh. I also tried 프로즌 스모어, which is Konglish for ‘frozen smore.’. It was basically a toasted marshmallow with ice cream inside.

Nampo’s a fun place to begin with, but it’s definitely one of the best places to go to in Busan during Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone~ 🙂

Tour of Namgu~ 남구의 관광

Last week I was recommended to be a part of a tour through the 남구 district of Busan, a district that I had previously heard of but had never been to before. Needless to say, I was really excited to go and explore a new side to Busan and to try some new things.

Our first stop was to 대연동 문화골목 (Daeyeon-dong Cultural Alley), which at first seemed like any ordinary alleyway, but as we walked further inside, it completely opened up into a square with various shops, cafes, galleries, and even a small theater. Sprinkled throughout the alley were various antiques that gave the alley a really eclectic feel.

After lots of walking we were all a little hungry for lunch. The tour generously gave us each a gift bag filled with goodies, like fruit, korean snacks, and delicious rice cakes filled with red bean paste.

At our next stop we got to do a 한식 체엄 (Korean food workshop) where we learned how to make tomato kimchi! I had never tried this type of kimchi before and I have to say it’s my new favorite kind. The sweetness from the cherry tomatoes mixed with the spice from the hot peppers and onions really complemented each other. After we finished making our kimchi we took it downstairs to a restaurant where our lunch was waiting for us as well as some makgeolli that was locally brewed from Yeongdo Island Makgeolli Brewery.

Next, we went to the 오육도 (Oryukdo Islands), that had a path along the coastline and a glass skywalk where you see fantastic views of Busan as well as (of course) the Oryukdo Islands. It’s a very popular spot for tourists so it was a little busy, but it’s still a lot of fun to walk along the coast and on the skywalk- it somewhat feels like you’re walking on air.

Afterward we were taken to the UN Memorial Park, a place that is dedicated to honor the countries and their troops who risked their lives in the Korean War. There were some really powerful monuments where you can pay your respects to the soldiers, and the park itself felt very tranquil. I’d like to think that the buried soldiers can find their peace here in this park. The statue dedicated to Canada was designed by a Canadian and there is an exact replica of the same statue in Ottawa.

At this point of the tour we had done quite a bit and needed a break, so we were taken to a traditional Korean restaurant where we all had to take off our shoes and sit on cushions. It felt really cozy and welcoming. We were served a generous portion of 오리 반계탕 (Duck soup). I don’t usually ever eat duck.. or meat in general but it was surprisingly tasty!

Our final stop on the tour was a night time cruise, where we got to see Busan’s skyline lit up at night. Gwangalli Bridge definitely stole the show with it’s beautiful ever-changing lights. It was a lot of fun getting to spend this time with the tour group, because even though a lot of us were strangers from different schools we now all had something in common. This whole experience was something unique and special.

I’m forever grateful to have been a part of this tour, and will never forget this adventure. Now I feel like I know a little more about what makes Busan such a wonderful city, and I’m so excited to share this type of experience with my Canadian friends and family when they visit, and also with any other friends that I make while I’m here.

Here are a couple of links if anyone would like to know more about the tour company that I went with:

http://www.facebook.com/busannamgu

http://www.bsnamgu.go.kr/index.namgu

Until next time~

Welcome~

This blog will be about my personal perception of the many multifaceted sides of Korea. I’m hoping to share some of my experiences and pictures for my friends, family, and anyone else who’d like to read and learn more about this beautiful country. I am a language student at Silla University and will be mostly spending my time in Busan, but hopefully I will be able to explore other parts of Korea and possibly Japan or other countries in Asia.

The name Maple Ppopgi comes from a mixture of my Canadian heritage and Korean food. Ppopgi (뽑기)  is a sweet treat in Korea that is made from brown sugar and baking soda that is whipped together and pressed into a flat, circular shape and later decorated with cookie-cutter designs. It becomes a fun challenge to eat the candy around the design without breaking the cute shapes. The taste is sweet, smoky and a little nutty with a crispy yet airy texture, kind of like toffee. I’m not sure if it exists, but I feel like a maple-flavoured 뽑기 would be delicious. 🙂

Thanks for reading~