Seoul Day One: Keeping Cool

Diary: Monday 27 July

Having grown up in a tropical country, visiting Seoul in the height of summer is like coming home.


This is a city that never stops, unless it is for a meal.

Eating out in Seoul is a delight, and I shall write an extended piece on this subject in a separate post. The thing to emphasise here is that it’s difficult to eat badly in this city, unless you are completely indifferent to food.

Having taken the decision to skip the in-flight breakfast, it was good news to be told by Seoul Sister (SS)* that she had booked a table for us to have a buffet lunch.

The concept of a buffet meal is a popular one in the Far East and restaurants, typically in hotels, all have their own concepts. World cuisine, Italian-style, dim sum, seafood, cakes and tea…the list is endless as are the refills.

Having eaten our fair share of ‘international’ buffets, our family agrees that we don’t enjoy such buffets because more often than not, the mixture of cuisines doesn’t work. Think of a plate with chicken tikka, prawn dumpling, sushi and cheese. As a friend once asked, is this kind of food fusion or confusion?

Enter the Korean buffet. In March this year Mr Gochugaru and I were introduced to ‘Season’s Table’ in Insadong and it was a revelation. Imagine everything good about Korean food, with dishes freshly prepared and beautifully presented…you get to eat it all AND have 팥빙수 (patbingsu) at the end of it.

Shaved ice is a very nostalgic thing for me because I ate a lot of it whilst growing up in Malaysia. The Korean version is at its most basic shaved ice drizzled with a little sweetened milk, and topped with red beans and rice cakes.


At the lunch, I had 팥빙수 with black sesame ice cream, omija sherbet, watermelon and iced persimmon.


There are other versions, designed to attract customers, which feature ice cream, fruit, jelly and all manner of sweet things.


After an enforced afternoon nap, to try to manage our jet lag, SS and I met up whilst Juniors 2 and 3 went to splash about in the tiny pool at the rooftop of our apartment building. We shared a dinner of noodles: one in hot beef broth and one in cold soya milk. Both were simple and delicious, and restored me sufficiently to further explore this ever-changing neighbourhood. Dinner for the children was 김밥 (kimbap) which I shall write about later.

Having chatted for a bit, although it was nearly 10pm, we took a taxi to Lotte Mart to have a walk around. This large supermarket (Seoul Station branch) closes at midnight. In a city that never stops, and perhaps never even sleeps, the children and I are really getting into the swing of things.


* as readers know, I have a sister in Hong Kong (HK Sister) and a sister in Kuala Lumpur (KL Sister). I don’t actually have a ‘family’ sister in Seoul but since I have a really good friend here and we get on so well, she might as well be my sister and so she will be known as Seoul Sister or SS for short.