shopping in Seoul.
Market is heaven
sent for the
Alongside its roster of contemporary labels, Rare
Market’s in-house line, We11Done, is set to become
the latest Korean label to watch.
Standing in complete contrast is the 100-plus-
year-old Gwangjang Market. Well known for
phenomenal street food, its stalls are manned by
ajumma, or elderly ladies. Sit with locals and
sample bindaetteok (pancakes), tteokbokki (rice
cakes) and, for the more adventurous, sundae
(Korean black pudding). Gwangjang is also a
dream for the thrifty, or those in the know: It’s
where insiders come for fabric, haberdashery
and trimmings. Venture upstairs for a maze of
affordable vintage clothing, and you’ll also find
traditional textiles if you fancy getting a custom-made hanbok, the traditional Korean dress.
There are bountiful dining options in Seoul, but
for a modern twist look to Kwonsooksoo, which
spins off the concept that traditional Korean meals
were originally not made of multiple dishes for all
to share, but meant for just one. This theme pervades the entire dining experience, which is truly
special. Opt for the set menu with pairings of soju
and other local specialties. Highlights include sea
bream sashimi and the Jeju Goo-eom chicken, a
modern take on a 400-year-old recipe that sources
ingredients from South Korea’s Jeju Island.
Seafood lovers can visit the Noryangjin Fish
Market 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Once you’ve
chosen a fish from among rockfish, sea bass and
flounder, you’ll be directed to a restaurant where
it will be swiftly transformed into sashimi. Other
options include king crab and oysters, but the
intrepid should try abalone and sannakji (live baby octopus). Be prepared to
bargain, and be sure to wear footwear that can take a splash.
Chef Tae Hwan Ryu is the mastermind behind Ryunique, a contemporary
restaurant utilizing Japanese and French techniques, Korean ingredients and
stunning avant-garde presentations. Try the quail done two ways—a breast,
seared, and a leg, smoked on a bed of hay. The inspiration behind the dish is
nostalgic: The scent of hay reminds Chef Ryu of his rural childhood.
RAISING THE BAR
Drinking is serious business in Seoul, and nowhere is this more evident than
at Twelve, which allows just a dozen lucky people in its speakeasy-styled
ambience, and has lights on the door to indicate which seats are currently
occupied. Reservations are recommended; expect handcrafted cocktails and
a huge selection of top-end spirits.
For a uniquely Korean experience, Neurin Maeul (the name means “slow
village”) is an upscale destination for makgeolli, the country’s milky, slightly
sweet rice wine. Sample the four “seasons”—the different stages of fermentation—or grab a pint from the in-house brewery. The stylish Gangnam branch