After a super duper long hibernation, I’m finally back. Sadly, school is back as well which means I won’t be able to update the blog as much as I want to. To make up for my more-than-unforgivable absence, this post is going to be super long (with pictures) and filled with nothing but flowers, awesome playgrounds and delicious food!
Determined to get some energy back before school starts, couple of weeks ago my buddy and I decided to spend a beautiful sunny day biking by Han River in hope it would somehow magically get us back in shape again. The back in shape part didn’t happen obviously, but we had so much fun biking for what seemed like a decade of not pushing the pedals and on top of that, we found a new gem for our Friday leisure: Ichon – the so-called little Tokyo right in the heart of Seoul.
Here’s a pic of Han river though
The first time we were at Ichon, we were at a loss for words. We, or more specifically, I came with no knowledge of the place whatsoever. I didn’t know what to expect and I certainly wasn’t prepared for any eatery which is why when I stumbled upon many cute cafes, tiny restaurants and quite a number of bakeries that were all really tempting, I was so mad at myself for not having been to this place a little sooner. That led us back to discovering Ichon for the second time which only happened last Friday. Now as I’m typing away my second time being in Ichon experience, it is safe to say, this place is one of the most wonderful places in Seoul that I’ve ever been to.
Ichon is so quiet and seems so private that it makes me feel intrusive just to walk around the neighborhood. It’s as if people here knew each other inside out and they would immediately recognize whether you are part of their community just by looking at your face. I’ve been to quieter parts of the city and yet not a single one of them gives me this kind of difference. I wouldn’t say it feels absolutely Japanese because who am I kidding with I was in Japan for six days with one-third of the days already spent at the hotels and shopping malls, but it certainly feels foreign to me, a kind of non-Korean foreign and not at all unpleasant.
There are so many things that will surely set this place apart from other places you’ve been to. The pavement is carpeted with soft artificial grass which I believe is for the safety of children who can walk and the comfort of those who are still in stroller. Most restaurants are Japanese kind of small with very few seats. You will hear children chirping in Japanese and then revel in their cuteness. You’ll see a lot of moms with their strollers, be it at the cafes or strolling around the area. You will find no cosmetics shop or any commercial activity taken place and everything is strictly for the comfort of the residents. And even though silence and children don’t match very well, you’ll find them both in this place.
It was a pretty damn cold day after a week of warm sunshine and sprightly breeze but that didn’t set me off at all for my buddy finally had a day off from her low carb diet. Upon hearing Ichon having a great udon house that has been there for a loooong time, I made it the very first destination to visit after taking a long subway ride to Ichon. And we were very, utterly and completely happy with the result.
Well it’s just udon. It’s not exactly exquisite or out of this world. It’s a rather cheap and common dish but even so we had a cheap and common but utterly good dish. The broth was the key. It was very pure, had a light and just mildly sweet taste. Moreover, we had some extra seaweed to add in the noodles too! The thought of mixing seaweed into udon had never occurred to me before but it turned out to be a rather fun combination. And of course we will never forget the importance of chili powder in Japanese cuisine.
I had a 유부우동 (tofu udon) and my friend a 튀김우돈 (fried crumbs(???) udon). Now this is what so special about the udon that this house offers: the 튀김 in the noodles! You often find these fried crumbs in the odeng soup and I think they are from the leftover dough? Here at this place, they are used as one of the main ingredients. They are crunchy, yummy and make a surprisingly good combo with the softness of the noodles. And don’t you worry about them turning soggy after being in the broth for long because it won’t! I guarantee they will stay crunchy to the very last sip of the broth and you will finish them all in a blink of an eye! Next time when I visit this udon house I will try their 돌냄비우동, it looks really good and rich of ingredients in the picture. Now I’m hunry urgh.
The name of the udon house is 동문우동 전문점. For some reason my picture of the house’s exterior is broken so I only have the back-up one for you to see what the house looks like…
Our second destination to visit is *drumrolls* Paris Baguette. Well I can hear you lol over my loud keyboard typing but I promise this is NOT the usual Paris Baguette you see in your neighborhood and neither are the products! This, my friends, is Paris Baguette Signature where they serve the best of the brand. This store is designed for this neighborhood where lots of Japanese people reside. Japanese people love bakery and they are willing to spend more money for better quality of products and service. Why do you think PB decided to build a bakery in the middle of nowhere and call it a signature shop? Here at PB Signature, they serve many many kinds of pastry as well as breads. They even have a pretty decent dining restaurant on the second floor and they have all professional staff and beautiful interior decor! Breads are freshly baked and constantly brought out through the mini food elevator. I couldn’t stop marveling that this wasn’t an insignificant bread-selling store that I always passed by but never bothered to go in and that PB could be awesome if it wanted to. Only then did I truly understand what customer target was all about and learn not to underestimate a brand just because it was common.
It was the second time we visited Ichon and it was the first time we revisited PB lol. Both my friend and I were so looking forward to having the apple pie that we’d seen the previous time but the staff told us it was all sold out and there wouldn’t be any new batch. We settled for a carrot cake, a cream cheese danish and a strawberry bread (?). We ordered the carrot cake as in a set (short cake set: 8000 KRW) so it came with an Americano in a cool paper cup like this. I think it was around 15,000 KRW in total.
I LOVED ERRRYTHING on the tray. The bread with strawberries was crusty, airy and simply a joy in a cold windy day. The danish was full of cheese and everything good in this world. The carrot cake was soft, moist, mildly dense just the way I like and all sorts of amazing. Together with the coffee I don’t think I could ever ask for anything more perfect than an evening at PB.
After PB we walked around a bit and had a tripping down the memory lane sort of moment at the playground. I wasn’t that excited (mostly because of the cold AND camera running low on battery), but my buddy sure was.
We’re not going to deny the fact that I LOOK CUTE.
This picture looks beautifully eerie and it’s not because I was the one who took it
I had so much fun at Ichon and I strongly recommend you to visit this place before it gets too popular and crowded with tourists!!!
Ichon station,line 4, exit 3-1 or 4. Walk out to the main street and you’ll find that udon house and Paris and many other cool things along the way. Be sure to check out on both sides of the street. And then you can discover tiny little things hidden in the alleys as well! It’s all about figuring out on your own! Well it’s an excuse for my being careless with directions. Next time when I visit I’ll have a more detailed direction but as a person who is the worst at navigating, I still managed to survive so I guess you’ll be fine.