Insadong is a lively a vibrant area, and was the third stop on our tour of Seoul. If you want some great and tasty traditional food, this is the place to come. Hwanghu Restaurant in Insadong, where we stopped off for lunch, is known for its samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup). Basically, samgyetang is a whole chicken, stuffed with rice, in a delicious soup and is said to be very good for your health. Definitely a place to go for those who want to experience some Korean food.
Insadong is also home to the Tteok Museum. Before going to the museum, tteok to us was just tteokbokki, but how wrong we were! In the museum, you can see an enormous range of tteok dishes from sweet to savory, along with all the equipment and utensils used to make this versatile ingredient. Tteok is featured in a lot of dishes in various styles and is a ingredient that is very important in Korean culture. It was in the Chosen Period where the ricecake became a part of daily life for Koreans and began being featured in all ceremonies and formal gatherings, from weddings to funerals.
The versatile rice cake can be made via many methods such as steaming, pounding, frying to boiling; each method giving the rice cake a completely different texture. At the museum we saw the rice cake in many different forms, from the usual sweet rice cakes you eat as snacks and the hot savory kind, to rice cakes the size of birthday cakes. It was very interesting to see all the different utensils used to create these rice cakes, such as the pattern presses, and it’s enlightening to see how much effort is put in to create these visually stunning dishes. You can also see how creative Koreans got with the rice cakes as we saw towers and towers of rice cakes stacks which are used to celebrate a parent’s 60th birthday. And like all things Korean, the colours for beautifully bright and made our traditional Victoria sponges look boring and bland.
There’s also a cafe on the ground floor of the museum where you can try some of the tasty treats yourself. Rice cakes are obviously a favourite in Korea as people were constantly coming in and take aways constantly put for delivery. We went just after lunch time and many of the rice cakes were already sold out! Here we got to try a range of sweet rice cakes, and our favourite was the rice cake in cake form. It looks like a cake and tastes like a cake, but as you chew you realise it’s not the usual crumbly texture, but soft and bouncy; we think it’s definitely worth a try! Don’t forget to also try out some of the drinks in this cafe too, the plum tea is amazing! And iced green tea lattes is something that you cannot get in the UK! Insadong has a large range of street shopping, so it’s a perfect location for a bit of traditional then some more modern activities such as shopping after; a perfect chilled out afternoon.