Friday, September 3, 2010

A stroll in Gwangjang Market

North Gate #2, Gwangjang Market

It was a hot and mucky day. The city was hot, the people were hot, the whole country was hot. Our forefathers used to say when it's truly truly hot, overcome the heat with heat (이열치열, 以熱治熱). So when a case of daytime munchies attacked, several friends and I descended upon Gwangjang Market, the street food stall mecca in Seoul, to get something good and hot to eat.

Gwangjang Market doesn't usually top tourists' lists - Namdaemun market and Dongdaemun market are the essential spots to go - but if your main objective isn't shopping, you like to eat, and you find shoulder-to-shoulder crowds scary, this is the traditional market you have to visit.

The market is lined with shops on the sides and crammed with food stalls in the center. You can find every kind of Korean street food available, but also non-street food like hweh (raw fish) and maeuntang, grilled barbeque, various types of noodles, jokbal, juk, and bindaetteok.

I usually go to Gwangjang Market to have maeuntang and drink soju, but this time friends and I headed for a bindaetteok place. Ta-daaa! Scrumptious bindaetteok steaming hot right off the griddle:

And traditional rice wine makgeolli as accompaniment. Who cares if it's in the middle of the day? We only had one bowl each, it's not a alcohol bomb like soju. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)

The market covers a whole block in the Jongno district. The closest metro station is Jongno 5-ga on line 1, and there are many entrances where you can enter so it's hard to get lost. You can also get off at Euljiro 4-ga and cross the Cheonggye stream on foot, which is about a 10 minute walk. All lines of buses that run through Jongno avenue stop at the market.

Unlike the other major markets, the market is closed on Sundays. The shops opening hours are 10 am~ around 4 pm while the food stalls are open until very late (11pm-ish).

Map courtesy of the Korea Times

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