Monday, February 20, 2012

Hello Thai

Apparently I’m just on a Thai food kick lately. Today’s blog will be about a Thai place in Busan called Hello Thai.

Directly across from Busan Aquarium, there is a little side street that looks more like a large sidewalk. The street is between the BMW building and The Grill on the Beach restaurant. If you know where TGIF or Ganga is located, they are right in this area, too. Turn left on the first side street just past the BMW building. There will be a large orange sign on the left side of the street that says “Hello Thai” on it. The restaurant is on the third floor of that building (directly across from the Aqua Beach Hotel). Here is another lovely map:

The inside of the restaurant is very clean and very well decorated. The staff are friendly and attentive, as well. The bathrooms are also clean and well stocked.
Towards the main dining area

Towards the bar

They had some interesting wall hangings throughout the restaurant, too.
Art in the main dining area

Wood carvings in the bar area

The prices here are kind of steep, like most foreign-food places in Korea, and you’re better off getting something from one of the set menus if they have something you like included. There are lots of seafood dishes in the sets, though, and I’m not a seafood fan. The sets will run from 25,000 won to 60,000 won depending on the number of people they are meant to feed. Individual dishes will average around 15,000 won. With an appetizer, food, and drink, you’ll probably still end up at around 25,000 won per person. However, we were offered a “free dessert” when we finished our meal: coffee, tea, or ice cream.

The Thai iced tea taste like the other Thai iced tea I’ve had at Wang Thai and Thai Peppers, but it comes out already all mixed together.
Thai iced tea

They have a nice selection of vegetarian options in addition to the chicken, curry, fried rice, pork, and seafood options.

The spring rolls here are triangle shaped instead of “rolls.” They taste good, though, and come with the delicious turnip sauce.
Spring roll

I ordered fried chicken w/ vegetables thinking that vegetables would be fried with the chicken. But no. It was basically a plate of fried chicken chunks on top of some shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, and some iceberg lettuce. While disappointing, the chicken was tasty when mixed with some rice and Thai chili sauce. Also, plain rice cost extra (1,000 won).
Fried chicken w/ vegetables

The next two pictures are Ally and Richard's dishes, but I can't remember what they are :(
Fried rice with chicken and veggies

A soup type dish with chicken and veggies

The flowers on our table

Apparently Thailand hearts umrellas

Monday, February 13, 2012


So, I don't know why I haven't posted about Tartine yet since I try to visit it every time I have lunch in Itaewon. Tartine is a wonderful little pie place located in the side street next to Ferrera Leathers down the street from Hamilton Hotel (it's the 2nd or so side street, I think). Across from Tartine there is also Tartine, Too, which is a little brunch and pie place that Chef Garrett opened up recently. Here is my quick sketch of a map:

As far as I know, Tartine is one of the few places to get western-style pie. The place is always packed and you often have to wait a bit, but it is totally worth it. You can get mini pies in a variety of flavors: cherry, chocolate creme, banana creme, apple, and Chef Garrett's Blend (a berry blend) just to name a few. They also offer pies a la mode if that's more your taste. They also serve coffee and cocoa to sip on while you're enjoying your pie on a cold afternoon or evening.

In addition to the pies, you can also pick up some fresh loaves of bread (the sourdough with cheese baked into it is wonderful), fresh-made butter, and some other little dessert treats.

Coconut creme pie

Lemon meringue pie

As you can see, they decorate the plate with a liquid sugar substance to make it all purty.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bookstores in Korea

Bookstores? What are those? Oh…riiiight...those places where you can buy things made of paper to read. If you’re like me and prefer to read physical books as opposed to e-books, finding a place that caters to English-speaking foreigners can seem like heaven on Earth. Luckily, there are several bookstores around the area ready to take your hard-earned (or not-so-hard-earned possibly) won in exchange for sweet, sweet booky goodness: Little John Bookstore, Kyobo, and What the Book?

Little John English Bookstore
Since I live in Yeongtong in Suwon, let’s start with a little bookstore in Yeongtong called Little John. This is a little shop located on the first floor in the interior of the building located diagonally from Homeplus, so don’t bother looking for a window sign for it. Here’s my crude map showing where it is:

If you’re an English teacher looking for new material for your students, this little shop can save you a trip to Seoul for books. The first floor is primarily ESL material – and there’s a lot of it. The books range from little kids all the way up to college writing books, so it’s worth checking out if you do any tutoring or are looking to enhance your classroom experience. They also sell some English board games and other random items on the first floor. There is a little upstairs section that has primarily novels – just take the creaky staircase up and check it out. You won’t find the latest Ian McEwan or best seller up here, but it does have some older books and some classics.

Kyobo is a bookstore chain that is pretty similar to Barnes & Noble. 10 Magazine offers a listing of their locations so I don’t have to, thankfully. The bookstores can be hard to spot since they’re often nestled in the basements of larger Kyobo buildings. I have been to two locations in Seoul (City Hall and Gangnam) and one in Daegu, and they’re all pretty similar. Section F will be the foreign books, and there is a pretty decent selection available. They don’t seem to really keep up to date with new releases from authors and the rotation of books doesn’t seem to change too often (at least in the Gangnam branch).

They do provide a foreign book ordering desk in the foreign book section where you can order books to be delivered to the store and you pick them up when they come in (they’ll text message you). There is an abundance of travel books, textbooks, and foreign language learning books here as well.

Attached to Kyobo stores will often also be Hot Tracks. Hot Tracks is a music store that also sells DVDs. They have a surprising range of old and new music. There is also typically something similar to Artbox as well. You can get art supplies, stationery, and any other random thing you can think of pretty much.

Kyobo also offers a Kyobo Book Club Card. You can use the card to save 10% on your purchases and earn points towards other purchases. I recently used 55,000 points (equal to the same amount in won) to purchase a book on syntax I had been eyeing). Kyobo also has a website in Korean with more information and location maps, but their site is pretty difficult to navigate even for Koreans.

What the Book?
What the Book? is probably the most popular foreign bookstore in Seoul: they pretty much only sell English books. You can find a map to their location on their website, but it’s located down the street from the Hamilton Hotel (walk about 10 minutes with Hamilton Hotel on your right side) in Itaewon.

One of the best things about What the Book? is that they keep their selection current and get new releases in quite quickly. They also offer a very large selection of magazines, comics, and used books. Don’t live in Seoul? No problem. You can order books on their website and have them delivered to your home. If you frequent the shop itself, you can also pick up orders at the store. They also offer a nice selection of children’s books and language learning books, too.

Have too many books from too many treks to these bookstores? What the Book? also offers store credit for used books. So if you need to clean out your bookshelf a bit, this might be a convenient way to do it. They also offer gift cards that you can give to that bookworm friend as a gift.

So there's my brief overview of a few places to buy books and such in South Korea (mostly the Seoul area). When you get tired of staring at a little screen to read, check them out and pick up a few new gems.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wang Thai

From a Thai place in Springfield, MO to a Thai place in Itaewon in Seoul, S. Korea: Wang Thai.
Wang Thai is located in Itaewon above What the Book? The building is located on the same side of the street as the Hamilton Hotel next to the big Burger King. If you have Hamilton Hotel on your right-hand side, walk down the street about 5 minutes and keep an eye looking up for What the Book? - Wang Thai can be hard to spot otherwise. There are also helpful people in red jackets around the area to help you find places as well if you have a hard time spotting it.

The staff are friendly and attentive here and the inside of the restaurant is very nice: lots of plants and statues. If you have a large party, they have a room in the back that is sort of separate. The bathrooms seems to have perpetually cold water, but they are clean and well stocked.

I've tried a few different dishes here and they have all been really good. The lunch specials are reasonably priced and are the best things to get in my opinion. If I remember correctly, which is iffy, they are about 12000 won for the lunch specials and you get a main dish, a drink, dessert, and something else (usually a mini-appetizer). Also, a friend that I often go with is vegetarian and they have no problem substituting a vegetarian dish for one of the meat/seafood dishes in a lunch set for her (if you've been in Korea for any length of time, you know what a pain getting something subbed can be).

The spring rolls here are as good as Thai Peppers, and the Thai iced tea is delicious as well (they also have this at Thai Peppers in Springfield). I usually get the lunch set that comes with spring rolls and a chicken dish.

Spring rolls

One of the soups in a lunch set

A chicken dish

Sideways Thai iced tea

A radish rose

Marianne and Denise


Friday, February 3, 2012

Thai Peppers

Oi, it's been a while: my bad. Life has been kind of busy the past couple of months and then I was back in the US for bit at the end of January. So let's start off the year with a blog about one of my favorite places to eat in Springfield, MO: Thai Peppers.

Thai Peppers is, obviously, a Thai place located on Sunshine street across from Kaleidoscope on the corner of Sunshine and Fremont.

The interior is cozy and the staff are friendly. You can often be entertained by a little boy named Anthony running around the place (a good Italian name for a little Thai boy :D ).

I really like the food here a lot, and yes, I often order the same thing each time: the gaprow chicken. This is minced chicken in a delicious sauce with some peppers. There is enough on the plate for two people or two meals if you take it home. Rice will come separately in a large bowl to share.

Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of these next two dishes, but my brother and Doug said they were really good.

One of my favorite appetizers is the spring rolls. The rolls themselves are quite good, but the turnip sauce that comes with them is absolutely wonderful. This is the sampler appetizer with tofu triangles, spring rolls, chicken and beef skewers, and something else that I can't remember right off hand.

The meat skewers come with a little burner that you "cook" them over (heat up really).

I haven't really had any bad dishes here, but sometimes the leaves (sorry, the type escapes me at the moment) can be overpowering in the dishes and I have to take them out.

This is one place that I pretty much have to eat at at least once when I go home. The prices aren't too bad either considering the amount of food you get: I believe most dishes run around $7 or $8.

So if you're in the Springfield area, definitely swing by Thai Peppers and give it a try!