Staycationing as a Connoisseur

This post is old, so what you see here may not reflect my current opinion and mindset, certain information may be outdated, and links may be broken.

Ages ago — okay, since February — I had written several blog entries about wanting to travel outside of Korea, and I had decided on Tokyo, Japan for this October. A few weeks ago, I’ve received news that slapped me in the face. Because of some family medical problems, I was told that I should postpone my Tokyo trip, which I’ve had difficulty accepting since it was the only thing I had been looking forward to since February. After mulling over that disappointment and other depressing news in my life, I’ve finally decided to be a bit more optimistic about what I can do instead.

Becky had written about “staycation” a while back, and that gave me the inspiration to try to get to know my own home city better than I do right now. Which isn’t really going to be easy since I’m lazy and like to stay in areas that’s near my home. Luckily, one thing I can do that’s near my home is to try all these restaurants, especially the ones in my neighbourhood, Itaewon, the foreigner’s district near one of the US military bases stationed around the Pacific. Now, I am no connoisseur on cuisine, but I like to try things at least once (as long as it doesn’t gross me out by its first impression — ie: pig’s feet? NO THANK YOU.) and lately I’ve been wanting to try cuisines I haven’t really had the opportunity to try, what with having unadventurous parents in trying new cuisines. That led me to explore The Korea Times archives and Seoul Eats blog for some ideas and suggestions, and here’s a compilation.

  • Ali Baba — Egypt is the only place in Africa I want to visit, and well . . . I can’t go there, but I can experience the cuisine locally in Itaewon! Never mind its name keeps making me belt out “Prince Ali” from Aladdin.
  • Bon et Beau — A French bistro in Itaewon? Why not. Seems like their brunch might be good . . . except for a slight problem. I don’t like waking up early to go to a brunch. Yes, I think of anything before 3pm early.
  • Donburi — A Japanese restaurant specialising in . . . Donburi! Located in Hongdae (Hongik University) area. Now, I crave me some katsudon.
  • La Vie — Moroccan restaurant near The Wolfhound Irish Pub in Itaewon. Never tried Moroccan cuisine before, but I want to simply because it would remind me of Casablanca.
  • Le Sait-Ex — I was always a bit wary of French cuisine when I learned about escargots and frog legs, but I am willing to give that Floating Island a try. That dessert dish in the article looks heavenly to me! When I find this place in Itaewon, I will probably order that first and then the actual meal.
  • Little SwissThe Baby-Sitters Club, Kristy’s Great Idea, specifically, introduced me about fondue and its . . . interesting rules. I want to go there one day, preferably not by myself, and implement weird rules with whoever I’m with! I just hope I can find this place in Daehakro (Hyehwa) area. Not familiar with that area except for this one cafe and the infamous Gandalf statue.
  • Marakech Night II — Another Moroccan restaurant to try in Itaewon — though I do want to know if there is a Marakech Night I. I want to try their tea! It sounds delish.
  • Mignon Terrace — Belgian dining in Itaewon? I know next to nothing of Belgian cuisine except for its chocolates and waffles (as the article correctly states!), but I wouldn’t mind trying it out!
  • Orange King — Not sure what kind of cuisine I’d call this other than burgers and meat cuisine imported from Seattle, Washingtom. Okay, so I guess it can be considered American. Let’s hope it’s not Koreanised to the point that the food is blargh, if I ever go there in Hannam-dong.
  • Persian Land — Iranian and Turkish cuisine anyone? As if the name wasn’t a dead give away! There are so many Middle Eastern restaurant in Itaewon, come to think of it. Well, with Seoul Central Mosque in Itaewon, it shouldn’t be that surprising.
  • Pharaohs — Another Egyptian restaurant in the “dingy” area of Itaewon. Hm. By that, do they mean Hooker Hill? Must be. But that won’t stop me from going! Their Omm’Ali, an Egyptian bread pudding, sounds yummy.
  • Zelen — A Bulgarian or Belgian (? I saw it as Belgian somewhere else . . . ) behind Hamilton Hotel area. Am still trying to figure out if they have a dress code (EW!) for regular dining or if it’s only for the wine party.

Ah. If I did go to every single one of these restaurants, I will be spending quite a few bucks here and there. But sod it. I lost my chance to go to Tokyo, so I am going to use a bit of that plane ticket and hotel money to buy some books, dvds, games, and mangas, and try these restaurants out to make myself happy and not think of all the doom and gloom stuff that’s been bombarding me for a month. I had requested annual leave time for my trip to Tokyo — I’ve decided to shorten it and take six consecutive days off in October and catch up on my hobbies and do some staycation stuff then. I just hope I get that leave approved. If not, I will be rather put off.

On an ending note, after writing this entry I learned one thing: never write food-related entry this late at night ever again. Now, I’m starving and craving for some good stuff! Oh and I hope some of these restaurants are still in business! It would be a shame if they weren’t.


  1. I love pig’s feet actually XD;;

    I think it’s a good idea to go out and try a bunch of different cuisines and restaurants. You won’t know what you like til you’ve tried it. I have a big list of restaurants I’ve been meaning to try too, but yeah… laziness XD;; My parents aren’t that adventurous either when it comes to food, but college changed that around for me. I’m just glad my boyfriend and my other friends are open to different foods as I am.

  2. Yeah community service is a great thing, but as you said, it’s not fun to be forced into it. Kinda sucks, and it adds in to the stress factor especially once you get into the senior years of high-school. Ah well, I’m almost done my hours anyways.

    Haha making new friends rocks, and I love the small world experiences as well cause they’re so unexpected but exciting. xD

    Oh, believe me, I know that all Asians aren’t good at math. I should re-word that in the blog haha. Cause technically I’m asian as well, and I fail at math really badly. D: Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. :)

    IKR? This is exactly what I ask myself everyday. The stuff we learn just seems so darn insignificant to my everyday life and I really doubt that I’m ever going to use those complicated algebra equations. Geez.

    Aw I’m so sorry to hear that you were forced to cancel your trip. :( That’s really unfortunate, but I guess it’s life, right? At least you’ve forced yourself to look at the positive side of the matter.

    That’s a very creative idea to try out all the restaurants. :O I can imagine it being pretty fun as well haha. If you ever need help, I’M HERE. Lmao.

    Ali Baba and Orange King sound awesome. xD

    I agree with your final statement though. I hate reading/writing about food because it makes me sooo hungry.

  3. Wow! You have quite an extensive list of restaurants to try and a variety of cuisines– good luck and happy eating to you! Maybe you can even do somewhat of a review after you’ve dined! Mmm.

    Here in the States we have loads of ethnic food and I love all of it. I’m not crazy about the weird stuff (pig feet, noo thanks), but I am willing to try things at least once within reason. I have really started to love Greek and German food, mm…authentic cuisine is the best!

    I like your idea of a staycation, saves a lot of money. Best wishes with your family troubles, too. :( Sounds hard.


  4. just glancing at the list of places you will visit makes me drool… splurge! always splurge on fine dining :)

  5. Very cool! I’ve never been to Orange King but I’ve heard of the one in the U district and I’ve heard good things about it :)
    I’ve also never tried Moroccan cuisine but like you I’m intrigued because of my love for Casablanca! Besides, I’ve heard that it’s quite an experience where you go. There’s a restaurant here in Seattle where they wash your hands for you and give you a great big towel so you can eat with your hands and then they have belly dancers… it sounds fun. You should report to us about each restaurant! :D

  6. Haha well lucky for me they’ll be dealing with the shipping, and not me. XD

    Thank you! Yeah, I hate ending my day in a crap manner. :P

    I think we have an Ali Baba restaurant here; I’m not sure. But there are many restaurants in the city where I usually go with my boyfriend. I have never been to a middle eastern restaurant. I don’t think I’ve ever had their food either. I’m more into the Asian restaurants, haha.

    I think the idea of a Staycation is good. I am not sure if it would count for one, but there are towns about two hours drive out of my city, and I would really like to visit those because they’re out in the countryside and I think it would generally be a great experience. And a lot cheaper than going overseas. It’s a shame you had to cancel your trip though, especially since you’ve been waiting for so long. :(

  7. These staycations are always fun because you discover things locally that you might not have taken advantage of otherwise! Have fun and just enjoy the time you have :)

  8. c h l o e on

    Staycations are fun if you make it an adventure! <3 That's what I realized when I moved here in the US from Philippines, I regret not exploring most parts of my own country. You think that going overseas has so much interest but when you just look around you, you will definitely spot one thing that will tickle your senses.

  9. Wasn’t that BSC #1? I have no idea what the rules of fondue are though. I rarely try it… hmmm…

    I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to read this entry, but I rarely have time to read blogs! Ack! And how do you get up so early for work if you think before 3pm is early? :P

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