Coreanos Kitchen – Vista

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People have been talking about Coreanos for months now, and I have heard from several different sources that they have the best Mexican in Seoul! With a claim like that I was more than eager to try it. But once again my laziness got in the way of me leaving my hood to actually go and eat there. But if Mohammed wont go to the mountain, the mountain will come to Mohammed and they very fortunately opened up a second store in Itaewon. Hurrah, all roads lead to Itaewon!

 

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I visited during their soft opening launch last week. We got there early, in just enough time to snag ourselves a window seat. Luckily the queuers hadn’t taken up their spots yet, but I’m sure it shan’t be long. The restaurant is large and set over two floors. Located on the hill just next to Berlin. After a good old gander of the menu we ordered up a whole host of tacos, a burrito, and a couple of cocktails.

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While we were waiting for our drinks we were presented with our complimentary chips and salsa. As you can see from the picture there are four kinds and it’s served in those adorable dishes. The spoons are probably a bit redundant, but it looks nice. The salsas varied in flavour and were rather scrumptious.

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After quickly devouring the chips, I glanced over to see our drinks being made. The bartender was using Rose’s lime cordial, a perfectly fine mixer if its going in a vodka soda lime, but not in a margarita (9,000) or a mojito (9,000). When my drink was presented my heart just fell. I tasted a sip and it fell even further. The manager asked me what I thought and I asked if they had any crushed ice.  He said he would blend it for me and throw in some extra rum. It was better, but it still awful. There is just no excuse for such a poorly made drink. I wish I had just sent it back, but it was busy and I didn’t want to cause a fuss (which strangely is very unlike me). I know the price of limes in Korea is ridiculous, and that most mojitos in Seoul using them cost around 15,000. Which I think is fine as long as they are exceptionally good. But there just isn’t any come back from using generic rum,  uncrushed ice, and synthetic lime syrup and calling it a mojito because there are a few mint leaves floating it it. You can get lime concentrate juice, frozen limes, or special mojito mixes and still make a decent drink and turn a good profit. So owners of Coreanos you owe me a drink, and I beg of you change the recipe or take it off the menu because its just not acceptable right now.

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The Margarita (9,000) tasted better than the mojito but really isn’t anywhere where it should be at that price. On the Border’s margaritas are cheaper and about 10,000 times better. So take note and work on the recipes. If need be I’m willing to offer my skills as a taste tester to help you improve!

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Thankfully the first round of tacos and showed up and really bucked up our spirits. We had ordered one of every flavour, as to not miss out on anything delicious. Above are the Galbi Beef (3,300) and the Braised Pork belly (3,600). I really enjoyed the braised pork belly, the meat was tender and and well flavoured, though combined with the taco it was a touch dry. A blob of sour cream or some dressing on top and it would be perfect. The Galbi one was nice enough too, though I can’t really say it was all that memorable.

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The Battered Fish taco (3,600) was the star of the day taco wise. You can’t beat a good bit of battered fish. The tartar sauce on top was delightfully fresh, and the red pickled onions balanced out the dish well. I would certainly get another one of these next time.

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We also ordered the Todos Burrito (12,000), which was tremendous! Stuffed with extra meat, beans, salad, sour cream, and guacamole. It was incredibly well balanced and tasty. It’s undisputedly the best burrito I have ever had in Korea, possible one of the best ever. Either way it was amazeballs.

We waited quite a while for the second set of tacos as they had lost our order, it being their soft opening and all I could live with that, if I hadn’t had to listen to the angry man at the next table screaming at the poor waitress as their order got mixed up too. Having been a waitress for a number of years in my youth I am fully aware that these things happen, especially during training. but it did dampen the evening a little. I have noticed a real trend towards soft opening these days, and I think its a great idea while everything gets perfected. However I do think if service and food aren’t quite up to standard yet restaurants should lower their prices by 10 or 20% to compensate for this. Our whole meal took over an hour and a half, which was frankly just too long for 5 tacos, a burrito, and a drink each.

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Eventually the second set of tacos arrived. We got the Citrus chicken (3,300) and the Grilled shrimp (4,000). The shrimp was nice enough but couldn’t compare to the Vatos shrimp taco which I would sell my own babies to eat. The chicken was the better of the two, a good mix between the zingy dressing and the flavour of spice braised chicken. I think after trying them at several different restaurants I’m just not sure if I’m sold on the whole corn tortillas thing. Call me crazy but I just prefer the wheat ones. I’m sure Mexican enthusiasts everywhere are calling me a culinary cretin but I just find them too thick and claggy. The wheat ones are what I know and love. I also enjoy the wafer thin ones you get at Vatos, but it’s horses for courses and just a matter of taste on my part.

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All in all I would give Coreanos another shot if only to get another burrito, in fact I would probably get two as they really are that good. But unless they get their cocktails up to par I would probably get it to go. Life’s too short for bad cocktails and for me they are integral part of the Mexican food experience.

 

Coreanos Vista is located at 457-3  Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-Gu , Seoul. To get there  take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6). Use the elevator to exit the building so you come out by the bridge. Walk over the bridge and turn right and follow the alley way around. Coreanos will be on your right just before Berlin and Buddha’s Belly.

 

 

 

 

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Brew 3.14

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Brew 3.14 or Brew Pie is the first restaurant venture of Seoul foodie extraordinaire Daniel Gray. The establishment has a rather clever name, brew is for the beer and pie for the pizzas. The place has been open for about 9 or 10 months now, and I have been meaning to pay a visit for a long time, however my reluctance to leave Itaewon-dong has always triumphed over my go-getter attitude.

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Finally I was in the area paying a visit to Bangsan Bakers Mart. Shopping for baked goods always leaves me rather peckish, so I thought it was about high time I checked out Daniels goodies.  The pub is cozy and compact, but we were welcomed as soon as we walked through the door. It has a real local feel about it and despite the fact there’s only seating for about 15, people cram themselves in regardless.

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The menu here is short and sweet, with them serving up a handful of pizzas, calzones and fried chicken. With their choice craft beers on tap (7,000 -8,000) it’s a very clever take on the traditional Korean Hof. Beer and chicken is where it’s at with the after work crowd and the modern twist will really appeal to the younger generation as foreign food trends become more popular.

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I think we know by now that I’m not much of a craft beer drinker, so I was thrilled they had a range of cocktails served in bags! I opted for the Blue Lemonade (8,000), made from real blue lemons!

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After a glance at the menu there  was one pizza that just spoke to me; the Chicken Bechamel (16,000), was calling my name. I’ll take a white pizza over a red one any day of the week especially with a thin crispy crust like this one. With sliced chicken and peppers it was a delight.

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We also couldn’t resist the Meat Calzone (8,000). Made with the same great dough as the pizza, the edges were crimped beautifully. Stuffed with cheese and tasty well seasoned ground meat. It was perfectly sized for one. I also adore the cute little stamp they have to brand them.

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With a nice pizza and good beer, it’s well worth stopping by if you are in the area and in need of refreshments.  All members of Seoul Eats facebook group get a 5% discount so be sure to mention it. Every little helps!

 

Brew 3.14 is located at 39, Donhwamun-ro 11na-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul. To get there take a subway to Jongro 3 ga(lines 1, 3, and 5) and come out exit 7. Take a right, then cross the street and take a left after about 100m. Follow that road along for about 50m or so until you reach Hase Bar and you will see it tucked away in a little alleyway to the right. You can call them on 070-4178-3014 or check out their facebook page for more details.

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Tomato Salad

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I’m keeping things nice and simple today, and not just because I am still suffering some ill effects from the weekend. A few nights ago I managed to get three kinds of different tomatoes for a mere 6,000 won. We are right in the midst of tomato season so they are all so cheap and plentiful. I’ve spend my summer practically living on salsa, panzanella, and gazpacho. Other than making some ketchup, I wondered what was left for me to do with the humble tomato. Korea’s rally upped its produce game in recent years and we are now getting a variety of different kinds. I didn’t want to overshadow these beauties by piling in everything and the kitchen sink. They are sweet and tasty all by themselves, so I wanted to get back to basics and eat them just with a few of the my home grown basil leaves from my terrace.

 

Ingredients

500g of tomatoes

A handful of basil leaves

A glug of olive oil

A small drizzle of balsamic vinegar

A pinch of salt

 

Directions

1. Chop your tomatoes into different sized pieces. I halved some and quartered or sliced others.

2. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with salt. Be sparing with the vinegar as you don’t want to overpower the tomatoes.

3. Tear your basil leaves into pieces and toss with the tomatoes. Then enjoy your delicious fresh simple salad.

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Route 66

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With the raise of Itaewon lately it’s no surprise that restaurants are popping up like like there’s no tomorrow. Restaurants are here today and gone tomorrow. Last winter I reported about The Pizza Pub, but it has since changed hands and is now Route 66.

Instead of the self-service bar it’s back to the traditional kind. And I for one am thrilled. I am far too drunk and lazy to walk and get my own drinks. Table service is where it’s at. I  don’t want to realize I’ve lost the function of my legs until the end of the night! And trust me after a few their mega strong Long Island Iceteas (6,500), you will!

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The menu is pretty similar, they still have their amazing boneless wings (9,000) and a variety of pizzas (12,000 – 18,000).

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They have also put on the menu a range of huge and hearty sandwiches. We tried the Pittsburgh and the Chimichurri. Both were large and in charge, and filled to the brim with tasty meat and salad. The bread was exceptional, soft and chewy and very reminiscent of the bread they use at Casablanca. I plan to go back to try the Grilled Cheese BLT and the Meatball Sub!

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For the month of August their sandwiches are 1+1 on weekdays if you buy a drink. An amazing deal as you can can 2 different kinds, so be sure to go before next Friday. They also have the best pizza night ever on Wednesday, charging only 1,000 for a slice!

 

Route 66 is located at 2F 131-3 Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, 140-858. To get there take a train to Itaewon station (line 6) and come out of exit 3. Turn back on yourself and take a left at the crossroads. Walk straight past Taco Bell and look for the building 2 doors. The Pizza Pub is on the second floor. For more information you can call them on 02-790-6590 or check out their facebook page.

Homeplus

Last week I visited Homeplus for the first time in about a year and a half. Not because I haven’t wanted to (nothing puts a smile on face like a trip to the supermarket), but because I made it my New Years resolution to try and support more local small businesses rather than big corporations. Although being entirely honest, there isn’t one near where we live so I am sure my laziness rather than my social conscience has probably attributed to that. But last week I was having a bit of a crap day then discovered there was one on my way home from work, so I decided to pop in and do a spot of food shopping to cheer myself up.

From the moment I walked in I was amazed at the change. I’m a fruit and veg fanatic these days and drooled all over the new section. Ingredients which were hard to find before are now prevalent. 3,000 won for a dragon fruit or only 2,000 for a coconut or passion fruit. Even avocados are only 2,300 each now. I never thought I would see these kind of exotic ingredients at such low prices.

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Next I popped over to the meat selection. Homeplus stocks an amazing brand now called Mr Beaks which do all manner of proper flavoured sausages, steaks, and packed meat. They even have marinated fresh lamb chops!

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The dried goods selection has made an amazing transformation too. They now have all the spices of the world. I didn’t have a look at every single one, but they had an amazing selection, plenty of cumin, dill, and chives. Compared to three years ago when all they had was rosemary, parsley, and curry powder it’s a huge step up. I also noticed cloves in the reduced section, so it might be a good idea to get in early for the mulled wine.

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I was also a bit excited to see they have a giant pick and mix selection, until I found out that it’s not technically pick and mix. They have tiny prepacked sachets, though for only a few hundred won each, you could just get lots! They also have Haribo finally, although still no Tangfastics, but it’s only a matter of time!

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Probably the best section was the Tesco’s Finest Range. The change here was incredible. Gourmet ketchup, cherry compote, Tuscan olive oil, orzo pasta,  a variety of Swiss chocolate bars and much much more.

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And look at these little beauties I found in the freezer. At 8,000 each they aren’t cheap, but they are proper English Ice-creams. Made in the West Country where I am from, Madagascan vanilla, West Country Fudge, Coconut and Mango, Passionfruit and Jaffa Orange, and Stem Ginger. I got the jaffa orange and passionfruit sorbet which was scrumptious and well worth the price tag.

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They even had a couple of other proper British items lurking like Heinz baked beans and shortcake biscuits!

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Anyway here is what I ended up with, came to about 100,000 which isn’t cheap but I bought lots of luxury items so I think I did quite well overall.

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Parmesan, Emmental, Giant pot of yoghurt, 2 pineapples, 300g of quality chocolate, sorbet, steak, croissants, prosecco, blackcurrant jam, black beans, and cheese sticks to name a few. I couldn’t even imagine finding these items 5 years ago and now my shopping basket was filled with them. I am one happy although slightly poorer camper indeed!

The Homeplus I visited is the one located at Gubeundari station on line 5. This was decently sized Homeplus but not giant. So hopefully they should have some these items at your nearest one too, although stock will vary from store to store.

Aventino

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Every day in Itaewon another shop is lost and another restaurant or cafe pops up in it’s place. As a food blogger you think I would be thrilled about this as I literally never need to leave Itaewon again with all the new places that are opening. But sadly most of them are trying to cash in with new crowd of Koreans that are visiting our little neighbourhood. I’m a fan of quality rather quantity when it comes to restaurants but c’est la vie.

Luckily Aventino is a great addition to the neighbourhood. I have been craving gelato all summer long, so it was great to finally get some. Barely open a couple of weeks, they have a range of about 10 different flavours. Once I had revealed my food blogger status the owner insisted I tried them all. And of course I took him up on his offer, it would have been churlish not to.

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After the round of samples, my clear favourites were the Lemon and Hazelnut. I was with The Fat Boyfriend so we decided to get two scoops (5,000) but I didn’t really think that lemon and hazelnut matched, so we went for the lemon and grapefruit.

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The lemon flavour was incredible. More sorbet than gelato it reminded me of the granita you find in tiny cafes all over Italy. It had just the right balance of sourness. Sweet and zingy all at the same time, it really was perfection on the lemon dessert front. The Grapefruit sorbet was also very tasty. I’m not usually a fan of grapefruit as I find it too bitter, but since The Fat Boyfriend loves it, I decided to give it a go. It was darn tasty and complimented the lemon perfectly.

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I also have to give big props to the Pistachio and the Stracciatella. When I was in Italy I  practically ate a gelato a day and am in love with tiramisu gelato. So if they can get that on  the menu I’ll be in heaven. They also have large to go containers so you can get a couple of pints to take home, which is just perfect for eating while you lie on the sofa and watch the new season of Project Runway.

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Aventino is located at 567 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Noksapyeong station (line 6) and come out of exit 2. Walk straight until you reach the under pass, go through and take the stairs on the right. Walk straight past Trevia and Taco Chili Chili, until you reach Aventino, it’s just on the left before the post office. You can call them on 02-792-0567 for more details.

Battered Sole

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Battered Sole has finally opened a second location here in Itaewon. But this time they are offering Gastro Pub fare, as opposed to their Sinchon location, which concentrates solely on fish and chips. With pub style food and their home-made cocktails, there was no stopping me from paying them a visit. Luckily they invited me to the launch party, although if they hadn’t I’m sure I would have been barging my way in regardless.

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The downstairs restaurant is a pretty decent sized minimalist pub style affair, all wood, chalk boards, and black leather. However it’s their roof top which is the real show stopper! With Seoul’s only real grass roof, you can spread a picnic blanket and gaze out over the city skyline and soak up those rays while enjoying a tipple or three.

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The current menu is short and sweet, offering a handful of choices while they hone their craft. But with daily specials it will only grow over time. I was very tempted by their special of Buffalo Duck Wings (10,000). With none of us ever having had duck wings before we were excited to try them. They were very meaty with a good flavoured buffalo sauce. Much bigger than chicken wings though, they will be a hit with dark meat fans everywhere.

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After sampling them at the opening, I couldn’t resist trying the Fish and Chips (14,000). The piece of lightly coated beer battered pollack, was very tasty. The fish was fresh and the batter was light and crisp, though personally I like my batter a little thicker. It went perfectly with the mushy peas. Served with their fabulous triple cooked chips which come with real malt vinegar. It was proper English fare. They also make their own ketchup and tartar sauce, both of which are insatiably scrumptious. I could eat this every day of the week.

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We also ordered the Duck Breast (14,000) . Cooked perfectly so it was just a little pink in the middle, while the skin was still crispy.  Full of flavour it was a lovely piece of meat, and not something you often see on menus in Korea. The mash was a little under seasoned but there was a jug of red wine reduction gravy which accompanied it which has just the right balance of sweet and saltiness and complimented the dish well. A very reasonable price for a meal like this.

 

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My friend ordered the Poached Salmon (14,000). Cooked sous vide at 52 degrees Celsius, he enjoyed it immensely. The egg was perfectly poached, and served with a good garlic hollandaise and wilted spinach. I can’t wait to try it smothered all over their Eggs Benedict when they get the brunch menu up and running.

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After our mains we didn’t have any rooms for dessert, but did partake in some cocktails of course.

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Excellently priced at only 4,500, these drinks are pretty darn good. The Dirty Lemonade and watermelon flavoured Pink Jaime are probably my favourites. Although I’ve already been enough times to make my own drink which is half and half of the above which I have called The Pink Gemmonade!

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I have pretty much tried all the cocktails at this point, and haven’t found one I don’t like yet. However they still need a little more work on their beer selection. The only cider they have available at the moment is Rock Creek Canadian cider. With all the amazing imports that are available at the moment they really need to get some good British ciders stocked, then it will be a proper British pub.

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Battered Sole is located at 2F, 9-4, Itaewon, 19-Gil, Seoul. To get there take a train to Itaewon station (line 6) and come out of exit 1. walk straight, and take the first right after KFC. Walk to the end of the until you reach the road which runs parallel to the main road. Then turn left and walk to the very end of the alley way. Battered Sole is is a little alley way between Praha and HBC Galbi Jib.You can call them on 02-7496867 or check out their facebook page for more details.

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