Posted by: evedlewis | August 2, 2015

My FIRST Wagyu Burger Experience ;)

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The best meat I’ve ever had in my life was from an open grill steak restaurant in Isla Mujeres, which is a lovely small island off the coast of Mexico. I was very young when I had these tender cutlets, however, I will never forget the phenomenal taste and texture of these perfectly marinated grilled steak pieces.

Ever since that magical moment, I have compared all of my beef to the Isla Mujeres standard. No other meat has ever come close in comparison. Since living in South Korea, I have heard many people rave about Wagyu, but I had my doubts. I finally had a chance to try this “top grade” Asian beef in the form of a hamburger, and I must say that I was quite impressed.

One of my students recommended that I try the Wagyu burger at 405 Kitchen. Although skeptical, I went there last week and ordered the well-done burger with cheese, on a soft white bun with no onions. The sandwich came with a small side of fries and coleslaw.

My burger was very juicy and tender with a surprisingly awesome and well-seasoned buttery taste. I’ve had some burgers that are totally bland or dry — and others that taste more like grainy fillers than actual beef. However, the Wagyu patty at 405 Kitchen was totally satisfying and worthy of praise. The thin cut fries were also good, and the coleslaw was just okay.

I can’t say that the Wagyu burger stole my heart away, or that it would defeat the Isla Mujeres steak in a taste test. However, I will say that I would certainly go back for more, and I would recommend that others give this cool place a try as well.

405 Kitchen also serves shrimp burgers, chicken burgers and baskets of fried shrimp for those who want something different. Sandwiches are served on your choice of a black, white or brown bun.

When you have a burger craving, and you don’t want fast food, try the “top grade” Wagyu beef burger for a reasonable price at 405 Kitchen. I paid 12k won for a lunch set, which included the burger, fries, coleslaw and a drink. Next time, I will ask for my meat to be cooked even longer. However, if you love sloppy wet burgers, this place is perfect for you. ;) ;) 😊 ☺

To get there >>>>> Take the Green Line (Line 2) to Gangnam Station. Exit at #11. Walk about two or three blocks to the CGV alley. Turn right up the hill and walk straight. 405 Kitchen will be on your left about a half mile up the hill. (Right next to Brick Oven Pizza).

For more information about Wagyu beef >>>>>>

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagyu

http://wagyu.org/breed-info/what-is-wagyu/

For more restaurant info and pics >>>>

http://www.koreabeast.com/405-kitchen-gangnam-station-seoul-korea/.

Posted by: evedlewis | July 5, 2015

Seoul Lantern Festival â˜†â˜†â˜†â˜†â˜†

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Every year, during the Buddha’s Birthday holiday in May, there is a Lantern Festival in Seoul where bright, colorful handmade paper lanterns decorate the Cheonggyecheon (Stream). 2015 marks my first year seeing this lovely display in person. I have seen pictures online for several years of other people enjoying this experience, and this was the first year that I was able to see everything for myself. The large floating lanterns were an amazing site, and I suggest that everyone take some time to go visit the Cheonggyecheon (Stream) during this event. I would recommend taking a taxi there to make sure you are dropped at the right location. Show your taxi driver pictures of the Lantern Festival, and he or she should drive you straight to the right area. You can also check the website below for other directions and other lantern making activities. Have fun!!!! ;) ;) 😊 ☺

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_2_1.jsp?cid=1121607

Posted by: evedlewis | June 9, 2015

Guam FTW — Summer Vacation In Guam

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I was debating between traveling to Guam, Cebu or Boracay for my summer vacation this year. I did some preliminary research and decided that Guam would be the best choice for a few reasons.

For starters, one of my co-workers traveled to Guam this year and highly suggested a visit (Thanks Dave!). Secondly, I checked prices and noticed that I could book a complete package (flight and hotel) to Guam for under $500. Finally, Guam is just a four hour flight from South Korea, and the hotel I found was less than five miles from the airport. I liked the idea of being able to come and go so easily, since I would only be there for three full days with an early flight out on the fourth day. For some reason, I was drawn to Guam because everything seemed very easily accessible, and I didn’t think it would be too complicated to get around. I figured that I could get a lot done and cover a lot of ground during my three day stay. I was absolutely correct, and I’m glad that I chose Guam for my summer vacation spot this year. ;)

As usual, I wanted to spend most of my time on the beach. I booked the Santa Fe Hotel, and I was very satisfied with the location. The hotel is on the beach, and they have a restaurant and pool with great ocean views. There is a small island that you can walk to from the hotel. The water is shallow enough to walk out without having to swim at all. Note: there is a huge shift in the high and low tide, so please keep that in mind while visiting.

My room at the hotel was huge and spacious with a nice balcony view of the ocean. The hotel was not super glamorous and luxurious. However, it was an affordable place to stay with clean facilities and helpful staff members. Three minor things to keep in mind if you chose the Sante Fe Hotel: 1) They do not provide free bottled water. You will have to stock your own. 2) You will have to pay a $40 early check-in fee if you want to check in early. One perk is that they do have an affordable shuttle bus back to the airport. You just need to book your reservation with the front counter one day in advance. 3) There are “American” outlets (120 volts) in Guam, so you will need to purchase an adapter/converter for your plugs (if you have Korean devices or 220 volt plugs).

I spent my first day on the beach and resting. Day two was spent riding around the island from the North side to the South side. My final day was spent relaxing at the pool. ;)

My second day there was the most exciting, because I got to see a lot of Guam in one day. I went to “Two Lover’s Point” on the North side of the island, and I saw several awesome coastal views and small villages on my way down to the South side of the island. I was also able to catch a traditional festival with a fire show, and I played pool at a local bar.

I really wanted to climb Lam Lam Mountain while I was there, but I wasn’t able to pull away from the pool on the third day. ;) I saw a McDonald’s food trailer for the first time in my life, and I had some really good Jamaican and Thai food. The Sante Fe Hotel also has a great restaurant and bar, so I would recommend that visitors to the island eat there, even if they are not guests at the hotel. The restaurant and bar are both open to the public. >>>>>> http://www.hotelsantafeguam.com/

Food tip 1 >>>> You can order tacos and rice a la carte for just $8.00 – $10 instead of $18.00 at the Santa Fe Grill. Ask your waiter/waitress for an order of two tacos and a side order of rice — instead of ordering the full taco plate on the menu.
Food tip 2 >>>> You MUST eat at Jamaican Grill. SO GOOD!! >>>> http://jamaicangrill.com/flash/index.html

There is a Kmart on the island for those who want to stock up on American products. Since Guam is a USA territory, the currency used is the US Dollar and the language spoken there is English. I was extremely fortunate to have met someone who drove me around the island. However, I would advise travelers to rent a car from the airport, because the taxi fees in Guam are extremely expensive. For example, the fee for a taxi ride from the airport to nearby hotels within a few miles is $25.00. YIKES!!! :0

If you want a nice escape to the closest American island in the East, you should plan a trip to Guam for your next vacation. ;) 😊 ☺ See more pictures on my Instagram account: @KoreanKream

Places to Check Out:

— Two Lover’s Point >>>>>
http://www.twoloverspoint.com/info.htm

— Underwater World >>>>>
http://uwwguam.com/

— Mount Lam Lam >>>>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Lamlam

— Tumon Bay Area >>>>
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumon

Top 30 places to visit in Guam according to Trip Advisor:

http://www.tripadvisor.in/Attractions-g60668-Activities-Guam.html

Awesome Article with more details about Guam:

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20110207-guam-the-best-place-you-never-considered-going-to/

I went to the beaches in the Tumon Bay area, and they were beautiful.
However, here are some other beach recommendations.

Guam Beaches:

http://theguamguide.com/8-breathtaking-beaches-on-guam/

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Posted by: evedlewis | May 21, 2015

Lamb!!! Glorious Lamb!!! ;) ;)

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Dakalbi is good, Donkasu is okay, Galbi is amazing and Gamjatang is perfect. However, there comes a point when nothing can compare to the tantalizing taste of lamb. ;)

There are several good lamb places in Seoul. However, I have found that the absolute best place to find fresh and succulent pieces of lamb is at YangGood in Yeoksam. (Yeoksam-dong near Gangnam)

I normally order the grilled lamb skewers and the lamb soup when I go there. However, they have many other types of Halal options available. The lamb soup is outstanding with a very unique and distinctive rich taste that will have you craving more.

The owners and the employees are extremely attentive and responsive to their customers — even when the place is packed. They provide top notch service, and they will cook your meat to perfection. You can choose to grill your own meat at the table, or the staff members will do it for you. The restaurant is huge with plenty of space for large groups. It’s the perfect place to go alone, on a date or with a group of friends.

The next time you are craving some lamb, you should try YangGood. To get there >>>>> Take the subway — (Green Line #2) to Exit #4 Yeoksam Station on the green line. Turn around at Exit #4 and turn left at the Starbucks Coffee. Walk straight past the first two corners — to the third street on your left. Make a left. Continue to the first street and make another left. Walk down the hill and Yang Good is on your left. ;)

Posted by: evedlewis | May 4, 2015

Cheonggyesan — Mountain Hike

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I love hiking. If I could hike every day — I would. Korea is the perfect place for hiking nuts like me, because there are so many various mountains and routes. One could climb a different trail every day here and never get bored. Each mountain has its own interesting scenery, peaks and challenges.

I have climbed tons of mountains in Korea, but my favorite mountain in Seoul is Cheonggyesan. This mountain is so incredible, because it’s close, easy to access, easy to climb, and not too rugged or rocky.

I normally go there at least once or twice per month during every season. Even though it’s beautiful anytime of the year, please be sure to bundle up and wear several layers of clothes if you plan to go in the Winter. You should also wear spikes on your shoes during the winter months to avoid any accidents on the icy and snowy paths. The mountains are very dangerous and slippery when they are icy. Of course, you must also pack plenty of water and food in a hiking bag for your trip. It takes an hour to two hours to get to the lower peaks — depending on your speed. The tallest peak will take 3-5 hours to reach — depending on your speed.

The views on the lower peaks at Cheonggyesan are not very amazing. You must go to the tallest peak to see the spectacular scenery. The city views are really easy to get to if you want a very quick hiking experience. Once you enter the main mountain entrance, continue right and make the first right turn up a path that has a sign pointing to “city views”. This is the easiest climb, and can be completed within an hour with no stops. The other routes are more challenging and take longer to complete. Therefore, you should only attempt those routes when you have enough time and energy.

Hiking in Korea is such a phenomenal experience. I highly recommend that you check out this list of mountains and hike as many as you can >>>>> http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mountains_in_Korea

Going into the belly of nature always has such a cleansing and refreshing effect. Spending time in the woods is essential to our mental, physical and spiritual health. When you are ready for a mountain adventure in Seoul, I highly suggest that you take a trip to Cheonggyesan.

To get there, take the Red Line — Shinbundang to Cheonggyesan Station. Once you exit the station, continue straight towards a small town shopping area. Turn right at the first main corner, go under the bridge and continue towards the mountain. Turn right again at the first corner and walk past several stores to get to the mountain entrance. The walk from Cheonggyesan station to the mountain entrance is about a mile long.

Posted by: evedlewis | April 20, 2015

Seokchon Lake — Jamsil Gem

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Since it rained a bit during my first Cherry Blossom weekend, I decided to do a round two adventure at Seokchon Lake in Jamsil. The area was very crowded, but the Cherry Blossoms and gardens were lovely and in full bloom. I think Seokchon Lake is a perfect place for taking photos, and walking or jogging around the lake. There are also great restaurants and cafes in the area for lunch or dinner. If you want to get away from the concrete jungle scenery in Seoul, Seokchon Lake is a great place to go for some refreshing natural scenery. The Cherry Blossoms are only around in mid-April, but you can enjoy the lake views anytime during the year.

To get there >>>> Take the green line #2 to Jamsil and then walk or taxi to Seokchon Lake. (Seokchon Hoosu — in Korean)

Posted by: evedlewis | April 19, 2015

My Momma’ In Korea!!! ;) 5 Tourist Hot Spots in Seoul. ;)

My Mom visited me in Korea for one week during the Lunar New Year Holiday this year in February. We had a wonderful time, and I took her to many tourist hot spots that I thought she would enjoy. If you are planning to visit Seoul, check out some of these “must see tourist places” while you are here.

1. Gyeongbukgung and MMCA — For a Traditional Palace and Contemporary Art Museum experience.

If you are facing the front main gates of Gyeongbukgung, the museum is on the right side of the Palace — across the street.

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More info here >>>>> http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=262361

Museum info here >>>>>> http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=1934745

2. Dragon Hill Spa in Yongsan — For an amazing JimJilBang (Public Bath house) experience.

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More info here >>>>>> http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=610092

3. Beongeunsa Temple —- For a wonderful traditional temple experience inside of the city.

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More info here >>>>>> http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264594

4. Coex Mall in Gangnam — For an amazing Shopping Mall, Aquarium and Movie Theater experience.

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More info here >>>>>> http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SH/SH_EN_7_2.jsp?cid=1984968

5. The 63 Building and the Han River —- For beautiful views overlooking Seoul.

When you exit the 63 Building from the front main entrance, walk to your right, and the Han River is just across the street.

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More info here >>>>>> http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264122

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I’m really glad that my Mom had a chance to visit South Korea this year, and I hope she will visit Korea again soon. After her one week visit, she admitted that she could completely understand why I love South Korea so much, and why I have no desire to leave anytime soon. ;) ;)

Posted by: evedlewis | April 12, 2015

Osan — Songtan Shopping Heaven ;) ;)

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Songtan in Osan is one of my favorite shopping areas to visit outside of Seoul. This small lovely place is much less crowded than Seoul and much less expensive. These two reasons alone make Songtan the perfect one day or weekend escape for me. However, there are many reasons why I go to Songtan so regularly.

I normally go to Songtan about once a month or once every few months. I go there specifically for pedicures and shopping. I have had one pedicure in Gangnam, and it was so horrendous and expensive that I vowed to never get a pedicure in Gangnam again. I have had a decent pedicure in Itaewon, but Itaewon is almost as far as Osan on the subway or bus, and the pedicures are more expensive there.

The pedicures that I got before in Itaewon and Gangnam cost me 60k won each. In Osan, I only pay 30k won, and the nail techs there do a fantastic job. The technicians are extremely thorough, kind and experienced. Half price and better service!!! Can’t beat that!! ;) I have always been satisfied with the nail service there, and I have been going there for the past 4 years. The best shop in Songtan now is called “Nail Holic”. In the past, I would go to a shop called “Escape” — which is no longer in operation. Once I find a store, shop or restaurant that I like, I am normally an extremely devoted and loyal customer.

I also go shopping in Songtan. Since it’s near a military base, the prices are awesome and you can find things that are more difficult or impossible to find in Seoul. It’s also much more relaxing and much easier to get around in Songtan. Shopping areas like Myeondong, Coex, Sinsa and Dongdaemoon are extremely exhausting and overwhelming to me. I often don’t like the clothes there, and the crowds are annoying.

There are also a few really good foreign shops in Songtan where you can buy American toothpaste, deodorant, and other essential products that you can’t find in those other shopping areas. I typically like to do all of my shopping at once, so this is much more convenient for me. Lots of foreigners make separate trips to Costco. However, I would prefer to just get everything in one place in Songtan.

Many foreigners also have a hard time finding clothes that fit well in South Korea. However, I have found that if you stay away from the “typical” shopping areas, you have better luck with finding nice clothes that fit well. I typically don’t shop at big chains like H&M or Zara. I prefer to shop at boutiques or in stores that are not filled with the same repetitive stuff and dull styles.

In the summer, I always go to Songtan for the swimming pool. There is a roof top pool at the Young Chon hotel that is like a little paradise. The pool is never too crowded, and you can pay 20k won per day just to visit the pool if you don’t stay at the hotel. I normally stay at the hotel though, which typically costs 70k won per night. I’m  not sure if the hotel and the pool are still in operation. Many things tend to change over the years in South Korea. Therefore, I can’t promise that the pool will still be there. The Young Chon hotel is right behind Baskin Robbins on the main strip, so go check it out when you are there.

The clubs and restaurants in Songtan are also nice. If you are craving some good food and some time on the dance floor, Songtan is a great place to fill your tummy and get loose. There are several clubs, bars and restaurants from which to chose.

Songtan is not the most fancy or upscale area to visit. However, it’s the perfect place for a one day or weekend escape for good food, shopping, clubbing and spa time. You can use American dollars or won, and some vendors are willing to negotiate their prices — especially if you are a regular shopper. You can buy anything from luggage, to hand bags to blankets and tailor made clothing. It’s a cool little place to go when you need to get stuff done in a more relaxing and affordable atmosphere. To escape the busy shopping crowds in Seoul, or just to experience a new area, visit Songtan in Osan. ;) ;) 😊 ☺

To get there >>>>> From Gangnam: Take the red bus #5300 from the main Gangnam strip in front of ZARA. (Take the subway to Gangnam Station — green line — #2. Exit at #10 and walk straight. Walk for about 5 minutes until you see the ZARA clothing store on your left. The bus stop for bus #5300 is right in front of ZARA.) Ride the bus for one hour and exit the bus at Osan station. Take a taxi to “Songtan” — “Air force Base” Main gate. To return — taxi back to Osan station. Have the driver make two immediate rights and catch the bus #5300 back to Seoul on the left side of the street. (The return bus does not pick up at Osan station — it picks up across the street). The bus runs back and forth to Gangnam about every 20 minutes until about 11pm. The taxi ride from Osan station will cost you about 7k won. Expect to pay about 20k won for all ur transportation fees to and from Songtan.

From the Seoul Express Bus Terminal (or other areas) >>>>> Take the bus directly to Osan Station. Take a taxi to “Songtan” — “Air force Base” Main gate. You can take the bus directly back to the Seoul Express Bus Terminal from Osan Station. ***Please note that these buses do not run as frequently, so be aware of bus times. You can check the bus schedule at: http://www.kobus.co.kr

You can also take the subway directly to Songtan. However, the subway ride is very long and exhausting in my personal opinion. And — the walk to the main gate of the Songtan entrance is also long from the subway station. Therefore, you should still take a taxi to “Songtan” — “Air force base” Main gate from the subway station.

Posted by: evedlewis | April 12, 2015

Honey Butter Chips!!! ;) ;) 😊 â˜º

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I got them!!! I got the famous chips!!! Lol. Everyone in Korea has been talking about these super – duper – amazing – spectacular – incredible – and magical “Honey Butter Chips”. They have become so popular in Korea that stores continue to sell out of them, and people go on man hunts to find them. The stores just can’t keep enough stock on the shelves.

I’m always amazed at what becomes popular and what doesn’t become popular. You  never know what the next thing in demand will be. Watching market trends and sales numbers is very interesting to me. I’m not sure how long the Honey Butter Chips craze is gonna’ last, but I’m glad that I had a chance to taste these popular chips before they become a thing of the past and disappear.

Korea seems to be going through a “honey phase” at the moment, and many companies are including honey in their products. Ice cream shops with a honey topping, yogurt with honey, and face soaps and cleansers/lotions with honey are all very popular items these days. Many snack companies also sell different types of honey butter flavored chips to compete with the original product that is now so hard to find. When Korean companies see an opportunity to sell a product that is already doing very well in the market, they copy the concept and go for it. Therefore, there are always trend waves here that come and go. Right now it’s honey, next year it might be cucumbers.

ALL of my students have talked about these chips and how hard they are to find for months. In one of my classes, a male student said that people go to the stores at 5am and wait for the stores to open so they can be the first one to get in and buy a few bags.

After talking to my students about these chips again last week, I decided to ask the owner of my corner store if he had any in stock. He smiled and quickly motioned at me, “you’re in luck – wait a minute,” and went to go get a bag for me out of his special, secret hidden VIP supply.

I paid 3k won for one bag of chips, and I thought they were great!! ;) I don’t think I will be standing in long lines or going to any extreme measures to get another bag of these  tasty snacks. However, it was cool, and I felt lucky to finally have a chance to see these magical chips and taste them for myself. ;) ;) 😊 ☺

Posted by: evedlewis | April 9, 2015

Rainbow Hookah Bar — Gangnam

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One of my favorite hot spots in Gangnam is Rainbow Hookah Bar. It’s a really cool place with a laid-back lounge type of atmosphere. They have live music sometimes and a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights. The DJ comes on the scene around 11pm and plays a variety of hip hop, rap, kpop, and electric/dance music. There is always a good mix of Korean and foreign patrons, and even when it’s crowded, it still feels very comfortable and cozy inside.

When you walk downstairs into the Rainbow dungeon entrance, you will be greeted by an ID checker. You must show your passport or ARC (Alien Registration Card) to get in. Once you are cleared, you will be given a soft storage bag for your shoes. No shoes allowed inside of Rainbow. Then, you will proceed into the huge, dimly lit open room to your spot on the floor with your shoes in hand. They have a few different sitting areas, and you can choose to be near the DJ, in the center of the room, or on the outskirts.

The room is filled with Rastafarian colors and hanging lights, which gives it a kind of hippie vibe. After you get settled on the floor, you can go to the bar and order your drinks. I would highly recommend that you try one of their “bucket drinks” and share it with someone. It’s a huge and powerful tasty mixed drink for 30k won. You and your drinking partner will only pay 15k won each, or you can also try to drink one whole bucket on your own.

They also have Hookah and food there, so you can order a flavored Hookah of your choice for 15k won and/or some bar type food items. It’s best to go with a group of friends and split the cost of everything.

For a fun night out in a really different kind of atmosphere, I would highly recommend that you check out Rainbow in Gangnam. You will definitely have an unforgettable experience there. I have been there several times, and each visit has been a blast. Rainbow is a great “pre-gaming” spot before clubbing, a nice option after dinner, a cool place to go with co-workers or friends, and an awesome place for dates. Rainbow is really the perfect place for almost any occasion.  Enjoyyyy!!!! ;) ;) 😊 ☺

To get there >>> Take the Green line #2 to Gangnam Station. Exit at #10 and walk straight for about two blocks. Turn left at the Mixxo Store Corner. Keep straight until you see Dunkin Donuts. Turn right at Dunkin — and Rainbow will be on your right. Walkdownstairs to enter. **Remember your ID!!!**

There is also a nice foreign bar right across the street called Woodstock. If you want a smaller bar atmosphere with a dart board, check out Woodstock, which is just across from Rainbow — upstairs on the third floor. ;) ;) 😊 ☺

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