Aug 142014

2014-08-11 Kwangjang Market 03 bannerSo on Monday we went for a stroll in the neighborhood around the KwangJang Market (including dropping into “Baker’s Alley”), and then had dinner in the market.  I didn’t take any pictures on the stroll — why not?? — but will be sure to do so next time I’m going to Baker’s Alley, a collection of small shops selling, well, most anything you might want for baking.  Like sprinkles & paper cups for your cupcakes.  Like bread- and pizza-ovens.  And everything in between.

Anyway, this is mostly just a series of pictures — descriptions are on each!


 Posted by on 14 Aug 2014
Aug 032014

2014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 04 bannerWe went to the Seoul Art Museum ( today.  It’s over by City Hall, by the side of the Deoksugung Palace, on one of the charming streets back there (to be clear: there are only 2 or 3 streets).

2014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 15The museum is in the old Supreme Court building, dating from the early 30’s, but when it was renovated to be the museum, they found structural damage… the only part that remains is the front facade.  In a way, that’s good as the interior has been custom built as a museum (though I do wonder what the interior was like…).  There are actually 4 SEMA locations in Seoul (this being the central location), including a “residency”, a “public arts complex” and a “living arts museum”.  Have to check out that last one of these days!

2014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 03As far as I could tell, there were only temporary exhibit halls, but very well laid out, although their brochure suggests otherwise (maybe at the other locations?).  We saw “Universal Studios”, works by non-Korean artists who had been / are living in Korea, which I really like.

The “Malfunction Library” & the third exhibit that we saw didn’t do much for me, except for an installation that was basically recordings of choral pieces written in part by computer, for 7- or 12- singers, tied into the artist’s time spent living in Kuwait (as a child, I think).  While computer generated music is the kind of thing I’d expect to loath, it was really interesting & I enjoyed the explanation of the process & the music (!) a lot.

2014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 09The museum has 3 levels, with large empty spaces both at the front and in the middle of the building, which gives a good view of a somewhat bizarre mural, reminiscent of some “outsider art” & also of Little Nemo, above the cafe.  I bought a lovely green tie in the shop (which, not surprisingly, had nothing connected to any of the exhibits that we saw).  The photo to the left is a panorama.

2014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 192014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 13The walkway up from the street was something of a sculpture garden.

Afterwards, we went for a stroll and had a bite of lunch at Giljy, the restaurant/cafe at the Jeongdong Theatre – which I’d not heard of but definitely have to go to!  It’s traditional Korean theatre, currently having a open run of “Miso: Baebijang-jeon“, which is based on a satirical novel from the late Joseon period (so, what? 1800’s probably).  Miso been adapted for “Korean traditional movements, sounds, and theatrical devices”.  The plot summary was reminiscent of that old Danny Kaye movie “The Inspector General” or maybe some old comedy of manners.   Something to look forward to!

2014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 212014-08-03 Seoul Art Museum 26Lunch itself at Gilgy was very good — my salad niçoise was both a bit original (always risky) and very good.  A had a large and very good squid started, and That Girl, Miss F., had a risotto.  Good choices all around, and a nice atmosphere.  Conclusion:  Not a lot of parking around there (we parked in the museum), but otherwise a strong recommendation, particularly if going to the museum or the theatre.




 Posted by on 03 Aug 2014
Jun 142014

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 028 bannerLast Saturday(June 7th), I decided to try (for the 3rd time) to visit the Calligraphy Museum in the Seoul Arts Center, in Gangnam.  I dropped Aingeal at the office and took the metro from there, around a half hour plus a 10 minute walk, so not too bad.


2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 0042014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 010I planned to stop for lunch somewhere near the Arts Center, and ended up at the Flower Annex ( 꽃 별관 ).  The restaurant seemed fairly typical for a relatively nice neighborhood restaurant – tables pushed together so you feel as if you’re sharing a long table.  At my long table was a couple with a very small and for a while loudly unhappy child.  Still, it was clean, and unusually (in my experience) with a fair bit of decoration on the wall…

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 0062014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 001 2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 002Fortunately, they had a menu with English translations, although I’m quite happy to order haphazardly if need be, and I ordered pumpkin pancake.  Four side dishes, two of which were in pots on the table for self service, and a bit of soy sauce for dipping the pancake.  Which was bright orange as you’d expect and pretty fair sized – I couldn’t finish it!

Seoul Arts Center

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 012 2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 018On to my objective:  the National Calligraphy Museum at the Seoul Arts Center, a block away.  The museum was at the back at the far side, but as always the Center threw up many distractions (why do you think I didn’t make it there twice already?).  Today, there was the Seoul Ceramic Arts Fair, some musicians playing a sort of flute and (rather unfortunately as I had just eaten) a selection of little stalls selling food.

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 014

The Eponymous Gavin

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 015 The musicians were on break when I strolled past at first, and ran into our friend Gavin, of the eponymous Gavin’s Sausages (eponymous is one of my favorite words, and if I could only work it into a legitimate sentence that also has “bifurcate”…).  [BEGIN Shameless Plug for a Product I Like] BTW, Gavin’s Sausages are really good (& are only one of the products he makes).  And they don’t justs sell them… we were at a goodbye party recently, and he & his team were grilling away! [END Shameless Plug]  Anway, we had a good chat, and Gavin said he (and the other little food stalls) are all down there every weekend… so another visit to the SAC is definitely in order before summer’s up!

Seoul Ceramic Arts Fair

2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 021But what about the Museum?  Ah, well, it turned out that it was not open.  I have no idea why.  So I headed back into the main part of the SAC, stopping by to let Gavin know that I was now 0 for 3 on this front.  On my way into the Ceramics Fair, they were practicing for Seoul Ballet Week.  I must say, you could go to the Seoul Arts Center every weekend if you wanted to (Gavin said some people do, treating it like their local park!), I’ve never yet had a disappointing visit (even this time). 2014-06-07 Seoul Arts Center 041 cropped

So, the Seoul Ceramics Art Fair… wonderful.  There were a couple of things that I would have bought, one of which I actually tried asked about (linguistic differences arose; I decided not to do that using Google Translate).  Most of the work there was really good and a surprising amount was also to my taste (!) so I spent a lot of time, going all the way through then backwards to the beginning and then through again.  Then, at last, back to the metro and home. Here are some pics from the Ceramics Fair:

 Posted by on 14 Jun 2014
Jun 122014

2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 05 banner2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 062014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 07Heading down to Seongbuk-ro (or “the big street at the bottom of the hill” as we call it), I happened across Moomyung Restaurant (무명식당), which I’d passed without noticing often before.  When I peered in, a woman eating gave me a thumbs-up and waved for me to go in, so I did.  She spoke English, and quickly told me that the food was very good.  So, Moomyung it was.

I2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 03 ordered the first thing on the menu on the wall, the 무명 밥상 moomyung babsang, which their website describes as “Moomyang main dish of boiled rice”.  Maybe that works in Korean, but in English they really need to work on their descriptions:  it was lovely.

W2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 05hile I was waiting, the same woman (in blue in the photo on the left) showed me a book of Korean bandes desinee, pointing out the story of the restaurant on page 304:  A Korean-American, adopted at age 4, searching for his family, but unable to remember anything except the taste of the rice that his mother made.  Korean meals being served very quickly, I didn’t get to the end.  Now I have to come back to find out how it ends!  (I have a sneaking suspicion that he found them and they opened these restaurants.)

The mai2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 02n part of the dish was of course the rice, very nice rice with some other grains and beans mixed in.  With that, a few side dishes:  raw vegetables with dipping sauce, some meat & mushroom (that was really nice), a couple of hot dishes of (to me) unknown items in chilli sauce; a bit of soy sauce for dipping, and a warm broth with potato bits & bean sprouts (also really nice).

While I was eating, a monk came in, knocking his wooden spoon on his wooden bowl.  Presumably he was looking for a free meal; I need to learn how to invite them politely to join me, lest that happen again.

2014-06-12 Moomyung Rest 04The restaurant itself was very small (they also do takeout) but clean & new — a nice atmosphere.

Conclusion:  Should become a regular feature in my neighborhood lunch circuit. Also:  their website shows another branch at the GranSeoul on Jong-ro (between Jongak metro & Sejong-daero), just around the corner from A’s office…

 Posted by on 12 Jun 2014