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Thursday, October 11, 2012

WKB Tour 2012 - Welcome Dinner in Seoul

Dinner at Bulgogi Brothers in Seoul Finance Centre with my new blog friends.
L to R: Ema, Annabel, Grace, me, Gisela, Dorothea, and Maria

Ten months ago, I was chosen for the second round of the Korea Blog, and last month my blog was selected to attend a special reward trip. I traveled from my home in Busan to Seoul on the KTX, Korea's high-speed train system and hurried my way through Seoul Station to meet five other bloggers and the Korea Blog staff for a welcome dinner at Bulgogi Brothers Restaurant in the Seoul Finance Center.

Bulgogi Brothers!

The overseas bloggers had met one another earlier in the day. I met Annabel and EmaGisela Maria, Dorothea, and our guide Grace on the drive to Gwanghwamun station, home to the glorious grand gate of Seoul's historic Gyeongbukgung Palace and the shining Seoul Finance Center. I was delighted to meet my new international friends, but I must confess I was equally excited for dinner, and I was not disappointed. 

Oooh, oooh mandu!
We were ushered into a private room with rust-colour paneled walls and a long, black tables with flat burners on top. Our KOCIS representative Cathy arrived just as multiple servers appeared carrying enough side dishes, or banchan, to fill the table. We dug into sweet steamed corn on the cob and small, salted whole potatoes, which Cathy informed us are one of the restaurants most popualr side dishes. We whetted our appetites with kimchi, fried mandu or dumplings, and some mouth-watering bulgogi with rice before waiters reappeared to light the burners and throw on the meat.

I can't really say it, but I sure like to eat it:
Yangnyeom galbi

Naengmyeon, yum yum
Our group spent the next two hours noshing on a tantalizing array of platters served in seemingly endless succession, each one tastier than the last. Soup. salad, rice, and mushrooms and meat on skillets arrived one after the other. We ate what must have surely been some of from Korea's finest bulgogi, marinated beef, and ribs. We sampled side dishes as varied as lotus root, steamed egg, and quail egg. We finally finished off the meal with a helping each of iced buckwheat noodles or naengmyeon and some plum tea. The service was excellent and our private room was perfectly conducive to chatter about all things Korean. It was so fun to share such a nice meal with so many interesting people from around the world!

IP Boutique Hotel, Itaewon

After dinner, we headed to our accommodation. The IP Boutique Hotel is a quirky and elegant hotel located only minutes from the busy centre of Itaewon, one of the multi-cultural hubs of Seoul. The hotel's brightly-coloured exterior shone even in the dark and a sculpture of a knight on horseback greeted us at the doorway. The lobby was home to a slew of eclectic chairs and a pair of elevators made to resemble designer suitcases. The funky design continued into the rooms, with large wall appliques accenting an all-white decor. The beds were soft as clouds, and the bedding was equally heavenly, perfect for an angel like me! ^^  The morning brunch buffet was a delectable mix of Korean and Western tastes, served with just the right number of refills for my coffee.

The yummy breakfast buffet was a perfect mix of Western and Korean -
I took kimchi AND French toast  ^^

Dinner at Bulgogi Brothers was a wonderul culinary adventure and an even better bonding experience and the IP Boutique Hotel was the perfect launching point for our tour. There's no finer way to start a trip than with some good food, good friends, and a good sleep!

*All images taken from official sites, unless otherwise noted

Bulgogi Brothers logo and images retrieved 2012/10/12 from

IP Boutque Hotel image retrieved 2012/10/12 from