What could possibly be the most desirable thing to do in the big city of Seoul? Well, a city of nearly 26 million people must have a Mexican restaurant lying around, right? Since we haven’t seen a ripe avocado since arriving and the top Seoul recommendation from all our friends was to find Vatos Tacos, we were elated to find this top-rated Mexican restaurant was a short distance from our “lodging”.
As nearby experts in all things Vatos, Kayla and Jake recommended going for lunch as it can get extremely busy at night and on weekends. Luckily, since we had Friday free, we were able to get a table in the sun and it didn’t take long to review the menu before deciding to nosh on three varieties of tacos and get the most outrageous margaritas possible. I went with good ol’ strawberry, which ended up being as big as my face, and J’s was a Coronarita, popular in the States, and just as good.
I don’t usually drink this much at once, but when I do, it’s an outrageous strawberry margarita.
Carne asada, spicy chicken, and chili lime shrimp tacos. Just superb.
Friends, if any of you are in Seoul and can make it to Itaewon, grab yourself a table. You’ll get the best tacos and margaritas you can find in this country and if you have a small addiction to guacamole, like I do, it will get you by for a while. I’m still dreaming of those shrimp tacos.
Later in the evening, we made our way to Myeong-dong, the hustling and bustling shopping district of Seoul. With Christmas approaching, the area had some beautiful lights and the buildings at night make for a romantic (but crowded) atmosphere. This is relevant as I am told that Christmas is a couple’s holiday in Korea, to be spent with your significant other. But let’s pass the mushy gushy and get to the good stuff.
Cute couples with their coffee and hot chocolate, enjoying the Christmas lights in Myeongdong
For those of you who need a lesson in A-Mar preferences, let’s educate you. My darling little bro, J-Bro, went with me to see Despicable Me a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked on the minions ever since. So, you could imagine my squeals when finding that the first shop we encountered in Myeong-dong had a plethora of minion accessories for your gadgets – minion earphones, minion phone cases in every brand and size, minion backpacks, minion make up bags, you get my drift. There were many other characters available, like Hello Kitty and the famed Pororo, a pilot penguin cartoon that is popular among Korean kids. But obviously the minions were the cutest and the best. I chose Jerry the minion for my phone cover and we have continually joked that his facial expression will represent many of my thoughts and experiences as an expat in Korea (confused with a dash of terrified, yet friendly).
Game: How many American things can you spot in this collage? We also ate at California Pizza Kitchen for dinner…
After shelling out as many won as it would require for the ultimate phone case (I am fairly certain I would have handed over my entire wallet), we meandered on to the real street vendor shops among crowds. Kayla made a hat purchase with some fabulous sequins, and J and I picked up lots of goodies for some Santa surprises. Did I mention it was Black Friday?
A note for future travelers to Seoul: bargaining in Myeong-dong doesn’t really work. The vendors just plain stare at you and shake their heads. The price is the price, and vendors with identical items had identical prices. While browsing and failing to haggle, we saw lots of interesting food items available for purchase. On the yummy side, we had some sweet pancake-type goodies called hotaeks, and on the more strange side, you could purchase an entire fried octopus for a mere 3,000 won. Later in our visit, we even encountered Jake’s favorite all-American item: a hot dog rolled in french fries which is then deep fried. It’s like the fourth of July in your mouth! Even though I didn’t try one…
Can you guess which is the corn dog/french fry combo?
When we got past all the pancakes and “tchochke”s for sale, it was time for the performance of the evening, a show called Nanta. Our tickets I nabbed online said “Myeongdong Theater,” so that’s where we went. That might have worked, except for that all the windows were dark and there were some signs in Korean that said it closed at 18:00. Our show time was 20:00, or 8:00 PM, so we were confused by this discovery and sort of wandered about like lost foreigners for a few minutes before heading into the coffee shop next door. They must have confused foreigners wander in quite often, as they immediately pointed us in the direction of the Nanta-specific “Myeongdong Theater”, which was a short walk around the corner.
As we filed into the theater, we weren’t sure exactly what to expect. Based on the reviews, we knew it was some sort of comedy/musical/interactive performance based on Korean cooking, and Kayla made sure we got seats toward the middle so we wouldn’t have to be the silly foreigners pulled up on stage for the interactive part. That plan worked, thus we enjoyed watching other audience members get involved at various points in the performance, which told the story of four chefs preparing a meal for a Korean wedding (on short notice). The performance incited laughter from people of all languages, as most of the acting was done in gibberish and funny gestures. Another recommendation if you’re visiting the city and are looking for something to do.
Apparently we thought this was some sort of iron chef battle? We were sort of right…
Our late evening at Nanta drew to a close, and we hailed a cab back to settle in for the night. Before bed, we were treated to a final performance for the evening: Crater displaying his talent of holding two toys in his mouth at once while chasing and kicking a third toy. I think he would have played all night if we let him, but we needed some mental rest to explore the fabric market in Dongdaemun and energy for the steep walk to Seoul Tower! Part three to come!