Unlike the bustling streets of Myeongdong, the rowdiness of Gwangjang market, and peacefulness of Sokcho, Hongdae is a little more similar to Ewha, with a great mix of energy and calm. The streets are lined with cafes and greenery and young couples can be found everywhere having picnics or just hanging out with their friends after school. This was where my friends and I stayed on our trip and we were amazed by the number of clothing, food and even cosmetics stores available. It’s definitely a great place to reside at for youngsters, with fast fashion and Korean bbq at your doorstep. If you’re interested to see what we got up to here, keep on reading!
CHUU FLAGSHIP STORE
Chuu is a brand I only heard about a little while before my trip. I believe it is a relatively new brand which has been a popular favourite among Korean ladies. They are most known for their -5kg range which includes skirts, skorts, shorts and jeans that are supposed to make you look 5kg skinnier than you actually are. I bought a pair of the -5kj jeans which you can see from my clothing haul here, and I personally really liked it and think it does have a slimming effect. I will say, however, to try on all the clothing items before purchasing because some of the items do fit a little strangely. It could be because my proportions are different from a typical Korean girl, but it’s something to take note of!
Chuu flagship store
334-10 seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Mon- Sun 11am-11pm
Nearest MRT station: Hongik University station
Shoopen is a pretty big store right at exit 1 of Hongik station that sells shoes and bags. It’s really popular among teens and I would compare it to a Rubi of Singapore. They have sneakers and slippers at affordable prices of 10,000 won (~SGD $12) as well as tote bags for 5000 won (~SGD $6). A pretty nice place to check out if you’re in the area, but not a good enough place to intentionally make a trip down for in my opinion.
Opening hours: Up till 10 pm daily
Nearest MRT station: Hongik Univ station exit 1
Right at exit 1 of Hongik University station, Butter is located in the subway station and actually occupies a pretty large space. It’s similar to Miniso which one can find in Singapore and some other countries. They sell mainly homeware items with stationery, tote bags and even some plushies. I bought some pretty cute items from Butter at really affordable prices and it’s definitely a place I’d recommend. It’s one of those places you could walk around 5 times and notice new things every time. You’ll definitely be leaving with things you don’t need, may never use, but makes you very, very happy.
Opening hours: Up till 10 pm
Nearest station: Hongik Univ. station exit 1
I actually don’t remember the exact location of this store but we chanced upon it when roaming the streets of Hongdae one night. It’s a mini arcade-like shop with different photo booth machines that allow you to take photos and decorate them before printing them out into stickers. If you’re a 90s-born kid in Singapore, you’ll definitely have grown up with such machines in your pre-teen to teenage years. My friends and I decided to relive our embarrassing fetus days and posed cringe-ly for the camera. The best part about these machines is that you can actually email yourself the soft copy of the finished pics! So you can keep the digital images in your phone and laugh at them from time to time.
HONGIK SUTBUL GALBI
Located at a very busy street, this Korean BBQ place is not to be missed. With a large variety of side dishes and affordable meat, there’s nothing quite like having a good bbq in the cold weather after a long day of walking and shopping. You’ll find many students having soju and korean bbq at these places at night, just chilling and talking with the loveliest atmosphere. This store also serves cold noodles and bean paste stew, a cosy dining experience not to be missed!
Hongik Sutbul Galbi (홍익숯불갈비생고기)
Opening Hours: Mon – Sun, 1630 – 0400 (the next day)
Nearest station: Hongik Univ Station exit 7
PIGGY BANK STONE GRILL KOREAN BBQ
Situated right beside Sutbul Galbi, Piggy bank stone grill Korean bbq is pretty famous for cooking their meat on hot stones rather than the typical grill. It’s their main selling point that sets them apart from other Korean bbq stores and is probably what ensures they’re not in direct competition with their competitor right next door. It also allows them to price their dishes a little higher. Honestly, I don’t see a big difference between cooking meat on a grill and on hot stones, in fact, I somewhat preferred the one on the grill. It was a cool experience, however, seeing the meat sizzle on the stones, so do check it out if you’re in Hongdae.
Piggy Bank Stone Grill Korean BBQ (홍대 돼지저금통)
Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Opening hours: 3 pm – 2 am daily
Nearest station: Hongik Univ Station exit 7
This was honestly one of the best meals I had in Hongdae and in fact, one of the most memorable meals from the trip. In fact, it’s pretty much the only item I crave for from time to time. Run by the loveliest and chirpiest ahjumma, this store is tucked away on a pretty quiet street with many locals enjoying their dinner. It pretty much tastes the same as the one in Yoogane (a Dakghalbi chain in SIngapore) except the fried rice at the end is way more flavourful with a mix of more seasoning. The cheese is also directly sprinkled on top and mixed in unlike the rim of cheese you get when at Yoogane. The price is also way more affordable, at only about 12 SGD per person with a heaping amount of food that you’ll be leaving completely stuffed. I highly recommend this place and I’ll definitely be going back the next time I’m in Korea.
Our dakgalbi (우리닭갈비)
Address: 331-12 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Opening Hours: Mon- Sun 12 noon- 12 midnight
HEUNG BUN’S ARMY STEW
I’m personally not a fan of Budae Jjigae simply because I think it’s not nutritious and definitely not a value for money. I’m pretty much paying about 10 SGD for a bunch of process food cooked in a broth of MSG. But, since I was in Korea and it is an iconic dish in their country, I had to have it at least once. We found a small shop located on the 2nd story of a shophouse with the coziest interior design. It was warm and we sat next to the window so we could feel the chilly air from the outside. The Budae jjigae was good, or rather as good as it can ever get, but I definitely enjoyed it most for the atmosphere and company.
Heung Bun’s army stew (흥부네 부대찌개 )
Address: 332-35 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 11am- 11pm
It’s not only until recent years that the Bingsu trend hit Singapore by storm. I’ve never heard of Bingsu before then, but we can now find it pretty easily in Singapore. In Korea, Bingsu is seemingly a relatively new idea, popular among youngsters as well. Seeing how it supposedly originated from Korea, I was surprised to see how few Bingsu stores were actually around. We found one conveniently located in Hongdae, Sulbing, and decided to have a go seeing how it looked pretty popular. We had a strawberry cheesecake bingsu and an injeolmi (I think) thick cut toast served with a scoop of ice cream on top. I personally preferred the toast with ice cream to the bingsu simply because the bingsu ice didn’t feel flaky and taste milky enough. I was hoping to bite into a spoonful of fluff that melts beautifully and dissolves into nothing but a light taste of rich milk. This bingsu failed to deliver that, though it was still decent. I’d say it’s similar in standard to the ones from Korean dessert cafes in Singapore. The toast, however, I enjoyed. With mochi stacked between each layer of toast, I enjoyed the sweet and chewy fusion in my mouth that provided a texture I enjoyed. Then again, I don’t think it was anything too spectacular and I just liked it because it suited my taste buds.
Sulbing Hongdae 설빙 홍대점
Address: 358-37 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 10.30 am – 10.30 pm daily
Nearest station: Hongik Univ station exit 9
The best way to describe Haek Steak to me would be a mesh of western and asian food, created by an innovative mind. We ordered fries covered in a meat and cheese sauce and every order will come with a soft drink attached to the bottom of the plate. At first look, the top holder of the fries looked like a cigarette plate, but it’s actually a really handy and convenient idea, allowing you to hold the food and drink securely in one hand. The concept of the food is very western, with the cheese and meat fries, yet the meat was cooked in a more Korean style which led it to seem like a fusion dish. We ordered it on the way back to out Airbnb so it was like a small supper snack that we shared and enjoyed very much.
Haek Steak (핵스테이크)
Address: 1289, Jukjeon-dong, Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do
Opening hours: 10.30 am- 9pm
Nearest station: Hongik Univ Station, exit 3
Bread comma is located along the same street at Haek Steak, just a few stores down. A large and simple looking cafe, bread comma is hard to miss. During the day, both the outdoor seating and indoor seating is packed with people, especially teens having some bread and a drink. It’s a common hang out spot for students as they catchup over some good food and relax at a cafe. The interior design is beautiful and the atmosphere is relaxed. We went pretty early in the morning when they just opened so we didn’t have much options when it came to food, but what we had still tasted good. I can see why people like to visit this cafe and I can totally visualise my mum and I having tea here.
Bread comma (빵꼼마)
Address: 23, Yanghwa-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul 03994, South Korea
Nearest station: Hongik Univ Station, exit 3
Hope you enjoyed reading this post and having a clearer view of what Hongdae has to offer. Do let me know if you decide to check out any of these places when you head to Korea! Have a pleasant trip and happy shopping!
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