25 June 2011

Grocery Shopping in Seoul

One of things I enjoy doing when visiting a foreign country is wandering around a local grocery store. For one thing, you can find better deals on local favorites. Secondly, it offers a unique glimpse at the local culture. I'm always dragging visiting friends and family to the nearest Lotte or Emart in Seoul. Not everyone's always as gleeful about the free samples, the buy 1 get 1 free deals, or exotic fare like larvae in a can or steamed egg-tofu, but I'm pretty sure no one's regretted going. In fact, they always leave with bagful of goodies.

I was at Emart today oohing and ahhing over the "cocktail cucumbers", mini cucumbers that fit in the palm of my hand, when I realized that I need to share all the cool groceries I encounter in Korea. Thus, I've created a Pinterest board to help me share all the nifty little grocery finds that I think tourists and/or folks new to Korea may find helpful for your next visit to a mega-mart in Seoul.

Forget kimchi chocolate or rice cakes from Insadong. If you're wondering what to sort of souvenirs to take back home to share with family friends, check out my "Korean Groceries" board on Pinterest.

09 May 2011

Afternoon Tea @ the Park Hyatt Seoul

In honor of her Korean wedding, we took our dear friend Seong for Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt in Samseong-dong. The tea set is a great merging of Eastern and Western tradition.

Though not as delectable as they appear, the sweets, rice cakes and cookies, Korean in flavor, were lovely to nibble on as we sipped our tea and enjoyed the view of...Kangnam. (The Park Hyatt Lounge offers a great view of the city. It's too bad that the skyline is marred by all those condos.) Frankly speaking, we were more enamored with the wooden sweet box than the sweets themselves, but it was nice to experience Korean favorites like pears, yuja (citron), and chesnut, in Western-style confections.

You are given an almost overwhelmingly large selection of teas (the teas vary in when and where they were harvested) to choose from. I ended up picking a tea at random (Actually not quite so random. I picked the one in the middle of the list), and found that it complemented the sweets (I know, duh, Annalog. That's why it's on the menu). Also, as Seong noted, the staff brings you tea just as it is ready to drink. This means that you don't have to sit around and watch it steep. That's some classy service.

I'd say that the ambiance and excellent service at the Park Hyatt Lounge more than merits the 28,000 won + tax/person fee. It's even better if you are accompanied by great friends!

Congrats to Seong & Danny! May your life be as sweet as that yuja-jelly!
(Okay. Maybe not that sweet. That jelly was a little too much).

To get there by subway:
Samseong Station, Exit 1
Entrance to the Park Hyatt should be to your left.
Take the elevator up to the 24th floor to the Lounge.

Afternoon Tea is served 2:30 to 5:30 pm daily.
To make a reservation call: (02) 2016-1234 or (02)2016-1205 · 1206
You can find more information about Afternoon Tea here.

24 April 2011

Possibly my last post about BB Cream

BB cream has proven that it's not just a makeup trend. It's become a makeup staple (at least in certain parts of East Asia). Even my mom asked my to send her some BB cream. The number of BB creams out on the market is a bit overwhelming.

Despite the plethora of options, I've continued to use the same BB cream, Dr. Jart's "Black Label Blemish Base" for the past two years. (It's very close to my skin complexion, blends well into my skin, offers medium coverage, and feels lightweight.)

Since I buy most of my cosmetics from a drug store, I had no idea that international (i.e. Western) cosmetics brands are now offering their own versions of "BB Cream." Has BB Cream gone mainstream?

But, for those of you interested in the market's latest offering of BB creams, here's what I can gleam from this Vogue Girl article (available in print and online). These SPF containing BB Creams were rated in terms of their coverage, oiliness, application, and how long they last.

My cousin Cyndi helped me translate the article. Translation is hard, y'all. Korean does not always translate well into English. We tried our best to stick close to the Korean wording, hence some awkward phrasing below. Don't go quoting us or anything.
Check out the original Vogue Girl article for more details.

"BB Sunscreen" (Vogue Girl Korea, April 2011)

1. Bobbi Brown "BB Cream SPF 35 PA+++" Light Color
If it's foundation your looking for, the BB Cream made by Bobbi Brown is it. You can choose between three skin tone colors. Coverage meets expectations. When you compare it with other BB creams that are clay colored, it is yellower so it is good for covering troubled skin and red, splotchy skin. This is recommended for those who want natural looking coverage. It's going to even out your skin tone, but won't cover up all your pores. 40,000 won.

2. Espoir Moisture Firming BB Cream with SPF 33.
The texture is firm. Because of it's rich texture, you fee like it will be hard [to apply], so you'll be surprised by how soft it feels when you apply it. It goes on thicker. If you don't want it to clump up, you'll have to blend in thoroughly. When you first apply the cream, it feels oily, but then it quickly becomes matte and you don't have to worry about it feeling sticky throughout the day. Like a body lotion, it's floral scent leaves you feeling good. 30,000 won.

3. La Roche-Posay UVIDEA XL BB.
La Roche-Posay boasts a clay colored BB Cream. It may not look like it (right out of the tube), but it looks much more natural when you apply it on your skin. Because of it's darker color, it's a little more effective than foundation in covering your pimples and blemishes. The cream is lightweight. Because of it's lightweight texture it easy to apply it like lotion. It feels like a thin coating over your face. The finish is very matte, so your skin may feel a bit dry. 49,000 won.

4. So Natural Tri-Active BB SFP 27 PA++
When you compare it to other BB creams the color's a bit darker. The cream is better suited for faces with acne and scars, not tiny blemishes. As soon as you apply it to your skin, it feels like moisturizing cream. It has a very light scent and texture. The cream keeps your skin feeling soft as if you applied lotion. Because the SPF is less than other creams, you should also apply sunscreen. 23,000 won.

5. Estee Lauder CyberWhite Brilliant Cells Extra Intensive BB Creme Multi-Action Formula SPF 35 PA+++
As indicated in it's long name, [Estee Lauder] tries to pack it's creme with lots of functions. Compared to other creams, it's more dry and stiff. Because of it's texture, you may feel like you have to use more force when applying the cream. In actuality, it goes on easier than you think. Because of it's pink tone, it's recommended for people with yellow-toned skin, not red-toned. [Something about it being shiny and oily, and therefore, short-lasting] You'll need to reapply frequently. 60,000 won.

6. Dior UV Shield BB Cream SPF 50 PA+++
Like liquid foundation it's watery, so you'll have to be careful when you're applying so that it doesn't drip. However, it's easier and faster to apply than other products. The coverage is very good. It feels like you're applying foundation rather than BB cream. It matches all [Korean] skin tones because of the pink and flesh-colored tones. It's more suitable for combination or oily skin. Thanks to it's high SPF, this BB cream alone will keep you from feeling guilty about not using sunscreen. 65,000 won.

- end of "translation"-

I'm assuming that these BB Creams are only available in Asia, but I could be wrong. Coincidentally, Elle Girl Korea also features a comparison of BB Creams in their April 2011 issue. You can also check out their "Best of the Best BB" feature on the Elle Girl site. The Elle Girl crew gave the highest rating to elishacoy's "Time Capsule BB."

19 April 2011

FYI: 고속터미널 closing down due to renovations

The "Gangnam Underground Shopping Center" at 고속터미널 will be closed for a year starting next month (May 2011) while the shopping area undergoes renovation. This means that you only have a couple of weeks left to stock up on man-won dresses and flats that will last you one summer in Seoul. The spring's fashion trend seems to be ultra-feminine, so if you're into such things, you'll want to check out the sales.

Having shopped in Seoul for several years now, I'm no longer as quick to purchase every cute, suspiciously cheap item that catches my fancy. With that said, look at the cute, suspiciously cheap rain boots that I got for 19,000 won! I know, very colorful. Some might argue that these boots are likely to clash with whatever I'm wearing, but I'd like to think that with so many colors, these boots are bound to match at least one item I'm wearing.

08 April 2011

대장장이화덕피자 Blacksmith's Brazier Pizza

Cousin N. took Cyndi and I to a great little pizza place in 가희동.

서울특별시 종로구 가회동 62-1
02-765-4298 ‎

It seems like it's difficult to walk in and get a table during peak hours, so you'll want to make a reservation. It's closed on the last Tuesday of the month.

We had the Rucola Pizza and the calzone. Both were delicious. A pizza is around 14,000-16,000 won, which, in my opinion, is perfectly reasonable for freshly made pizza baked in a wood (or maybe charcoal) burning oven!

The modernized rustic vibe of the interior (does that make sense?) reflects the design aesthetic of the proprietor, an artist who makes new (beautiful) things out of recycled metal pieces. The name of the restaurant 대장장이화덕피자 translates to "Blacksmith's Brazier Pizza" (Naver dictionary helped me with this translation. It may not be accurate). The fact that the restaurant has a Korean name conveys the artist's East meets West aesthetic. Without the picture of pizzas on the window, I would have guessed that the restaurant served hanshik.

To get there by from Anguk Exit #2:
Walk straight up the road towards 가희동. You'll be walking for about 10-12 minutes. You'll know you're heading in the right direction when you see cute little boutiques filled with Korean ceramics or Korean linen wear.

대장장이화덕피자 will be on the left side of the street. Keep an eye out for the 약국 (pharmacy) just before the big church. (There's also a little coffee shop, but I can't remember the name. Something like DooRoo?) You'll want to turn into this alleyway. The restaurant is a little hanok with mint green trim. *Not to be confused with the baby blue pizza place across the street.

The following pics were taken with my new Canon SX210 camera. I miss my lil' Panasonic, but I've definitely upgraded with 14.1 mega pixels.

20 March 2011

(Myeongdong) Spicy Color

There's a new fashion franchise in Myeongdong called Spicy Color. The two Myeondong shops are basically around the corner from each other (near A-Land). I think it's being branded as an "Urban Lifestyle" store in the vein of "Urban Outfitters". It's also got a Japanese pop flair to it, so everything is ultra colorful. I decided to blog about it because it's been awhile since I've seen anything interesting in Myeongdong. Though not groundbreaking, I do like look seeing brightly hued merchandised arranged by color. I'm also pleased because I found a bright red tote bag that's perfect for work. It's made out of some rubbery plastic material that I hope will be light on my shoulder.

Items are moderately priced.

Info from the the website:
  • 53-14 Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu SEOUL, KOREA02-3789-5424
  • 54-24 Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu SEOUL, KOREA
  • www.spicycolor.com www.fashionplus.co.kr

08 March 2011

Korean Children's Lit - Animated

I've been such a devout Googler that I've missed out on how cool Yahoo! Korea is. Yahoo! Korea, in collaboration with Yes24.com, features a section called 영어동화, a collection of animated videos of Korean folktales, contemporary Korean children's lit (translated into English!), and Korean adaptations of classic folk/fairy tales. Similar to most audio books made in Korea, the voices can get a bit grating, but these video are nonetheless dynamic and appealing to young viewers. The videos also feature English captions.

These animated stories are a feature of Yahoo! Korea's "Infant Zone" and are free to view online. I stumbled across this site while searching for info on Cloud Bread an illustrated story by Baek Hee Na. Cloud bread sounds so delicious.

야후! 꾸러기 동화

Cloud Bread (구름빵) 유아 부문 스테디셀러인 빛그림 그림책 『구름빵』을 영어 동..

While the books are better appreciated in hard copy form, this seems like a great way to get a taste of Korean children's literature.