My sister can attest to this: I'm a terrible source of info for visitors to Seoul. In fact, my top three favorite spots in Seoul are simply:
1) Kyobo Bookstore
2) The Food Plaza in the Shinsegae Department Stores
3) Kangnam Undergroud Shopping Center
I realize that given the Motherland's rich culture and history, my list seems pretty lame. I hope to explore more of Korea's historical sites in the forthcoming months, but I'm pretty sure that my top 3 list will remain the same.
Though Korean department stores can be quite nice, I usually avoid them because the crowd of shoppers can be overwhelming and much of the merchandise is overly priced. There are only two reasons for me to stop in the department store 1) To escape the heat 2) To check out the delicacies in the food marketplace.
The food plaza generally features an array of artfully displayed Korean and foreign food items from various vendors. The food is overpriced, but as I've mentioned before, I'd rather splurge on a little cake, then a pair of designer shoes.
I especially like to drool over the beautiful cakes and pastries.
A few weeks ago, Cyndi and I discovered a cupcake vendor in the Myeondong Shinsegae Department Store. The cupcakes are made by One, a company that claims to make "Contemporary American Style cupcakes." (In case this impresses anyone, I should note that One is affiliated with the Chosun Hotel.) I was pretty ecstatic to see cupcakes in Seoul, but at soon as I laid eyes on the colorful cakes, I knew that I was in for a big disappointment. The frosting appeared grainy and the cake appeared dry. Nevertheless, I couldn't stop myself from buying a box (4300 won per cupcake).
Though the cupcakes were sub par, I did appreciate the pretty packaging. For 300 won extra, the cupcakes are wrapped in an adorable little brown box, tied with a pink bow. The alternative is a white box (no charge), which, as the saleswoman pointed out, will likely cause your cupcakes to tumble about and smear the frosting. Um, I guess I'll pay the extra won and preserve the appearance of my expensive little cupcakes?
I really hoped that the cupcakes would be semi-decent, but sadly, they didn't even come close. I'd rather drop 6000 won for some Duncan Hines cake mix in Itaewon than buy a cupcake from One.
If you want to watch me eat an over-priced cupcake or see Piggy before all of her hair was shaved off (I'll explain later), check out the video: