June 27, 2010

Fraser Suites Insadong, Seoul…Jane Jung is the star of this Hotel

It’s the 2nd time I’ve stayed at Fraser Suites Insadong. It’s a bit far from the nearest underground stations which is Anguk  and City Hall stations.

However, it’s a very nice place with large rooms and the living room was very big!! Two bath rooms amd two large screen TV was good. Came with the all appliances you need in the kitchen and the washing machine is a real plus.  I would recommend that if you are staying here to pack light and just do laundry every few days. It’s easy and convenient. No reason to carry a week’s worth of socks, t shirts, jeans, underwear. The washer/dryer is one of those washer/dryer combo. The dryer does not work very well. They do have a drying rack. I got to make the point that the beds are not so comfy though.

A big advantage is location : it’s the perfect place to be. Insadong is full of nice restaurants, life and really near palaces and palaces.

The staff were friendly and attentive and most spoke English. Friendly they were, but not helpful. They speak perfect english, smiled beautifully but they were not able to help with dining recommendations, help with how to get to Yeoju or anything else which had a bit of soft or subjective call (all because of their lack of initiative). Having said that, a Client Relations Executive, Jane Jung, showed a commitment to guest comfort and convenience that other hospitality managers can learn from.

If I had any complaints, it is the noise from the streets, especially at night and the breakfast selection being dull and limited.

Overall, thumbs up and that’s the true truth. I still say it as it is.

June 17, 2010

Cookin Nanta, Seoul…if there’s one thing you must do in Seoul, it is this.

Filed under: Activities, Entertainment, South Korea, Travel — Tags: , , , , , , — PEr @ 12:21 pm

This is highly recommended. HIGHLY!

It’s a story of 4 chefs preparing for a wedding reception, this non-verbal show is a big “WOW!” with its captivating drumming and comic hilarity. Though officially billed as a non-vocal show, however there was a small use of Korean, Japanese and English throughout. This is what you get when you cross STOMP with the set of a Korean kitchen – Nanta sees its chef protaganists energetically turning all kinds of items – broomsticks, pots and pans, dishes, knives and even each other – into percussion instruments while cooking.

They engage the audience and overall it’s an entertaining show, so if you head to Seoul you MUST check out Nanta! Playing with your food takes on a new meaning. This is simply the true truth as I say it as it is…



June 14, 2010

Tosokchon, Seoul…Ginseng chicken soup at its best

Tosokchon is the best place to go for Samgyetang — a type of  stew whereby a spring chicken is stuffed with rice, chestnuts, ginseng root, and some other good stuff and cooked up in a broth.    

With its warm wood accents and traditional wood low tables (with seating on the floor), Tosokchon’s a cozy spot to build up your appetite.

There is no english menu available but it’s not a big problem for foreigners. There’s not a whole lot on the menu in this eatery. That made ordering over the language barrier easy.  Simply say “samgyetang”or just point at the soup stone pot at the next table. Make sure it’s a white chicken because they have Black Chicken Ginseng soup too!

They told me that this is a summer delicacy. “Fight fire with fire” and so they say. I enjoyed it in the pleasantness of spring as well.
They just brought the steaming, hearty chickeny goodness out to us.  Pretty nice stuff with great taste and aroma; if you like oriental herbs (or chicken soup) you’ll love this for sure. This is the absolute true truth for I always say it as it is…

June 13, 2010

Vu’s Restaurant, Dubai…there are other better places for a view of Dubai

Located on the 50th floor of the Jumeirah Emirates Tower, Vu’s has a potential to offer a beautiful view amid a sea of buildings, desert and water, but the architecture leaves much to be desired. The view (the selling point of the place) is ruined by concrete and and dirty windows.

Other than the views (which was a letdown), there’s nothing much going for Vu’s –  the rest is mediocre. Staff were pleasant but clearly not enamored by their jobs. Many places have a better atmosphere.

As befits its opulent setting, expect to pay more than you would at your local café.  I most certainly would not put this place as a must see integral part of Dubai’s must-do. This is the true truth and I’m still saying it as it is…

June 12, 2010

Sammach (The fish restaurant), Dubai…go only for the view of the Dubai Fountain. Don’t eat here

Souk Al Bahar sits on the Burj Lake overlooking the iconic Burj Khalifa, the Address Hotels, and the Dubai Mall. On the perimeter of the Souk are an assortment of restaurants, most with outdoor seating and a view of the Dubai Fountain

We had dinner in a waterfront restuarant called Sammach, The Fish restaurant, just to see The Dubai Fountain. Sammach is a Lebanese  restaurant with emphasis on seafood. I was amazed by the crowd standing around outside the restaurant waiting for the show to begin.

The food quality is terrible and the service was just a joke – attempting to order something is like trying to land a two-metre marlin. So beware: you will get charged an exorbitant price for a sub standard meal with ‘couldn’t care less’ service at Sammach!!!

Go to Sammach only if you want a good view to admire Burj Khalifa and see the fountain. Then again, buy a drink. Don’t eat there. The food’s no good and you pay an arm and a leg. In fact, the headline for this posting should be “what a rip-off!” This is certainly the true truth as I say it as it is…

View of Dubai fountain from Sammach

June 9, 2010

QD’s, Dubai….you’re on cloud 29 (much higher than cloud 9)

This is my favourite place to go shisha smoking in Dubai.

QD’s is all about location. Located at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, it has seating on a breezy deck area that reaches out over the water. From here you can watch the Abras (waterbuses) as they ply their trade up and down the creek. For shisha and cocktails, QD’s (Quarterdeck’s) at Dubai Golf & Yacht Club is the place to be seen. This super chilled out, funky venue is hugely popular. The ambience’s nice, very conducive for a laidback night to catch up with friends. It is so good to have peace and quiet from time to time and just talk to your friends and when I say talk, I meant a modulated voice not screaming at each other’s ears with loud music blasting as a background like what we normally have when we go clubbing.

The varied flavours of  ‘hubbly bubbly’ include apple, grape, strawberry and mint. Shisha waiters are constantly on hand with more hot coals to keep the pipes bubbling and the air filled with the sweet smoky smell that has become synonymous with Dubai at night

This is the place that locals go so if you want to take guests somewhere “authentic” this is the place to go! The location is the main part of this creekside eatery’s appeal. When the weather is fine you’ll be hard pressed to find a more chilled out spot for shisha, drinks and snacks. I am telling the true truth as I always say it as it is…

June 8, 2010

Al Safadi, Dubai…the shawarma is outstanding!

If you are looking for something authentic in Dubai, my absolute favourite after all these years is still Al Safadi. You can go to the one on Sheikh Zayed Road  – right before the Dusit Hotel or Al-Rigga Street. Al Safadi has the best EVERYTHING in Dubai! The Shawarma is outstanding!!

Excellent food, quick and efficient service (though not so friendly) , the price is very reasonable for the quality of food you get (in other words…dirt cheap), and a nice garden to sit outside in the cooler months. Wonderful selection of cold and hot meze (dips and nibbles), and they have fresh fruit juices, including exotics like  avocado. Other than the shawarma, I particularly love their mixed grill and grilled seafood (the prawns and squids)

In conclusion, Al Safadi have the tastiest Shawarma I have ever tasted! This is the true truth because I say it as it is…

June 7, 2010

Yeoju Premium Outlets, Seoul…a disappointing trip

I have mixed feelings about this place. The place is sprawling and carries the major designer brands such as Burberry, Coach, Lacoste, Gucci, Armani,Zegna, Dunhill, Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren and Salvatore Ferragamo. Yeoju also carries Korean brands such as Kuho, Kim Young Joo and Hazzys

A little more information would be helpful for us to find our way to the outlet. Other than the shuttle which leaves at 11am and arrives at around 12.15pm, there is not much of information for other early morning shoppers who want to maximise the opening hours of 10.00am. We eventually found our way there the hard way: we took a subway from Anguk to Express Bus Terminal station, hopped onto an express bus on the gyeonggu line headed for Yeoju. The buses depart every 30 minutes. There at the bus stop in Yeoju, we took a taxi to the outlet. 

The return shuttle from the outlet to Seoul was scheduled only for 6.00pm. Neither the information counter staff nor the bus driver was proficient enough in English to tell us how to book the tickets in advance. So, not wanting to risk waiting till 6.00pm (and not getting a seat) when all our shopping’s done by 3.00pm, we took a public bus to Yeoju town and hopped onto an express bus headed to Gangnam, Seoul. From there, we taxied to our hotel.

Two of us came away with only one (yup, you read it right…1) item. I’d noticed many customers go home empty-handed as well. That’s because most shops have stock that is limited in size. Discount-wise, it’s only so-so. Nothing to rave about. At the end of the day, it was a disappointing trip. Hopes were high, wallets were heavy, but there just wasn’t anything to buy. This is still the true truth and I am still saying it as it is…

June 6, 2010

Parndorf Designer Outlet, Vienna…unreliable shuttle service

Parndorf isn’t a particularly well-known destination within Austria, but it does receive a few travelers, most of whom make a brief stop to see the Outlet Center.

Parndorf Designer Outlet  has a shuttle service every Friday and Saturday. Costs €7 return trip. Pick-up point at  Ringstrasse across the road from the Opera, Operngasse 4, Wien.

But be warned…the unreliability of the service means you could be standing in the cold (in my case, as it was in March) for 90 minutes. The shuttle was scheduled for hourly runs. By the time Bert and I arrived at the stop at 1.20pm, it was still a good 40 minutes to go before 2.00pm. There were no seats, nor shelter, so we gamely waited by the side of the road. But 2.00pm came and went and still there was no sign of the shuttle. By 2.30pm, half the crowd had dispersed…some having given up, others, seeked shelter from the cold. The shuttle duly arrived at 3.00pm. No apologies made, no explanations given.

I like malls/shopping centers but honestly don’t care for the ones here. The shops in general just aren’t as nice as some I’ve been to in other countries. Sure, they’ve got known high-end names such as Lacoste, Armani, etc., and medium range ones like Benetton, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. The goods are cheaper since they were mainly the previous season’s ‘hot’ fashion, now considered as passe’. Nothing particularly special.

It does take some patience to look around since the area is huge! One positive point about Parndorf is that you can freely speak English in all the shops there. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

June 5, 2010

Sadong Myeonok, Seoul…those enormous North Korean style dumplings are a must-have

Sadong Myeonok, an institution at Insa-dong is a busy, no-frills restaurant that serves deservedly popular mandu-jeongol, which consists of four giant homemade North Korean style dumplings cooked in casserole.  It had all sorts of stuff in it; dumpling, kim-chi, 5-mushrooms, 5-vegetables, beef, noodles, even an egg. After letting everything simmer on your table for 5 minutes, mix everything and you have a stew-like concoction. The soup was rich, savory, and spicy. And, oh yes, the dumplings are enormous.

Though they are also specialised in bulgogi, one can also try their egg pancake panfried with marine products and green onions (haemul-pajeon).

You can’t miss an ajumma or two making mandu in the window. The service is fast, the food was cheap and above average, the portion was more than adequate. Sadong Myeonok is definitely a place to check out. This is the true truth. I say it as it is…

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