Wonjo Agujjim (Seoul, March 2023)

Seoul, as you may have heard, is a great city to eat in and a very easy city to eat well in (assuming you like to eat Korean food). It is not always, however, a city in which it is easy to eat well alone (though, of course, I managed to do so at my lunch in Namdaemun Market’s Kalgusksu Alley). This because many of the things you may wish to eat—and when I was there last week, I wished to eat them all—are only prepared and served in portions that seem to assume that you will be eating out with at least one other person and probably more. And, indeed, in many of the restaurants and market counters where I ate, that did seem to be the dominant mode in which locals ate. At one dinner at Gwangjang Market, for example, I ate a bowl of dumpling soup that was perfectly sized for one. But throughout the meal I was tormented by the sight of massive links of soondae and many other dumplings and sliced meats—none of which I could have ordered because each order would have been a very large meal for one. And so I ate my dumpling soup, pondering the mechanics of setting up a service through which tourists visiting Seoul alone could form alliances for the purposes of eating out. No need to talk, just order food communally and eat it. A very gluttonous version of Tinder. If it already exists, please forward the details; if not, please forward me 75% of all profits once you set it up. Continue reading


Lunch at the Kalguksu Alley in Namdaemun Market (Seoul, March 2023)

I will be taking a bunch of students to Seoul for five weeks next February/March (we’ll get there after five weeks in Bombay). In preparation for this trip, I recently spent a week in Seoul, visiting sites, checking out possible accommodations and group activities; and, of course, also eating.

Though the missus was born in Seoul and lived there till the age of nine (at which point she moved to Los Angeles with her family), we have not been to Seoul as a family and nor had I ever been there before myself. I was a little intimidated by the thought of navigating the city by myself for a week but quite predictably ended up having a blast in the periods of time before, between and after my appointments. I walked an average of 7 miles a day—a lot of it to markets where I ate. One of these markets was Namdaemun Market—I ate lunch there on three consecutive days. Here is a look at my second lunch, eaten on a Friday in the market’s famous “Kalguksu Alley”. Continue reading