South Korea (Part 7)
Itaewon is a city district of Seoul known to residents and tourists alike. A place with many restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops. A “hot spot” for expats and military personnel from the nearby base. Most embassies are located around Itaewon as well as the infamous “Hooker Hill” with its line up of trendy Gay bars like Bar Bliss and Always Homme to name a few. You will find an abundance of shops here where you can get traditional South Korean souvenirs as well as plenty counterfeit goods and clothing of varying quality. You’ll find some interesting shop signs that are a good laugh and a stark reminder that the English language here is not very well versed and only spoken by a very few.
One pub known to all expats and locals alike is the 3 Alley Pub. Founded by Gunter Kamp in 2001, better known as “Happy G”. I know the 3 Alley Pub when Gunter was still running it with Al Ryan. Gunter has since left the Pub back in 2007 and Al has taken over. An excellent pub with a great ambiance and atmosphere and where everyone knows you and you know everyone. If you were on a night out in Itaewon, and for me and my fellow expat chefs that was pretty much every night, you’d always meet first at the 3 Alley Pub. You’d never meet in any other place to start the night than the 3 Alley Pub. It just wouldn’t be right not to meet first at the 3 Alley Pub it would be treason if you did. The 3 Alley Pub is a milestone amongst expats in Seoul. A home away from home. If you didn’t know the 3 Alley Pub there was something wrong with you. More often than not I would stroll in on a Sunday late morning with my mates with the intention to have one quick drink and we would still be there till two o’clock in the morning. It just was that kind of a pub. People you’d know would drop in and you’d be chatting away and before you’d know it the group would have expanded and the clock ticking away without you even noticing it. The expat chef community in Seoul was a very close community in the two years I was there. We all knew each other. If I remember correctly we started out to have Thursday Night’s as our set night out in the week. This soon became Thursdays and Fridays and in no time pretty much ended up to be almost every night. We just had such a great time each time, so why not! Oh yes and the house wine here is Jägermeister!
Other bars in Itaewon that we would patronise after having a few drinks at the 3 Alley Pub would be Helios, a large bar and restaurant that turns into a dance club after midnight and is popular with the military personnel, JJ’s at the Grand Hyatt, an excellent place to see live bands, Once in a Blue Moon, a famous live Jazz Club, Bar Nana, where local DJ’s strut their stuff, BricX, probably the best underground bar in Seoul with great lounge/house tunes, definitely my favourite, Seoul Pub, a great place with many regulars, Spy Club, we usually ended up here as our last spot until the very early hours, a dance night club popular with all the Eastern European models and the like. Look there are many more great bars to go to and over the years many new ones have popped up. Hongdae is another area where you will find plenty excellent bars and nightclubs. Oh! yes I almost forgot the “Egg Sandwich Lady”. Those who know Itaewon know exactly what I am talking about. After your night on the town there is always time for a quick bite. And on this planet the only place to get the best egg sandwich you have tasted is right in Itaewon at the Egg Sandwich Lady. She is an old lady that has her small kiosk on the corner of an alley located behind the main road. She just makes the best egg sandwich, period! Go and try it, if she is still there that is.
If you are in Seoul or are planning to go there then pay a visit to the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Park. Seoul hosted the summer Olympic Games back in 1988. You will find some interesting art displayed as you walk around the park.
to be continued…