Contributed by My Quirky Soul!
In my article, My First Hanok Experience, I mentioned that I was supposed to be touring Busan and Seoul last January but something came up with work that I had to cancel the Busan trip and just purchased a ticket to go to Seoul directly.
I’d been so hyped-up about the 10-day Busan-Seoul tour so it was really frustrating when I had to cancel it. That time, I wouldn’t just give up not to have a replacement for my lost Busan trip. Good thing I remember I have a Korean friend who’s living in Incheon. Voila! I got my instant Incheon tour! I flew to Seoul last time but I never really had a chance to at least see a glimpse of Incheon, except the airport.
My Korean friend, Ilho, was generous and kind enough to accompany me; he actually made an itinerary. I just told him to tour me around and that I wanted to try jajangmyeon (black bean noodles). Since everything was last-minute, I didn’t have the time to research about all the details. Well, I was that confident and carefree with the trip since he’s a local. The perks of having a local friend.
We first went to Chinatown. Now that I’m writing about this trip, I actually read that this is the official Chinatown in the whole Korea and is a very famous tourist spot in Incheon.
A lot of street food welcomed us when we entered the area. I tried dakkochi (Korean grilled chicken skewers) and it was really delicious! Also, it was very interesting to watch how the Ahjussi cooked the meat. He had this gun-shaped machine which spits out fire directly to the chicken meat. It was so fun just watching it!
And because I arrived in Incheon at noon, I was so hungry. Add the cold winter weather, and it gets worse – you really just would want to eat every single time. And so we went to a very good restaurant, its name I don’t know. Haha. I probably asked Ilho but couldn’t remember if he mentioned it. All I remember is, he said the resto serves really good jajangmyeon, the one that I wanted to try. I asked my Shanghainese friend to translate it, and he said the name literally means, The Kitchen of Shandong Province.
The restaurant is small. It looked like an old house that gives out an authentic vibe. I also noticed the pretty wall with intricate designs – they looked handmade; it’s not just your ordinary wallpaper. All in all, the place has a pretty good atmosphere in a cold winter.
We ordered jajangmyeon and some sort of gyoza/dumpling. Boy, they are very tasty! The gyoza tasted really well and fresh. The jajangmyeon tasted sweet, you get the same feeling of eating your spaghetti when you were a kid, if you know what I mean. I was actually expecting to experience a weird flavour primarily because of the colour – it’s not that very enticing you know.
Ilho told me that it was actually here in Incheon where jajangmyeon originated. I felt so lucky and privileged! I actually tasted an authentic jajangmyeon!
After getting our bellies full, we then went to the Fairy Tale Village. This place, I actually know is famous in Incheon. The area is a group of streets where you can find fairy tale-themed restaurants and stores and wall murals of fairy tale characters which make the area very bright and colourful. It was unique and very interesting to see. Kids will definitely love it.
From the Fairy Tale Village, we rode a bus (just a 5-minute ride) going to our next spot, the Sinpo International Market. I noticed that there were not much people in the area which made the place look like abandoned. Then Ilho told me it’s because it’s a Sunday. But Seoul is still lively during Sundays, I thought to myself.
The Sinpo market is somewhat similar to Gwangjang market of Seoul, just smaller. You can buy all sorts of items from this market, from street food to fresh produce (veggies, fish and meat) to clothes. And because we were still full, we only tried the street food.
My side tripping in Incheon was totally an unexpected detour. So lucky I have a Korean friend who can accommodate my last-minute request!