No “Pho” Puns in This Post.

December 22, 2009

Shinsegae Christmas Display, I love you.

So occasionally, I miss home. But since moving to Itaewon, the foreign ghetto, I often have these moments where I’m sitting on the bus looking out the window and I suddenly realize, “Oh yeah. I do live in Korea! I totally forgot!” I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, one could argue that I’m not fully taking advantage of my host-culture, or you could also argue that I’ve become so accustomed to living here it no longer feels foreign. I’m not sure. I still have my hang-ups and bouts of shyness, but living here has become, well, comfortable.

Oksu Station, on the way to Wangsimni.

And well, I’ve totally had a “in Korea but doesn’t feel like it” Sunday. It started off with class, as usual, and then I met up with some friends in Wangsimni to a Vietnamese pho restaurant, head by a Vietnamese guy, and frequented by Vietnamese people. Okay, for those not in Korea, you have to understand this—yes, there are tons of pho places in Korea, various chains— and I have acquiesced to them on numerous occasions, enduring their meh rice noodles, their pitiful assortment of herbs (onions and bean sprouts and lemons, only? WHAT?) and their, well-at-least-its-hot broth—but seriously— fuck all those places. This place in Wangsimni is legit. Like, Westminster/Garden Grove Litte Saigon legit. Hell, even Saigon-Saigon legit.

The broth was a religious experience, a cure all for colds and the cold, both of which I had enough of that day. I felt as if I could endure winter without five layers because of that pho, could withstand any obstacle, was magically cured of my sniffles and ills, hell, I might have even been able to fly, it was that good.

Um. This is my phone’s background now.

Of course, a place like this does also have its quirks. The ambiance was well, desolate food court style, with a few fake flowers in soju bottle vases. And it mainly caters to Vietnamese people, who all seem to know the chef, and come bearing gifts of herbs, eggs, and sauces, all finding themselves free to tinker around behind the counter or lounge on the sofa. I will say that the selection isn’t great—we came on beef pho and fried rice (only) day, I guess the menu depends on whatever tributes the chef is brought at any given time.  Bring your own limes (which are for cheap at E-Mart now!) though. Some say these are drawbacks, but I am of the mind that these things make Little Vietnam (that is what the place is called) awesome.

Oh? Where is it exactly? Dude, call me up and ask. I’ll show you. I’m game to go anytime.

Later that day, I met up with some other folks and ate at the American Chinese restaurant, Ho Lee Chow. Then we headed to Tartine for some pies. Enough has already been said about these places. But I’m going to share some pictures from Tartine anyway, because who doesn’t like pics of pie?

Merry Christmas everybody. I’m heading to Gangwondo for Christmas weekend which should be fun—freezing but with snow. I’ve never had a cliché Christmas before (in terms of weather). SNOOOOOOOOOOWWWW!



  1. Where is this Vietnamese place? I’ve been searching for it.

    • If it is still there, and if I remember correctly, go out exit 2 and walk straight until you hit the Hyundai Oilbank… turn there, you’ll see a Holly’s Coffee. The Vietnamese place is in the basement of an apartment complex to the left (?) of the Holly’s Coffee. You have to go down some stairs. Sorry I can’t be of more help, it’s been awhile. It may not even be there anymore.

  2. Thanks!

  3. Just to make sure, this is Wangsimni station?

  4. Yeah. The one by the district office.

  5. Hey, we found it. The directions were a little off but we managed just fine. It’s a right instead of the left of the Holly’s. The place I think actually changed owners.

    Thanks again!

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