RestaurantsSeoul’s excellent choice of restaurants is growing more cosmopolitan with each passing year. They run the full gamut from super-polished establishments in five-star hotels to local snack bars where stomachs can be filled for just W1000; even in the cheapest places, you may be surprised by the quality of the food. With much of the national cuisine alien to most foreign guests, it may be easier to head for the food courts in department stores and shopping malls, where you can see plastic versions of the available dishes. Also popular are snack chains serving basic Korean staples.
Many parts of Seoul have their own particular culinary flavour. Most popular with tourists are the streets around Insadonggil, where restaurants almost exclusively serve traditional Korean food in an equally fitting atmosphere. Then there’s cosmopolitan Itaewon, where local restaurants are outnumbered by those serving Indian, Japanese, Thai or Italian food, among others. Student areas such as Hongdae and Daehangno are filled with cheap places, while Gangnam is also popular with local youth, and trendy Apgujeong with the fashionistas.
Cafés and tearoomsThere are a number of major café chains knocking around, including Pascucci, Starbucks and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. In theory, all have wi-fi access, but you may need a Korean ID number to get online; with no such identity restrictions and power sockets aplenty, branches of Tom & Toms are best for the internet-hungry and open 24hr, though the coffee itself is poor. Far more interesting for the visitor are the thousands of privately run ventures, which reach heights of quirky individuality around Hongdae and Samcheongdong. Prices tend to be W3000–5000 per cup, though you can usually double this south of the river.
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