Travel: Gangwondo Sokcho (강원도 속초)

One of my favorite regions of Korea is the east coast. I'm unabashedly a fan of the Gangwondo region in particular for its rugged and untapped beauty. Plus the people are hardy yet warm and the food is good stuff.

I took a trip out there with some friends for a quick weekend trip a while back and was not disappointed again. It's off the radar for most overseas visitors but I imagine in the coming years it will only grow in popularity, especially with the Pyeongchang Olympics coming up.

Here's a look at the things we did and ate for that short weekend.

We actually set off for the area on Friday evening after work. We wanted to maximize our time there and minimize sitting in traffic.

Checking into our condo at the Delfino Resort, we celebrated with some light drinks and food. Including the local makgeolli



Heading into Sokcho the next day, we first explored the Sokcho Market and sampling some food here and there.


Stuffed squid.


Fresh, semi-dried, and dried fish.


Squid-shaped buns.



Maemiljeonbyeong is a favorite and famous dish of the Gangwondo region. These thin crepe-like pancakes are made from buckwheat and given a savory filling usually of kimchi, meat, and diced vegetables.





Tried the squid-shaped buns as well which also had a savory seafood stuffing.





This other place carried a cream-based stuffing in crab shells along with crab croquettes.




The croquettes were nice but the cream noodle bake was bland and neither seafoody or cheesy.


There's also a huge basement section where one can get fresh seafood prepped and cooked to order.


Chillin.


Soondae (Korean sausage) is also a famous dish of the region. Jinjja Soondae (meaning "real soondae") is a favorite soondae shop within the market and we decided to make a stop. These are sausages with real filling stuffed inside real intestine.

You can order the soondae in a stew, soup, or you can get an assortment soondae which includes three different kinds of soondae including a stuffed squid variety- another particular of the Gangwondo region- and that's what we opted for (18K for the dish).







Legit stuffing which you can eat with some onions and dip, ssamjang, or fermented shrimp.




Jinjja Soondae
35-22, Jungang-ro 129beon-gil, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, Korea
033-636-6012

Dakgangjeong, a bite-sized fried chicken in spicy-sweet seasoning has also become well associated with the region. The Sokcho Market carries a number of dakgangjeong places but the most famed is Manseokgol. Easily ranking within the top five dakgangjeong places in Korea, this place attracts hordes of people everyday who stop by for the addictive dakgangjeong which come in the iconic boxes.

Chicken frying away.


Look at the stacked boxes of them all ready to be taken out. 




What a beautiful sight. They're even good (some say even better) when eaten cold. They do so well they seemingly keep raising the prices every time I return but man it's good.



Manseok Dakgangjeong
16, Jungang-ro 147beon-gil, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, Korea
1577-9042

For a nice little stroll, you can walk around the Cheongho Lake Park. Not really somewhere you need to make and change your schedule around but if you're close by you can pay a visit.




Cheongho Lake Park
Cheongho-dong, Sokcho, Gangwon-do, South Korea

Really, though. If you came to Sokcho, it's really about the beach isn't it?



Look at them blue skies and ocean.



Sokcho Beach
1464-11, Joyang-dong, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, Korea

Buckwheat is famed in the eastern yonder parts. If you're wanting some good old fashioned buckwheat noodles, Sokcho style, Siloam is an excellent option. 

For their famed buckwheat noodles (maemil guksu), they not only grind their buckwheat daily but also the sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, and sesame oil. And all that fresh pressing and grinding of ingredients makes a world of difference in flavor and scent and that is evident at Siloam as well.

What's brought to your table initially is a ball of buckwheat noodles which has a spicy sweet seasoning atop, cucumber, onion, dried sea laver flakes, and roasted and crushed sesame seeds. But don't go digging in quite yet!



What's also brought out is the housemade dongchimi (water kimchi). This is key as you're supposed to scoop some out onto your noodle then add condiments to your liking (vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, etc)



Cold and refreshing, this has a range of flavors from tart to sweet, savory to a little spiciness.


And look at all them buckwheat in the noodles! Lots of nuttiness in every bite. Holds up well agains the broth. One of the best maemil guksu I've had.


Sides are the simple yeolmu (young radish) kimchi but lots of crunch and flavor.



Shiloam Maemilguksu
8-5, Jangsan 4-gil, Ganghyeon-myeon, Yangyang-gun, Gangwon-do, Korea
033-671-5547

Yeongnangho is actually a natural lagoon just by the ocean. The grounds were actually used in ancient times by the Shilla's elite Hwarang army (known for their fighting skills as well as their good looks). Around 7.8km in circumference, there are trails around the entire lake with plenty of beauty to tickle all your senses.

We were there in mid-April and already expecting most of the cherry blossoms to have been long gone but they were in full bonanza at Yeongnangho Lake which we were quite fortunate to catch!






There's actually a resort of some sort on the grounds too but it seems to be abandoned now or in the process of remodeling or something


Yeongnang Lake Park (영랑호수공원)
강원도 속초시 동명동
Dongmyeong-dong, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, Korea

For the grand finale we stopped by Daepohang or, Daepo Port, which is located at the southern end of Sokcho city. The port is a favorite for visitors for the live seafood market as well as the twigim (튀김 or deep fried foods) alley.


The seafood market has just about everything and is fresh, fresh, fresh. Like other seafood markets, the stall owners are quite boisterous and will promise you discounts and freebies like no other. The way to win is to shop around, inquire, and have your haggle game on point.

When you've figured out what you want, let the stall owner know if you want to eat it there or have your catch prepped and ready to go. You'll pay a small fee either way but the system here is interesting that they'll give you a number and guide you to their prepping area. Basically for every 10,000 won of your purchase, there's a 1,000 won charge to prep your purchase.



Hand the lady your seafood basket and she'll bring it inside the prep room. There, in a systematic way, are a group of ajummas ready to prep your purchased seafood as you want it. Prepping, of course, is a nicer way of saying this is where your catch gets its last bit of life. You can also pay for some extras like soy sauce, wasabi, etc.


Should you choose to eat it there, you go upstairs to a really lively cafeteria-style area after your food has been prepped. We chose to take ours to go.


I mentioned there's a twigim (deep-fried) area right next to the market. You'll see shop after shop all with trays of all varieties of deep fries... sweet potato, shrimp, squid, fish, etc. You can also catch other local favorites here like the stuffed squid soondae.





Sokcho Daepohang Fish Market
강원도 속초시 대포동
Daepo-dong, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, Korea

And our last night grand finale. Clockwise from top: fresh sashimi from the Daepohang Market (three varieties of fish, no less), various fries and stuffed squid soondae from the twigim alley, dakgangjeong from Manseokgol, and some fried chicken for good measure.




And my sneaky friends, even managed to buy and hide a cake for me day o' birth. Sneaky hobbits.


Tired but happy with good food and good company.


I suppose I should put in a word about where we stayed. The Delfino Golf and Resort is owned by Daemyeong which operates a number of different resorts around Korea. Though each property slightly varies in age and offerings they are, for the most part, quite excellent and a popular option for friends, couples, and families. 

The resort we stayed at is about 9 or 10km from Sokcho city which is not at all bad if you have a car. Great views too!





Daemyung Delfino Golf and Resort
1153, Misiryeongyet-gil, Toseong-myeon, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do, Korea
http://www.daemyungresort.com/dp/ (Korean only)

See ya soon, Gangwondo!

Comments

  1. Sokcho is one of our favorite places. The fried food and the cold chicken in Sokcho are really good!

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