Ichon-dong (이촌동) may be deemed Seoul's "Little Tokyo," but the name's a bit deceiving. Sure, there's a Japanese mini-mart or two, and even a few signs in Hiragana, but if you're really expecting, well, a smaller version of Tokyo, you won't find it here (as I discovered my first time around.) Rather, Ichon-dong is quiet, filled with residential high rises and a few smart looking cafes. And if you take a close enough look, you're bound to find some good eats. After hearing about Mitaniya (02-797-4060), a small Japanese restaurant in the basement of the Samik Shopping Mall, I went with 4 other pals (from Japan) to find it, and see if it'd pass the test.
I have to say, they were quite pleased upon receiving the menu alone, seeing that it was 4 pages long, all in Japanese (of course, with Korean descriptions). It took us a while to figure out a plan, but as soon as the neighboring table's plates arrived, everyone confirmed their decision - the curry and tonkatsu looked, smelled - and we soon discovered - tasted pretty damn good. (I, on the other hand, opted for the kitsune udon, which was perfectly cooked in a mild, refreshing broth.) Overall, Mitaniya gets a thumbs up - a satisfactory, no-frills place to satiate your non-Koreanized, Japanese meal needs.
Besides "Little Tokyo," Ichon-dong is also home to the National Museum of Korea (국립중앙박물관). Personally, it's not my favorite museum, but I did enjoy the Pensive Bodhisattva sculpture, along with a few of the fine art pieces. The museum itself is located on beautiful grounds, which would be a perfect setting for a summer picnic (on a cool day).
I had the opportunity to make my very own seal/stamp at the museum's educational center - and it's harder than it looks! Unfortunately, writing my last name in Kanji was too complex a task (you have to carve everything with a blade backwards!) so I finally settled with my Korean-sided name using Hangul. It's read in the following order: top right - bottom right - top left - bottom left corners.
Finally, what better way to cap off a trip to Ichon-dong than to see a K-drama filming!
To be completely honest, I had no idea what was going on, and had to be informed that they were shooting a scene for 밤이면 밤마다, a drama that's currently airing in Korea. Had I known (about 10 seconds prior) it was Lee Dong-geon (이동건) in that car (Ono says he saw him), I wouldn't have walked by so quickly and nonchalantly! ㅠㅠ We debated for a few seconds whether to go take a few steps backward but decided to let the crew have their peace.
Here's the MBC truck that was parked a few meters behind...
Is it just me, or is it a little odd to advertise your drama while on location? Maybe it stirs up interest from passersby? It did for me - I'm tuning in! ^^;;