Thursday, July 17, 2008

Around Ichon-dong: Mitaniya restaurant, the National Museum of Korea, and K-drama filming

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! ^^;;


Jenna said...

I would have freaked out! He is my favorite Korean actor! :) I'm currently watching a fan-sub of this (as it is slowly being released.) How sad that you didn't stay to watch. :'(

Cheri said...

I just started to catch up on all the episodes, and it's amazing how much of it is shot in that museum! Haha, one of the first scenes was in the room where Pensive Bodhisattva was, and I was thinking - hey, I was just there! ; ) I've also just recognized his white car... it also seems to be in that drama a lot, ha.