Friday, May 31, 2013

Asian Eyes' Korea - Lotte Mart

              Day 7, 23/Nov/2012, 4.00 pm: With some time to spare, we went to a supermarket at the basement of Lotte World while waiting for the rest of our tour group. It will be the first time for me to visit a full fledge supermarket in South Korea and I was raring to see what was in store for us. It was a bustling shopping centers which many Koreans family or couples were shopping. The first section we went to was the fruits section. There were the usual fruits - apples, oranges, grapes, persimmons, watermelon, honey melon, rock melon, mangoes and banana. The latter two fruits were imported since they were tropical fruits, but all of the fruits were expensive, even the local ones. However suffice to say that packaging was nice though. Round the corner something interesting caught my eyes. There were 2 big trays of chestnut which were the size of a US quarter coin each. A sales attendant was pouring some chestnuts into a blender-like machine for a lady customer. When he switched on the machine, it gave a whirring sound like a blender and after 2 minutes, the chestnuts were all peeled and white. "Oh, this was a peeling machine and the chestnuts were raw", I said to myself. Initially I do not know that the chestnut were raw, and when I tried asked to ask the attendant if one can eats the chestnut right after it came out from the blender. However he just shrugged his shoulder. At that point I was not sure if he indicated he did not understand me or the chestnuts were raw. Anyway, I bought a pack of a kilo chestnuts and he had them peeled for me. 
             Next I went to the fish section to see the types of fish being sold here. They were neatly packed in styrofoam and did not smell fishy. On sale were salmon, bream, monkfish, beltfish, scad, grouper, the famed hwangtae and others non-fish like abalone, lobster, crabs, large shrimps, octopus, squids and scampi. The abalone were big and reasonably priced, but too bad I cannot bring them back. Suffice to just look and took some photo. Since the time was up, I decided to skip the vegetables section and hurried out to meet up with the rest of our tour group. Overall it was a refreshing side trip. Here are some pictures I took on this shopping trip.
Location: Lower Ground Floor, Lotte Department Store Jamsil Branch, Jamsil-dong 40-1, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Website: http://www.ellotte.com
        First stop - Fruits section with Fuji apples. Fuji apple is an apple hybrid developed by growers at the Tohoku Research Station in Aomori, Japan.  It originated as a cross between two American apple varieties - the Red Delicious and old Virginia Ralls Genet apples. It is named for Fujisaki town (the location of Tohuku Research Station) and not for Mount Fuji. Fuji apples are typically round and range from large to very large, averaging 75 mm in diameter. They contain between 9–11% sugars by weight and have a dense flesh that is sweeter and crisper than many other apple cultivars, making them popular with consumers around the world. Fuji apples also have a very long shelf life compared to other apples, even without refrigeration. With refrigeration, Fuji apples can remain fresh for up to a year. In Japan, Fuji apples continue to be an unrivaled best-seller. Japanese consumers prefer the crispy texture and sweetness of Fuji apples (which is somewhat reminiscent of the coveted Nashi pear) almost to the exclusion of other varieties and Japan's apple imports remain low. Outside of Japan the popularity of Fuji apples continues to grow. Fuji apples now account for 80% of China's 20 million tons grown annually. Since their introduction into the U.S. market in the 1980s, Fuji apples have gained popularity with American consumers - as of 2003, Fuji apples ranked number 4 on the US Apple Association's list of most popular apples, only trailing Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala. Fuji apples are grown in traditional apple-growing states such as Washington, Michigan, New York, and California. Washington State, where more than half of America's apple crop is grown, produces about 135,000 tons of Fuji apples each year, third in volume behind Red Delicious and Golden Delicious varieties.The lady offered us small slices to sample on. They were crunchy and sweet. Nice. 
          Beside the Fuji apple were bunches of yellow banana. Banana is also called banana in Korean language, hence hinted of an imported words. Banana was imported since this tropical fruits cannot grows in a temperate climate like Korea. 
Chestnut caught my attention. They were big and looks appetizing. Question is - are they cooked? I found out the hard way.
This guy put some chestnut into a peeling machine and viola, 2 minutes later in a blender, the chestnuts came out peeled and white. I bought 1 kilo to take back.

Fresh abalone or paua. It thrives in cold water around Korea Peninsula and had since become one of the most expensive shell fish in the world.
Dried Hwangtae fish which was featured in my earlier blog about dinner at Alpensia Resort.
Octopus and its dark tale. In Korea there is a dish called Sannakji Hoe which featured live octopus that has been cut into small pieces and served immediately, usually lightly seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The octopus pieces are usually still squirming on the plate. It can also be served whole. Because the suction cups on the arm pieces are still active when the dish is served, special care should be taken when eating sannakji. The active suction cups can cause swallowed pieces of arm to stick to the mouth or throat. This can also present a choking hazard for some people, particularly if they are intoxicated. 
Monkfish or headfish. It had a large mouth as in all angler fish and its meat from the tail is sometimes compared to lobster tail and has been alluded to as the "poor man's lobster.
Fresh cod for sale.
Beltfish or Hairtail fish or Silver scabbard fish. It can grows up to 2 meters long and interestingly they swim vertically instead of vertically. They are nice eating fish with fine texture meat but beware of their many sharp teeth.
Steam Teriyaki by the roadside, similar like Lok-lok back home. Once may choose the stick one fancy and passed to the proprietress for next step. The prices also were color coded at the end of the stick.
After the customer had selected their choice of teriyaki sticks, they were dumped into boiling water to cook them before serving.
CD for sale. Little M was looking to buy a poster for his friend. We search high a low for it, and the shopkeeper does not have a clue of what we were saying.
Found it at last - Boyfriend. Alas, they do not sell just the poster, but I have to buy the CD to get the poster for free. Little M was happy.
A shop selling Korean's toys as well as ginseng.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Asian Eyes Korea - Shopping Haven

Lotte World Duty Free shop
        Day 7, 23/Nov/2012, 2.00 pm: After lunch we were given 1.5 hours to shop at the Lotte World duty free shop. The Lotte World Duty Free Shop sits on the 10th floor of the Lotte Department Store located in Jamsil, Seoul. This area stands as a large-scale tourist attraction that provides everything from an amusement park to a folk museum (Lotte World Amusement Park, Folk Museum, Seokchon Lake, Lotte Hotel, Lotte Department Store, etc.). The Lotte World Duty Free Shop attracts shoppers from all over the world as it has more than 400 famous brands to choose from.
      Since this is a duty free shop, we have to give our passport details in order to get the free tax price. We took the lift up to 10th floor and when it opened up, the first sight that greeted us was of Chanel. This floor had a couple of sections. The first one is of international brands. I saw renowned international branded goods of Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Bally, Ferragamo, Hermes, Coach, Burberry, Versace, Dunhill, Fendi, Celine,  Loewe, Christian Dior, Polo, Lacoste, Nike, Reebok and Adidas. Some brands I hardly heard off while other I have no idea. The other section lof level 10 sells Korean products. I saw seaweed, kimchi, songi mushrooms, Korean liquor, tea, chocolate, traditional snacks as well as cosmetics of Korean brand like Hera and Seolhwasu, and Ginseng of the red insam type and tea and candy. Completed the selection are Amethyst, handicrafts, lacquer ware, poetry books, clothing and leather goods.
       The shops were teeming with crowd with mostly Chinese from Mainland China. Most shops attendant can converse in Mandarin as most clientele were from China. Well, the price was above us or simply we have no need for these luxury item, so most of the time we spent just window shopping. The Chinese tourists seem to have a field days where everyone had couple of shopping bags in hand. Here are some pictures that I took at The Lotte World Duty Free Shop:
Location: 10th Floor, Lotte Department Store Jamsil Branch, Jamsil-dong 40-1, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Tel: 82-2-411-7185/7186
Website: http://en.lottedfs.com/stores/world/
Mummy M had her picture taken with Star Avenue of Korea singers poster found near the lift area to level 10.  
Immediately when we came out from the lift at level 10, a handsome actor was there greeting us. Well, this was a TV image only with Mummy M photo superimposed on it to create an illusion that he was there. It is not the real person. Ha Ha.
Reception desk for group tour. This is big business, and even shopping became a tour attraction. Our tourism department and tourism minister need to take heed of this.
They also served food here. This Korean restaurant sign caught my attention because it was spelled with a "C" instead of "K" for Korean cuisine. Corea was how Korea was spelled in olden days, which meant ginseng. I also remembered during 2002 Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup, Korean spectators waved flags that with letters "Corea". I was initially puzzled by why but was later told that it was due to the countries marching of the salute pass by during the opening ceremony will be by countries alphabetically. Since the letter "K" was after "J" (Japan), the Korean reckons they will marching ahead of Japan if their country was spelled "Corea". Ego at play.
Many tourists were seen snapping up branded goods. They were mostly from Mainland China.
A Malaysian - Jimmy Choo who is famous for his couture shoes, also make his presence felt here. 
Furla - branded goods from Italian specialized in handbags, shoes and accessories.
Website: www.furla.com/en/
See by Chloe - French origin clothing, bags, shoes and accessories.
Website: http://www.chloe.com
Ermenegildo Zegna - an Italian luxury fashion house that specialized in men's clothing.
Website:http://www.zegna.com
Salvatore Ferragamo - another Italian powerhouse that specialized in men's clothing.
Website: http://http://www.ferragamo.com/
Samsonite is associated with travelling.  This American company is a multinational luggage manufacturer and retailer, with products ranging from large suitcases to small toiletries bags and briefcases.
Website: http://www.samsonite.com
Michael Kors - specialized in fashion. Among his famous client is one Michelle Obama who wore Michael Kors black piece in her White House first term official portrait.
Website: http://www.michaelkors.com
Giorgio Armani - another Italian designer, famous for its menswear.
Website: www.armani.com
Chanel - a French company that dealt in Fashion & Accessories, Eyewear, Fragrance & Beauty, Fine Jewelry & Watches.
Website: www.chanel.com
The Face Shop - a Korean brand that has gone international. They are in cosmetic and beauty products.
Website: http://www.thefaceshop.com/
Amedeo Testoni - an Italian fashion world for men and women's luxury and quality shoes, belts, bags, leather goods
Website: http://www.testoni.com
BRICS - Initially I thought is was the acronym for a group of big developing countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, but it is s fashion house for clothing and bags.
Wesbite: http://www.brics-store.com
Givenchy is a  luxury French brand of clothing, accessories, perfumes and cosmetics.
Website: http://www.givenchy.com
Tous - an American fashion brand that specialized in jewelry, bags, watches, accessories and kids' wear.
Website: http://http://us.tous.com/en/
RVR Lardini - an Italian designer of reversible wear clothing.
Website: http://http://www.rvr-lardini.com/english/products-rvr-lardini.asp
Lanvin - famous for its French designer of clothing, accessories and perfume.
Website: http://http://www.lanvin.com/#/en/news
Bottega Veneta - an Italian luxury goods house best known for its leather goods
Website: http://http://www.bottegaveneta.com
Celine - a French luxury house which first dealt in made-to-measure children's shoe business that eventually grew into women's shoes and accessories
Website: http:// www.celine.com
Luxury watches from Hermes, Zenith and Louis Vuitton. 
Prada -  an Italian fashion label specializing in luxury goods for men and women (ready-to-wear, leather and fashion accessories, shoes, luggage, perfume. It soon will be the top in the world or luxury goods.
Website: http//www.prada.com
Fendi - another Italian designer of luxury merchandise that is well known for its "baguette" handbags. 
Website: http://www.fendi.com
Even American's Converse is also available at Lotte World Duty Free Shops.
Website: http:// www.converse.com
Mummy M and Big M discussing which type of Adidas snicker to buy.
Website: http://www.adidas-group.com
Christian Dior - a French powerhouse that makes everything luxury.
Website: http://www.dior.com
Another Korean brand that dealt in beauty products.
Website: http://www.us.sulwhasoo.com

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Asian Eyes' Korea - Nanta Show

Nanta Show - South Korea 
longest running live show
         Nov/23/12, 6.00 pm. After a forgetable Chinese dinner, we headed early to watch a live show during our last night in Seoul Korea - Nanta show, also known as Cookin' Nanta, is a South Korean non-verbal comedy show that incorporate traditional Samul nori rhythm. The musical has a simple back story of three cooks attempting to finish preparing a wedding banquet within a strict time limit while the manager installs his incompetent nephew among the kitchen staff. The show involves acrobatics, magic tricks, comedy, pantomime and audience participation. The unifying element throughout the musical is the use of traditional Korean samul nori music, which in this case in performed with improvised instruments, such as cutting boards, water canisters and kitchen knives. The performance is almost completely non-verbal. The very few words which are spoken are mostly in English.
          We enjoyed the show and laughed at the silly slapstick using vegetables and kitchen utensil to make music. Little M laughed the loudest at the silly restaurant manager. As the show progressed on the slapstick worn off and we laughed less and less. After the first hour the plot seems to get drier and drier. Then when they got participation from the audience, the show just gone downhill from there. I was glad when it ended, as by then my bottom had started to ache for sitting too long on the hard seat. Nevertheless it was still a good sit-back-and-enjoy-non-verbal show. With the end of the show, the curtain also closing in on our time in South Korea. We cal it a night early as we have to leave Seoul in the wee hours tomorrow for the journey home.
        After 7 days of touring of South Korea, we were by then raring to go home. It had been a fruitful 7 days and we enjoyed our time in South Korea very much included the Nanta Show which was indeed our last piece of activity. The following day we were taken to a souvenir near Incheon Airport for breakfast. After a bowl of tasteless noodle in kimchi soup, we went up to the souvenir shop where we bought some goodies and souvenirs to take back home to distribute to friends and relatives.
       Here are some pictures I took at Nanta Show.
Location: MyeongDong NANTA Theatre, 3F UNESCO Bldg., Myeong-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Tel: +82-2-739-8288
Website: http://nanta.i-pmc.co.kr/nanta/Main.aspx
Tip: Do book tickets online to save on cost!


The world famous Nanta show quartet. They used kitchens utensil to make music.
It is cheaper to book and buy ticket online. 

Kitchen apparels from Nanta show on sale at the souvenir shop as one exit once the show ended.
Cute caricature of Nanta show decorated the wall of the theater.
It is indeed a world famous show, popular due to its non-verbal, so it can close the gap of language divide. The information on the wall illustrated where Nanta show was being shown around the world.
Mummy M stole a moment to picture with the kitchen utensils on display. They were not used on the show, but merely replicas of the utensils that was used in the show. It shows that with a little bit of ingenuity, one can transform any ordinary household items into an entertaining art form.
The show was about to begin. We were the early bird, not knowing what to expect. There were slide shows reminded the audience not to take photographs, not to make noise and to put hand-phone in silent mode when the show is in session.
The show started with lights from twirling lights from ribbons attached to hats adorned by dancers who later became the musicians. This dance is called Chaesang-sogo where the dancer dances by twirling the long ribbon attached to his crown, making the ribbon spiral and circled around his body. The dance requires great skill, concentration and a keen sense of rhythm, as the constantly shifting movement of the long ribbon must remain fluid and uninterrupted and must not interfere with the sogo performance.
....then the lights came on and we can see the dancers clearly. 3 guys and 1 lady just like in the poster and cartoon caricature. Well, they were not the same quartet as depicted in the poster. I was later told that Nanta show had many groups of crew working in shift performing the same Nanta show across Korea and the world. All the story line are the same but only the dancers are different.
Throwing balls time nearing the end of the show. Despite no picture allowed, I quickly snapped one out of boredom. Actually I were not sure why this activity was included into the show. I guessed they ran out of idea and thought everyone would likes small plastic balls, and they threw out to the audience and the audience participate by throwing back the balls.
A statue with Thank you writings lighted up when the shows ended. Overall it was good. The only slack thing about this show was it was too long and some time-wasting moment can be cut out. Nevertheless for those who had not seen a Nanta Show before, go see one. It is well worth your money.