Want to get a taste of the Philippines while you’re in South Korea? Enter the Daehangno Filipino market in Seoul.
Every Sunday, this little corner in Hyehwa-dong comes alive with stalls selling all kinds of goods from the Philippines and various treats that Filipinos are accustomed to. There are plenty of reasons to visit the market, no matter your nationality is.
1. You’ll enjoy the warm atmosphere.
Filipinos are known around the world for their hospitality, and you’ll definitely get a taste of that culture of being friendly and welcoming in the Filipino market in Seoul.
It isn’t the neatest and most organized venue (and it can get a little crowded and noisy, sometimes), but one thing’s for sure: the atmosphere will always be lively.
Vendors will cheerfully greet you, ask what you want to buy (you might hear, “Anong sa’yo?” which sounds a lot like the standard Korean greeting, “Annyeonghaseyo!”) and offer you to eat (“Kain na!”).
A lot of the vendors and customers there enjoy speaking their native tongue, but they’ll happily converse (and do some sales talk, of course) in English or Korean, too.
2. There are treasures among the random finds there.
You’ll find a huge assortment of groceries and goods—from sandwich spreads, chips, and nuts to personal care items or daily essentials like multivitamins, ointments, and deodorant. Check out the options, and you might be able to save a couple of bucks by buying there.
For chefs and anyone who loves experimenting with various recipes, the Filipino market in Seoul is also a haven for ingredients.
There are some meat and fresh fish being sold there since the Filipino vendors usually come from the provinces and coasts of South Korea. They’re more affordable to boot compared to the meat at big grocery stores. There are also canned sardines, tuna, and corned beef for sale.
Nevertheless, the condiments and spices are the best finds. Always running out of apple cider vinegar or coconut oil at the supermarket? Hoard bottles there! Looking for fish sauce, caldereta mix, sinigang mix, or gravy mix? This is where you go. You might also want to try the “magical” seasoning mix (a pinch will instantly make any stir-fry taste better, I swear).
3. You can try various sweet and savory snacks.
Have your fill of various sticky Filipino rice cakes and caramelized bananas (banana cue). Munch on deep-fried banana rolls (turon), steamed rice cake (puto), and stuffed turnovers (empanada) or satisfy your sweet tooth with caramel custard (leche flan) and purple yam jam (ube).
If you’re looking for something on the greasy and crispy side, don’t miss out on chicharon—pork skin, deep-fried to perfection. Dip it in vinegar to make it a sinfully tasty treat.
(Disclaimer: It’s bad for your heart and your blood pressure, but it’s oh-so-addicting. You’ve been warned.)
4. There are some uncommon tropical fruits for your picking.
Craving for some green mangoes? Maybe you want to try durian? Get both at the Filipino market.
There are also green papayas and calabaza squash, which you can use for salads, stir-fried dishes or stews, and vegan recipes.
5. You can stuff yourself with all kinds of meat.
For 6,000 won in one of the stalls, you get a large serving of rice (double of what you get at Korean restaurants) with stir-fried glass noodles and two main dishes of your choice.
Filipino food consists of all kinds of ways to cook meat—skewered and barbecued, simmered in soy sauce, vinegar, and laurel leaves (adobo), stewed with pork blood (dinuguan), stir-fried in a sizzling plate (sisig), and more. Choose from chicken, pork, beef, and some innards.
If you don’t know which dish to pick, just ask the staff for their recommendations. They can explain what the dishes are and what yummy (or weird) ingredients they contain.
For dessert, have some boiled plantain bananas (nilagang saging na saba) or a kind rice cake cooked in coconut milk called suman. (so many carbs, I know!)
6. It’s a great place to knock back a couple of cheap beers.
Or to score some booze for your party at home. While imported beers in the bars of Korea are crazy pricey, a regular bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen or Red Horse would only set you back 3,000 won in the Filipino market.
If you’re drinking in the Filipino market in Seoul, pair your beer with pork barbecue skewers (just 2,000 won for each stick). You can also snack chicharon.
You can also find big bottles of beer (care for a liter of Red Horse or San Miguel Pale Pilsen?) If you’re building a stash of hard liquor, you can buy some gin, rum, and tequila there.
How To Get There
The stalls in the Daehangno Filipino market start setting up before noon and close by 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. Some spice and dry goods stores are open until around 7:00 p.m.
If you’re taking the subway, get off at Hyehwa Station (Line 4), Exit 1. Walk straight toward the Dongseong Middle and High School and Hyehwa Catholic Church.
Alternatively, you can take bus no. 272 or 301 (get off at Hyehwa Rotary bus stop) or bus no. 143 and 150 (get off at Hyehwa Station bus stop). You won’t miss the line of green tents that mark this Filipino market in Seoul.
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