Culture / Holidays / Restaurants

Valentine’s Day the Korean Way

Valentine’s Day in the states is a time for people to shower each other with gifts and affection. It’s a time to reaffirm your love to not only to your significant other but also family and friends. With couples, it’s also more of the man’s responsibility to plan a romantic evening/ day. I would have to say that that a lot of pressure lies on the guys to really woo their ladies and it can really make or break a relationship depending on the stage.

Valentine's Oreo TrufflesIn Korea, it’s a bit different; Valentine’s Day is all about the man. Girls flock to stores to find the perfect chocolate to bestow upon their beloved. Ideally, however, the perfect gift to give is of the handmade variety. Handmade chocolates and Valentine’s Day themed treats are the ultimate sign of the perfect girlfriend in Korea. So, while you can see many stores selling their pre made chocolate boxes and gift baskets, you will find even more selling special molds, chocolate melts, toppings and lovely gift wrapping options. I made the mistake of visiting Bangsan Market the weekend before and it was chaos! Since this is a western holiday, you don’t typically see older people celebrating which is kind of a shame. I think it’s nice to show a little extra love to your other-half, no matter what the age, but alas it is a day for the youth.Valentine's Cookies

As for me, I made three special boxes of treats for my love; Chocolate covered strawberries, Oreo truffles and Sugar cookies. I know it sounds like an overkill, but when you’ve been with someone for over 8 years you gotta get a little creative with gift ideas. It took about 2 days to make everything because of my busy schedule, but it was so worth it. I love baking for my boyfriend! ^^Valentine's Strawberries

Because I also like to give gifts that last, I got him us a really unique couple necklace set. Couple items are a really big thing here in Korea; For times when holding hands is not enough. It ranges from sharing a his and hers rings to dressing like twins (hair style included). I guess it’s a vary obvious way of stating “I really do have a boyfriend/girlfriend, see?!?.”  To be honest, he’s really not into the whole couple item thing but occasionally I can change his mind if the item is cool enough like out university sweatshirts or our matching limited edition batman Converse. Being from the states, he felt bad not having anything for me but agreed to follow Korean protocol.Beary Cute Gift

SONY DSCFor the budget constrained student, chocolates and a romantic rendezvous at a cafe are the norm. Other ideas are taking an intimate stroll through one of Seoul’s many parks lining the Han River or having a lovely picnic at the Huwon Secret Garden. For the working class, there are a couple of other options such as making reservations at a romantic restaurant, going to Namsan Tower, sharing a “sweet box” at the movie theater, going to a jazz club, taking a Han River Ferry boat cruise or renting out a Couples Cafe for the evening. Due to the chilly weather we’ve been having I opted for the romantic dinner for two.OK2 Kitchen

Bread BasketMy love and I had a romantic course meal at this amazing restaurant in Itaewon called OK2 Kitchen. I don’t usually go to Itaewon, but this restaurant came highly recommended and it did not disappoint. I had never been to such a well executed fusion restaurant until now. Just about everything on the menu is made in house, they even grow many of their own herbs and bake fresh bread and pastries daily. Their menu is also updated seasonally, so you always have an opportunity to try new things.SashimiRatatouilleChouxPappardelle Pasta

SorbetEach dish was presented with a unique blend of flavors and lovely visual presentation. Between all the delicious ingredient combinations of each dish, it’s hard to pick a favorite. For my boyfriend it was the Choux. The Choux was an unusually pleasant crispy on the outside, soft on the inside pastry stuffed with creamy goat cheese and fresh strawberries. I guess for me it was the 고추장 (Gochujang) crusted Salmon. It was tender and juicy with a slight kick served in a light truffle sauce. I’ve had a lot of salmon dishes before but never anything as flavorful and interesting as this.  SalmonDuck

Aside from their exquisite cuisine the service was excellent. The servers were very polite and attentive. They also explained the contents of each dish as they were served. The atmosphere was very intimate, tucked inside a small hanok-style building with dim lighting and a warm red and gold color scheme complimented with antique korean trinkets. I made six o’ clock reservations, so we had the place to ourselves for quite some time and left around nine as it started fill up. It was the ideal dinner experience.DessertsDinner for Two

Afterwards I had originally planned to get us sweet box movie tickets, which is a special type of private booth seating. Unfortunately, A Good Day to Die Hard wasn’t the kind of movie to offer that option (lol). What can you do? Regardless, the armrest between us lifted up so we still got to cuddle through the action packed film. It may not have been thee most romantic film, but it was a nice throwback to your basic Russian vs American spy flick. My boyfriend had a really good time, so I would say it was a pretty successful Valentine’s Day. I can’t wait to see what he has planned for me on White Day!Die Hard Love

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