Every Sunday, Filipinos flock the road between Dongseong High School and Hyehwa Catholic Church in Hyewadong, also known as “Little Manila in Seoul“. This is because every Sunday, there is a Filipino Market in Hyewa. Various imported goods from the Philippines are sold, as well as home-cooked Filipino meals. Hyewa’s “Little Manila” has also become a meeting place for “Pinoy” and “Pinay” friends.
I visited the Filipino Market in Hyewa for the first time two years ago, and the atmosphere of the place is indeed Filipino. Vendors greet you in Filipino and Korean with big smiles on their faces, a trademark of Filipino amiability and openness. The surprising thing about it is that even non-Filipinos seem to be charmed by Little Manila. I saw a few Caucasians and Koreans in some of the stalls, that look like “turo-turo” (small eatery), eating Filipino food.
The Filipino Market in Hyewa has been around for almost 20 years. There were more vendors before, but because of residents complaining about waste management and traffic, the market today is not as big as it was then. To resolve the conflict, the vendors promised to keep the place clean and observe traffic laws.
When we went to Hyewa, my husband and I were looking for “palabok” noodles (the one “for cooking”, not “instant”), but we couldn’t find any. We saw INSTANT palabok noodles, “mami” (chicken noodles soup) and “pancit canton”, some chips and common Filipino snacks. They sell everything from food to toiletries and beauty products that are made in the Philippines. (I wanted to buy Likas papaya soap, a famous skin-whitening soap in the Philippines, but I think it’s too expensive in won.)
We also found meat like “tocino” and Purefoods and Mekeni hotdogs, vegetables such as “kangkong” (swamp cabbage or water spinach) and “okra” (lady’s fingers or gumbo) and fruits like yellow and green mangoes… with “bagoong” (shrimp paste). I’ve heard that sometimes you can buy “durian”, too, depending on the season. I bought half a dozen “itlog na maaalat” (salted duck eggs) worth 5, 000 KRW (184 PHP) (4.38 USD)! I also wanted to buy “balut” (fertilized, boiled duck embryo) for my husband, but he said he eats “balut” only in the Philippines… with “suka” (vinegar) and “sili” (chilli).
When we got hungry, my husband took me to the other side of the street, where we found a number of Filipino cafeterias. He’s not crazy about Filipino food, except my Mom’s cooking, but he said it was “my day”, so we could go to any Filipino restaurant I choose and I could order any Filipino dish I want. We found an interesting Pinoy restaurant with a gay performer who sings in the videoke and tells jokes like a stand-up comedian. Khan said the restaurant is like a comedy bar. He loooves comedy bars.
When we came in, we were (again) greeted by big smiles and everyone was talking to us in Korean. When I started speaking in Filipino, they were all surprised. I was mistaken for a Korean. It always happens when I meet fellow Pinoys in Korea. ^^
I ordered “sinigang”, “caldereta”, “tortang talong” and “menudo”. The food wasn’t bad. I really missed “sinigang”, so I had another order of that and asked for more soup. The “ale” (ajumma) even gave me more meat and “kangkong”.
After a long and exciting day in Hyewa, Khan and I called it a day… but when we passed by a take-out cocktail stand, we just had to try some of the cocktails. I have been craving margarita since I came to Korea. At last, I have found margarita that’s better than any pricey cocktails I have tried in bars and hoffs in SK.
Come to Hyewa and visit “Little Manila” every Sunday, from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.
To get to the Filipino Market, take Hyewa Subway, exit Gate 1.
Magkita-kita po tayo sa Linggo! ^^ (See you on Sunday!)
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