Operating between the hours of 10am – 5pm every Sunday, the Filipino market in Hyewha-dong is an essential part of Seoul’s Filipino community, many of whom attend services at the nearby Catholic Church.
The market sells a range of imported goods including super-strength San Miguel, tinned fish and even fresh papaya – the sort of small comforts that provide a connection to home for immigrant communities all over the world (kind of like costco without the massive trolleys)
Unsurprisingly, the busiest stalls (and the ones I was most interested in) were those selling hot food. Filipino sausages, fried rice, deep fried spring rolls and curries dominated. For 6000 won, Sarah and I got a plate with a few different types of curries and noodles to share.
This was my first experience of Filipino food, and although I have forgotten most of the names, I haven’t forgotten the sensation. The impression I got was of mellow, harmonious flavours acheived with a sparing use of chili, plenty of coconut milk and a touch of sugar to ever so slightly turn things up at the edges.
Standouts included a creamy curry made with whole boiled quails eggs, peas and cauliflower, and a dish made with chopped liver. There was also a samosa/cornish pastie style pastry snack that had been filled with potatos, paprika and empanada.
It would take a couple of visits to get through the lot, but unfortunately it looks like the market in it’s present state may not be there for much longer. Seoul Metropolitan Government recently decided to relocate the Filipino vendors to make room for a fountain or something equally banal.
A vendor there told us the market was currently under “observation” and that her pavement space had been cut down. Whether the ten or twelve buses full of riot police just down the street had anything to do with that “observation” I can’t say, but I do know that to lose the market would be a blow to any hopes the Government have of making Seoul a modern, vibrant tourist destination.