Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest and probably most famous palace in Seoul, sitting right behind the statues of Admiral Yi and King Sejong along the main road that cuts through Seoul and houses the Head Office of the police and the US Embassy. While I could write about the history and the changing of the guard ceremony but this year there was a special event at the Sojubang, or royal kitchen. It involved eating various traditional Korean confectionary, usually prepared for royalty at the palace. With a limited engagement like this, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to indulge!
We went with the Gungjung Byeonggwa, or Royal Confectionary sampler. Here’s a brief run-down of how it all tasted!
These are honey cakes. You can see these in the upper-left of the platter above, the brown, square-shaped treats. These had a flaky pastry inside and a light honey flavor. They were a bit dry, but otherwise, a lightly-flavored treat that complimented the tea nicely.
These can be made from a variety of ingredients, but it is essentially candying the ingredient by boiling it in sugar water (or another sugary liquid) and letting it dry. Ours was candied lotus root, or yeongeung jenggwa. It was very sweet and chewy! Probably the sweetest of the treats we had.
These are the flowery-looking treats with the white bits on the right of the tray. They are usually boiled jujubes in honey or honey water. These were soft and melty with a great fruit flavor. Definitely one of my top picks from the platter!
These are the colorful ribbons tied nicely on the tray. They were very floury with their taste and had an odd, stale texture. Probably the least interesting item on the tray.
These are the sesame squares at the top, with different nuts in each piece. These were great! If you love sesame, these are the treat for you. The one with peanuts in it was a great treat to enjoy.
Deep-fried Sweet Rice Puffs
These are the rice treats at the bottom. They are, essentially, crispier, less sweet Rice Krispy treats. The different colors have different flavors added, such as matcha in the green squares. I thought they were OK: Not great, not bad.
The Sojubang had a huge variety of teas to select from as well, such as Milk Vetch Root and Jujube, but we went with Ganggyecha, or ginger and cinnamon tea. The cinnamon flavor really punched through, adding to the subtle spiciness of the ginger. It didn’t need any added sweetness as the treats we ate with it were a good counter-balance.
If you have time and are in Gyeongbokgung Palace, head to the Saenggwabang / Sojubang area on the Western part of the palace grounds and enjoy yourself a relaxing cup of tea and some tasty Korean treats!