Kim Sam Soon, the cute, chubby pastry chef from the drama My Name is Kim Sam Soon (MBC 2005), welcomed me into a shop in Baking Street in Bangsan Market when I went on my hunt for ingredients to make festive goodies. With Christmas coming I am in the mood to bake – I love anything to do with marzipan. But the trouble is the local supermarkets NEVER have the two main ingredients I need – icing sugar and ground almonds. I just assumed I couldn’t buy them here. But now I have discovered that they ARE available – in fact pretty much anything to do with baking is available in Baking Street!
Baking Street is nestled within Bangsan market (a market selling packaging and ribbons ) which is right by Dongdaemun Market. It’s a short walk from Eulgiro 4ga subway station (exit 4) turning right at Cheonggyecheon Stream.
On the right side of the stream is Bangsan Market. Opposite Bangsan Market on the other side of the stream is Kwangjang Market which is great for a tasty treat after shopping.
It’s fairly quiet here on a week day. At first, when I entered the market under the Bangsan Market sign 방산 종합 시장 (bangsan chonghap shijang) I wondered if I was in the right place. There was not a baking shop in sight. No jolly Kim Sang Soon-like figures perusing shelves of chocolate chips and hundreds-and-thousands. There were just all sorts of non-edible things on display such as these large unidentified rolls of …something.
Gradually as I roamed the market I began to spot shops selling packaging for cakes and drinks and I knew I was getting closer.
Then with baking written phonetically in hangeul 베이킹 over a shop, I realised I had stumbled across Baking Street.
But apart from a smiling picture of Kim Sam Soon on a shop window, the market didn’t feel that inviting. And I realised that I been expecting something else. Where were the friendly old ladies in aprons running their little shops, not for money, but for the love of baking? Where was the inviting aroma of freshly baked chocolate cake? Sometimes I am so naive!
The reality is that this is a market for professional bakers and I had to accept that it was not going to fit my idyllic romantic, drama-influenced image of jolly cake loving shop assistants laying out the products with love and attention. At my age I really should know better But Baking Street sounds so cute, doesn’t it?
So I had to change my attitude and start to appreciate the market’s more down to earth style. There is something I like about the no-nonsense approach of this shop. It sells tape. No frills.
And here’s a cart selling brushes and mops.
There was something fascinating about this scooter with its two gas burners by the seat and one gas burner in the basket!
Many of the shops are very small and you have to edge your way inside. Some of them are so small they have their refrigerators (full of large packs of cream cheese, butter, and cream) outside in the road. The shop I wanted to go into was already full (there were 3 customers inside) so I went for walk around and came back later when the customers had gone and I could get in.
This cute little alley had some interesting stuff from cake toppings and Christmas tree shaped cookie cutters to waffle makers and ovens.
The sign below just says cherry pens for 1,000 won. I guess they are for writing on cakes?
The stores have a collection of imported and local products including tools for cooking as well as ingredients.
Presses and moulds to make special shapes are on sale in lots of shops. These look like they could be used to make the traditional yakgwa cakes.
The moulds come in various shapes and sizes. Some are made of wood, others are made of plastic. These are rice cake stamps (떡도장 ddeok dojang) to make patterns on rice cake.
Imported items include different kinds of waffle makers. I could have got heart or star shaped pans from Japan. Or even Hello Kitty. But I think I’m too old for Hello Kitty now …
As a visual display these chocolate sticks in their teddy bear bags look so cute. But I’m not sure how tasty they are to eat!
There were several westerners here, and I overheard one lady asking the assistant for sugar powder. Yes, I thought. That’s what I want. The icing sugar I’ve been looking for is called sugar powder 슈가 파우다, and ground almonds are called almond powder 아몬드 파우다. I also picked up some wholewheat flour and rye flour as these are also not usually on offer in regular supermarkets.
I satisfied my curiosity looking around the market, but flour and sugar are heavy to carry so next time I think I’ll just buy from their online shops!