Spring arrived, bringing mild temperatures, chirping birds, Chinese “yellow dust” and the requisite two weeks of cherry blossoms. The entire country rushes from their winter doldrums and into their Hyundai’s or Kia’s to find sunny skies speckled with wispy clouds and the pleasant scent of blooming buds.
We are no different than the other 55 million white flower enthusiasts of Korea, except we also went searching for some lunch afterwards. Jordyn took me to an amazing place with great banchon, bean curd soup and deokgalbi. It’s next to the VIPS in Cheongdam. Those fried cakes in the middle of the table were like potato latkes. The last picture is a close up of the barley bibimbap, with enough fresh vegetables to give you a vitamin buzz.
One hungry Friday night in Sincheon, we needed to find a quick bite and found this extraordinarily spicy pork stew. The wet eggs helped cool it down, but my belly was fire-ridden that night.
I stumbled into a place near Sincheon station, named after one of the Gag Concert (Korean comedy show which involves cross dressing and silliness) hosts, and ordered kalguksu (thick hand cut noodles) and donkatsu (saucy pork cutlet). The price of both together was only 9,000 won (<9$) but it was way too much food and I had lots of trouble walking this one off.
After my fancy new haircut…We ate some deokgalbi (chicken, rice cake and spicy vegetables) at a respectable chain restaurant in Guri-si. The extra vegetables were a good idea, as well as the little speckled eggs added into the mix. After you finish the chicken dish, for 1,000 won (<1$) you can get some rice and seaweed fried up in the leftover juices.
I wish this picture did justice to the soul-warming, heart-healthy, body cleansing samgaetang (chicken soup) at JiHo Samgaetang (지호삼계탕). A full chicken boiled in a soft white broth with a tea bag of Chinese herbs, jujubes and chestnuts creates some soothing eats. This picture is after I expunged every last bony bit from the chicken carcass. What’s left is similar in texture to a porridge. My body felt clean and full post consumption. It’s between Walker Hill and the Gwangnaru subway exit 2.
A simple meal at a simply named, Asian Table. We had the cashew chicken, shrimp dumplings and beef pho. Nothing special, a bit like comfort food, or the way Americans (in this case Koreans) think Vietnamese food should taste. Vietnamese pho would have thinner noodles and much more fat bubbles floating on top of the soup.
And now, Pizza Hill. The fanciest restaurant to serve ancient Italian peasant food in Korea. High atop the hill in East Seoul, beside the posh W Hotel, is this 50 year old establishment. The pizza was really different, good different, with a spinach tinted crust, thick, crispy bacon and top notch cheese. Sadly, Korea rarely serves a good pasta. I should have known, it’s called PIZZA Hill, not PASTA Hill. Noodles don’t need to be swimming in mediocre seafood sauce to be delicious. Nevertheless, the pizza won me over. (It needs to be said that this pizza cost 57,000 won (54$!)) Yet, I couldn’t help from giggling at the generic parmesan cheese and Tabasco sauce that conspicuously sat atop every white linen covered table. Don’t forget to eat your pickles! Koreans need a fresh taste at every meal, so pickles go with pizza here.
Brooklyn Burgers, in Seorae Village (and other locations in Seoul) near the Express Bus Terminal, serves badass burgers for reasonable prices. I have been a bit addicted to the New Mexico one which features spicy cheese and spicy tomatillo sauce. I got the cheese fries on the side to melt the flames. What a lifesaver this place can be sometimes. They’ve broken my hungry heart several times as I can not seem to remember their policy to close on Mondays.
One lazy Sunday, near the construction of the Lotte World Tower, with no idea what to do and a puppy pulling us around, we stopped for a street picnic and ate a Bap (rice) Burger, ramen noodles, and assorted pastries from Paris Baguette. The flavors didn’t mix well, and stomachaches ensued.
Along the river near Deokso, just outside of Seoul’s city limits, is a cool place, Bibimguksu (비빔국수) with a small but savory menu. We had the slow-fire-burning noodles, potato skin dumplings and a nice mashed piece of bulgogi. Their white kimchi was dynamite. Everything tasted fresh and they offered free fish broth to cool off the heat.
Korea tastes awesome! See you next month…