Tofu at the River and Beef in the Country

Where the north and south rivers meet to create Seoul’s massive Han River there is a small island called Joan-myeon where the ferry captains used to live. There is a relaxing river walk and some outdoor activities, plus croaking frogs in the cool fall evenings. Continue reading “Tofu at the River and Beef in the Country”

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Sokcho ~ Seaside Beauty

Descending the winding roads, ears popping, the blue sea comes into view after a long tunnel through Korea’s highest mountain, Seoraksan. The precipitous Dragon Ridge is visible to your right among the scattered foliage, and beyond the road’s horizon, a small town spreads out before you, Sokcho. Continue reading “Sokcho ~ Seaside Beauty”

Do Hwa ~ Chinese Comfort Food

There are over 41,000 Chinese restaurants in the U.S. There are 36,525 McDonald’s in the whole world! Despite that imbalance of General Tso to Ronald McDonald, I didn’t eat Chinese food until I was 17 and dining out with a friends’ family. Continue reading “Do Hwa ~ Chinese Comfort Food”

Seoul ~ Conveyor Belt Dining at Sushi Hiroba

In the posh backyards of Gangnam, there are probably hundreds of Japanese restaurants. We like this one with colored plates designating the price of the fish rotating on a conveyor belt. For the more expensive cuts, we order a fresh piece from the chefs. It’s a cool experience for people who don’t know exactly what they want when confronted by the Japanese menu symbols or even just what kind of raw fish they might want beyond the classic tuna and salmon. It’s not a place to show off sashimi knowledge as the plates offered are limited, but it satisfies the fresh fish craving yet doesn’t scare away a beginner. The plates range from 2$-25$. Most of the good stuff is around 4-10$ per plate. It’s a nice place, but your table can get overwhelmed quickly when you’re hungry.

“Oh, that looks good.”

“Grab it before it passes!”

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Tuna belly, just an outstanding mouth moment of tenderness.

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Salmon, soft and light.

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Two white fish, maybe mackerel, maybe sea bass, not sure.

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Eel roll, roe on top, crunchy inside, nice.

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This was some kind of salmon mash inside a crunchy fried egg rice outside.

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Potato croquettes, palate cleanser, comfort food.

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I didn’t eat this, but couldn’t imagine why someone would need only the fish head.

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Da Farci ~ Classical Italian Trattoria in Sincheon

On the quiet streets near my apartment, I pass numerous buildings during my thrice daily dog walks. One day, I glanced up from my perambulatory stupor and spotted the words “Trattoria.” Continue reading “Da Farci ~ Classical Italian Trattoria in Sincheon”

Siloam Sauna ~ A Day at a Korean Jjimjilbang

Sometimes, you need a hot bath. Since there are few bathtubs in Korean apartments, we are given the public sauna–that mutually nude tradition from Roman antiquity. Continue reading “Siloam Sauna ~ A Day at a Korean Jjimjilbang”

Winter Soups in Korea

The winter in Korea is brief but harsh. January and February’s air holds a pure and constant chill, permeating skin and infecting the bones with an icy fever. The ubiquitous sauna can assuage the frost, but the best remedy for melting the snowman inside remains Korean soup. Continue reading “Winter Soups in Korea”

Petite France ~ A Place for Selfies and Romance (if you can ignore the ridiculousness)

“Little France” outside of Seoul, in Gapyeong, could also be called “Gauche France” or “Faux France.” It’s a ridiculous caricature of the world’s most visited country. We saw tiny alleyways made of hollow plaster, fake wooden framed cottages, cute cafes that sell ddeokboki for 7$, lame replicas of Parisian iconography, broken fountains in manicured cobblestoned plazas and generic ideas of France as imagined by someone who believes French culture to be epitomized by puppets, mimes and berets. Continue reading “Petite France ~ A Place for Selfies and Romance (if you can ignore the ridiculousness)”

300 Degree ~ A Meter of Delicious Pizza in Seoul

(**Updated September 2018–this restaurant moved to Itaewon near the foreign food supermarkets…)

It may be a gimmick, but a meter of pizza for 38$ is pretty sweet. The quality is good and the size is unbeatable. The tame visitor can order a normal pizza, but the smart money is on the big boy, one full meter of pizza, three choices of pie.

IMG_4440We ordered the classic Italian rucola, (my favorite) classic American style sausage and mushroom and the non-classic but surprisingly tasty sausage and french fry. The fries have a sprinkle of rosemary to add a little flavor. They also have a sweet gorgonzola, bufala cheese, shrimp and more.

In addition to the massive pizza, we ordered some lasagna and meatballs too. I like to add a little meatball to the crust of the pizza. Both were good, pasta was a nice multi-layered affair with egg noodles and homemade sauce. The meatballs were perfect.

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IMG_2889This place is really a favorite of mine because I get to take so much home and then feast all week!

That large lunch needed some walking off, and we headed through the traffic to Yongmasan with the dog. The fall colors were blooming, crisp air was breezing through our scarfs and a fake waterfall was perfectly arranged. Just because Mother Nature didn’t bless this mountain with a scenic waterfall doesn’t mean we can’t have one. Evidently, the water can be turned on and off, losing the romance of spontaneity but adding some faux character to Seoul’s concrete jungle. And what day is complete without an double espresso?

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South South Korea ~ Jeollanamdo Road Trip to Jangheung

For a three day weekend, we loaded up the car and headed south in the brutal Saturday traffic of Korean highways. Weekend traffic in Korea is like Tony Romo in December, Kiss cover bands, or cold McDonald’s fries, i.e. reliably terrible. Nevertheless, hungover and filled with coffee, we put on dark sunglasses and drove. Continue reading “South South Korea ~ Jeollanamdo Road Trip to Jangheung”