Since I’ve been here over a year and eating in one of my favorite pastimes, I thought a detailed blog post about what I eat everyday was in order. The Korean diet really hasn’t changed much since the beginning of Korea. There has been a major Japanese (ramen) and Chinese (dumpling) influence but they have definitely maintained their own style as well. Rice is a major staple here and is eaten about 2-3 times a day in every Korean household. The soil here is excellent for rice harvesting so it’s a natural progression. Eating a Korean diet is the cheapest option but really it’s not a sacrifice. Take a look for yourself.
Kimbop is a seaweed rice roll filled with various vegetables. It’s similar to a Japanese maki roll but there is no raw fish. This is my favourite kind, Cham-chee or tuna salad, which I often eat for lunch. For about $2.00 with a side of kimchi, you can’t go wrong.
I'd have to say bibimbop is my favourite Korean dish. It's a heap of rice topped with vegetables, an egg, and seaweed mixed with chili pepper paste. In Korean households, bibimbop is a way to get rid of extra veggies. I've been told the way it is served at home doesn't look as nice as when it's served in restaurants. ($3.50)
Chicken rice omelett. Korean fried rice wrapped in thin omelett topped with chicken, onions and glass noodles all in a savory brown sauce. ($5)
Meet jap-chae. Chicken and glass noodles simmered in soy sauce with onions, carrots and potatoes. It takes some getting to used to eating with metal chopsticks as everything is so slippery but oh so worth it! ($12 for 2 ppl)
This is just one of several kinds of Korean BBQ. This particular selection is called samgyeopsal or pork belly meat. They bring it to the table raw leaving you in charge to cook it. You eat it anyway you like dipping it soybean puree, wrapped up in a lettuce leaf or with rice. There are always several sides including kimchi, bean sprouts, salad and soup to nosh on while you cook.
Koreans love chicken. Chicken and beer are readily available at sport games, concerts, street vendors and especially restaurants. This particular restaurant bakes their chicken and it is amazing! I always order this dish because it is boneless and it also comes with a salad. It also happens to come with two scoops of ice cream…no idea as to why.
Kimchi pajeon often referred to as Korean pizza or Korean pancake because it’s made with egg and flour. It is custom to always order some kind of food when at a HOF (Korean-style bar) and in this case we ordered pajeon. Another popular pajoen is seafood pajeon with squid and tons of green onions. The star of the night was definitely the honey makgeolli, fermented rice wine.
Bundaegi, roasted silk worms, is a common snack purchased from street vendors or in this case a lovely nibbler to accompany a few beers. I’ve eaten one and I’ll never eat one again. They aren’t horrible but the texture is something I can’t get over. Next to the bundaegi is a ‘call button’. Whenever you need something you just press the button and a server comes over in a flash. Speaking as a retired server, this thing rocks!
There is nothing like steaming mandu (Korean dumplings) at 6am after a big night out. One plate of these freshly made beauties cost about $4.00. Delish!
Sometimes a girl just needs a burger. Burgers are widely available but they are usually smaller and prettier looking. At Gorilla Burger you can order the Bomb which has a krispy kreme donut, bacon, cheese, chocolate and of course a burger patty. One day…maybe.
Dunkin Donuts always has fresh bagels and scones. Here I ordered a chocolate scone that is generously heated upon serving. The jam packets are designed in a way where you don’t have to use a knife but rather squeeze the packet in half so the jam comes out a little hole. No more sticky fingers :)
Street vendors are open rain or shine, day or night. The food is inexpensive and easy to eat on the go. You can get it wrapped up or spend some time standing at the stall eating whatever and paying for it when you’re done. What’s unique about Korean street vendors is that everything is made on site and they use fresh ingredients. It was so odd at first to walk by and see an ajumma chopping up heaping piles of veggies. Most vendors that I’ve seen are family operated and always recognize their regulars.
The vendor right outside my school. When it gets really cold they have electric heaters and enclose the area with tarps.
One of the popular choices, dokbokki, which is rice cake simmered in red pepper sauce. It is so incredibly spicy so naturally I chugged some for a scavenger hunt. That was fun. ($0.50 for snack size)
This is hoddeok, my favourite snack! For $0.50 you can get this delicious pancake like delicacy stuffed with brown sugar, honey and peanuts. I made it once at home but it involves yeast and letting the dough rise…lame! Plus I ate about 5 just because I could so now I leave it to my local vendor. :)
It is custom to always have something to eat while drinking. Most often you’ll get variations of pretzels, crackers and the like but sometimes you get a little more.
Wow, a bad picture of Nic! Sorry Nic but I needed to showcase this beautiful chicken salad that the owner of Snow Bar generously gave to us because she LOVES us! Salad ingredients are not cheap in Korea as it’s a western thing and neither are corn chips and salsa which can be seen next to the salad. Snow bar always treats us well bringing strawberries, cherry tomatoes, plates of smiley fries and much more!
Caramel cheeto-type snacks, seaweed with soy sauce and fresh Jeju-island oranges :)
I’m hungry now! The end!