Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Seoul food, part 1

My first day in Seoul. My plan to go to lunch got delayed for almost 2 hours as I got so distracted with all the little shops in Myeong-dong. At last I managed to find a bank, got cash and went hunting for food.

My instinct told me to go to the smaller alleyways for good food and I came across this small BBQ shop with lots of pictures of their customers and TV interviews on the wall. I took a look at the 2 momsy looking ladies serving and cooking inside and decided it had to be good.

I pointed out a number of things from the menu and enjoyed the much needed cool drink. If you ever wondered what Del Monte is written in Korean then here you go. The orange squash was actually extremely refreshing and not too sweet at all.

My quest for kimchi officially began: I was going to try as many different ones as I could. Clockwise from top left: spicy strips of baby squid (a little slimy but tasted OK), spicy cabbage (good as usual), spinach (good buffer for spicy food), and daikon radish (made me feel healthy and wholesome).

My bibimbap was excellent but there was too little of it. I thought about ordering another one even. The rice at the bottom was crispy from the heated stone bowl - in fact the dish arrived sizzling. The shredded cucumber, mushrooms, bean sprouts and beef went really well with the hot sauce and rice. Yum!

My other favourite: beef bulgogi. I just love the sweetness of the sauce. It can be grilled, pan fried or broiled. I like them all. I was overjoyed when I saw this stove top version. I wished there was more!

The meal was US$20. I made a note to myself that I should take my husband back some time.

Unfortunately we didn't make it out for dinner that night as my husband didn't finish till very late that night but the 24-hour room service came to rescue. At a glance everything seemed so expensive but the selections were plentiful.
We were quite impressed with the spread. The "western" main courses came with Caesar salads - a nice surprise. Next to them are my kimchi spread for my bibimbap (yes I was having it again for the 2nd time in 1 day).

My husband went for a burger. It looked and tasted fantastic.

I can't figure out why or how I forgot to take pictures of my two main courses: bibimbap and a club sandwich. I was prbably too hungry (and it happens quite often). The bibimbap was outstanding, even better than the one I had for lunch. I like the large quantity too. The club sandwich was not bad but could use a bit more fillings (like ham and chicken) and less mayo.
My husband's cheese cake. Very tasty indeed. I think the meal came close to US$100. Ouch! We are too used to China prices I think.

This meal was taken at a roadside restaurant for tourists visiting the DMZ area. I didn't expect much from it but it was actually not bad. My favourite kimchi for the day was sprouts (top left corner). Actually the middle one on the bottom was not bad although I wasn't entirely sure what it was. I think it was some kind of hard shredded tofu.

The big groups of people were sharing beef bulgogi in a BBQ plate on stove tops but since I was travelling alone I had to have mine separate. It didn't look too good but it tasted alright. The broth had all the right flavours. Can't complain too much as the whole meal was just US$8.


This evening my husband manged to get back to the hotel before 9pm so we decided to head out for dinner. We walked around Myeong-dong for a little (still very happening) and decided to re-visit the place I was in previously. To my surprise the momsy women recognised me right away and gave us a very warm and animated welcome.
We started the meal off with some Jinro. It's some good s**t. We felt the buzz instantly after a feel sips.

Another kimchi spread (from top left clockwise): zucchini (my husband's favourite), seaweed (not bad), the usual spicy cabbage, and baby squid.

We ordered beef bulgogi again as well as some beef rib. I thought it was a bit cheeky that only 1 slab was served. It was very very tender and tasty, not to mention extremely juicy.

I decided to try the cold noodles, just to see how it would compare to the North Korean version (see here). Unfortunately it wasn't nice at all. It didn't have a lot of taste and the noodles all stuck together. The broth was bland but the ice cubes made it refreshing I guess.

We wanted to try some chicken and ginseng soup while we were there, as it's one of the more famous Korean dishes. The broth again was very bland with no taste of chicken nor ginseng. Very odd. There was probably quarter of the chicken there (all in one piece) and it was difficult to pick out the meat. There was rice in the soup also, which I find a little odd, but I was told it's the traditional way.

My husband had a bibimbap and he loved it. Everything came to US$50.


Couldn't end the night without something sweet. We found ourselves being sucked into the Krispy Kreme Donuts on our way back to the hotel. As usual one can never just buy 1 donut so we ended up with a dozen. they were soooooo good. (We only had half a dozen the first night if you wonder.)

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