8 May 2003 - Seoul
Korean food

Let me start by saying that Korean food is expensive. It's hard to find roadside snacks for less than W2000 (about RM8), and meals in restaurants begin at about W5000. They are, however, generous with the portions.

I had a snack by the roadside - tteokboki, which is riceflour sticks in spicy sauce. That cost me W2000, but it was enough for a meal. I actually had trouble finishing it, although it was mainly because it was quite rich and heavy. I don't think I'll be eating that much that soon again.

Sweet potato chips were selling at W2000 as well, and although they don't look like much, they're really filling.

They have these little potato pancakes that you dip in soy sauce. Those are yummy.

One of my favourites is bibimbap which is simply rice with vegetables. There are fresh beans and lettuce, mostly heated by the steam of the rice I think, and they top it off with an egg. My only complaint is that they use this really rich tomato sauce-type-thing, and once you've mixed it up with the rice, it gets a little heavy after awhile.

The other famous dish (side-dish, really) is gimichi, which can only be described as fermented pickled chillied vegetables. They basically mix all the stuff up and leave it in a pot for two days. It's got a very, very strong sourish taste. It's like pickles on heat. For me, a few mouthfuls is enough for a whole meal, but they give you buckets at mealtimes. It's the only dish I leave unfinished.

But the coup the grace was the bulgogi I had. I entered a restaurant, because everyone says it's quite nice. It's just barbecued beef with sauces and rice and vege, but I was a little surprised to see it cost W10000 - a little pricey, I thought.

But there was a lot of it. They just kept bringing dish after dish. I looked at it, and looked at the waitress and asked "is this all for me?". It literally covered the table. There was a sizzling wok of beef, and a large plate of lettuce, and the obligatory bowl of gimichi, some sort of tempura, ikan bilis, and some pickles. I was literally bursting at the end of the meal. If they put a hammock there, I would have just rolled over and gone to sleep.

I also tried the sushi in Seoul. I meant to have it in Sokchon, because it's a sea-side resort, and it's really fresh, but I was disorganised one day, and the next was wet, so I missed out on it. Like the bulgogi, they don't do things by half. W10,000 gets you ten small plates of god-knows-what, a plate of bibimbap and a block of wood with about ten slices of sashimi. But really yummy, though. It was all fresh, and probably worth it.

The one thing that happened when I was eating the sashimi was that everything was a little cramped and I kept bumping into things. And the chefs kept trying to show me how to make my own california roll. And I kept dropping things (It's those steel chopsticks, I tell you - although they serve sashimi with wooden chopsticks). But at least I was entertainment for them.


posted on Thursday, May 08, 2003 - permalink
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