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Travelogue: Spring Break 2009 -- Seoul


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March 26 – Revenge of the Dongdongju

Oh, man, there’s some evil stuff hiding in that dongdongju. It was late in the day before I was ambulatory, and the best idea I could come up with for an outing was to get off of the subway somewhere at random.

At least I had a plan.

We came up off of Ulchiro 3 Ga, blinking at the late afternoon like marmots after a Mongolian horse race. It was a Sunday, so the grim, concrete nature of downtown Seoul was overbearing.

There were endless stores selling electrical equipment and plumbing, and nothing that would be of interest to most normal humans who didn’t have home renovations to undertake (from this list I must exempt Daniel Kalder, who’s Lost Cosmonaut is a paean to the under appreciated).

There’s a lot of Seoul I like, a lot that’s been refurbished and gentrified; and other parts where the natural, organic growth of food alleys always give room for something of interest.

It was like being in Nausica’s forests and breaking through the canopy to the sterile sands below.

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Working through the blight, with Tongdaemun our final target, we stumbled across Chungbu Market.

You know, normally I’d be all aglow about a market. And maybe it was the time of day when we arrived here, but, well…..

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They sure have a lot of dried fish.

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Dried chilis, and dried shrimp.

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They’ve got a lot of rice, too. It’s dried as well.

It was like we’d hit ground zero for dessication.

Maybe drying out was a good thing, in my state?

Let’s be kind, and put it down to the hour of the day. Maybe it’s the fact that this was a Sunday in an intensely urban setting. Maybe it was the clamouring headache and the glower of disapproval from the Boy.

This was just not my idea of a lively market.

Next – The Worst Movie Ever?

P.S. - don't worry, my idea of a lively market is coming up soon.

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March 26 – At the Movies

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It was late. The sun was setting upon us, but we were within range of Tongdaemun again.

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In the first instance you know this to be the case by the plethora of Russian restaurants and Cyrillic script.

Heck, you could be in Pataya….maybe not.

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Shopping for Yoonhi’s ajima welding visors was easy enough. I was looking for something I hadn’t had for awhile.

Mandu.

A stall spotted, I rolled up, pointed, and smiled. The one older lady behind the stall went to work, and the other shuffled about in an attempt to keep warm.

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Their work complete, they presented me with my goods……and then said, “10,000 won”.

And then they broke down giggling. (Yes, it was quite a bit less)

Good street mandu. Admittedly, the closest anything came here to meat may have been when a herd grazed overtop, but I don’t ask a lot out of my street food. It had a nice bit of bite, and they had vinegar and soy on the side to tang it up.

Afterwards, Scud and I suffered a crisis of aesthetics. There was a movie playing here, but it was one we both knew would be awful.

Really awful.

Terribly, horribly, awful.

So we grabbed two tickets, a huge box of popcorn, and some Pepsis and settled down as the only patrons to Duragoneubaruebolushyeon (DragonBall Evolution)

It’s not just a Korean tourist theatre thing. There’s a certain joy to watching an awful film with a big box of buttered popcorn and no inhibitions about what you say. It’s like being part of the production crew on http://www.mst3kinfo.com/.

Back on the food side, I didn’t notice any hot dogs on rotisseries in the lobby. Like the hot dog stands in airports thread http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...dpost&p=1677468 cinema food needs its own thread.

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Anyways, Scud was happy again (at this stage of the vacation, his patience starts to wear thin). It is his trip, too. We stopped downstairs in the Coldstone Icecream place for something I knew he’d like (‘cause Serena liked this, too).

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Ice cream in a waffle cup. Whatever the Asian origins of the waffle, this is a good way to settle an abused digestive track. The two of us ate peaceably at this, the hum of Japanese tourist talk all around us.

I wonder where the Russians go for ice cream?

Next – Lost

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March 26 – Redemption

Emotionally and psychically scarred by Boma’s change in hair colour, Scud and I fled South from Tongdaemun.

My intention was to take solace in the streets of Rodeo in Apgujeong. Specifically, to find the s bacon wrapped hot dogs that had bedeviled my dreams since last we were here.

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I failed.

It will seem a small thing, but that image of pork and sausage and chili has chased my dreams for 18 months.

(Yes, it is a scary place inside my head)

I freely admit, it was a guy thing. Guys don’t ask directions. So when we ascended from the underground, I figured my restaurant senses would lead me to Rodeo.

I mean, things looked familiar……kind of.

But all I managed was to take us down one interesting street after another. But Scud was losing patience in equal volume to his gaining an appetite.

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Given my opening quoteat the start of all this, I would have loved to have spent time in Peter, Paul, and Mary. It just would’ve been the right thing to do.

But the boy was shooting daggers at me through his slitted eyes, so I knew better.

Still, even lost it’s fun wandering through this part of town. Clubs, bars, and a hum.

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I should come back here.

But, the end result was that we couldn’t find Rodeo. In the interest of inter-family harmony, I declared defeat, and had a taxi take us home.

So, dejected from our loss….well, my loss, Scud didn’t care (heathen)…we debated our options.

Luckily, Jason had the perfect answer.

Chinese delivery.

This is something I’d actually had on my mind for some time.

I mean, for one, the front hall of the aparto had one table just dedicated to delivery menus. And every day when we came home, there was another flyer attached to our door.

Plus, outside of one stop in Kyongju back in 1992, I really hadn’t done much with Korean-Chinese food.

Which is a long winded way of saying we did “eat in”.

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Now, when we talk Chinese delivery, I’m a Vancouver boy. That means that my early childhood is formed around cardboard containers with Alcan tinfoil covers, the contents of which were aggressively Cantonese-Canadian, or C-squared (which in turn raises interesting questions of the Einstein’s theory as related to the the speed of light and Chinese delivery service in Kitsilano….but I digress).

Anyways, the menu was quite different.

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First and foremost, there was jajyenmyen (or some transliteration close to that).

When we did the Beijing Death March, we’d ended up at a place that did excellent jajyenmyen. At that point the connections of Northern China and Seoul had snapped into focus.

This was a fine example of home delivery jajyenmyen. Thick, starchy, and just generally “gloopy”.

Scud’s favourite was the deep fried pork, which you see behind and to the left. Tangsooyuk.

If you remember (after all these weeks) we’d done this at Star Chef.

There was no comparison.

What we’d had there had stayed crisp, and was what I’ve seen a number of chefs do with old standard dishes – they’d found a way to make them as good as our memories. The underlying philosophy of “food porn”, if you would.

This was slightly soggy, a bit greasy, but in its own way it was still a good dish. This was the “crack another beer and switch on Heroes” sort of food that you crave from time to time. Ugly, cheerful, and there when you want it.

Plus, it helps if you’re hungry.

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And, in the back, is mafutofu, our favourite ugly Auntie. This has the gojuchang backdrop that I’m used to from home, and a slow burn vs the Chengdu full frontal (which then turns slow and nasty, and continues the fight).

And this brings up an interesting question….the cost of things. We think now of Korea as a prosperous, highly technical society. But we just ordered six dishes, plus the freeby collection of kimchi and banchan, for not a lot of money.

And if you remember back to Kitsilano days, this isn’t disposable junk. There’s someone (who doesn’t get nor expect a tip) who’s doing the to and fro from here, who’ll be back in a few hours to collect the dishes (metal cutlery, too).

I’m sorry, but somewhere along the line, someone isn’t quite making minimum wage out of this. How can you have not only delivery, but pick up and delivery, for these costs?

On the other hand, it meant we ate cheap and were full.

This works for me! This and the rest of Season 3 of Heroes.

Next – Hard Time

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You point and say what you want in English and use a god-awful amount of body language. Works everytime for us. :)

I'm with Doddie. In fact, the markets are the easiest place to get fed if you can't read Korean. Point at the critter, and it's yours. And once you get to the restaurant, if you just smile and bob your head, one of the aunties will happily take charge of your appetite.

Mind you, if you can recognize some Korean food names, I do recommend learning to read Korean. It's one of the easiest written scripts to pick up. (As an alphabet, it's more approachable to us Westerners. Everyone say thanks to King Sejong). This means that, with a little struggle, you can mouth out names you'll recognize, and then you can point them out to the waitstaff.

Just remember to smile and bow. :smile:

Don't want to steal any thunder from your immensely helpful thread, but I'm happy to report we pulled it off successfully yesterday for lunch. In fact, we seem to have wound up in the exact same restaurant as you did. 10k won for 5 shrimp tempura from the hallway leading in to the restaurant, 63k won for a ~6 pound Russian King Crab which we purchased just outside it (the vendor won us over by somehow gesturing that she would get us to the restaurant which she pointed at). We then asked them to steam it up, added some soju and good times (We paid 13k won for 375ml of soju, a soda & cooking/serving the crab in the restaurant bringing the grand total to $69 for the meal).

Here's a before picture of the little fella (the ashtray should give you a sense that maybe he wasn't so little after all!):

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Aaaaand the after:

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All the legs are buried in that photo, since they got stacked up first (one of the ladies thankfully offered to cut it all up for us):

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You point and say what you want in English and use a god-awful amount of body language. Works everytime for us. :)

I'm with Doddie. In fact, the markets are the easiest place to get fed if you can't read Korean. Point at the critter, and it's yours. And once you get to the restaurant, if you just smile and bob your head, one of the aunties will happily take charge of your appetite.

Mind you, if you can recognize some Korean food names, I do recommend learning to read Korean. It's one of the easiest written scripts to pick up. (As an alphabet, it's more approachable to us Westerners. Everyone say thanks to King Sejong). This means that, with a little struggle, you can mouth out names you'll recognize, and then you can point them out to the waitstaff.

Just remember to smile and bow. :smile:

Don't want to steal any thunder from your immensely helpful thread, but I'm happy to report we pulled it off successfully yesterday for lunch. In fact, we seem to have wound up in the exact same restaurant as you did. 10k won for 5 shrimp tempura from the hallway leading in to the restaurant, 63k won for a ~6 pound Russian King Crab which we purchased just outside it (the vendor won us over by somehow gesturing that she would get us to the restaurant which she pointed at). We then asked them to steam it up, added some soju and good times (We paid 13k won for 375ml of soju, a soda & cooking/serving the crab in the restaurant bringing the grand total to $69 for the meal).

Here's a before picture of the little fella (the ashtray should give you a sense that maybe he wasn't so little after all!):

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Aaaaand the after:

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All the legs are buried in that photo, since they got stacked up first (one of the ladies thankfully offered to cut it all up for us):

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That looks good, Doddie! Go ahead and steal. I'm happy with more food.

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Peter, I think it was sickchangeup who posted the pics. But Billy and I also demolished a similar looking crab when I found that Hanaro supermarket was selling one of this monsters for 10,000 won. They cut it up for me and I tossed everything in my wok (with a steamer insert). Half an hour later, Billy and I were attacking it with crab scissors and dunking the sweet flesh in vinegar (the way Filipinos eat crab).

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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March 27 –A Fine Beginning

On the list of places I’d missed last time was this one – with a sign of Beodeu Namu in green over the wood fronting. Beodeu Namu is either their name, or a proclamation of the type of wood they grill with.

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This is a neighborhood place, but Jason hadn’t tried it yet. It’s just up the hill from Nambu Terminal (towards the park and the cultural centre), and then to the left (away from the cultural centre).

It’s a high end beef place, but it had come on our radar for its reputation for breakfast. Our plan was for Scud and I to secure seats, and Jason could just wander over after he finished his work.

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Not only did HiSeoul say it was one of the “Best Korean Restaurants in Seoul”, but I was also assured that the food was safe and clean.

I felt pretty good about this.

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The aunties ushered us into the dining room without question. It’s a given that if you’re here at this hour (around 10:50) you’re here for the breakfast. The place was about 2/3 full, and everyone was quietly, and patiently waiting as the banchan was wheeled about and the service began.

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A limited set of sides, but I did really like the marinated squid. Nothing wrong with the other stuff, but I can still feel that squid in my mouth.

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And here’s what all the fuss was about. Kalbi ttang. Good hunks of rib meat that had been simmering for a very, very long time, all the goodness coming out of the marrow and into the broth.

If you want comfort food, just try a big bowl of simmered, tender meat. This just sucked off of the bone as you ate. But the real draw, of course, is the broth. Soft and full. The sort of thing that will carefully take the cobwebs away.

Jason phoned to say he was on his way, and to order him a bowl. But when I tried to get another, we were told that they were sold out.

It was 11:15. That was quick.

I called Jason back, and gave him the bad news. Even he was impressed that a place could be cleaned out so quickly.

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And, speaking of cleaned out, it’s been mentioned that we don’t do enough shots in these food bits of the aftermath, so here’s the remnants once Scud had had his way.

Everyone sort of left around the same time. We bowed and smiled our way out, and then I came to a dead stop at the entrance.

In pride of place they were butchering a side of beef for the evening. And I forgot to get a shot, I was so impressed by that mass of meat out there, the blades of the three butchers flashing away.

And so we began a good - but long - day.

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Yoonhi just had a look at this post, and her immediate reaction was "what are you talking about?"

So scrub the "chicken the way you like it"

Anyone want to jump in with the proper translation?

Cham Namu = Type of tree/wood. Oak?

Dak Nara = Chicken Land/World/Country

The Cham Namu part probably is meant to suggest that it is a grilled/smoked type chicken preparation. Roughly translates into something like "Oak Charcoal Grilled Chicken World."

Thanks again for the wonderful picutres!!

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I have a question now.  Remember, these threads aren't intended to be a one-way street.  I'm looking for feedback (and food).

This question is particularly for the Korea based crowd.

How is the production and distribution of dongdongju (and the good-quality makkeoli) handled?

Is there actually a factory for this stuff, or is it being done restaurant by restaurant?

Or is it one of those "micro-brew" items, where a distributed network of sites are producing traditional beverages?

This is really bothering me.

Plus, does anyone out there have a recipe for makkeoli or dongdongju?

(Can you tell that I'm going through withdrawals?)

I'm glad you like the stuff Peter. Makkoli is quite possibly my favorite drink period. Love that stuff. I was so happy to find some of the korean liquor stores carry it here.

I think there's a wide range of makkoli ranging from "micro brews" to larger factory operations. There's a couple different Il-Dong and Ee-Dong products available here.

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I have a question now.  Remember, these threads aren't intended to be a one-way street.  I'm looking for feedback (and food).

This question is particularly for the Korea based crowd.

How is the production and distribution of dongdongju (and the good-quality makkeoli) handled?

Is there actually a factory for this stuff, or is it being done restaurant by restaurant?

Or is it one of those "micro-brew" items, where a distributed network of sites are producing traditional beverages?

This is really bothering me.

Plus, does anyone out there have a recipe for makkeoli or dongdongju?

(Can you tell that I'm going through withdrawals?)

I'm glad you like the stuff Peter. Makkoli is quite possibly my favorite drink period. Love that stuff. I was so happy to find some of the korean liquor stores carry it here.

I think there's a wide range of makkoli ranging from "micro brews" to larger factory operations. There's a couple different Il-Dong and Ee-Dong products available here.

Thanks, Joon!

Really, it just has such a (an?) unique flavour, with a great depth to it. The icebergs are also a plus.

I think the next trip, I'll have to find a brewer and arrange for a tour. This is something that could be a lot of fun to make at home.

It's one of those things of Korea I really miss.

"Take me home...dong dong ju....to the bed, where I belong...."

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Really, it just has such a (an?) unique flavour, with a great depth to it.  The icebergs are also a plus.

I think the next trip, I'll have to find a brewer and arrange for a tour.  This is something that could be a lot of fun to make at home. 

It's one of those things of Korea I really miss.

"Take me home...dong dong ju....to the bed, where I belong...."

Peter, are you in the US? You might be able to pick up some here if there's a Korean liquor store near you.

From what I can remember either Il (1) Dong or Ee (2) Dong (or both?) are famous for their Makkoli. I remember my parents going there for some countryside eats and drinkin when I was a kid.

Man now I want to go get me some!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Where was I, again?

Oh, yes…..

March 27 – Footloose and Fancy Free

It was a beautiful spring day in Seoul, the chill just crisping the air crystal, with not a hint of the dreaded dust that should be blowing in on the city at this time of the year.

So, I took the boy out to see different choices in dining experiences.

For example, private rooms.

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There’s nothing like a trip to the prison to perk up an adolescent on a Friday.

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Seodaemun was a fun stop for a boy. A chance to catch up on a bit of the Occupation, and to indulge in such fun activities as the Execution Experience (“not for pregnant women or small children”).

I’ll leave you to read up on it for yourselves. But a good place to visit.

Another good place to visit (in a lighter mood) is Chongngo, the area tucked up beside the palace, fingering up into the hills to the North of the city.

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It’s a pretty place, packed with cafés, ice cream parlours, antique shops, and beautiful restored hanok (the traditional Korean houses).

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And the hills give you great views into the hanok.

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These views ascertain that kimchi jars are still being put to good use.

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Coming down the hill onto the main drag, we found the mother ship of nomadic whicker salespeople. If it was woven, the back of this pick-up had it for sale.

Kind of made me want to take up rice farming.

Scud said “no”.

As you would expect, all this walking put a hunger upon us. By the time we returned home, we were ready for dinner.

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But, first, a refreshing beverage. Scud was keeping himself amused finding and trying bizarre new flavours. Pineapple Fanta was a new one for him.

With that and a few beers under our belts, we set off to meet our relatives.

Unfortunately, getting to dinner was a series of mistakes.

First mistake, we drove. The restaurant was over past the Olympic stadium – Jamshil – where we’d done the baseball jumbotron thing a few days earlier.

When the Olympics ran, this place was nowhere. Now it’s packed, and “packed” in Korea means that every interstitial space has been filled in with a restaurant or bar or shoeshine box or something. The streets are confused, and nobody really knows where anything is.

And “packed” means that traffic is bad.

Here’s a general comment on getting to Korean restaurants. First, get a phone number. That way you can call them up and they’ll explain how to get there.

Second mistake, we didn’t have a phone number.

Third mistake, we didn’t have a taxi. Get a taxi, as there’s a faint chance he’ll be able to find the place over the phone, ‘cause we couldn’t.

We drove and drove…..and then drove some more. We didn’t have the phone number for the place, just for our cousins. They tried to talk us in, but this newer part of town shares the same fractal qualities of much of new America (“Turn right at the cell phone store”…..”Which cell phone store? There are four on this block.”)

If we had had a phone number, we could’ve used the GPS to find the place.

Finally, we got back on a main street, and they drove over and escorted us. A wiser move would’ve been to have taken the underground, and have them pick us up at the station.

Wisdom and I don’t mix well.

However, that two hours of our lives was behind us. We were arrived, and the place was packed. We took our table, and made introductions. My cousin was actually my middle brother-in-law’s middle brother’s daughter, so we were quite close.

It helped, too, that she took one look at me and said “I’ve seen you! You were on television at the baseball game!”

I guess I stood out in the crowd.

Her husband was older, about my age, and, at first a bit removed. But when I ordered soju, he immediately brightened up.

“You drink soju?”

From that point, especially having established that we were of the same year, we got along famously.

Who says the Koreans are hard to approach?

But enough of table manners. Let’s talk about the food.

Duck. We were here for duck.

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They do it three ways. Slathered in gochujang (the red chili paste), smoked, or marinated in a black garlic sauce.

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The black garlic was an interesting thing. It was like a candy with a slight ginsengy flavour. It’s unclear if this had been smoked, or pickled, but it certainly tasted good (anyone know about this one?).

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The duck sizzled tripartitely on the grill, the fumes being sucked up into the vacuum. We luxuriated in the simple luxury of tossing on more garlic to roast.

Little dishes of honey mustard were placed in front of each of us to dip the meat in.

Of the three, I liked the smoked and the garlic marinade. There wasn’t anything wrong with the gochujang, but it does tend to run over all the other flavours, while the smoke was a gentle thing that brought out the game in the bird, and the black garlic was just, well, garlic. How can you not like garlic?

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I do like taking my meats wrapped in lettuce with the greens added in. But there’s nothing wrong with a bit of salad on the side, too.

And soju helps.

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Wrapping the meal up was something different. This had sujebi in it – the flour noodles I associate with kalgetsu – knife noodles – but cut in medallions. My notes describe the broth as “creamy with a light grit of the flour” but, having checked with one of my sources here, I’m told that this is:

” The picture looks like sujebi.

But what made that broth (or base) is dul-ke. (wild Sesame: it is a dark gray small round seed and it feels more gritty then sesame, and has a special flavour and smell). So, if you use that paste, the broth turns to a thick, juk-like base.

So, what you had was a dul-ke sujubi (sujebi is just the flour dumpling)”

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Wrapping up, I noticed what I should have seen on entering. Korean wine.

Chateau Mani – Appelation Wine Korea Controlee (shouldn’t that be “Coree”?), a Cambell Early Wine, a sweet red.

According to the JoongAng Daily, Mani has chartered trains taking folks out to their winery in Yeongdong.

So, for those of you in Koreea, what can you say of these wines? What have I missed? (You realize this'll just give me something else to obsess about?)

There, enough for dinner.

Now I have to get my wits about me for writing about losing them.

Next: Club Night

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March 27 (and a good chunk of March 28)

Club Day.

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Those two words sum up the essence of this event.

(With a very big nod to Philip Kennicott at the Washington Post. I’ll cheerfully misappropriate most of his text, as he says it best

There is no question about “Club Day” to which “club day” isn’t the answer.

“Where are we going?”

“Club Day.”

“What’s it about?”

“Club Day.”

“What are we going to do?”

“Club Day.”

Okay, you get the idea.

Club Day is a monthly event in the Hondae area, just downhill from the gates of the university.

Oh, yeah. The name. Universities always get abbreviated. This is a pain for first-time foreigners relying on the subways, where they play out the full name in English, but everyone refers to the short name (as in Japan). Hongdae = HongIk Daehakkyo, or HongIk University.

If you remember, we were here

before in the daytime, and it had looked like a fun part of town. Jason had mentioned Club Day back then when we’d told him where we’d been. This is one of the prime nightclub zones.

So, what is Club Night. For around $20, you get access to something like 21 clubs in the area. That’s the draw for the youngsters, a general blowout of a night. But for older folk (like Jason), it’s more a night of people watching and being, well, a man of the crowd (now I’m stealing from Edgar Allan Poe). (check out www.theclubday.co.kr – there’s a little English on the site, but mainly hangul, but the map and phone numbers are all there).

We were off to a good start. We’d found a place to park. Being a concerned Canadian, I queried Jason on the wisdom of driving to what had the makings of a very long night.

“Don’t worry. This is Korea.”

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It was still relatively early, and so the strip was pretty quiet. Even the tarot card houses weren’t doing much business.

When I say “the strip” I’m referring to the oddly open stretch that runs parallel to the university, about halfway down the hill. I wonder what the history of this is, as it almost looks like railway right of way or canal that was reclaimed?

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Jason spoke well of this little place on the left (downhill). This is an excellent spot for tuna fish cheese ramyeon, which is something that does wonders for your stomach after a long night. Plus they’ve got deokbokki, kimbap, and lots of other stuff for the very late night munchies.

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But right now we wanted something more rustic. We wanted dongdongju. So it was into Seonbigol and down the stairs to the basement.

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The dongdongju was good, but hardly up to the quality of the other two places we’d hit in the days running up to this.

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But the big disappointment was the budaechiggae. While it’s hard to tell from the picture, this was probably the worst budaechiggae we’ve had. The broth tasted like they’d just tossed in water and gochugaru, no stock at all. Way too thin, and we weren’t drunk enough to overlook the shortcomings (yet).

gallery_22892_5262_16649.jpgAnd not only was the stock too thin, but we think they were using chicken franks.

So, we had to have some more dongdongju to get over it.

Now, as bad as the food was, the atmosphere was great. University students living the loud life. A lot of cries of “one shot”, and the slamming of soju bottles, and bowls of dongdongju and makkeoli being passed around.

It was so much fun that, coming back from the washroom (up a different flight of stairs) I almost made it into the main room when someone threw a chair at me.

Boy, if you want to see the temperature in a room come way down real fast, that was the place. They’d been trying to hit their friend, and I’d wandered into the field of fire. Luckily I caught the chair, but, man, were they mortified. There was some serious insa-ing being done.

Me, I was fine, and told them not to worry, but it took awhile for the volume to come back up.

So, seeing as my presence wasn’t lifting spirits (and the food was really bad) we moved on.

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Back on the street, the food vendors were starting to do a good trade. There was quite some interest in Mr. Wow’s foot longs…..

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And the ubiquitous deokbokki places were getting into the groove, piles of deep fried stuff still piping hot. There were solidly industrial places like this one above

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and plenty of the more traditional tented stalls.

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And then there was Mr. Bob, an “everything” place, with noodles, rice dishes, and a disturbing resemblance to Dan Aykroyd from his Conehead days.

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Crowds were beginning to mill, cell phones packed to ears while they tried to find their friends. If you’re looking for tickets for Club Day, don’t worry. Stand on the street for a few minutes, and someone will come up with passes for sale.

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Sometime around here, we lost Scud. He got that glazed “you guys are just going to wander around in a stupor for hours” look, and announced that he was heading for the subway. He was bored.

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What kind of teenager did I raise? Where are his values? When I was 18 (or close to it) I’d’ve been in my element here. Sheesh. Kids nowadays!

Around now, we managed to contact part of the mob. Cat said she could meet us over at the Rocky Mountain Tavern, so we headed that way.

And got lost.

I’m not certain how, but we went completely past the RMT. It’s down the road on the university side, but it’s upstairs on the second floor. We’d gone past it, and then circled all the way back to the park.

Finally, we did what no guys should do.

We asked for directions.

That had us close enough that we could get on the phone and have Cat talk us in.

And we couldn’t even blame drinking.

Rocky Mountain Tavern is another Canadian concern. A small group of expats here had opened the first one up on Itaewon as a place to drink, eat, and watch hockey. It turned out to be popular, and so they’ve been spreading out around town.

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A nice bar, with a reasonable selection of beers. They’d been supplying the micro-brew at the embassy do a few nights ago, and they had that on tap. (Don’t let the photos give the wrong impression, the place was jammed. I was just limiting my shots for the benefit of the management).

I think one of the owners was having a birthday. Jason knew him. This had a good chunk of the Canadian crowd (the younger chunk) down here being boisterous.

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More on the Canadiana note, this is one of the few places in the country where you can order a Caesar, as they stock Clamato juice here, and know how to use it.

This is the sort of bar you go to when you miss home, and you want to surround yourself with fellow Canucks and talk politics and stuff.

Obviously, we were in the wrong place.

Nice bar, but not good for our mood.

Also, we hadn’t eaten for at least….oh…thirty minutes……

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Underneath Gold 1/Gold II I spotted a Japanese place. I’d been reading an article on the izakaya of Seoul (somewhere) and was countering that with Jason’s advice that you couldn’t get good Japanese in this town.

And I wanted sake.

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What I wasn’t expecting was a box of sake. My reaction was sort of what you’d expect if someone had plonked a box of wine on the table. That may be a biased view, of course, but I wasn’t in the best of moods over this.

The edamame were fine, though! And no bean dogs popped their heads out to cause me concern. (Thanks, FlyingRat).

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There was yakitori available, so we ordered some mushrooms to start.

Not great. The best way for me to explain it would be “empty”. It felt like it needed pig fat or something to fill it out in the mouth.

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We ordered something that looked like it had squealed at some point in its life. Bacon wrapped asparagus, if I remember correctly. This was a bit better, but, again, left me feeling dissatisfied.

Still, it filled the immediate need for food, which sent us back out on the street.

And there was a smell. The smell of kare rice. That sweet, turmeric smell of packaged roux. But we couldn’t quite place it. We followed our nose, to see where we ended up.

Somewhere around here, we lost Cat.

Down the street, back towards RMT, we wandered past more of the clubs, which were now starting to draw people in, although there were no lines (yet).

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Club Tool – Temple of Orgiastic Laical – keeping it underground since 2001 – seemed like a nice family place. I wonder what “laical” means?

But we weren’t here to dance. We were here to eat and drink.

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All this walking had us feeling puckish, so we dropped into one of the places on the main street, back up the hill from RMT towards the university gates.

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This place was packed and the selection of food was solidly university price.

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Jason thought well of the soon tubu (soft tofu) here, so we ordered that, and some dongdongju to keep us cheerful. Soju could’ve been an option, but it seemed best to keep things light.

We had a long night ahead of us, still.

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The soontubu was very good, and the right dish to sop up the stray bits of alcohol running through our system. Fresh enoki mushrooms, bits of chili, and some broccoli and egg to work up the broth, which was head and shoulders above the insipid thing we’d fed on at the start of the night.

Jason was on the phone, and when we emerged from the restaurant we ran straight into his two friends.

This called for a drink.

We thought we’d found the source of the kare rice smell.

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But when we were seated we found that kare rice was not on the menu.

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However, by this point we’d already ordered sake and toast, and so we decided to stay on. They were a little concerned about this, as the place had the look of getting ready to close, but in Korea, if you’re loud enough, places stay open.

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We ordered the bacon salad. This came as 10 good sized pieces of crispy pig meat over a bed of lettuce and other greens. Then they came by and drizzled (from a certain height) the dressing of blue cheese.

Not a bad salad, and I’m not a big salad fan. It was simple, but well executed. The sake (which I will point out did not come from a box here) actually went well with this, although I would’ve thought the blue cheese would’ve overpowered it.

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With this we had some yakisoba, just to starch us up a bit.

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And then, on a side board, I found okonomiyaki written up in hiragana. That had them grinding their teeth and looking pointedly at their watches, but we weren’t leaving without some okonomiyaki.

Truthfully, it was just there, and a sad ending to the other two dishes that were very good. If I compare this to what I had in Osaka, there just isn’t much of a contest.

Ejected from the premises (okay, they didn’t quite “eject” us, but there were some pretty pointed looks at their watches….man, it was only 1 or 2 a.m.!) we wandered out into the streets.

And then Jason thought of lamb skewers. He knew a Chinese place back down on the strip where we’d started that had really good lamb.

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This place was very much a Western Chinese place (Xinkiang?), and the Korean was limited. So I, having all of three or four phrases in Putonghua, was a hit when I said “hello”, and then asked for a beer.

And this place had no concerns about us being here at this hour. They were ready for business.

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The lamb came out on evil metal skewers. I say evil, as it’s far too easy to grab these like you would a wooden skewer. I can’t place the marinade, but it gave it a nice, orange appeal, and there was enough garlic to keep us Koreans happy.

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The centre of the table is a charcoal grill, and the skewers rest close over the heat.

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These were good, so, as we worked through the first batch, we ordered a second. For this, as the one batch is done, you move it up and away from the heat, and llow and drippings to add to what’s below.

We probably spent an hour eating there. The staff were cheerful, and the food (all meat, except for the mandatory banchan) was excellent.

And there was beer.

Lamb and beer are a good early morning mix. But after awhile you start to flag.

Which, of course, meant it was time for gin.

One of Jason's friends had woken up, and suggested we meet at Gold I, so we went back there (remember, we'd eaten beneath it earlier in the evening). We decided it was time for a proper drink.

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Yeah, I don’t quite know how our brains were working, either.

Admittedly, if we’re going to buy a bottle of gin to finish the night, Bombay Sapphire is a nice colour to go out on.

And, I ask you, if you were at this point of an evening in Seoul, what would you have to eat with gin and tonics?

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Nachos just made so much sense.

And it was a fine place to while away the sunrise, yacking about this, that, and the other, and Jason's friends trying to figure out how the heck I was an uncle.

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You have to love it. When you call for the bill, it’s about 6 a.m., the sun’s up, and the staff bring you out a fruit plate to see you off.

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It’s a hard, cruel world at that hour of the day. The air chill, the detritus of the night before piled up about the shivering trees……

But, remember how I was worried about driving home?

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I shouldn’t have worried. I’d forgotten about the “deri” – the switch hitters. For $20 or less, just call them up, and they’ll drive your car home (and hopefully not ding it up too bad).

It was going to be a long day.

(We never did find that kare rice.)

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What I wasn’t expecting was a box of sake.  My reaction was sort of what you’d expect if someone had plonked a box of wine on the table.  That may be a biased view, of course, but I wasn’t in the best of moods over this.

:biggrin:

Even in Japan, cheap sakes are now often come in paper cartons, as you may know, but I never want to see sake served like that in a restaurant!

I searched for information about that sake (Tokubetu Junmai Shu, Shirayuki), and I found, surprisingly, that it is made from rice produced in Australia.

Here is the official website of the brewery in English (but no mention of that particular sake)

http://www.konishi.co.jp/html/e/index.html

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What I wasn’t expecting was a box of sake.  My reaction was sort of what you’d expect if someone had plonked a box of wine on the table.  That may be a biased view, of course, but I wasn’t in the best of moods over this.

:biggrin:

Even in Japan, cheap sakes are now often come in paper cartons, as you may know, but I never want to see sake served like that in a restaurant!

I searched for information about that sake (Tokubetu Junmai Shu, Shirayuki), and I found, surprisingly, that it is made from rice produced in Australia.

Here is the official website of the brewery in English (but no mention of that particular sake)

http://www.konishi.co.jp/html/e/index.html

Thanks very much for that, Hiroyuki. Like you, I'm surprised that it's Australian rice. I was wondering if sakamai was being grown outside of Japan.

gallery_22892_5262_793.jpg

Can you say anything about the other sake, the one that was in a bottle?

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Can you say anything about the other sake, the one that was in a bottle?

The photo is rather dark and blurry, and I can only read these kanji:

生 nama (raw, fresh)

貯蔵 chozo (stored, storage)

辛口(?) karakuchi (dry)

I did some googling, but I was unable to identify the brand.

Do you have a better photo of the bottle?

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Can you say anything about the other sake, the one that was in a bottle?

The photo is rather dark and blurry, and I can only read these kanji:

生 nama (raw, fresh)

貯蔵 chozo (stored, storage)

辛口(?) karakuchi (dry)

I did some googling, but I was unable to identify the brand.

Do you have a better photo of the bottle?

Sorry, I was at that point of the evening where the picture represents my brain.

(But I'll see what photoshop can do tomorrow)

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Here's a detail of the second sake, at least what I could pull up from software.

Any ideas?

Note - edited for a bigger picture. What's the point of adding a detail that's too small to read?

Edited by Peter Green (log)
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March 28 – At Long Last, Pizza

You’ll remember, from our trip to the Coex mall last time, how bedazzled I was by Korean pizza.

The one that had me staring in awe for minutes down there was Mr. Pizza (and now his site – www.mrpizza.co.kr - has to run on internet explorer, rather than Safari or Firefox, so I can’t g o bacak and see what new things he has). And that may be the problem here.

You see, after a late wake up (for obvious reasons) the idea of ordering in some pizza had its attractions.

But, in deference to our host, we ordered what he wanted, which wasn’t that bad, but also wasn’t that outré.

Pity.

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We had the offerings of Papa John’s.

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Mandatory bottle of Coke, which Scud was happy enough about. And some garlic bread on the side. As in Canada, there’s the usual freebie small pizza added in as part of the deal, a simple thing of cheese and pig meat.

I think it was the cheese that Jason liked about Papa John’s. Admittedly, after having Pizza Hut in Cairo in the 80’s with béchamel sauce rather than cheese, that is an important factor.

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But this was the main attraction, about as “out there” as we could get with the menu (no squid, no fermented skate, no European cookies). A cheese ring crust, grilled chicken, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic (big pieces, too, which is nice) pickles, cherry tomatoes, and, for no apparent reason we coule fathom, some serious squeeze bottle action with ranch dressing.

I always think of ranch dressing when I have pizza.

Honestly, as far as flavour goes, it wasn’t bad. It wasn’t top tier, by any means, but it could easily compete with the standard offerings of the multi-nationals.

However, while the bbq’d chicken kind of worked, the potato worked too well at what it was intended for, and that was bulk. One or two pieces and that was pretty much the end of us.

Three strapping young fellows, and 2/3s of the pizza was left for upcoming breakfasts.

Next time, I’m hitting up either Mr. Pizza or else Pizza School (who are just down the street). I bet they’ve got a pizza with the penis worms on top.

Next: Goooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by Peter Green (log)
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Here's a detail of the second sake, at least what I could pull up from software.

Any ideas?

Note - edited for a bigger picture.  What's the point of adding a detail that's too small to read?

Sorry, still no luck.

I can't read the Kanji above karakuchi (辛口) on the left.

Can you imagine how difficult it will be to identify the brand?

Click here (results of a google image search using nama, chozo, and karakuchi in Japanese), and you will know what I mean. I went up to page 25, and then gave up!

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