Some of you may know that I have just spent a couple of weeks in Korea and Hong Kong, and whilst I had promised myself I wouldn’t blog, I couldn’t resist taking at least some happy snaps of the glut of food that I ate, so here they are!
Ok so I’m a little ashamed to say that the first thing I ate in Seoul was something from a fast food chain, but I had seen so much of Lotteria I felt the need to try it at least once. This is their signature Bulgogi Burger, which frankly tasted like plastic with bulgogi sauce, aka fast food in a nutshell. Interestingly enough, they have the biggest market share of fast food restaurants in Korea – 45% to McDonald’s 20%!
During our wanderings through Insadong, Chris saw the Army Stew (Budae Jjigae) and refused to eat anything else. If you think rice cakes, spam, sausages, and instant noodles cooked into a kimchi soup sounds amazing, you’d be goddamned right.
I also finally got around to trying the most popular dessert in Korea, the Patbingsu. It was delicious, but I also thought it was surprisingly expensive – 8000 won (about $10) for a moderate serve of shaved ice with toppings. As delicious as this is, I would be happy just to go to Dessert Story back home.
No I didn’t waste my money on this, but I thought it was worth a photo.
There wasn’t a lot open for breakfast today, but we managed to find a shop that specialized in hangover cures. The first was a Sundae Stew – no there was no ice cream in there; rather, the pork soup hid chunks of Korean blood sausage. We also ordered the Bossam Tray, which came with more of the same pork broth.
We had a quick snack later in the day from a place called Nuclear Steak. It consisted of chunks of Hamburger Steak cooked in what seemed like a BBQ sauce, along with chips, veggies, and a heavily mayo’d slaw. As unremarkable as this was, I was pretty fond of the way it fit neatly on top of the drink to make eating whilst walking a breeze.
Finally! Korean Fried Chicken with beer! This left what I’ve had in Melbourne for dead, and at a fraction of the price too! I could eat this every night for the rest of what will likely be a fairly short existence.
Being a Saturday, there really wasn’t very much open, but I did find a lovely ajumma who was happy for us to come in early and have a pot of Ginseng Chicken Soup, cooked right there on the table.
The chicken was good, the noodles (which cost extra) were better, but it was the nourishing, herbal soup that kept me eating, even as I was wiping sweat from my brows.
We stopped for a late lunch of Bibimbap…
… and we washed the vegetarian rice dish down with a plate of Grilled Squid, all for about $12 AUD.
We ended up at a market around dinner time, so we feasted on some fluffy Pork Buns and Kimchi Buns.
We also had an extremely ugly serve of take-away Jajangmyeong – the Korean version of the Chinese Zha Jiang Mian. Having only had the instant noodle version before, it was good to try the real thing.
We started the morning with a wholesome bowl of Bulgogi Bibimbap, which came pre-sauced to Chris’ chagrin.
There was also a lovely Beef Stew, which may have been light on the beef, but was huge on flavour. And as I’ve said many times before on this trip, when you’re paying 5000 won (approx. $5.8 AUD) for a full meal, you really can’t complain.
Ok so I have a confession. That was our only proper meal for the day. We ended up hitting up two markets and just ended up snacking more or less continuously. I forgot to take photos of everything, but here is what I did note down:
Here’s a Sweet Hotteok – a crisp, hollow pastry filled with a sweet filling of hot cinnamon sugar.
We got a juicy Pineapple Skewer, which was a complete steal at about $1.2 AUD (1000 won).
I had read about the famous Savoury Hotteok at entrance 2 of Namdaemun Market, and sure enough, there was a constant queue about 20-strong lined up outside this little cart.
It’s rumoured that the owner of this stall is a millionaire, and frankly I would believe it. These pockets of freshly fried dough were filled with a savoury mix of sweet potato noodles and julienned veggies, and cost about half as much as their competitors. Street food honestly doesn’t get much better than this.
I had been seeing these little Gyeran Bbang everywhere, and was keen to give them a try. Pour a ladle of batter into a cast iron mould, crack an egg on top, and you have yourself a sweet yet slightly savoury snack.
Here are a few more snaps of food I didn’t get to try, as much as I had wanted to.
Yes this is the Hotel Breakfast, and no it wasn’t very good. But hey, we had a theme park to get to!
Speaking of theme parks, this was our lunch for the day.
Thankfully our awful breakfast and lunch was made up for by our amazing BBQ Dinner, and the 600g of Pork Belly that entailed.
Last meal in Korea! A surprisingly meaty Bulgogi Stew, and the classic Kimchi Stew. I won’t lie – as much as I enjoyed Korea and its food, it’ll be good to have something a little different in Hong Kong.