Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Seafood Bar Near Our House

This a one of our local bars. It's sort of a hole in the wall, but has so much character. The inside is cluttered with old business cards and nautical relics of the past.

One of my favorite parts is that the menu is hand written on the lid of an old cooking pot. The bar specializes in seafood and there's a big seafood tank outside on the street filled with clams, octopus, squid, sea squirts, abalone, fish, and weird sea worms.

Here's a close up on the menu. We ordered Dubu Kimchi (tofu kimchi) though in the past we've had other dishes that were really good.

Here's our dubu kimchi. The big chucks of tofu are sooo good especially when eaten with bites of the spicy seafood kimchi. The black sesame seeds are also a really nice touch.
When dining out sometimes the owner will send over a "service" dish as a way to thank customers for their business. We received a roasted fish side "service" dish that night.  Thank you and we will be coming back!

Take Out Menus

Almost daily I come home to find a new take out menu plastered on our apartment door. Usually the menu has a magnetic strip on the back to secure it in place. We take the fliers and transfer them to the inside of our door as sort of a collection.

Here are some close ups on what sort of food the fliers are advertising. There are a ton of fried chicken restaurants in Korea. Lots of these fliers are variations on fried chicken. You can also get McDonald's delivered...though we haven't gotten that desperate yet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Kimchi Pots

Awhile back Kwang and some friends and I visited a traditional Korean village that's within Seoul. Kimchi plays a prominent position within Korean cuisine. These are some examples of Kimchi pots that would house the fermenting cabbage. Kwang tells me that they are also used to make a special soy bean paste that is eaten with pork belly barbecue here...amazingly delicious. I think that these pots are really beautiful. As I walk around Seoul many houses have these types of pots hanging out on balconies and terraces. Kwang's family had their on top of their roof. We looked and there wasn't any kimchi in them though. Kwang's aunt makes most of the family's kimchi these days. The other thing that struck me about these vessels was that the whole time I was thinking how much my mother would like to get her hands on these to pot her plants in. Sort of a sacrilegious take on kimchi pots, but I think she would agree it would be a lovely homage.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pot Bing Su

This is the very popular Korean summer dessert called pot bing bu. Pot refers to the sweet black beans, bing su refers to the pile of shaved ice underneath the black beans, corn flakes, sweet mochi balls, canned fruit and ice cream. It's sort of a smorgasbord of tastes and textures.
I started eating it very carefully, but Kwang informed me I needed to mix all of the bits together.  Here he is showing me how it's done.
Here's what pot bing su looks like when all mixed together. The cornflakes almost freeze when mixed in and make a very crunchy texture. The shaved ice makes it not as sweet as a sundae. Overall, I think it's a summer hit and I'm sure we'll be eating more in the future.

French Fries and a Corn Dog Fused Into One

I can't believe this is not an original American delicacy. What you see above is commonly found among street vendors. It's a corn dog with cut up pieces of french fries fused into the batter. Then the whole thing is fried. I've held back from trying this greasy delight.  It's tempting, but a bit too sinful.

Fans in Korea

It's hot and muggy and Kwang and I were in desperate need of a fan as we are deathly afraid of how expensive our AC might be if we run it through the night. I went and bought us a fan at our local electronics store.

I thought this was genius. The stores know that most people do not have a car so once my fan was procured and paid for they whipped up this handy handle. It did the job too.

There is a very famous myth here in S. Korea. It's called fan death ooooooo. The people believe that if you leave a fan on in a closed room with no windows open it will suck your breathe away and you will die. Kwang and I had a big discussion on this and frankly he didn't believe a word I said about fan death being ridiculous. Well then he went on the internet, did some "research" and now he's a non-believer. The fan I bought came with a handy instructions manual and sure enough fan death had a featured spot as seen above.

Promoting Educational English Tools

I've been doing some side work promoting this educational English tool.  The "Bud Talk" device looks sort of like a weird bird. It's top twirls and acts as a volume control. Meanwhile the "Lara Pen" works with the book that comes with the set. It's a magic pen. When you place the pen on the pages of the book Bud sings the songs written on the pages.

Anyway, along with promoting this tool and showing all of it's quirky features I have to teach words associated with making a sandwich. Then the kids, ages 3-7 actually make sandwiches. It can be an exhausting day as I teach up to 6 of the same class over and over again. However, I've gotten to meet children and parents from all over Korea since I am often traveling out of Seoul for these classes.

Also the sandwiches we make are very strange by American standards. Bread, ham, cheese, cucumber, tomato and strawberry jam....yikes!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

World Cup Mania!!

South Korea vs. Greece
Final score 2-0
Dae han min guk! This is the cheer that I have pulsating through my head right now. It means Republic of Korea.

It was pouring rain Saturday night so many of the popular outdoor spectator spots were not happening. We had a heck of time finding a bar that had seats available. However, our friends found this gem that had great food, beer flowing and a view of the street to view post celebratory maddness.

Korea represents themselves with the image of the red devil hence the horns which are a necessary game accessory. I saw quite a few t-shirt that spelled Korea with a C. I asked Kwang about this and he explained one theory where this is done because C comes before J (J being Japan).
Here he is, one happy victorious guy. The whole place jumped up when the first goal was scored in the first seven minutes. Then when Park Jisung elegantly beat out two defenders to score the second goal everyone knew we had it in the bag. This Thursday is the next game against Argentina who supposedly has the best player in the world on the team. I'll certainly be rockin' the horns for that occasion.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shopping at Dongdaemun Market

Kwang convinced me to go to Dongdaemun clothing market this past Sunday. It's a fun place the first couple of times, but floor after floor of shopping can be very tiring, especially when I don't fit into half of the clothes. He had to get some pants for work so this vendor set up a make shift dressing room. The woman selling the pants joked with me that she was going to drop the curtain when Kwang had his pants down. I was very entertained. You can also bargain here. My job at this point in the shopping experience is to look very shocked and shake my head. Kwang then cuts the price in half and tries to haggle the vendor down. He is usually very successful. This time he got a pair of black dress pants and two button down shirts for 65 won after the vendor initially told him 105 won. Sometimes having me there is helpful as I become sort of a buffer, plus my disappointed face is very persuasive. Other times the vendors think that since I'm Kwang's girlfriend he must have lots of money....if only that were true.

My Bicycle!

Kwang helped me place an order online at Gmarket for a bicycle. There were lots of options, but I finally decided to go with the 7 speed cruiser that came with a handy basket. It came fully assembled and was packaged like this. I was totally impressed. A lot of care went into boxing up this beauty.

This is the after shot. There was a ton of unwrapping to do, but we managed to get it done. As you can see Kwang is quite proud of his handy work.

Here's the semi-blurry action shot of Kwang taking the bike out into our neighborhood. The bike path runs right by our house and I took the bike out this past Saturday for a 2 hour ride. Lots of people seem to be pretty surprised and excited to see a Westerner on a bike. Every time I go out I get receive many friendly greetings. It makes for a very pleasant bike ride.