Posts Tagged ‘mexican food’

In addition to our excursion to Taco Bell, we noshed on flavors that have been dearly missed from my palette. From Middle Eastern and Mexican to sandwiches and burgers, the food was so delectably different than the fare offered in Jeonju.

On Thursday, I was finally able to peel myself out of bed to meet up with friends for a delicious Arabic meal. We headed to Alyssa’s ‘hood, near Hongdae, to feast at Petra.

We started with a trio of hummus, baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) and labaneh cheese, with a side of warm pita bread (real pita, not the flour tortillas we so enjoy at Aladdin’s Lamb).

I barely got this picture before it was devoured.

We ordered another round of the dips for when Rachel and Greg joined us at the table.  I also ordered delicious falafel, tabbouleh and pita to mix with the tasty round of condiments. Oh em gee… the best falafel I have had in such a long time. I couldn’t stop myself from shoveling food into my mouth.

Ev got the lamb and cous cous. There was a lot of serious nom nom going on at the table.

The next day, we traveled around the city to shop and see the sights. After Evan got fitted for a custom-made suit (so handsome) in Itaewon, we stayed in the foreigner-friendly area to get a taste of a more “authentic” Mexican restaurant. Vamos comemos!

We ended up at a place called Los Amigos, and while it wasn’t Baja Sonora, it certainly touched on my unsatisfied desire for So Cal Mexican food. We ordered chips and guacamole to start, then a combination platter to share. The plate came with plenty of food, and allowed us to try a variety of entrees instead of having to choose just one or two. We ate a taco, a burrito, a tostada and an enchilada complete with beans and rice.

It. Was. So. Good. They even had sour cream! Imagine me shoveling chips into this mess of a plate, then dunking them in guacamole and sour cream before taking a huge bite. I’m telling you, pure nirvana.

Ev was particularly stoked on the American-sized soda, which is about four times the size of the cups you get at Korean restaurants. No joke, I’m actually used to drinking 8 ounces at a time.

I keep thinking of that cheese/beans/sour cream combination, and it’s seriously depressing me when I have broccoli soup staring back from the fridge. Le sigh.

That night, we set out to find perfect, juicy American pub food to put us into food comas so we could fall asleep easily into our heavenly bed at the Astoria. Sam Ryan’s, the pub we visited our last time in Itaewon, fit the bill perfectly.

Evan’s order was a no-brainer — basically, if there is something that combines beef, cheese and bacon on a menu, you best believe that will be his choice.

I opted for the steak sandwich with chutney, cheddar and caramelized onions. Oh my. The juicy steak melding with the tangy cheddar, a touch of sweetness from the chutney and the onions melting when they hit your tongue… and the bread! The bread was fresh and soft. I die. This picture does this wonderful, amazing concoction no justice. It’s actually a terrible photo, but I was exhausted and impatient to eat. Be happy I snapped anything!

There are no words to tell you how much I dig sandwiches. The combination of textures, temperatures and flavors have always done wonders for my palette. Subway was a regular fixture on days I would eat out when I was working in L.A. How I took fast, cheap and flavorful sammies for granted!

In Jeonju, there are slim pickins’ for fixins’ and you end up with a sliver of meat, tired veggies and sub-par bread, all totally over-priced. It wasn’t hard to decide that on our last morning, we would get another sandwich after upping our temptation with the pub grub.

At Quizno’s, I ordered an Italian sub and relished in every single bite. Hot pepperoni, salami, crisp lettuce and tomato, gooey mozzarella, pepperoncinis with a kick. YUM!

Now I’m home, drooling over my memories and trying not to scarf down more snacks because I’m salivating.


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Thanks to the lovely Christmas care packages we received from our siblings, Evan and I had more than enough supplies to plan a stellar Mexican food night, and just in time too because it had been so long…

I started the process by cooking up a few chicken breasts with some diced green chilies from California. Yum!

Next, I warmed up some refried beans — the first I’ve had in eight months. They were perfect, smooth and creamy. The buttery texture paired nicely with the chicken. My happy orange spoon helped keep them from sticking to the sides of the pan :)

For toppings, I kept it simple with sliced pepper jack cheese and diced cherry tomatoes. Ole!

Last, everything was wrapped up in a soft, warm flour tortilla. The final product was truly a taste of home — and comforting after a long day at school and the gym.

Speaking of which, I ran three miles without stopping for the first time this weekend. I brag only because eight months ago, I was terrified of treadmills, and avoided them at all costs. It may have taken twenty-five years, but I’m finally starting to like running! I’ve even started reading fitness/well-being blogs like the (never home)maker for motivation to keep moving in the increasingly cold weather. Who knew I would take such a priceless gift home with me from Korea?

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Since Evan and I (with our bank accounts’ help) decided to stay home for Chu Seok, we figured that last weekend we deserved a one-day trip to Busan to celebrate the birthdays of Glen and Niall, two buddies on his soccer team. On Saturday morning, we caught the 8:00 AM bus to the beach-side city, alongside Ev’s football friends, for two days of fun in the sand and surf.

We arrived in Busan three hours later, and took a cab directly to Fuzzy Navel — the Mexican restaurant that has now become a sort of vacation staple every time we go to Haeundae Beach. After devouring a meat and avocado burrito (two things that aren’t widely available or affordable), and watching Glen consume this rainbow birthday beverage…

…the group grabbed some beer from a mini-mart and scoped out a spot on the sand. The weather was perfect for being at the beach — high sun, no clouds, and lots of friends.

I splashed around in the warm salt water, exiting only when we spotted a relatively large jelly fish. Having been stung before during a fateful surfing trip in San Diego, I wasn’t too enthusiastic to relive the experience, complete with a hunt for vinegar or worse — someone willing to pee on me. Gross! Luckily, no one was harmed.

After the sun sunk below the tall buildings that surround the beach area, we headed to a nearby hotel to shower, change and get ready to go out to dinner. The hotel, found by two impressive bargain hunters in the group, had a double bed, TV, clean bathroom/shower, and a water cooler — all for W 40,000 (less than $40). Nobody does a deal like Korea.

The group headed to Fuzzy Navel for some pre-dinner beer, but Evan and I opted for dirty martinis because most places don’t have them and since we could get them, why shouldn’t we? It was vacation!

After we all wet our whistles, we walked to a nice Indian restaurant called Namaste, which ended up having delicious food — much to the delight of everyone, especially the English folk, who quite missed their curry from back home!

Even Evan, who was no fan of Indian food, was won over by the garlic naan, chicken tikka and samosas. Yummers. Even better? Dinner was accompanied by red wine, which you don’t have much of in Korea.

Outside the restaurant, chicken fighting ensued on the way to Thursday Party, a local bar.

Things got quite silly there.

Eventually, we decided to make our way to Rock something-or-other, a club on the 14th floor of a building in Haeundae. The hotspot turned out to be a frat party transplant, complete with 19-year-olds, beer pong, and more foreigners than I have seen in one place during the past 5 months in Korea.

We stayed for a brewski, then chatted with friends at Burger King before turning in for the night.

On Sunday, we enjoyed burgers, fries and the view at the oceanfront TGI Friday’s down by the sea. After relaxing in the sand a bit, we headed home to Jeonju, refreshed from our mini-vacation.

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Okay, so it doesn’t exactly have the same ring as Taco Tuesday, but it works — it’s not like I can make it to Baja Sonora from Korea anyway!

After Katie’s package full of Mexican goodies came in the mail, I decided I couldn’t wait another day to chow down on some authentic south-of-the-border grub that I hadn’t really had up until this point.

During my break at school, I ran to E-Mart to pick up some beef. Since beef here is ridiculously expensive — the portion you see cost about $10 — we usually stick to chicken as our protein from the store. However, I needed carne asada for my tacos, and Korean beef is of exceptional quality. So I splurged!

After a long day at school and the gym, I diced an onion, and threw it in a pan with the beef.

As the onions and beef cooked slowly together, I took out the central ingredient to our dish — chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, sent all the way from the States.

I LOVE chipotle chiles. I love them. If there is ever a chipotle salsa in my vicinity, it is my first choice. It also is the central ingredient in William-Sonoma’s corn/avocado salsa I made this winter, which is another new favorite of mine. I chopped up a full pepper, seeds and all, and tossed it in with the beef. I added three or four spoonfulls of adobo sauce and little pepper chunks for good measure, along with a heaping pile of minced garlic.

Next, I lightly fried corn tortillas — also courtesy of Katie — in canola oil, and patted them dry. Once the meat was done, we piled the beef into the shells, topped with leftover mozzarella cheese from our dak galbi, threw on some cherry tomatoes and voila! Tacos!

Nom nom. So good! I will definitely appreciate these peppers and these tortillas while we have them, and maybe even get some new recipes under my belt in the process.

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Of course, we didn’t spend our whole time in Seoul partying the night away.

After Thursday’s tequila party, we took our time waking up on Friday. When we finally dragged ourselves out of Tim’s apartment, the only thing on my mind was Mexican food.

Mexican food is the bane of my existence. It is my weakness — and Tim said there was a little restaurant nearby! My gluttony and addiction lead me to order a burrito AND a tostada — total fatty move — but I didn’t regret it. It was so yummy. And to have avocado again was magical.

After lunch we hopped aboard a bus that took us Seoul’s Han River, where we ended up hanging out and cat-napping, overlooking the water.

When we hopped off of the bus, we walked down a flight of stairs and under the bridge that connects northern and southern Seoul. This is the view from under the bridge, across the water. Under the bridge and on the grass near the water were the perfect hang outs for lots of daydreamers, frisbee-throwers, couples looking for romance, dog-walkers and even one ecstatic — and scared — little boy learning how to ride a bike.

Saturday we went to Insa-dong, an artsy neighborhood full of  local artist love. Painters, sculpters, and artists from every medium in between flock here to sell their goods to people looking for authentic Korean merchandise. It is definitely a repeat mission — one of my goals is to find something exquisite to remind us of our fleeting time here.

Ssamziegil was one area that had four floors of shops, carts, and merchants selling their works of art. This great flower art installment wrapped around a four-story high cutout next to the stairs. It was pretty awesome. I think Insa-dong was my favorite neighborhood in Seoul. After shopping a bit, we grabbed an authentic Korean galbi lunch, and had these cinnamon-walnut donuts from a street vendor for dessert. Yummy!

While we trekked to Myeongdong for our next shopping excursion, we passed the Cheonggyecheon river. The river, which was a stream 50 years ago, was restored in 2002 to generate a tourist interest and beautify the city. It is a stunning breath of fresh air — nature and tranquility in the heart of the hectic city.

It even has waterfalls!

I only wish we could have seen the river at night. Rocks were strategically placed throughout the river, allowing people to cross on stepping stones. On many of the rocks, these statues below, and buried in the shallow water were different colored lights, which created a spectacular light display when the sun went down.

We finally made it to Myeongdong, just as the rain picked up a bit. The streets were FULL of westerners, gabbing and popping into lots of western-brand stores. The overcrowded, overwhelming street was definitely something new. We poked around in H&M for a bit, before the sheer amount of people got to me. I felt bombarded, so I took a breather. This is a great place to come, though, if I ever need to buy anything western.

Sunday, our final day, we ate lunch at CPK. It was delicious, expensive and worth it. Korean sauces tend to be on the sweet side — including on pizza — but there was no sweet sauce here. The pie tasted just like home.

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Our last day in Busan, we decided to visit Haeundae beach — the most popular beach in the city, and definitely deserving of a separate visit.

We decided to go to the bus station early in the day, to guarantee we had seats on the 7:30 bus ride home, so we didn’t make it to Haeundae until around 3:30. No matter though — the weather was incredibly nice, and we were able to relax on the hot sand for awhile.

You’ll notice that everyone in the photos are fully clothed — here in Korea, everyone wheres swimsuits UNDER their clothes, and jump into the water fully dressed. It is a modesty thing.

No smoking on the beach! Only sunbathing — I laid around in just my bikini for awhile, then decided to blend in and wear my dress :)

There was an international dance show going on during our trip — the girls all danced so beautifully with their fans!

After lounging on the beach for a bit, we decided to make our way to a Mexican food restaurant we saw near the subway station — Fuzzy Navel. I have been dying for Mexican food, and the tacos were pretty good. Our food took forever to come, and I gobbled it down so quickly!

At this point Evan, Smiley and I were in a serious time crunch to get to the bus station on time. We hopped aboard the subway, all anxious, and decided that when we arrived at the station, the men would get the luggage from the lockers and my duty was to find the bus and make sure it didn’t leave us!

We arrived at the station with 10 minutes to spare, sprinted up the stairs… and had no idea where we were. We had gone out an exit we hadn’t used yet, and were totally lost. We spent the next eight minutes sprinting around the street, looking for signs, grabbing luggage, asking where the Jeonju bus was, running running running.

Lungs burning and completely out of breath, we made it to our bus at 6:58. Thank goodness Evan has been running on the treadmill at the gym, or we would all have been screwed. We sank gratefully into our seats as the bus roared to life, people crammed in the aisle, sitting on newspapers.

We later found out that Mike, Kristie and their pals tried to buy tickets for the 10:30 bus at 7:30, but it was already sold out. Thankfully, they knew how to take the train home, but we couldn’t help wondering what on Earth we would have done if we had missed our bus.

Next time, we’ll leave earlier.

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