Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

Despite having delicious and nutritious lunches prepared for us daily at school, there are times when we need to get away from the workplace (or the fish head soup) and grab a bite to eat at our little neighborhood hole-in-the-wall.

Across the street from mega store E-Mart, there is a tiny Korean joint that serves up amazing food at even more amazing prices. It is our escape from the workday, our little food sanctuary where we can enjoy our company over plates of lovingly prepared food.

Every neighborhood has restaurants akin to this little place, where you can get single servings of food (as opposed to the other barbecue restaurants, where you won’t be served solo). We’ve been to different places, but this is by far our favorite. When we first started dining at this restaurant, I grabbed a take-out menu and spent 2-3 hours trying to translate it. Eventually, I had my Korean teachers help fill in some gaps :)

The menu has a large variety of popular Korean dishes, ranging from rice and noodles to dumplings and meat. Here are some of our favorites:

The kimbap (김밥) here is one of our go-to meals. It is fast, easy and cheap. Large sheets of toasted nori are filled with spinach, carrot, egg, pickled radish and ham, rolled up and sliced.

The tonkatsu (돈까스, fried pork cutlet) is another popular choice. The original and the cheese-filled option are slathered with sauce and served with a small heaping of rice. A hearty lunch for days you need something hot and comforting.

Another winning dish takes the best elements of kimbap and tonkatsu and rolls them up into a piping hot dish of deliciousness. The tonkatsu kimbap features a smaller pork cutlet topped with carrot, spinach, pickled radish and rolled up in rice and nori.

The dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) is a top pick for me. The mixture of rice, vegetables, sesame powder, egg and red pepper paste served in a sizzling hot pot is the epitome of comfort food. After I’m finished with it, I want to curl up in the fetal position and nap. So good.

Although I’m not a huge fan of kimchi made with napa cabbage, I do quite like dishes that use the fermented favorite. Kimchi bokumbap, a simple plate of rice fried with spicy kimchi and topped with an egg and toasted nori.

I also love kimchi jjigae, a stew filled with tofu, bean sprouts, bits of beef and kimchi, served boiling in a hot pot with a bowl of rice on the side. It is hot and spicy, but has a refreshing, cleansing effect on my head. This is the ideal soup for when you feel congested!

All the dishes come with the standard sides of kimchi, pickled radish, julienne cut greens and (my favorite) daikon radish kimchi (kkakdugi 배추).

Nom. Is it lunch time yet?


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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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Seven weeks of my kids sneezing, coughing, touching, rubbing, sniffling and grabbing finally caught up to me this week, and I’ve come down with a cold. But even as I wheeze and sniff my way through this week, not even a little sickness could dampen my spirits.

I am officially 25 now, in both Korea and America. I have been a “birthday person” ever since I could remember — I love the excuse to party, getting all of my friends and family together, and reflecting on the year past.

This is the first year in a long time that I had a relatively quiet birthday, but it was just what I needed.

The day started off wonderfully, with Evan peeling himself out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to run to McDonald’s and bring me a sausage McMuffin, hash brown, and hot coffee in bed. He isn’t what you’d call a morning person, so the effort of the gesture wasn’t lost on me. I am truly a lucky girl. :)

At school, my kindergarten class gave me an enthusiastic “Happy Birthday” when I came in the classroom. One of my girls, Yoon Jung, made me this adorable card.

I love how on the back Yoon Jung is smiling as I, tiara and all, discuss what an adjective is to the class (adjectives are the grammar lesson for this week) — and the boy next to her looks ready to cry. LOL, I guess English class can have that effect on some people.

Another girl made me a paper birthday hat, and two of my school’s Korean teachers — both of whom I like very much — gave me a box of cookies with a froggie card — on which they wrote, endearingly, “I think you have a hard time adjust to Korean culture. Cheer up!” LOL. I’ve since made a point to be less tired/much happier around them, because I really do love Korea, my job and the people I work with, and I want them to know it!

I love the card, which they gave me with huge hugs, and I felt really touched that they remembered :)

The cutest gesture ever though was when one boy, I found out, did extra chores at home to earn money to buy me this cute little charm for my cell phone…and wrote me a birthday note telling me how much he loved me. Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Evan also had his K-II class shout Happy Birthday to me. Love those kids. I gave all of my classes candy as a little party favor.

I even received a wonderful package of love from my sister back home! Kate — your package made my day, and it was just in time to help me celebrate turning 25. Thank you for the food, the clothes and everything I needed — you’re the best!

After work, Ev and I relaxed at home, watched the Lady Gaga episode of Glee, cleaned ourselves up and headed to Chonbukdae for dinner. I decided on an Italian spot we had a few beers at about a month ago called Team.

Before our meal, we received hot bowls of soup with a bread basket. BREAD! I was so excited. Then came our caprese salad. Soft, creamy mozzarella cheese, ripe juicy tomato slices topped with a zingy pesto. Next to that, a pile of crisp lettuce and slivered almonds drizzled with balsamic vinegar and a tart dressing. Delectable.

Our pasta dishes came next. Evan ordered a spicy, creamy seafood dish while I opted for a classic — spaghetti carbonara. Evan’s dish had a nice kick, perfectly breaded shrimp and an amazing sauce.

Mine was great too — crisp bacon in a creamy, hot sauce. Delicious! We washed our meal down with a bottle of Chilean Cabernet. I think that sommelier speeches in the States are slightly awkward — since I know nothing about wine — but in Korea they are even more so. Our knowledgeable vino expert told us all about our pick — in Korean. We smiled, nodded and drank. It was gooooood… I haven’t drank much wine since I’ve been here, and it felt really nice going down.

After dinner, my boyfriend had one more surprise — an ice cream birthday cake with candles! Yippee! It was made with chocolate, vanilla and raspberry ice cream and it was SO good.

Definitely one of the best birthdays ever!

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