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Posts Tagged ‘alcohol’

When out for a night on the town (or in our apartments) in college, the night would undoubtedly end in some greasy, salty, sugary and/or buttery scavenger hunt. Whether it was found in the oven, at 7-11 or, God forbid, the BK Lounge, it happened far more often than I would care to admit.

I had assumed that Korea, being a nation of practically professional drinkers, would be a part of this late-night shame eating as well. The majority of their street food is battered and deep-fried afterall. But what I’ve found is the exact opposite. I’ve already written about the pork back bone soup that we ate one night. We’ve also eaten galbi, which is just meat that you cook at your table and wrap in lettuce, and the occasional mandu (dumpling) on our way home if we were really hungry. None of these even come close to the artery-invading powers of the King’s Quad stacker (which I am proud to say I have never eaten…don’t worry mom!).

Photo by Anna Waigand

The most surprising late-night snacks we have come upon came about after a kimchibilly, Korea’s version of Rock-a-billy, concert about a week ago. We left the roaring, punk, Elvis-inspired concert to find ourselves in need of another location to hang out and our bellies in need of some grub. We found a nice little place with a white brick interior packed with plenty of 20- or 30-somethings. When we ordered we used the point-and-pray method: point at what another table has and pray that it tastes as good as it looks. What we received tasted as if it had been sent from heaven.

First, we ordered pajong, a savory fried pancake with vegetables and seafood. It was greasy, as all pajong are, but even through the grease it was stuffed with fresh vegetables and squid. I don’t know any late-night snacks in America that include fresh seafood. This makes it a unique find I treasure on my late-night food round-ups.

Delicious, simple and healthy. Photo by Anna Waigand

Second was a fat metal bowl filled with small clams each about one inch wide. There were about 80 clams in all. No soup to go with it. Nothing fried. No batter. Just fresh boiled clams with some soy dipping sauce. Simply put, it was delicious. And you even had to work for your food. It’s hard to beat that amount of deliciousness without adding fats and carbs.

Third, we had my favorite dish of the night: dubu kimchi. This is a three part dish. There is the obvious, kimchi. And this was a delicious kimchi: spicy, tangy, and with a gingery zing. It was slightly sauteed which helped to bring out the spices while keeping just a dab of heat inside the strips of fermented cabbage. This was complemented perfectly with a thick, hot tofu and juicy steamed samgyeopsal (pork belly) slices. The kimchi’s zing was tempered by the simplicity of the hot tofu and pork. It’s a dish I’ve craved everyday since I ate it, which is very shocking to me because, well, I don’t like tofu. But this tofu was warm and soft. It slid down my throat with a heated ease after the spicy-heat of the kimchi. It was like coming home from a cold day out in the snow, slightly warming and just plain old comforting. And let’s not forget, it is as healthy as can be (as long as you don’t eat the huge fat chunks on the samgyeopsal).

Sorry, it went to fast for a pre-eating shot. But trust me, it really was pretty. Photo by Anna Waigand

So next time you’ve had a few mugs of beer, sips of wine, or shots of soju, remember: It doesn’t always have to be greasy, gross, or gosh-darned bad for you to be oh so gut-pleasingly good.

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Anna's not so sure about this gamePhoto by Andre Francisco

If you ever meet up with us in Seoul, we will probably be late. But one of the few times we were early was this weekend when we met some people to see a Rock Tigers show in Hongdae. The lure of people watching and lack of open container laws in Korea inspired us to create a drinking game that we now pass on to you for when we, or anyone else, is late meeting up in Hongdae.

First, go grab a bottle or two of your favorite beer from a Family Mart. Then go to the top of exit 5 of the Hongik University station. There is a concrete wall next to the staircase that is perfect for leaning on and resting your beers. If you stand there you can look over the wall and down onto the staircase. As most people know, despite being a hugely popular station, the Hongik stop has only a few small staircases so they are usually packed with people walking in slow columns to get up and down. This makes for great people watching with plenty of subjects.

Lots of subjects
Photo by Andre Francisco

The Rules
1 drink for:
-Non Koreans
-Person carrying a guitar (one drink per guitar)

2 drinks for:
-Foreigners with fake blond hair
-Hipster foreigners
-Frat boy foreigners
-Korean’s with hair or clothes so outrageous you forget to watch for all the other rules

Finish your drink when your friends arrive.

It’s a great way to kill the time, but be prepared for lots of strange double takes from people on the stairs. Feel free to change and adapt the rules to your liking, and if you have any suggestions leave them in the comments.

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Yes, we have been away for a while.

My family visited over Christmas break.
We have been working on a new, non-food-centric website.
The days are shorter, the nights are longer, and sleep has been a priority.

But we are back and to get us back up and rolling here is a silly, little video involving South Korea’s latest craze from infants to ajummas: Tamiflu.

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Kimchi
Photo by Anna Waigand

Just got a heads up from our friend Emmy (@emmysp) about an interesting Korean-themed event in New York City this weekend. Bowery and Vine Wine and Spirits is hosting a kimchi and wine tasting event this Saturday. The kimchi is being provided by MILKimchi, a new company that is bringing the apparently famous kimchi of Jang Mo Gip, one of Orange County’s most beloved Korean restaurants, to New York. MILKimchi was founded by Lauryn Chun, whose mother owns Jan Mo Gip (which is Korean for Mother In Law’s House).

I think pairing kimchi and wine is a really interesting idea. Kimchi certainly has a wide variety of tastes that come from every family’s secret recipe. It’s different at every restaurant we go to from vinegary to sharply spicy to cool and even. Too bad wine is pretty uniformly bad here unless you are willing to pay a hefty price.

For time, place and more info check out the event listing at Bowery and Vine’s site. If anyone goes we’d gladly post some photos and your thoughts.

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Magic Soju Enhancer Vending Machine
Photo by Anna Waigand

Most foreigners don’t particularly like soju. Koreans drink it for any and all occasions and often when even people from Wisconsin would question whether it’s time for a drink. The national liquor just tastes like watered down vodka, but not watered down enough to not burn. So when we heard from our travel companions that Busan had their own special type of soju we were excited to try it.

At both our lunch restaurant and our night out with the whole group, near our table was a coin-operated vending machine. For a 500 won coin you got a tiny white packet shaped like the little buckets of sealed cream that lounge in bowls at coffee shops. The tiny packet had a thick brown liquid with little if any smell that was supposed to be dumped into a 360ml bottle of soju. Apparently this is all that makes Busan Soju from Busan, because when our friend who spoke some Korean asked for Busan Soju she was pointed to the machine.

As the brown liquid swirled into the soju, we were all curious how much a tiny packet could flavor a bottle of alcohol. We poured maybe half a shot into our cups for a trial run and threw them down the hatch.

And for the first time drinking soju, I came up with a smile on my face. It really was amazingly different. The packet hadn’t added a distinct flavor, but it mellowed out the soju to a smooth drink without the wave of burning that accompanied most soju shots. It was a great addition to soju and should definitely be tried if you are in Busan, but I don’t know if it is worth a trip across the peninsula.

We stocked up on a couple of the packets, and we will have to see how they mix with soju back in Seoul.

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Welcome to the first in a new series of alcohol reviews here on Seoulful Adventures. This series will be called Drink, Drank, K-Drunk and it will feature reviews of traditional Korean alcohols, Seoul bars, and imported alcohol that we haven’t seen outside of Korea. This review falls into that first category.

Drinking alcohol out of a bowl isn’t totally new for Anna and I. While hiking on the Appalachian Trail for a month last summer we had to improvise when faced with rum, fruit punch powder and no cups, but that is another story.

For Chuseok, we went hiking in beautiful Bukhasan National Park with our new friends Greg and Danielle from Twitter(@gboone42). After a day spent going up and down the 837m Baekundae mountain we were hungry. We found a galbi place (grill at your table) and decided to take a seat. We were the only ones there so we got a couple free dishes and lots of attention from the owner. The food was delicious, but this post is about booze.

The weekend before, Greg and Danielle worked on a traditional Korean farm where they were introduced to makkoli, a milky Korean rice wine. We were jealous of their farm trip and they were excited about drinking Makkoli on the farm so we decided to order a bottle. And because in Korea you never get how many you order the owner showed up with two bottles instead of one. He also brought us four small white bowls. The only other things we had to drink out of were metal cups that we already filled with water, so after a minute of confused looks around the table we decided the bowels must be for the makkoli.

Photo by Taekwonweirdo.

Makkoli is an unfiltered rice wine with a milky color and because some of the sediment gathers at the bottom when stored, it needs to be shaken before being poured. Greg did the honors and the 750ml bottle just filled the four bowls. The wine had a smooth and light taste with a gentle hint of sweetness. It was easy to drink and was great for washing down our galbi. I also felt like I tasted the faintest sizzle of carbonation on my tongue, which was confirmed when Greg went to pour the second bottle. He shook it as he had the first, but this time when he opened it, makkoli frothed over the top and bubbled onto the ground next to us. I guess it had a mild carbonation after all.

Greg and Danielle had been served homemade makkoli out of a five-gallon drum, which is clearly a cooler experience and apparently the homemade variety is better than what’s available in stores. But since grape wine is so expensive here, I think we’ll be buying more makkoli and maybe some small bowls to go with it.

Greg and Danielle blog over at Schoolhouse: ROK.

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