Wednesday, April 29, 2015

전주밥차 (jeonju babcha)

전주밥차 (jeonju babcha)
서울특별시 종로구 종로1가 (ground floor of Gran Seoul)

what was consumed: jeon-ju style korean food

the strip of restaurants at the base of the gran seoul building is known as "shik-gek-cheon." from what i understand, these restaurants were showcased in a sort of long-running comic strip, by the same name, highlighting different korean foods. or is it that these restaurants were created to reflect the different types of food highlighted in the long-running comic strip? i forget. point is, they're there, and i'm wanting to go through the list of deliciousness.

for lunch one day, a group of us head over to jeon-ju bahb-cha. one of our local staff took the lead (of the many things they are awesome at, one is knowing the delicious places to eat). for less than USD10, you can eat as much of the jeon-ju style comfort foods as you can within your lunch period. 

i'm only now learning the subtle differences that make up the different regions on korea. that is, while much of korean cuisine might be standard, the way in which different dishes are prepared and the versions that are presented are, of course, region specific. here, they serve vegetables, more salad than deeply fermented, lightly dressed with the korean standard (soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, a bit of crushed chili flakes). the veggies are served raw and are crunchy, providing a great texture in contrast to the soft rice. and the pork! spicy pork that has been marinated in a spicy, red chili sauce (goh-choo-jang), cooked on a skillet. yum.

the different dishes are served cafeteria style, though the decor at this eatery is far from the institutional and fluorescent feel of stereotypical cafeterias. rather, it reminds me of the large parties my parents used to throw where large plates of food were presented to guests and one would take as much (or little) as one would like to consume.

but be sure to get there early because the lines can get long and the seating is limited. but even if there's a bit of a wait, take the time. i wonder if the menu is always the same, variations of the same, or completely different on a daily basis. i'll have to go again and try, just to be sure. you know. hehehe.

Monday, April 27, 2015


44-17 Yongsan-dong, 2 ga

what was consumed: chicken wings! in lots of different flavors.

in the spirit of fried chicken, friends and i wanted to go korean-ized american style chicken wings. so, friends and i ventured to phillies on a thursday evening after work for the HH wings special.

phillies prepares wings in the way that americans bars frequently prepare wings: lightly breaded, fried, then doused with sauce. phillies offers the usual buffalo wings, but they also have a slew of other flavors! sweet and sour, soy garlic, tikka masala, ... , etc. because we wanted to try a few different options, we were glad to be a rather adventurous 4-top that was willing and wanting to try a bunch to decide which was our favorite (the answer is all. of course).

phillies also has a pretty good veggie platter with a delicious (they say home made) dill ranch dip. i wish it was also offered with the wings, but i was happy to pay for a side order of it. yum.

in the style of lots of dining locations in the HBC, phillies offers both craft beers along with more usual korean favorites. yay for lots of draft beer options! 

"they" also say that phillies plays a lot of the US games (namely american football), so for those of you wanting to do some sportsing, phillies might be the place to go. and let me know if you do because i could always go for some chicken wings. wootwoot!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

izakaya u-baba

izakaya u-baba
종로구 수송동 30-1 (jongro-gu soosong-dong 30-1), seoul110-140

what was consumed: japanese fare! seafood udon, ramen, tonkatsu, etc. yum.

yummy, japanese food! when colleagues told me that staff at the japanese embassy prefer izakaya u ba ba (i don't know if that's true; i'll have to befriend a japanese diplomat or someone on their staff. in the mean time, i'll take my colleagues' word for it), who was i to argue?

i opted for a seafood udon, which also came with a shrimp tempura, a croquette, and some salad. i like that the meal resulted in some of everything. the noodles were served in a rich soup, with seafood floating all along the way (yum). the noodles were prepared well, chewy and flavorful.

the tonkatsu, though, deserves special praise. the pork was lightly covered in panko break crumbs and fried so that the batter is nice and crisp, definitely not oily, totally light. i could have eaten their tonkatsu like chips. i.e., all day long.

a colleague complained that her dish included frozen sashimi grade tuna. i'm not a stickler about this. rather, 1) i've seen this done at lots of korean restaurants. is this how the koreans like/prefer it? i dunno; 2) it was summer and it was super hot and humid outside. maybe the frozen tuna was supposed to provide a respite from the heat; and 3) we visited u ba ba during a month without an "r," so eating raw things are less recommended (is this still true?), so perhaps it was for her benefit. of course, it didn't prevent her from eating, and enjoying, her entire dish.


Thursday, April 23, 2015


서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 181-8
tel: +82 2-797-8226

what was consumed: one of everything! tacos, that is. and tamales. and my favorite? kimchee fries. YES.

i remember a time when being able to eat taco bell 8 hours after items were purchased was the highlight of the year. and now, chefs have come out with creative ways to mix korean and american style mexican food - my two comfort food genres. and so, vatos has turned in to a regular place for me to visit. for kicks, with guests, whenever.

the first time i went to vatos, friends and i went specifically to order "one of each." vatos serves their tacos in pairs and triplets. we sat down, ordered drinks, and ordered one of each of their tacos, primarily just to say that we did, but also, for me, to see which of the options i prefer. my recommendation? the short rib taco in a corn tortilla (flour is the default, what the koreans prefer. i like corn!). the beef is marinated  in just the right amount of korean spices, topped with just a few fixin's, including a cabbage slaw. sort of similar to the "kogi" truck, style. that said, grab your appetite and try one of each and decide for yourself which you like! hehehe.

and the kimchee fries! sounds weird, but the combination is really great. a bed of french fries, topped with carnitas, then topped with kimchee (though i'll have to ask them to go easy on the onions next time). i sometimes dream about these fries. for reals.

speaking of drinks, vatos provides healthy portions when it comes to in-house beverages. i like their georgia peach ice tea because while it's a little on the sweet side, the peach flavor is yummy and it's served in a very large mason jar. hehehe. i hear vatos were the first to offer the beergaritas (a margarita with a bottle of beer stuck in the glass) as well as makolitas (a margarita + makgoli (korean rice wine) combo). they also serve a variety of local craftworks microbrews. yay for local!
so, when do you wanna go? now? excellent. see you there!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

연대포 (yeon dae poh)

연대포 (yeon dae poh)
서울 서대문구 창천동 52-71

what was consumed: 딸기 막걸리, 김치두부, etc.

on the streets in front of yonsei university, there are lots and lots of places to eat. so when we looked for a place that specialized in mock-guhl-lee, the reviews let us to yeon-deh-poe. apparently, in the style of yogurt soju, yeon-deh-poe offers fruit-y mock-guhl-lee options, in addition to lots of other more typical korean bar fare (soju, beer, etc.)

in the tradition of most korean bars, patrons must order food along with their drink. this is where i come in. one of my favorite things to order at these places is kim-chee coo-boo. kimchee, usually sautéed with other ingredients (usually onions and slices of pork), is places on slices of warmed tofu. i'll make it at home sometimes, but it is fun to enjoy with others. also, when i order this, first time-ers will often look at me with confusion, wondering about the combination and question its deliciousness. those individuals are usually the ones who consume the deliciousness when it comes as they realize what a great mix of flavors kimchee + tofu is.

i also like that, almost immediately after you sit down and order, yeon-deh-poe brings out a whole slew of dishes that come with your meal. corn in cheese sauce, some seafood soup, veggie sticks for dipping, etc. i imagine these dishes change with time and season, but i like that they are regularly provided. this, of course, is in addition to thhe food that they ask you to order. hahaha.

the decor at yeon-dae-poe isn't particularly special. picnic-style seating, some chair, mostly made of wood. it's dark inside, posters from the alcohol companies adorning the walls (which isn't too bad as most ads feature korean celebs - yay!), a few other little things the owners add. but for me, this sort of decor is really nostalgic. it reminds me of being in college, of being in korea. sigh. nice.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

herb chicken 포차

herb chicken 포차 
이화 점

what was consumed: a cup of spiced fried chicken, tator tots, and rice cakes

it seems odd that i would include street "fast" food here, but it's just so good not to mention. 

when on the streets in front of eehwa women's university, there's a street food vendor that, turns out, is really popular. they take bite-sized pieces of fries chicken, rice cakes, and fried tator tots (yay tator tots!), and mix it together with a slightly sweet, slightly spicy sauce. they'll then pour the ingredients into a cup, hand it to you (after you pay), and you use toothpicks to enjoy the fare as you continue walking around.


i've seen this particular brand of chicken in a cup in other locations. i guess it's possible for street food to be franchised as well ... ??? either way, i'm happy to enjoy the few bites as a snack. always. and per usual. hehehehe.

Friday, April 17, 2015

noodle kimbap

noodle kimbap 
(near eehwa women's unversity: 서대문구 이화여대8길 2, 120-808)

what was consumed: 김밥! 그리고 주목밥! both in a few different styles with a few different fillings.

the area around eehwa women's university is known for some of their eats, especially ones that are popular among young college women. as a result, i'm usually more than happy to try any establishment that has been around, any place that has "made" the cut. and if friends initiate or want to come along, all the better!

friends and i were looking for a night on the town (i.e., a night of eating) in an area that wasn't our neighborhood. isa took the lead, and i was happy to follow along. friends j and j were also in town, so i was happy that we could all get together to form a large group. we decided to start the night with some bites of rice at noodle kimbap. 

noodle kimbap offers a variety of rice balls and kimbap. i would recommend going in groups in order to give yourself an opportunity to try as many as possible. some are wrapped in kim (seaweed) while others are intended to be consumed wrapped in lettuce leaves. there is a deceptive amount of rice that ultimately gets consumed, so be prepared for some massive belly expansion in order to accommodate the happy taste buds. 

and so, whether it's for a meal or a snack/appetizer, be sure to put noodle kimbap on your list!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

tera rosa

tera rosa
multiple locations (i visited the 광화문 점: 서울 종로구 종로1길 50(중학동) 더케이트윈타워 B동 1F)

what was consumed: lunch special! including roasted chicken and corn salad.

looking for a delicious and quick, western, lunch option? be sure to check out tera rosa! social sponsor and i met up for lunch and he'd wanted to check out tera rosa. i was happy to accommodate!

tera rosa offers a variety of items on the menu. we, however, opted for the lunch special. fancy cafeteria style, the set price included a variety of options, including a protein and vegetable dish. i like variety and asked for a little bit of everything; they indulged me.

we are always in the process of looking for delicious lunch options. because there are so many people doing the same, we must race out of the office at 11:30 in order to ensure first seating. if you don't, eating won't happen until well after noon, which puts me in a time crunch. and so, in addition to the delicious fare, i appreciate tera rosa for their ample seating. there is more intimate, cafe-like seating; however, tera rosa also offers cafeteria-style seating that is good for groups in particular. 

i imagine their lunch special changes as different ingredients become available. i can't wait to see (and try) what's next!

Monday, April 13, 2015

1st 도마

1st 도마
서울 서대문구 창천동 5-50
tel: 02) 392-8592

what was consumed: beef! served kilograms at a time. partly marinated, partly plain (i like it plain). accompanied by kimchee stew, salad, and other bbq-related bahn-chan.

oh, korean bbq (or, as they say in korea, just "bbq"), how i love you.

friends got together after others had visited 1st doh-mah with an former language teacher. they had a great experience and wanted to share with others. i was happy to be a part of that subsequent group ... !!!

in some ways, 1st doh-mah is just like any other k-bbq place. some booths, some free-standing tables. once your server takes your order, it's a flurry of activity. there's an in-table place, usually in the center of the table, where the servers will place the wood-charcoal (yes! one of the preferred methods) fire for cooking your selected meat. additionally, there's a gas burner for kimchee stew that comes with your meal (in addition to all of the other bahn-chan) to ensure that your stew comes to a boil right in front of your eyes. delish! 

at 1st doh-mah, you order your meat by weight. the general rule of thumb is 250g per person (about a pound a piece), but let's face it. i definitely can, and do, eat more. per usual, i will place a piece of deliciously cooked meat into a piece of lettuce, and shove it in to my mouth while grinning widely :D some people will dip the meat in a sauce, but i like it just as it is.

ooh, so hungry. let's go to 1st doh-mah now! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

골목 vinyl & pub

골목 vinyl & pub
용산구 녹사평대로 222, 이태원2동, 서울특별시140-861
tel: 02) 790-5979

what was consumed: drinks! and dehydrated veggie snacks. and bar nuts (though these are complimentary).

calling all vinyl lovers! if you haven't been already, be sure to head to goal-moke for somme drinks and some tunes played on vinyl. goal-moke has a large wall filled with vinyl after vinyl. you can peruse and once you find one (or many) tunes you'd like to hear, you take it to the DJ who will then incorporate your request in to his playlist (though not on fridays and saturdays. but the DJ is good! go to listen to good tunes). 

goal-moke is a bar in almost completely a western sense (they're located in the heart of the international area of itaewon. makes sense). as a result, they don't have a whole lot of food. but they have a few great snacks. and that they've chosen these particular snacks is what i'd like to comment on. in particular, i couldn't get enough of the dehydrated veggie sticks. i know, sounds weird, right? i don't know how they're prepared or even if they're prepared in house (i think you can purchase this off the shelf - must. find. it), but love that it's a part of their menu. i am frequently tempted to order an entire order just for myself. when did i start worrying i would look like a pig? 

goal-moke have a pretty standard drink list, though i will also comment that their prices are a little on the high side. or higher than other places, anyway. but i look at the price as including admission and the chance to hear (possibly) good music. in a chill environment. so be sure to put in your requests early and often to ensure you will hear your favorites.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


녹사평대로 54길 7 (용산구 이태원2동 704)

what was consumed: thin crust pizza, cheese plate, roasted nuts, and on-site micro-brewed beer!

of the great many things i love about my local staff, they're also great resources when it comes to delicious places to eat as well as trending locations (this, of course, in addition to being able to do some research on my own). so when kgj suggested we go out for beers at one of his favorite places, who was i to protest? in fact, and rather, i insisted (hehe).

magpie is conveniently located in an area increasing in popularity for tasty treats, near where most of the expats venture, on the nok-sah-pyeong side of itaewon. i guess convenient is relative. it's location is convenient for me. there are usually groups of people standing outside, enjoying a pint, mostly expats. looks like it's convenient for them too.

magpie has a list of pretty tasty pizza options. they make all of your pizzas to order, which means it takes a bit more time. that said, it also means they will accommodate  special orders and personalized requests. bonus.
their level 1 is where they brew the beer (from what i understand). next door, on the B1 level, is where they offer more seating, and where they make the pizza (you can order pizza on either level). polished (?) cement seems to be the primary choice for decor. i like that that gives it a bit of a brewery and almost rugged feel. also interesting is that magpie has bar seating, western style. i don't see that very often, but am happy to see it as sitting at the bar (alcohol or not) is probably one of my favorite places to sit at comfortable restaurants like this.

magpie is definitely on my list of places i take my guests, especially the beer enjoying ones. and even for those who are not, a must go. i've certainly been back, already and happily, multiple times.