I think my first post about Korean food gave the impression that I didn’t really like said food and was struggling to acquire a taste for it. Well, I’m happy to report that since then, I have discovered more kinds of Korean food that I actually like, as well as places to find delicious non-Korean food so I don’t completely starve to death over the next year.
Another popular Korean dish is Bibimbap: a “mixed meal” consisting of white rice, sauteed and seasoned vegetables, chili pepper paste, raw/fried egg, and sometimes sliced meat, all served in a bowl. The ingredients are stirred together before eating, and it can be served either hot or cold. Bibimbap is actually the first Korean meal I ever ate: It was served on my plane ride from SFO to Korea; I remember all the ingredients were served separately, so I started eating them separately; then the Korean guy sitting next to me leaned over, pointed to the different foods, and made a “stirring” motion to me. Whoops.
A couple weekends ago, my co-worker, Mrs. Lee, and her husband took me out to lunch before taking me to see a Buddhist temple. “Do you like duck?” they inquired. “Sure I do, duck is delicious,” I replied. Little did I know the duck they had in mind would have a very interesting preparation method to it: After the duck was served to our table, Mrs. Lee proceeded to tell me that this particular duck is first COVERED IN MUD and then roasted. She doesn’t speak English well, so I wasn’t sure if she was confusing the word “mud” for something else, like “delicious Korean marinade” or “organic soy sauce.” Whether she meant “mud” or not, I ate it, because it would have been rude of me not to. I’m not gonna lie though: it was pretty good. (Just don’t tell anyone I ate mud.)
Along with new Korean foods, I’ve been trying other new ethnic foods as well. This past Friday night I ate one of the most amazing dinners I’ve had here so far: Vietnamese Shabu Shabu. Shabu shabu actually originates from Japanese culture where thinly sliced meat and vegetables are cooked in boiling water or a broth. I believe the main difference between Japanese and Vietnamese Shabu Shabu is that the Vietnamese style consists of wrapping the cooked meat and veggies in rice paper before eating, but don’t quote me on that.
Some of my saving graces while I develop a liking for Korean food are the foreigner cities outside of Suwon, like Osan, Gangnam, and Itaewon. These cities are filled with a variety of different restaurants that specialize in American, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, and even Mexican foods. And they’re legit too! Last week I ate at a Mexican food restaurant that served guacamole so good, you’d think it was straight from California.
I saved my absolute FAVORITE Korean food for last: Ice Cream Sundae Waffles. I say they’re “Korean food” because I have never seen such a brilliant idea served anywhere else other than Korea. Toasted waffles served with ice cream, fruit, syrup, and whipped cream? PURE GENIUS.
Needless to say, I’ve acquired a taste for the food here. California-approved guacamole and waffles with ice cream sundaes on top? The food in Korea is not so bad after all.