Eating & Drinking, Seoul
Eating and drinking with Koreans is one of the things that is most common and most difficult to get used to. At a traditional Korean restaurant, you will leave your shoes at the door and sit on a small mat on the floor next to a table that is only about 1 foot off the ground. Koreans always pour drinks for others at the table, but never for themselves. Money talks, and the older person almost always gets the bill. They don't split the cost and pass money around the table like most Americans! Unlike some other Asian countries, Koreans usually don't pick up soup bowls to drink the broth, instead they use metal spoons.
Western restaurants almost always serve meals in the Western style, with regular tables and chairs along with silverware. Even some of the more casual Korean restaurants use the Western style nowadays.
There are many foodstands all through Seoul. The serve really good snacks and sometimes Koreans are willing to wait for ages if they know the serving is good. If you are a bit hungry, these are great possibilities to try out some Korean food and it's ridiculously cheap. Usually just 500W (no negotiating).
If a visit to China is not complete without drinking tea, a visit to Korea is not complete without having a taste of ginseng. We went to this ginseng factory where this venerable root was sold as tea, as beauty powder, and mixed in soup.
I have tasted this ginseng chicken soup with the chicken so tender, it easily breaks apart, so you can eat the sticky rice inside. I love it because it's not spicy!
I flew into seoul from london on a Korea airlines 747 and was asked by the attendant whether I wanted european or korean food. I'm flying to korea and therefore I chose the local dish which was bi bi bap which is a rice dish. On delivering the dish she asked me "do you know how to eat this?" Being a portly chap I thought she was making a joke and just laughed and said yes. I then proceeded to eat each dish on the tray, a practise I continued for the next five days. On my flight out of korea I was offered the same choice and again chose the korean dish. Being an expert by this point I set about eating the meal to the shock of my Korean neighbour who showed me, like a child, how to eat my dinner appropriately. The trick is to mix everything to your preference into the main bowl, add veg, rice and the soup/gravy and then eat all together. Clearly I didn't know how to eat my dinner, I do now. Pleace learn from my ignorance. To be honest I don't think the locals are actually that bothered but boy did I feel foolish when realised my mistake.
There was a small store around the corner from my hotel that sold mini cans of coffee and lattes. I don't know why but I loooooved them. I guess I'm easy to please. I would walk by on the way to the subway and pick up a couple. One day the owner pointed toward what looked like a small oven. I couldn't figure out what he was trying to say so I just shrugged. Finally he walked over, opened it up, grabbed something inside and put it in my hand. Warm cans of coffee!!
Actually a lot of places in Korea sell these. I recently found a Korean grocery store close to home in the U.S. that sells them.
Try eating in any of the makeshift restaurants in Itaewon - there's a wide cuisine to choose from. The makeshift restaurants are usually white tents and inside there are plastic stools and tables.
Street food is everywhere and most notably found in the alleys of Namdaemun and Myeongdong. Korea's open-air markets are litter-free so I was encourged to try the tempura like food and put some mustard (didn't realize that was spicy !) Water please! No wonder they wash down everything with Soju.
There were also pork and chicken in barbecue sticks. I was not courageous enough to try that sausage like thing immersed in dark orange sauce boiling hot in cauldrons, it might be the pig's intestine they were talking about!
Apart from the makeshift restaurants, there are also Western bars and restos in Itaewon (this is their tourist area).
Itaewon Subway Station
Kimchi is a must have dish in korean meals and kimchi is actually a fermented dish made up of a spicy mixture of salted and seasoned vegetables,which includes slices of radish, red pepper,garlic etc..
The steps of making kimchi include;
1) Washing the vegetable,mainly cabbage.
2) Seasoning and stuffing cabbages and lastly,
3) Storing the kimchi.
The kimchi made in the winter are stored in doks.These vats are then buried in the earth to prevent freezing.
If you go to a traditional Korean restaurant, be prepared to sit on the floor at a small table -- especially if you go with Koreans! For most Westerners, sitting on the floor for extended periods of time can quickly become uncomfortable. Drinking doesn't really help -- except if you allow for the fact that it makes you pee, giving you an excuse to get up and stretch your legs. So, what I do when I walk into one of these restaurants is try to get a seat behind which sits a wall -- allowing me something to lean on during respites in the meal. I also recommend wearing pants that are dark to hid the inevitable staining that comes from chopsticking kimchi over your unsettled legs.
If you visit Seoul, be prepared to eat kimchi. A Korean would not consider a meal complete if it did not include two things: rice and kimchi. In case you don't know, kimchi is cabbage fermented with garlic anf red peppers to form a moist spicy concoction that is a featured side dish. Actually, to say it has to be cabbage is a lie -- there are kimchi zucchinis and kimchi cucumbers and several other varieties. It is said to be a good Korean wife, a woman must know how to make at least 16 types of kimchi and there is a kimchi museum outside Seoul which features hundreds of kimchis.
Note also in this picture that cissors can be used as a utensil in Asia.
Kimbap is one of the traditional Korean foods. It is similar to Japanese sushi rolls, but kimbap does not always contain fish. I have had kimbap with beef, crab, chicken, and other foods.
To make kimbap, koreans start with dried seaweed for the outer layer. Sticky rice creates the second layer of the food. On top of the seaweed and sticky rice, you will usually find thin strips of lightly fried ham, eggs, cucumbers, carrots, pickled radish, crab, tuna, topped with a little sesame oil and rolled into a "log" about 1.5 inches in diameter. The log is then cut into 1/2 inch wide disks ready for consumption.
Many traditional restaurants have heated floors and low tables, and you eat sitting down, usually on a pillow, with your legs folded. Make sure you take your shoes off, to spare looks of shock. Koreans eat with their right hands; I've never seen anyone eat with their left hand, which is troubling, because I am left handed. Koreans freely use spoons, so be glad! Spoons for rice meals, spoons for soup, however you want to do it. The uniquely Korean metal chopsticks can be VERY difficult to use for someone not accustomed to them (especially me, trying to pull them off with my right hand). Usually, people share soup meals by ladeling portions into bowls. I do see Koreans pouring drinks for one another, but I think most traditions like this are hanging-on more than they are standards to live by, due to Western influence in the latest generation.
One thing that annoys the hell out of me are the dainty napkins that ALL Koreans seem to use. I am impressed that they can get away with using them, but at each table where you eat, from Burger King to the most obscure traditional spot, they are there. I usually end up using 10 of them a meal.
This leads to another quibble I have- it is somewhat rude to wipe or blow your nose at a meal; I have received stares while doing this. The problem is, the food is so spicy, it is like turning on a nasal faucet. I usually end up with a pile of tiny napkins, which I usually pocket and dispose of later, out of shame, lol! Bibimbap comes with an amazing, spicy, garlic paste, that you can use liberally, to your liking, but beware!
Korean food is usually served in 5 minutes. How do they do it? Well, often they serve the dish in the bowl/burner they prepare it in, so it is still cooking when you get it. Definitely stir.
Also, you always get a tiny metal cup (usually cleaned via UV rays), which you may refill at a water station nearby (or a bottle of purified mul) at your leisure.
If you are pouring the drink, you never pour for yourself, someone will pour the drink for you, even if you pour for everyone else.
If someone offers to pour a drink for you, and they are OLDER, pick up that glass with two hands.
Always wait for the oldest person or the host of the dinner party to start eating first.
If someone invites you to their house:
It's customary to bring a gift, usually fruit.
When entering a house, and floor-sitting restaurants:
Remove your shoes. Which means, while in Korea, wear good socks (leave the holey socks at home).
If you compliment someone on something they have, for example, a bookmark, they will offer it to you. Don't be surprised at this kind gesture, and please, let's not abuse it either.
Street Vender Food of favorite Korean peoples. mixes the dressing materials.
Rice cake, Onion, Suger, Cabbage, ketchup, Odeang( mix and boiled fish ) boiled eggs with hot pepper(Gocheujang) This Teokbokgi is too hot and cheap Street Vender Food
Ho-Tteok is Chinese stuffed Pancake.
Wheat dough and stuff with suger and bake
on the hot plate. some time add with peanut and cinnamon. Generally the autumn and winter season vender food. among the famous Ho-Tteok venders, He's get a big money and enjoy popularity. you can find easy Ho-Tteok vender on the street.
Sundae is famous street vender food too,
this food is a Sausage made of Beef and Beancurd in Pig intestine. first time look or eat, you would not eat odious stuff like this
but almost like a this food korean peoples.
You can fine its Streets, Small markets, Alleys. There are few different style Sundae.
Ojingeo Sundae ( Cuttlefish Sundae )sundae Guk ( pork soup mixid with sliced seun-dae sausage )Frizzle Sundae,Sundae with chitterlings