Eating & Drinking, Seoul
It's more polite to bow than to shake hands in Korea it seems. Well, given the recent SARS scare, it's more germ-friendly to nod than to pass your snot to an unsuspecting chap, right? Courtesy aside, there's no need to worry about this, there was never a single SARS case in Korea as this is a GARLIC-LOVING country. I don't think it's possible for these people to get SARS or for Dracula to go near them as they get loads of anti-oxidents everyday by eating kim-chi.
Now if you have not tasted this delightful pickle before, try it in Korea. Go for the cabbage as a starter. The rich, alchoholic and spicy taste of garlic and chilli will overwhelm your senses.
How do they pack in the punch? Well, traditionally, this pickle is fermented in earthern pots and buried in winter grounds.
Of course, there are now more advanced methods of making this pickle otherwise you'll have Korean treasure maps all over the place. Other than plain ol' cabbage, you can find kim-chied cockles, fish roe, cucumber and other exotic creatures you won't dream of eating. Try it, it just doesn't taste the same elsewhere.
There are three things all Koreans seem to love: eating, drinking, and hiking. They tend to eat constantly and not gain any weight. Finding an overweight Korean is like finding a skinny American. They just don't exist.
Koreans love to drink, especially soju (clear rice liquor). This is the national beverage of this country. Throw in maekju (beer), dong-dong ju (milky rice wine), and any other ju you can think of, and you'll have quite a mixture.
Finally, Korean love to hike. Recently I hiked Mt Surak (Suraksan) north of Seoul. There were so many people there, I had to wait in line for up to 10 minutes just to follow the path. Many Koreans go decked out in all kinds of gear such as fancy jackets, backpacks, aluminum alloy hiking sticks, etc.
While at Suraksan, I witnessed the Koreans combining all three of their passions at once. Take a look at the picture of Koreans eating and drinking during a break in their hike. It may be hard to see, but some of these groups have several empty bottles of soju.
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.
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.
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
If you are invited to a Korean barbacue never say no. It´s my favourite Korean food. It´s amazing the number of plattes they put on the table. You grill the meat on the table. Usually there are two types: pork or beef.
How to eat it? Take a leaf with your left hand, put some meat inside, garlic and the red spicy sauce, envelop and eat it (one bite).
Kimchi is always present in a Korean table, it´s a very spicy cabbage. Koreans use to drink Soju, arghhhh! The first day is not a problem to drink this kind of liquor but after trying it deeply one time you´ll hate it!
Sometimes after having a dinner you are
taken to a karaoke by the locals.
Beer, or "Maekju" in Hangeul, in probably the most popular Korean drink for foreigners. The two most common brands are OB (Oriental Brewery) and Cass.
OB, first brewed in 1933, has 4.4 % alcohol and claims "timeless enduring heritage, craftsmanship and new rice addition deliver refreshing smoothness and clean aftertaste, making OB the most drinkable beer." I'll admit, OB is VERY drinkable, but I really couldn't taste their "new rice addition."
Cass is the newer brand, and has 4.5 % alcohol by volume. Rather than taste, Cass declares itself as "the Refrashing Beer that Vitalizes Youth and is Cold-filtered for the most Freshness." If I can say one thing about Cass, it certainly Vitalizes Youth, if my understanding is the same as theirs... During my time here, I never quite figured out how to say "Cass" so that Koreans understood me... I tried cass, cahs, caws, cassa, cassu, caus, and other varients with no luck. If anyone can give me the correct pronunciation (and something it rhymes with), I'll be forever in debt!.
You will occasionally see Hite beer, Hite Stout, and Cafri but none are as Drinkable or Vitalizing as OB and Cass. Through my most dilligent research, I have concluded that OB, Cass, and Cafri are all brewed by the same company -- see Oriental Brewing Co's website at www.beer.co.kr. Hite's website is http://www.hite.com
Other traditional Korean liquors are soju, or potato wine, and makgeolli, a milky rice wine.
A Korean food custom is rice cake candy. This is popular at festivals and, for some reason, in subway stations. This candy is made by beating the snot (or as Koreans say: nose water) out of rice until it becomes sticky and chewy. It doesn't have much taste until the balls of rice candy are coated with cinnamon, sesame seeds, or other tasty items. The rice candy is often filled with sweet red mung bean paste which sounds disgusting, but actually tastes pretty good.
Dried fish are found in all shapes and sizes in Korea, and I found it fascinating to walk around and look at the open stalls where they were both laying and hanging.
You are often offered to have a taste of a dried squid, a dried shrimp or other small dried fish when you are wandering around looking at the stalls, and some were pretty tasty - very different from Europe!
I love to make Kalbi (even now that I'm back in the US). The right cuts of Kalbi meat are sometimes hard to find...in English, look for beef chuck short ribs. It seems that all Korean groceries in Korea and the US sell this cut, but big American grocery stores rarely have it except in areas with large Korean populations. Sometimes you will find the meat thin cut with 3 thin ribs, but to make kalbi like Koreans make it, you'll need the kind cut into a roughly 1" x 2" x 2" cube with one thick rib. Cut it from the edges into an S-shape from the top so it stretches into one long, thin piece (see picture).
Kalbi marinade is sold at most Korean grocery stores as well. Just soak the thawed ribs in this sauce for 4 hours or longer, or make your own marinade from soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, corn oil, garlic and onion.
The best condiment is the roasted hot pepper paste (called go chu jang) that is spicy but flavorful, and is also frequently used in bibimbap and dolsot bibimbap. Many people call this spicy bean paste, and it does contain soy beans, but it's mostly red peppers and glutinous rice.
Serve the kalbi on romaine lettuce, with fried sliced garlic, sticky rice (in the US buy Calrose Rice), and maybe some fried mushrooms.
Popular side dishes with this meal include kimchi, spinach seasoned with sesame oil, seasoned soybean sprouts, and sliced pickled radish.
I often serve mandu as an appetizer with rice cakes as a desert.
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.
In traditional Korean Restaurants, you will remove your shoes at the entrance. This means you must wear a decent pair of socks! Also, Koreans do not tie & untie their shoes each time they put them on/take them off. Instead, they tie them very loose so they can be slipped on and off. You would be wise to do the same... your Korean hosts won't want to wait for you to play around with your shoe strings -- they'll be halfway down the block before you finish.
Note the photo of a shoe rack in Songtan, Korea. My Korean host translated the sign above the rack to read, "please don't leave with nicer shoes than you had when you arrived."
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.
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.
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