Everywhere you go in Malaysia, one life-changing meal after another can be found in the numerous cafes, food courts and restaurants can be found on the main streets and back alleys of its cities, towns and villages.
While the home of Malaysian society can be found on the Malay Penninsula south of Thailand, the lip-smacking cuisine (such as the claypot chicken and mushrooms with rice dish above) can also be found throughout its holdings on the northern third of Borneo.
Malaysian food in Borneo is taken very seriously, so any foreign tourists that come here expecting a good meal are in for a serious treat!
Being one of its largest cities here, Kota Kinabalu is a natural home to the best of Borneoan cuisine, which is a mix of Indian, Malay, Chinese, and indigenous styles of cooking.
No matter your preference though, coming in one of these homely places and merely ordering a random dish will likely end with a pleasurable result.
With most meals costing less than $3 USD with drink included, it’s hard to go wrong (especially when you’ve got pork slices slathered in gravy, chicken noodle soup, and a refreshing mug of freshly squeezed pineapple juice sitting before, as it was for me above!)
In addition to all the world renowned natural scenery that can be found all around the Greater Vancouver Area, another aspect that makes this modern metropolis attractive to people from all over Canada and the world is its food scene. From restaurants (like the Indian place on Davie Street that is shown above), to public markets, the astounding variety of high quality cuisine and foodstuffs will blow the mind of even the most discerning foodie.
Of all the markets in Van City and area, the Granville Island Market is the most celebrated of them all. From produce to cheeses, prepared food to fresh flowers, even casual tourists will find enough stuff here to make a trip to Granville Island worthwhile.
To get here, either take a harbor hopper ferry across False Creek…
Or drive in underneath the Granville Street bridge!
All the best foodstuffs from farms across the Lower Mainland can be found here, including a bewildering array of cheeses…
… the bounty of the sea, from shrimp to scallops…
Maybe some fresh cut flowers for the missus, or that crush you’ve awkwardly eyeing up the past week or so?
And no matter who you are, it’s hard to say no to some field fresh berries!
Overall, the food on display here is well worth it just to gawk at it, but come for the freshly prepared meals (sadly, not photographed on this site for some reason), and if you feel like cooking up a storm in the hostel kitchen, maybe you’ll get some ideas from here!
Pictured above is the aftermath of a typical grocery trip in Korea for yours truly. Before you start getting concerned about me dropping dead of a heart attack at 35, know that most artery inflammation is mostly the result of over-consumption of simple carbohydrates (sugars + white bread) and trans fats (often created when processed foods are made) with red meat ranking well behind on the danger scale. Besides, I did buy spinach and onions before this grocery run, with remnants already in the fridge and cupboard, thank you very much 🙂
Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts (2) – 2500 won each = $2.27 CDN each Pork, cut into stir fry strips (3) – 1180 won each = $1.07 each
Big pack of ground pork – 3520 won = $3.20
Big bag of frozen Mandu (Korean dumplings) – 4500 won = $4.09
12 eggs – 3000 won = $2.73
Tall can of Cass Beer – 2500 won = $2.07
The sole expensive buy … small but good-looking beef steak – 6600 won = $6
All told, this haul, which was a bigger trip than I normally made, added up to 28,660 won, or $26.05 Canadian, which is markedly less than my grocery bill in Canada for a lot less meat. Not pictured or purchased on this run was spinach, which sells at Homeplus for about 1200 won a bag, or slightly more than $1 Canadian, rather than the $3-$4 it costs here at home.
Conclusion:Korea is paleo heaven (just learn to love chicken and pork a lot more, and request purple rice instead of the standard white rice at restaurants, and you’ll be golden!)
Readers: any killer grocery buys you’ve made in Korea? Spill your guts to us in the comments!
Throughout my time in South Korea, I tried many foods. Today, we will highlight a few more things I ate during the course of my stay here. Admittedly, some of them aren’t exactly exotic, but I feel they are at least somewhat relevant to those from the West heading to South Korea, either to teach or to travel. Let’s start with a late night visit to Cafe Bene, for a little spot of dessert…
… okay, maybe a big spot of dessert! This is Cafe Bene’s Honey Bread, a paleo dieters worst nightmare, as it is a carb bomb consisting of roughly 1018 calories of awesomeness. The honey flavoured bread is complimented by lashings of caramel sauce, a liberal application of cinnamon, and a massive dollop of heavenly whipped cream. I’ve also had this for breakfast a few times before … so wrong, yet so right! 🙂
One of the great aspects of my hagwon was once a month, we’d all go out for a buffet lunch together. Now in South Korea, buffets are EXPENSIVE, they are not the bargain basement affair that they are back in Canada. I was told that this particular restaurant cost roughly 30,000 ₩ ($27 USD) per head, and for the most part, the food fit the bill, as did the decor and surroundings. The mandu (Korean dumplings in the bottom left corner of the plate) were delightful as always, the squash dish was sweet without being overwhelmingly so, the spring rolls (I had eaten the other one) were quite satisfying, and the breaded Chinese chicken in the top right was sinfully delicious. Only the pizza was disappointing, but I had my expectations set lower on that count, so I wasn’t devastated.
You might that this is a sushi roll, but in Korea, while it may look like sushi, it is called and is something completely different. This is a kimbap roll, which is a roll of rice, carrots, radish, ham and cheese, wrapped up in a sheath of seaweed. Other kimbaps will have different ingredients for the veggies and meats, but the constituent ingredients of rice with a seaweed covering remain consistent through the offerings of this quick Korean meal/snack.
Unlike the buffet pizza displayed above, some businesses do manage to get pizza right in Korea. One such homegrown establishment worth mentioning is Pizza Maru. Baking their pizzas on a multigrain (MULTIGRAIN … IN KOREA?!) crust with a range of excellent toppings, and selling them at a steal of a price (8,000 ₩ or $7 USD for a 12-inch pie), you’ll be hard pressed to find better value for money in the country. Domino’s does the best job of nailing Western style pan pizza in Korea, but they come at a higher price point (12,500 ₩, or $11 USD for 12 inches), so when you’re running short and payday is not due for a few more days, Pizza Maru is a sure bet!
Have some hot tips about food in Korea, native cuisine or foreign food? Share them with us below!
Back in 2010 on my first trip to Thailand, my good friend Katie introduced me to the cheap and abundant cheap meal source located in every Thai city, town, or village: the local/neighbourhood food market. While modern supermarkets are spreading more and more with each passing year in Thailand, many Thais still pick up the ingredients they need to cook their meals at home at the local market every day.
For those who don’t want to cook or choose not to: there are also plentiful options for picking up a freshly cooked dish. In the photo above, Katie, being the kind, supportive, horizon-expanding pal that she is, goaded me into trying a battered chicken foot. It tasted like breading … and cartilage. 😛
What was the most bizarre thing that you have ever eaten?
Steam escaping from pressure cookers make this mandu shop in Hongdae easy to find
Prior to arriving in Korea, I had heard many great things about the food, so I was eagerly awaiting my arrival in Seoul to wander through an infinite selection of Korea’s culinary offerings. A particular restaurant in Hongdae had my rapt attention, after being featured in a video on the K-Pop and culture blog, Eat Your Kimchi.
The restaurant can be found by taking line 2 of the Seoul Subway system to Hongik University Station. Leave the station through exit 9, and after making a hard left, walk on the street you emerge at for about 200 metres until you reach the end of that laneway. Turn left again, and continue past the first roundabout you encounter, and keep going until to reach the second roundabout. Turn right on to Wasuwan-ro 29 gil, and stick to the right side of the street until you see steam billowing into the air from one of the shops. This is the restaurant in question, my friends!
After arriving, I promptly ordered a platter of modeum mandu (combination plate of Korean dumplings), which came with a whole assortment of mandus, which are ably described in a video by Simon and Martina of Eat Your Kimchi (I had attempted to do my own video, but I botched it badly … leave it to the pros, I guess 😛 ) in the video embedded below!
I will say that they were every bit as flavorful and enrapturing as I had hoped they would be. The fried mandus were especially satisfying, with the ball dumplings and steamed ones following closely behind in the pecking order.
Simply put: you gotta check this place out, guys … it’ll make full-blown mandu addicts for life, and that’s not a bad thing, as there are a lot worse things to be hooked on out there!
Ever tried mandu? Share your experience with us all below!
Truly, a sight for sore, hungover eyes: a pot of bubbling Kinchi Jjigae, with accompanying side dishes (banchan) about to will me out of my moribund state.
Drinking features heavily in Korean culture. There’s no escaping it, anywhere you go. Hofs/Pochas (Korean pubs) are on every corner. Bottles of expensive spirits are on the convenience store shelves next to the potato chips. On the way to school, one has to be careful, lest you step in Kimchi blossoms (that is, red hued vomit, made so by the famous Korean side dish).
The work culture here has a lot to do with it. Competition for promotions, acceptance, and even to get into valued jobs in the first place is insanely intense. Many people work 12-15 hours a day, and the stress placed on them to “do their job perfectly” leads people to this outlet in order to release their stress.
Along with heavy drinking comes the dreaded hangover. Koreans have developed fixes for this, as you might expect. The 7/11 and GS 25’s have coolers packed with remedies such as Morning Care. They don’t taste very good.
One thing that DOES taste very good, and chases away your self-induced, throbbing headache, is a steaming pot of Kimchi Jjigae. Kimchi has been purported to heal or prevent many things, such as the Common Cold, for example. I can’t say whether it does that for sure, but I CAN verify that it heals the aftereffects of drinking WAY too much Cass.
After taking that in virtually, does it make you want to cook some up in advance of the next big night out on the town? Find a recipe for Kimchi Jjigae, or just stumble into your local Korean restaurant, where an expat Ajumma will be more than happy to cook some up for your throbbing head!
Fuelling up on Don Katsu (breaded pork cutlet), smothered in a zesty garlic sauce, accompanied by all the usual banchan (side dishes), namely rice, tater tots (which I ate already, tee hee), a salad dish I can’t identify, plus some yellow radish and Kimchi…
Korea is a land of many unique foods. Kimchi stands chief among them, a fermented, spicy side dish of raw cabbage that many shy away from. Having indulged in it many times however, it is a taste that you grow to like in my opinion, and the spicy zing adds life to many meals without overwhelming them.
In order for the Kimchi, and the main dishes that it stars alongside to be created in the first place, the cooks, both household and professional alike, must first visit the local market. After catching word of an outstanding Korean food market in Onyangoncheon, the largest city in Asan, I had to check it out for myself…
A dizzying variety of produce, most of it from within the region, greets visitors to the market in Onyangoncheon
After taking Seoul Subway Line 1 to Onyangoncheon Station (visitors from Seoul will want to take an ITX train to the station [name is the same, as they share the same track] ), walk out onto the main street, and wander eastward for a couple of blocks. After this, cross the street and head south until you run into throngs of people, and an endless array of vegetables, fruits, seafood, baked goods, and people hawking crafts and other general merchandise.
A tantalizing array of Korean fast food (Ddeokbokki [spicy rice cakes in a red pepper sauce], Hoddeok [a pastry filled with brown sugar and nuts/seeds], sundae [Korean pork sausage], battered vegetables, etc) awaits those with a void to fill in their tummies (like me!)
An enviable selection of freshly caught fish waits patiently in their market stall, until a seafood chef comes by to arrange a marriage between them, some cooking oil, and a frying pan.
Awaiting a similar fate, a wide variety of shellfish are kept in good condition by constantly flowing water, until they find themselves in a stock pot later that evening…
Mmmmm …. Doughnuts!
After exiting the market, I came across a fountain just south of the train station. Before heading back to the terminal to catch the subway home, I found out quickly that this was no ordinary water feature…
What’s your favorite thing about markets? The food? The atmosphere? The people? All the things you can buy? Talk to us in the comments!
The starting point of my latest journey – the best city on the face of the Earth, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The trip – another 12 hour long haul across the big blue Pacific to South Korea. the mission: Teach the English to overeager Korean youngsters. Game on.
After sorting through reams of paperwork, spending hundreds of dollars, and struggling at times to occupy myself during three months of funemployment in Calgary, Canada, I was on the eve of taking off to tackle the next big adventure in my life. In the next few days, I was due to hop in a plane, head to South Korea (seemingly on the brink of nuclear war at the time of my departure, lol!) and teach English as a second language for one year.
I had just finished spending one year back in my native Canadia, reconnecting with family and attempting to pay off some debt, while figuring out where to steer my ship next. The prior is a story for another post, but suffice to say, the words of my traveling mates, urging me give teaching ESL in Korea a chance, came echoing back somewhere around November 2012. This, plus my discovery of eatyourkimchi.com, an excellent website focused on Korean music and culture, tilted my bow in the direction of the Far East once again!
This brings us to the day of my departure as I commenced flying to Korea … travel with me as I leave the comforts of home once again for the great wide open…!
The giant fish tank in the international departures area of the Vancouver Airport provides an appropriate send-off for Yours Truly. Quick, let’s make our way back to our gate, only five minutes till boarding call!
The Coast Mountains of Vancouver Island comprise the last speck of land that represents Canada on this flight. Judging from the epicness of the scene below, I will have to check’er out next time I’m home for an extended period!
Air Canada airline food: vastly improved from the last time I ate with them. Not only was it edible, it was flavourful and very filling. Great job guys!
After an disorientating 12 hour flight across the vast expanse of the Pacific, I was greeted by a guy who thought I was his guy and who I thought was my contact. Two elevator rides and a five minute wait in the backseat of a cab in a parking garage later, we both realized our mistake and hottailed it back for the arrivals area 😛
Here, I met my contact for ESL Partner, my recruiting agency, who welcomed to the country and walked me through the process of buying my bus ticket to Asan City, 2 hours and 45 minutes away (a good hour and a half south of Seoul). After a few mis-communications, I had my ticket in hand. After spending an hour watching a tape delay MLB game (the LA Dodgers, who have brought over Hyun-Jin Ryu, an outstanding pitcher from Korea, was the prime attraction), I was on the bus and off to Asan City…!
My room in Baebang (not in Asan city as I had previously thought!), after a deep, prolonged sleep. It would have been more prolonged, but I was expected at the school for orientation the following morning!
Have a great (better than mine?!) headed to Korea for the first time tale to tell? Share it below!