Tag Archives: Korea

Photo: Korea Is A Carnivore’s Dream (Unless You Like Beef)

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 🙂

Grocery costs are well below that of Canada, despite the constrained land to raise livestock and grow crops … economies of scale work wonders, what can I say?

Prices of items above:

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More South Korean Om Nom Noms

Caffe Bene Korea

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…

Honey Toast, Caffe Bene Korea

… 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! 🙂

Buffet, South Korea

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.

Kimbap, South Korea

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.

Pizza Maru Korea

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!

In Motion: A Rainy Night In Itaewon, Seoul, Korea

Itaewon Seoul Korea

Standing out like a patch of North America in the middle of South Korea, Itaewon is the preeminent foreigner hub in Seoul, and by virtue of this, the biggest gathering place for expats in the entire country. Western-style bars, restaurants, and stores with appropriately sized clothing are all available in relative abundance, leading to frequent trips to this area by desperate teachers from the provinces. Also, many Koreans find it to be the best place to experience foreign cultures in the whole country, made all the more significant by the fact that this country is very homogeneous (Korea is 98% ethnic Korean), making it hard to connect with all things international outside of this area.

Below, I make my first foray into this vibrant district, on a moody and rainy night in Seoul

Have you ever been to Itaewon?  Have a favourite bar/restaurant/shop you frequent there?  Let us know about it in the comments!

A Purrfect Afternoon In Seoul: Visiting A Cat Cafe In Hongdae

This Cat Cafe In Hongdae was heaven on Earth for me...

Seoul, Korea is known for many offbeat, quirky attractions in the expat community, but few places are quite as famous as the Cat Cafe. Located all over the city, with new similar businesses popping up all over the country (and internationally, I recently heard that there is at least one here in Bangkok), it exists as a place where urban dwellers that can’t afford or have a cat due to landlord restrictions can go for some feline de-stressing.

Or for cat obsessed people like myself, it’s a convenient place to surround oneself with the most awesome creature to ever walk the Earth … teh kittehs! (clearly, I’m a bit obsessed, but I don’t care 😛 )

To enter the Hongdae Cat Cafe, you need to buy a drink ... I got an iced chocolate

Upon entry, you remove your shoes and are presented with a menu and a list of rules to follow once inside.  After ordering your drink for 7-8,000 ₩ ($6.30 – $7.20 USD), you are admitted to the kitty wonderland, which boasts an assortment of feline subspecies to play with, feed, and to simply admire as they grace you with their awesomeness.  In case you’re wondering, I ordered an iced chocolate that was incredible, though it killed me to drink/eat the barista art on top of the whipping cream 😛

A sleepy tabby rests on a window at a Cat Cafe in Hongdae

A fluffy white cat sleeps high on a ledge

This cat doesn't want to be touched

I could just end the post here, as the kitties showed above trump anything I could ever write, but I got something better: video footage!  Enjoy 🙂

Want to know how to get to this specific cat cafe that I visited in this post? Check the map below and have a happy afternoon of connecting with man’s favorite master!

Map to the Cat Cafe in Hongdae

Love cats? Think they leave dogs in the dust? Jive with me below!

Cure For A Korean Hangover: Kimchi Jjigae. With Spam. It Works!

Kimchi Jigae is the cure for a Korean hangoverTruly, 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!

Optimized-IMG_0583The aftermath of a Korean food massacre…

What is your favorite cure for a Korean hangover?

Let’s Head To The Market: A Visit To The Outdoor Korean Food Market In Onyangoncheon, Korea

Optimized-IMG_0434Fuelling 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…

Optimized-IMG_0451 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.

Optimized-IMG_0452 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!)

Optimized-IMG_0453 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.

Optimized-IMG_0454 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…

Optimized-IMG_0457 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!