Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Eating & drinking in Korea

As most of you probably know, I love to eat and also love to cook. Unfortunately, I will seldom be cooking because I lack the kitchen appliances and many of the ingredients. I don't even have a fork in my apartment but because of all the practice I have already grown quite accustomed to using chopsticks. I haven't even seen a fork since I arrived and a few nights ago I ate spaghetti with chopsticks for the first time!
Fortunately though, there are so many restaurants within walking distance of my apartment that I could eat three (very cheap) meals a day in restaurants every day for a year and never have to go to the same one twice! I can't believe how many restaurants and bars there are piled up to 7 stories high. Everyday I see a restaurant, bar or shop that's right next to my apartment that I never noticed before.
Kimchi is a very popular Korean dish that is served with nearly every meal. It consists of spicy, fermented cabbage and vegetables and is available in many different varieties. Another popular dish here is kimbap, Korean-style sushi rolls. One difference between Japanese sushi and kimbap is that kimbap contains many ingredients such as egg, carrot, cucumber, crab and often times ham whereas Japanese sushi often times contains only one ingredient such as tuna or salmon. There are also many noodle dishes, one of which is called mandu. I've only tried it once and can't say I'm the biggest fan but I'll give it another go at a different place. I've also had many delicious soups and also a tofu casserole at a kalbi restarant. At the kalbi restarants you order the raw meat (or tofu) and cook it yourself at the table--very fun!
The other day I went to a frozen yogurt and fruit place and saw spaghetti with fruit and pickles on the menu! It was also strange that my fruit and yogurt was served with toast.
And then of course there is the soju, which is equivalent to saki in Japan. It costs a mere 1,000won ($1) and I would compare it to slightly diluted vodka. Kid's Club, the school I work for, had a barbecue for all the American, Canadian & Korean teachers last Thursday and the owner of the school- Mr. Park-made everyone take shots of soju with him to declare his "affection & appreciation" for us. Just to illustrate the effects of soju--one of the teachers woke up at 4:30am, on an unknown sidewalk, ONLY wearing boxers! Everyone at the school the next day, including the director, had fun with that story...