Yo I’m on a roll. 2 entries in 2 days. Either I am on drug or I don’t have a life, or both.
Anyway, yesterday, me & two amigas from Finland decided to meet up after weeks of not seeing each other. We skipped all the greetings/ hugging/ being emotional after eons of being apart and went straight to business: lunch, right now.
Being ever resourceful, I already came up with a place for us to try: 레타스 Shabu-Shabu (Let Us or Lettuce Shabu-Shabu) in Hongdae. I am not a fan of Shabu, the hardcore woman in me prefers the tongue-numbing piquancy of Sichuan hotpot, but upon learning that at Let Us one can eat ALL one wants in 90 minutes… well, quite a no brainer that it is da place to go.
It has been a what-the-fuck month for me, thus explains my M.I.A. Nowadays I mostly stay put in my cozy room & ponder over life & death, while eating cheap gross food because I honestly stop giving a fuck about my once passion in life, eating good food. When I stop giving a fuck about food, it means I am in a serious shitstorm.
Anyhow, things have been picking up, slowly but steadily recently. And I attribute such progress with my thrilling experience with 1.2kg of beef last week. Ugh. So good. To be fair, I have eaten out a bit past month, but it’s mainly uninspiring chicken & pork & one or two visits to plain cafes (none worth writing about), only Dally So in Hongdae, however, can give me enough incentives to actually sit down & rave about it.
After 3 years of residency in this fine city, I realize that except for the numerous restaurants I have been to, I have pretty much avoided popular places in Seoul like a plague. I always have a tendency to avoid tourist traps, or generally places with too many people… you get my point.
Thank God(?) I now have 2 friends fresh from Europe who are eager to soak in the atmosphere of this city. As much as I hate to travel outside of the Sinchon-Edae vicinity these days, courting these two curious folks to popular places in town is a perfect excuse/motivation for me to actually look at Seoul from a non-foodie POV.
Ugh I speak too much. Let’s cut to the chase. Yesterday was the biggg day for Seoulites because it was the time for the annual firework festival. I hate fireworks, I think that it is a waste of money, but due to various reasons I listed above, I decided to go out and have fun (lol). Determined to avoid the insane crowd of firework-lovers by the river bank, the friend and I aimed to a higher ground.
I love dakgalbi. My first proper meal in Korea was dakgalbi; it is my ultimate comfort food and something I never get tired of. So, naturally, when I came across a place offering dakgalbi with cheese, I was almost ecstatic. I miss cheese, people. I am well aware that Korea is no Europe, and real cheese in Korea is almost as expensive as gold. Desperate time calls for desperate measures, meaning that when I am in dire need of cheese, that white, synthetic, plastic-kind-of-but-not-too-gross cheese is not too bad. Mind you, I say NO NEIN NEE 아니 to that yellow cheese pathetically sitting on top of those semi-hamburgers and sandwiches. The white cheese, however, I can deal with on a not so regular basis.
Strangely enough, cheese dakgalbi proved to be more than satisfying a feast. And I don’t think it was just because I was desperate.
I have been in a state of perpetual hunger & poverty lately. I kid you not, what I have been eating as of recently mainly consist of tofu soup & more tofu soup. Although tofu is rich in protein, I still find my diet seriously in need of more of those organic compounds in their purer, better form (read: meat). So what do you do when you want meat but you have liquidity problem? Stick with (generous) friends, of course. I consider myself a lone wolf, but when my appetite calls, I suddenly become the richest man in the world surrounded by altruistic, big-hearted, noble and charitable souls.
Okay, long story short: I just had a terrific Korean BBQ meal for free. Guys, if you are reading this post: I am very grateful. My gratitude, though, does not necessarily compel me to treat you folks better.
Now let’s move on to the review.
It’s already mid-September, and writing about the ubiquitous ultimate Korean coping method against the perennial summer heat, i.e. patbingsu aka shaved ice with stuffs on top (which I had written a lot about) seems like a proper act of trolling. Well, I’m all for trolling, so here we go again.
Let’s chat for a bit. If you are a moderately long time resident in this fine city, you would notice that sometimes a food/drink chain would pop outta nowhere. All of a sudden, all over the city, you see that same chain store. Summer is the particular season for that kind of culinary outbreak. I could name a few names here, but let’s just stick to patbingsu. Last year we had 옥루몽–that traditional-looking chain resto with wooden decor serving traditional-styled patbingsu with humble red beans and tteok. 옥루몽 was seriously everywhere last summer. Everyone seemed to eat at 옥루몽. I mean, a touch of tradition amid all those fancy twisted patbingsu with strawberries and tiramisu seemed like a recipe for success at the time. Too bad, this summer, 옥루몽 is so last year (and it actually is). The new buzz of da city is the bigger, sleeker 설빙 (sulbing) http://sulbing.com
Hi, okay, I am back, I guess. Where have I been? Tanzania & Kenya, then back to Korea after a 30-hour flight (layover time included) amid the Ebola outbreak -.- Good thing is that I have now settled in at Yonsei dorm, bad thing is that I am just back from a 5 day trip to Cebu where, conveniently enough, a tropical storm hit the country and my plan to see things was wrecked. I love my life. The cherry on top is that my plane touched down in Korealand at 1am and I am now waiting for the first limousine bus back to my dorm which will depart at 5:30am. No I am not complaining I am just ranting.
Sarcasm aside, I am back, guys. I am in a shitty mood (those who follow my facebook will understand why), but I am also professional. I simply cannot let my mood defeat my purpose in life, i.e. eating good food & blogging about it.
That said, what is better to mark my comeback with a review of Korean BBQ?
If there is only one place to go in Athens, I’d head straight to Anfiotika.
Don’t get me wrong. Athens is quite an amazing city. The Acropolis is mindblowing. The food amazing and the coffee incredible. Athens, in a way, reminds me a lot of Hanoi–that bustling, chaotic city with too much heat and too much traffic. Just like how I cannot quite identify my feeling for Hanoi, be it love, fear, hatred, confusion–I am not sure how I felt about Athens. Athens is so different from the Western European cities I have been to; it possesses a totally different vibes from Mediterranean destinations I have visited. I tell everyone I know to visit Athens because, heck, it’s cheap, and I usually stop there.
But if there is one place that makes me want to go back to Athens, again and again and again, it must be Anafiotika.
Sunday means nice brunch and long conversation over a cup of tea/coffee/anything you want really. Sunday also means spending a little more frivolously and indulging ourselves some extra sweet we’ve been craving all week. In short Sunday is a perfect day for afternoon tea. That said, never in my two years of living in Korea had I actively searched for a place serving high tea (the last time I read a high tea review in Seoul was at least 6 months ago) nor bumped into a cafe that actually offers the service. That is, until last week when I stumbled upon Bloom and Goûté – a pretty flower cafe that looked too good on the outside to pass by.
My body was ready for the fabled pastel de nata. That Portuguese pastry, with which I have been harboring a hopeless helpless love for years, was the main reason I booked my tickets to Lisbon. I am well acquainted with this creamy, flaky custard tarts; back in the days in Hong Kong, the bf and I found every chance to indulge ourselves in this precious golden pastry, and I sometimes had to resort to those feeble tarts in Seoul to satisfy my sweet tooth. It was a religious moment when I brought myself to the most famous, oldest pastel de nata cafe in Belém, when I finally saw those real authentic beauties with my own eyes and carefully savored them as tears came out of my eyes and all those wasted years of eating the second-rated tarts flashed by with a tinge of shame and regret.
As much as I adored egg tarts, Lisbon’s culinary scene turned out to spread farther and wider than those pastries. Lisbon has to be my food city in Europe, everything was so cheap and so good, so authentic and so hearty. For 5 days there my belly was filled to the seams with amazing seafood, sensational pastries and, well, let’s throw in some alcohol to make everything jollier, shan’t we?