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?
Wow it’s been a really long time since I last wrote a food review. Even more so since I had a proper Korean BBQ meal. Feeling absolutely desperate for some nicely grilled marinated meat, last week I literally had to drag my friend to a BBQ restaurant that I’d been dying to try out for weeks.
화통 (Hoatong) is a newly opened BBQ restaurant in Anam that has quickly gained popularity due to their fantastic menu relatively different from that of other BBQ restaurants. Even if opening 화통 meant Alice’s Table (one of my favourite cafes in Anam which I almost did a write up but kept procrastinating) had to shut down, the sacrifice was worth it.
Prepare yourselves for the best of cherry blossoms at Kyunghee University because boy do they bloom and beam right to the depth of your soul.
Continuing with my own edition of spring destinations in Seoul, this time I’ve chosen two places that I think are what make this flower admiring season a bit different from your experiences (if you’re not from Korea of course). Introduce to you Deoksugung palace & Changgyeonggung palace.