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Busan Food Journal, Part Four

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Great Korean Cookbooks

Perhaps it’s not surprising that we’ve had our most adventurous Korean meals when accompanied by Koreans. I think that locals enjoy pushing our boundaries — whether it’s to introduce us to new foods, or just because they like watching us squirm. So far, we’ve only said “no” once — and that was when an overly enthusiastic Korean invited us to a restaurant serving dog. Silk worm larvae or twitching octopus? Fine. But dog meat is a step too far!

Food Journal: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Five | Part Six

Bibimbap in Buk-su

After a full day walking around the northern neighborhood of Buk-Gu, we were famished and in the mood for something simple and filling. And, lo, did Woojung’s Bibimbap (우정) appear before our eager eyes. This restaurant near the Deokcheon train station (location) serves great, no-nonsense bibimbap, and seems to be especially popular with students. [More Pics]

Yeongyang Dolsotbap (영양돌솥밥)

We grabbed one of the last tables in a large restaurant near the Haedong Yonggungsa temple (location), and allowed the waiter to suggest our meal. It’s not like we could translate anything on the menu, anyway. Within minutes, our table was covered with bowls; as you can see, above, it was a ridiculous amount of food. And that was even before our main course was served: hot stone bowls of rice, mixed with black beans, ginseng and dried jujubes. After we had eaten most of the rice, the waiter added hot water to our bowls, making a rather bland-tasting rice soup. But after the crazy combination of twenty-four side dishes, a neutral flavor was exactly what we wanted.

Silk Worm Larvae

Mmmm, silk worm larvae have always been among my favorite snacks! Because I am a large, hairy spider, and after an exhausting day of weaving my web, nothing sounds better than kicking back and munching down the larvae of a silk worm. Wait a second… I’m not a spider at all, but a human being! So what the hell am I doing eating SILK WORM LARVAE?!

Pork BBQ at Don Pig
Pig on Fire

While we were wandering around Haeundae Beach looking for a place for dinner, we saw Don Pig and knew that our search was over. “Don Pig” is the best possible name for a restaurant and deserved our patronage for that reason alone. For a grill joint, the interior was squeaky clean… mainly because it had just recently opened. We got two fat cuts of pork and a ton of bacon, making for an absolutely delicious, and not entirely healthy, meal. Don Pig, ¡me someto a usted! [More Pics]

Lotteria Bulgogi Burger

One of the most popular fast food joints in Busan is Lotteria, which is part of the ubiquitous Lotte corporation. One day, we stopped at the local branch for a quick lunch. (Give me a break, we had just eaten silk worm larvae, I think we can afford ourselves a little fast-food now and again). I ordered the bulgogi burger — basically a whopper with the meat slathered in delicious Bulgogi BBQ sauce. Not bad. And I noticed something odd: we live in Spain, and Lotteria means “lottery” in Spanish. Spain’s most famous lottery is called El Gordo, which translates to “the fat one”. And here I was, slobbering the juice of a Lotteria burger down my fat chin. I may never win El Gordo in the Spanish lottería, but I can become El Gordo in the Korean Lottería! [Another Pic]

Eel Grill

One of the coolest meals we’ve had in Busan was at a makeshift tent set up in a parking lot in Millak-dong, at the northeastern end of Gwangalli Beach (location). This is a place for locals, and we’d never have thought about sitting down if we hadn’t been brought here by our friend. Seong-yeop took care of the ordering, and we were presented with a strainer full of fresh eel, which we grilled at our table. I’ve never had eel before and was shocked (not electrically) to find that it’s delicious, especially after marinated in the spicy sauce that was served alongside it. [More Pics]

Duck Bulgogi

We showed up in Sanseong Village after about eight hours of hiking the Geumjeongsan Mountain, shivering with hunger. I had read that grilled duck was the specialty here. And since Mommy taught me to always be prepared, I had memorized the Korean word for duck: “pihada”. The waitress came to take our order, and I confidently said “pihada”, but she didn’t understand. Eight hours of hiking! I was starving, exhausted, and quickly frustrated. Don’t want to deal with STUPID LANGUAGE PROBLEMS. So, I tried saying “pihada” more angrily. She still didn’t get it. So I yelled “quack-quack!”

“Ahh…” she said, her face flushing with sudden comprehension. “Duck!” In perfect English.

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More Pics from Woojung’s Bibimbap
Dolsot Bibimbap
More Pics from Don Pig
Eating in Korea
Bacon BBQ Busan
Also at Lotteria – Rice Bulgogi Burger
More Pictures from the Eel BBQ
Korean Eel
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June 7, 2012 at 5:23 am Comments (7)

Busan Food Journal, Part Three

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Korean Ramen

Dumplings, soju, grilled ribs, stews, chicken and lots of kimchi were on the table this week. It took us a few weeks to start to get the hang of Korean food, discover what we love, and what we don’t. For Part Three of our food journal, we mostly concentrated on restaurants around our neighborhood, Suyeong and Gwangalli Beach, but these dishes can be found on just about every corner of Busan.

Food Journal: Part One | Part Two | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

Kimchi Dumplings (김치 만두)
Kimchi Dumplings

Kimchi is the national dish of Korea, and people here eat it constantly. Generally, the spicy fermented cabbage is consumed straight out of bowls, but it can be prepared in a variety of ways. For a quick dinner one night, we stopped at a tiny restaurant along the Gwangalli Beach and ordered ten kimchi dumplings. After devouring them in ten bites, we almost convinced ourselves to go for another round. [More Pics]

Galbi (갈비)

For an early Saturday dinner in Nampo-Dong, we sat down at a restaurant called Busan Sutbul Galbi (부산숮불갈비) after having seen the commotion inside. The specialty here, and the most expensive thing on the menu at $22 per person, was So-Galbi: beef short ribs marinated in soy sauce and grilled at the table, and served with approximately six thousand side dishes. We’re starting to get comfortable enough with grilling that we don’t require assistance from the waitress — tonight, I only dropped a couple pieces of the meat onto the coals, which constitutes a success, in my book. [More Pics]

Approx. location on our Busan Map

Budae Jjigae (부대찌개)

Budae Jjigae, also known as “Army Base Stew”, is an inadvertent relic of the Korean War. During the fighting, when Koreans were able to grow very little food of their own, resourceful chefs used the surplus found around US Army bases to create a rich stew filled with American staples like hot dogs and spam. Budae Jjigae has remained a popular meal ever since, and is now served in a variety of ways. Ours came with ramen noodles, rice balls and a ton of veggies. Delicious. [More Pics]

Dancing Bonito Flakes

“Service” is rapidly gaining ground on my list of favorite words. In Korean restaurants, it refers to the freebies which are occasionally set down at your table, and often include some great dishes you might not ordinarily try. At the popular Japanese restaurant Takedaya (다케다야 – location) the cook came out to say hi and offered us a couple free plates, one of which was flakes of dried bonito, curling and dancing around on top of a hunk of fried tofu. They looked alive, but were actually just cut so thin that the steam made them move. Our main dishes of Kake-udon and Bugake-udon were fantastic as well. [More Pics]

Location on our Busan Map

Duck Bulgogi in Rice Paper
Rice Paper Roll

We sat down on the floor at Tagguba (다꾸바) and, while working on a bottle of soju, watched our waitress set up the grill, carry three full plates of food (duck, veggies, mushrooms) to our table and then cooked them to perfection, taking care to continuously drain the fat. The hard part done, all that was left for us to do was dunk rice paper in water and create delicious mini grilled-duck rolls with the sauces and condiments spread across our table. Did we love it? So much so, that we went back with friends the very next week. [More Pics]

Chicken BBQ
BBQ Chicken

This meal at chain restaurant Mubwatna (무봤나 – location) had the benefit of being familiar to our western palates. BBQ garlic chicken, served with rice and chicken? That’s nothing to fear, in comparison to say, spicy octopus bibimbap. Which is perhaps why we chowed it down in about fifteen seconds flat. Mubwatna concentrates exclusively on chicken and the franchise near Gwangalli beach is almost always crowded. I occasionally enjoy challenging my culinary comfort level — but let’s not forget the importance of that word occasionally.

Cheap Hostels in Busan

More Kimchi Dumpling Pics
Dumpling Man
Steam Pots Korea
Late Night Snack
More Pics from the Galbi Grill
Galbi Busan
Korea Grill
Galbi Restaurant
Korean Galbi
More Pics of Buddae Jjigae
More Pics from the Japanese Ramen Place
Japanese Ramens
Japanese Noodles
More Pics of Duck Bulgogi
Korean Cook
Korean Mushrooms
Making a Roll
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May 27, 2012 at 10:45 am Comments (8)

Busan Food Journal, Part Two

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Buy Bulgogi Online

Early on, we started to learn how to pick out some of the Korean words for foods we especially liked. Bibimbap is easy, mostly a lot of “b”s strung together (비빔밥). And we could quickly identify both bulgogi and kalguksu. But we weren’t out of the woods yet! On one Saturday night, we sat down a popular place in Seuyoung and only realized at the last minute that they serve strictly intestines. Props to the English-speaking kid at the neighboring table for warning us!

Food Journal: Part One | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

BBQ Pork (목삼왕소금구이)

This was an adventurous meal at K’ubso-K’ubso (꿉소꿉소), near the Geumnyeonsan metro station (location). We were feeling confident (or, a little buzzed on soju) and took our seats at this popular restaurant, knowing full well that the menu would be entirely in Korean without any pictures. We didn’t even have our dictionary. And so we used the venerable and classy “walk around with the waiter and point at other people’s tables” method of ordering… and ended up with a great spread. [More Pics]

Hotteok (호떡)

These mini-pancakes stuffed with sugar, spices and sunflower seeds are one of the more popular types of street snack in Busan. We tried them once at BIFF Square (location), and they were good! But to make sure that the first time wasn’t a fluke, we tried them again. Yep, still good. We weren’t convinced though… and decided to try them a few more times to make extra-sure. It took forty-three hotteok-tastings, before an adequate confidence level was reached. Forty-four. It’s simply what we must do to maintain the integrity of our blog. [More Pics]

Korean Melon (오꿀복)
Korean Melon

The first time I saw this beautifully shaped and colored fruit, I thought it was an orange which had been carved for decoration. But then I saw them being sold by an old guy on the street, and realized there was no way he had carved all those oranges. I bought a few, and was surprised to discover that they’re in fact tender, sweet melons. To eat, just cut lengthwise down the middle, scoop out the seeds (I use my thumbs) and peel off the skin.

Cheese Tonkatsu (돈가스)
Cheese Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu is a dish which was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese, and has since found a permanent foothold in the cuisine of Busan. Our friends Robert and Jumi from Paella de Kimchi took us to a great restaurant called Rila Bapjip (릴라 밥집 – location) to try the crispy-fried pork cutlets. They were covered in a thick sauce and stuffed with cheese. So delicious, and the gorilla-themed Japanese restaurant near the PNU University was cute.

Waffle and Ice Cream
Korean Waffle

Is it a traditional Korean dessert? Do I care? Waffles are a popular breakfast item here, and at BeansBins (perhaps my favorite of Korea’s many coffee chains – location), they’re sold with two scoops of ice cream plopped on top. This makes for an excellent Sunday brunch.

Kimchi Jigae (김치 찌개)
Kimchi Stew

Gim-Bap-Jeon-Guk (김밥전국), on the southern end of Gwangalli Beach (location), turned into our go-to restaurant when we can’t be bothered to find anything else. Cheap, good and, most importantly, close to our apartment. Plus, the three women who work there are accustomed to dealing with foreigners. When I spit out “chu-cheon hae-ju-shi-gess-eo-yo” (What do you recommend?), our waitress took a second to figure out what I was trying to say, then laughed and pointed to the Kimchi Jigae, a rich stew. So that’s what we got, and it was delicious.

Bo-ri-bap (보리밥)

Not the best meal that we’ve had in Busan, Boribap is a dish of boiled rice and barley mixed with veggies and sauce. We tried this at a small joint near City Hall called Go-Hyang (고향 – location), which was full of women on their lunchtime break. All conversation stopped when we entered, and fifty eyes monitored our clumsy efforts to kneel and sit indian-style at the last open table. The other diners left us alone while eating, but as they left, each one stopped at our table to say “goodbye”. Kind of sweet. [More Pics]

More Pics and a Video from the Bulgogi BBQ
Meat Cutting
Korean Food
Korean Egg
Korean BBQ Busan
More Pics of Hotteok
Sweets Korean
Korean Street Food
Another picture of Boribap
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May 18, 2012 at 3:27 am Comments (5)
Busan Food Journal, Part Four Perhaps it's not surprising that we've had our most adventurous Korean meals when accompanied by Koreans. I think that locals enjoy pushing our boundaries -- whether it's to introduce us to new foods, or just because they like watching us squirm. So far, we've only said "no" once -- and that was when an overly enthusiastic Korean invited us to a restaurant serving dog. Silk worm larvae or twitching octopus? Fine. But dog meat is a step too far!
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