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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 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)

Grab a Seat in Eatery Alley

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How To Make Kimchi

There’s a small street in the shopping nexus of Nampo-Dong filled with stands offering a cheap outdoor lunch. Hot noodles, kimchi, rice bowls, tteokbokki (a spicy rice cake dish), all served up by a colorful collection of Korean lunch ladies. The map refers to this as “Eatery Alley”, which is about as accurate a name as possible.

Eat Your Kimchi

Each lunch lady is hocked on the ground in front of her “kitchen”, which consists of a big, solitary pot. They’re always at work, slopping more noodles into bowls, speedily preparing more gimbap, or counting their earnings. Each has her own specialty, and we opted for a plump, smiling lady serving a spicy-looking bowl of glass noodles. We chose her stand because… the noodles looked so good! Because… it seemed popular with the locals! Okay, okay, fine. We chose it because, after hesitating for a second in front of her, she yelled at us to sit down. And down we sat, onto tiny stools fit for a Barbie doll picnic.

We each got a bowl of the noodles and split a plate full of snacks, such as rice rolls, kimchi and seaweed. It was all delicious, and cost ₩7000 ($6.30) in total. At least, that’s what it cost the Korean couple sitting next to us. But the crafty old broad charged us 10000, even though she knew that we had been closely monitoring the other, just-completed transaction. She must have reasoned that we wouldn’t be able to argue… and she was right. I held up my fingers, trying to sign “7?”, but she just smiled and waved goodbye.

Still, it was a good deal, and we left full and satisfied. We promised to return, armed with Korean phrases like, “Please, my dear, I do believe you’ve miscalculated”. Or, “Could I have the local price?” Or, “If you don’t stop ripping me off, I’ll kick your damned table over”.

Location on our Busan Map
Hostels in Busan

Chop Stick
Green Bowls
Street Food Blog
Food Alley Busan
Kimci Mama
Korean Food Blog
Small Gim Bap
Hungry Korean Girl
Ice Rice Drink
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May 14, 2012 at 9:33 am Comments (6)
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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