Saturday, January 29, 2005

kalbi


Kalbi is great. The waitress brings over red hot coals and sits them in this metal thing in the center of the table. Then the waiter brings over a grill and laid pieces of meat on the grill. Then the dance begins. Side dishes arrive, there is constant fussing with the food on the grill. While the waiter puts meat on, and then cuts it up with huge scissors, we put some kimchi and garlic on and let it heat. Then you have to move things on the grill to the side so it doesn't burn and put more on. In between there is the fantastic vent dance too--pull down the vent closer to the grill, put the vent back up.

We were drinking soju and cider and things started to get funny and fuzzy. I made little wraps of meat, kimchi, and different combinations of the side dishes in a lettuce leaf, but I'm not doing it properly and it keeps dripping all over me. There is so much playing with your food that goes on with Kalbi. I love it! The delicate metal chopsticks make it fun too.

spicychickensnack

HOT! REALLY HOT!

Went out to dinner with Paul and John and ended up at WA BAR afterwards. We need to mix it up, this WA Bar thing is getting dull. What's not getting dull are the crazy varieties of fabulous foods! We went for Kalbi and then ate fun potato snacks and a sizzling spicy chicken platter. WA has foreign beers like Stella. That was nice. I've noticed that the Korean beers are not only making me fat and bloated but after two I've got a headache.

Monday, January 24, 2005

vitaminC


vitaminC
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
There's no such thing as getting sick in Korea. You must go to school or go to work even if you have a fever. Unless you are dying you're expected to show up.

This funny little beverage is like a sweet syrupy medicinal beverage. It's like Vitamin Water's pimp. It's the mack daddy of all vitamin drinks and they can't get enough of it here--like it's got crack in it. It wards off all the bad stuff and keeps the Koreans going.

I bought a phone card in the subway and the ajuma gave me a vitamin C drink as service. I love service.

hot koco


starbucks
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
I might as well have been in a mall in New Jersey... I went to a Starbucks in a moment of weakness. I needed a LARGE cup of something sweet and warm. The cups of tea are typically dixie cup size- the size of the kind you have at the dentist's office. This has started to wear on me. I'm not a super-size me kind of girl, but I just wanted a large cup- it's only hot water!

I went into the Starbucks in Itaewon. I was weak after my search for a cell phone was foiled yet again. I had intentions on ordering a simple English Breakfast tea. I wanted honey and cream in it. The only tea options here seem to be green tea (with a rice flavor) or "brown tea," which I'm not sure what it is, but I'm pretty confident that it's barley tea.

I ordered hot chocolate instead. It was so good. It tasted like a good hot chocolate is supposed to taste--dark, sweet, thick, creamy, and with a lot of whipped cream on top. I felt disgustingly indulgent, and guilty for going into a Starbucks, but it saved me. It was the perfect remedy for some no cell phone yet blues.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

delicious


itsRainingMen
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
Last night I went out to Itaewon with some ladies from work to a place called Heaven. It was the last and final night of Heaven, so they had a "drink till the last drop" event and they played disco and JULIE ANDREWS show tunes all night between performances. It was fantastic! The boys there were so adorable. I mean ADORABLE.

I met Ely, who is from Ohio and is in the air force and his cute little Korean boy who knew everyone in town. They were so hilarious and fun. We dance, dance, danced and sang our little hearts out! I miss my boyfriends from home, so it was a nice treat (miss koco is blowing kisses to Dave, Scott, Marc, Kevin, and TK... and Giorgio) and so much fun. Ely is movign to Boston in a couple of months and wants to visit NYC, so I'm shipping a hottie to Chelsea. Any NYC boys who want to take him out, please let me know, I don't think you'll regret it either.

Around 2 in the morning Ely tells me I have to go to Trance with them, because there's a drag show I'll love. I was wondering how long it would take me to find them... I guess not too long. Wherever you go you're still you, right? Everywhere I go I need to know, WHERE ARE THE DRAG QUEENS? Trance's Korean Drag Queen/Trannie massive was in full force. I heard they have fantastic plastic surgery here, but there were some exquisite examples that went far beyond my expectations. None of them spoke a bit of English, but these ladies spoke the universal drag language of fierce and could lipsync Rupaul just as well as, if not better than, a native speaking queen! They were loud, bitchy, and fabulous... though not as well put together as some other ladies I've known. One had half a hand of 2 inch pink press on nails and the other hand had some dying for a manicure little nails that had been gnarled down to stubs. I was embarrassed for her. I must say though, they have a hard job. It is not easy to find a drag queen or transgendered individual in these parts, and not only were they the performers/entertainment but they were also the bar tenders. So multi-talented and hard working!

I'm in love with them, mostly because they all wear afro wigs. One of the most amazing queens came up to us later into the ealry hours of the morning and told my new Korean gay boyfriend to tell me that my body was "so beautiful." Koreans are obsessed with who's fat or looking fat, but I have yet to find a truly obese person here. None the less, I was hugely flattered, overtaken with amazement, and had to humbly bow down to this queen of drag queens who thought I was cute. It was a perfect ending to a beautiful and delicious evening.

oh, and I got to eat toast-uh on the street. Unfortunately it was mushy, not my favorite kind.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Subway

There are a lot of western food chains here: Pizza Hut, Baskin's & Robbins, Papa John's, Starbuck's, KFC, Popeye's, McDonald's, Burger King, and Outback Steakhouse to name a few. I haven't been interested in eating any of this stuff, obviously, and I rarely eat that stuff even when I'm at home. For lunch the Korean General Manager got the staff Subway. We each got to order our own huge sandwich, which was a really nice and unexpected gesture. I decided to go with the veggie hoagie. In Korea this consists of lettuce, a couple of tomatoes, jalepeno peppers and disgusting heaps of mayo and mustard. Not what one would expect. My experiences with western food haven't been so favorable.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

squid balls

We ordered takoyaki at the bar. I was a pleasant surprise to find one of my favorite little treats from the East Village, originally from Japan, here in Seoul too. These little brown balls of fried... hmmm... what's in them? Maybe egg and something else? well, fried yumminess surrounds pieces of squid that float in the center. Usually they are covered with a little brown sauce, maybe teriyaki, mayo, and fish flakes. At the bar they also offered a sweet hot mustard as a dipping sauce and they taste a bit different. The Koreans added something to them to make them spicy. The boys were surprised I knew what it was. I was just happy.

Afterwards I saw a lady on the street with a takoyaki stand. Oh, the joys of street goodies are unending.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

service


fishysnack2
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
John and I went for some "toast-uh" and then out for some drinks at WA Bar after work. They have these tall square boxes where groups of people save their beer caps. When it fills up you get free drinks and snacks. John and I have been working/drinking diligently so we can win the prize. It will probably take a lifetime to fill, but it's fun to go there anyway.

The waitresses try to speak to us in English. Jenny is my favorite and one of my new Korean teachers. She only teaches me things like "you are so beautiful" and "angel" or how to say bakery properly. I have taught her "fabulous" and "hot" among other things. We discuss important topics like why Christina is better than Britney or what happens at the bath house. The boys tease me and say she has a crush on me. It's lots of fun.

If you stay at a bar long enough, and they like you, you get what's called "service" or free snacks. I love service because it's always something crazy I'd never expect. Today it was "gip'o" some kind of fish skin pancakes with peanuts on the side. For dipping sauce we had mayo and something else that tasted like a mix between hot sauce and bbq sauce. I didn't really like it. It was tough and rubbery, had a fishy taste and at the same time it was kinda sweet. Not my favorite kind of service thus far.
Paul and I met up with his friend Woo Seuck to grab something to eat in hongdae. We went to a manduguk (dumpling soup) spot. Ahh... it was lovely. I got pork dumpling soup. Afterwards we wandered around and I saw a million things I wanted to buy in the stores.

Monday, January 17, 2005

"Pizza"


"Pizza"
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
I love it. At the bakery you can find the funniest things. This is supposed to be like a pizza. In Konglish it's pronounced "Pee-cha" since there isn't really a Z sound in Korean. It always seems to have corn on it, or mayo.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Hottok


Hoduck
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
I could write volumes on the snack foods but to start we have to discuss hottok. All over the place you can find stands with hottok, the little fried fish shaped treats with red bean, and waffles. Hottock is by far my favorite. It's this greasy little pancake with hot cinnamon and sugar goo on the inside. Sometimes these stands on the street are open till like 4 in the morning. It's like that perfect falafel or the pizza place when you've been drinking. The cute hoduck lady outside work, who is like 4'7, is the best. I think of her in my dreams. It's amazing how she comes to me when I sleep "hottok... hottok... the most delicious street snacky snack you'll ever know (next to toast-uh)"

recipe

And now I'm hungry. what's new?? gotta go eat!

Friday, January 14, 2005

drinkin' is back in school

Drinking is such a huge pastime here. It's the only thing that will keep you warm. I can't believe how cold it is here. People act like they don't feel anything though. The big fashion is mini skirts and ugs, with NO TIGHTS! One of my Korean friends told me that economists believe that the length of women's skirts has a direct relationship to the economy. Things aren't going so well so skirts are super tiny. We often find ourselves commenting on "the state of the economy" as a lady walks by. Anyway, it's cold, we drink.

I can't believe how much a person can drink here. It's like the air is different and it helps you hold all the liquor. Everyone eats a lot more while drinking and you stay out all night. Bars close when all the people go home. Meaning, sometime when the sun comes up. They don't have daylight savings time here so it isn't really light out till around quarter to eight or so. I've found myself walking home from a night out and it was so fully daytime.

Soju is not my favorite. Mixed drinks are pricey. Beer is cheap. So I drink a lot more of it than usual. Makju cheseyo! (a beer please)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Songpa Market

I found an open market a few blocks away from my place. Oh, it's like the mother load of fabulous delicious treats and Korean yumminess. I stumbled across this little treasure on an evening stroll searching for an alarm clock. There was produce, like all kinds of lettuce, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and then some people are selling amazing types of fish on ice. There are butchers, grain shops, fabric shops, bakeries, kitchen thingie shops and little huts to sit and eat. There are a couple of dumpling ladies and a grocery store which is my new local hot spot. I picked up a few things, but I haven't quite worked up the nerve to sit down at one of the places with all the good stuff--little pancakes, fun looking things on a stick, and tempura!!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Green Tea

I had some out of this world green tea cake from Yummy that I can't stop thinking about. I can't believe how much green tea people drink here. There are two kinds at work, Green tea and Brown tea. I don't like the brown tea. No one uses sugar. I guess this is good because then I'll cut down on my sugar intake, but I really like sweet things.

I had to run off to the LGMart to hunt down some green tea ice cream. I was having an attack. I NEEDED it. It is a lot more abundant here. Instead finding a pint at the specialty deli that has all kinds of weird foods, it's at YUMMY and every other grocery store. FABULOUS.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

LGMart


Cereal
Originally uploaded by misskoco.
The LGMart across the street from where I work is my new best friend. It's is another place where they sell everything from green tea and great produce to ski boots and knitting needles, insurance (weird but yes, insurance), super cheap little journals (the kind I can't get enough of, for like W800 - 2500, that's like .80 to $2.50), and a food court and little stations where they sell yummy things like mini-melt ice cream or little fried custard filled fried snacks.

They have these sample stands with women wearing astro boy boots and flared leg warmer type thingies and they just scream at you. I have no idea what they are saying but they are loud and aggressive. My guess is that they're like "Pork, yes we have pork! It's the best pork ever! If you don't eat my pork I'm going to eat you!" They want you to eat their sample, bad. At times it isn't anything amazing, just like beef or juice, things people buy anyway... but that's the way it works here.

I've started to eat more meat here. It was pretty rare that I'd choose to eat pork, but I found myself at the LG mart searching for pork cutlets today. Oranges seem to be a big thing here. Apparently there's no "getting sick" or missing work so people load up on vitamin C and oranges. I picked up some red bean buns, tofu, dumplings (who knows what kind I bought but they taste good and they're not kimchi), orange juice, and soju. Soju is dirt cheap, cheaper than a beer at times--and sometimes cheaper than water!

At LGMart you also have to get your produce weighed in the produce section before you pay for it at the register. You get what you want and then they put a little sticker with the price on it. I've since learned that you don't need to take a bag for bananas, and that you aren't supposed to separate certain types of bananas, even if you just want a few. This is a no-no.

Interesting note on bags: you have to pay for a plastic bag, usually about 20 won, which is like 2 cents. I don't see how that is an incentive for you to bring your own. I'm still learning how to be polite, there is a certain way to respectfully hand money, or anything for that matter, to someone. I just keep bowing and saying thank you like a moron.

Traditional Korean

The staff went out for a traditional korean meal last night. It was INSANE! The place looked like an ancient temple. We took off our shoes and sat on the floor in our own little private room. I love that. Then the eating started. I tried everything and didn't ask what it was till after. There were so many dishes I can't even begin to describe what they were all like. There were at least 20+ dishes.

Notable ones:
1. cow cartilage, which is apparently an expensive delicacy, has a different taste completely than I would expect something like that would taste like. I must admit it did have an interesting texture. Kinda gooey, squishy, and firm towards the center.

2. At the end there was a cold cinnamony drink. I liked that. It was like drinking red hots. This came right after the warm burnt rice water soup. I didn't like this at all. However, I think that the two dishes together might make a nice breakfast snack.

3. Korean tacos: this was kinda funny. mini tortilla like thingies and mini shredded this or that in tiny bowls.

Doing dishes must be a task at these places. There were so many little dishes and bowls

Monday, January 03, 2005

newness

I walked past a tank of live squid. A TANK FULL OF SQUID. The sight of so many grabbed my attention, their movements struck me, and the simple fact that I had never seen such a sight became noteworthy. Strange little creatures. There they were, a whole bunch squirming, and floating, and undulating. This may be the norm, this tank may have existed all this time that I've existed on this planet, but I never saw it this way. I never walked on this block and this is not my norm. There are so many things here to make routine. I enjoy finding what's familiar, what is not. I'm enjoying these moments. There are so many I hardly have the time to record it all.