Korea Diary | Cuz I'm a fattie...foodie (Days 15-18)The next few days must have not been very interesting in terms of going out and seeing. But for me eating is just as important while traveling. When not in class or doing school related things during the week, food was always on my mind.
I don't really remember much for this week. But Bestie's blog said Day 15 was a super chill day. We ended up sleeping in and then grabbing lunch in Edae.
Bibimbap seems like a pretty fancy dish to foreigners. In fact an order of bibimbap costs around $10-15 dollars in New York City. But one of my Korean teachers at KLI/YISS said that Koreans don't really eat it all that much. (Don't quote me on that one.) It is essentially just a mishmash of vegetables and meat, if desired, with rice and a spicy sauce. In practicality, it is a very leftovers friendly meal. Dolsot bibimbap just means everything is served in a stone pot to give a crispy layer of rice at the end. This particular one was nearly half the price ₩5,000!
A bowl of mixed rice is more than filling. Yet I still ordered soondae ddeokbokki for lunch as well. How can I say no to rice cakes? It's chewiness is one thing I cannot turn away from. But I think what ultimately led me to order it was the price: ₩3,500. At that price point, I sort of assumed it would be a small portion. Boy was I wrong.
We stopped by Sinchon after lunch to go to a big grocery store. There were necessities like fruits and toilet paper that we needed to purchase. While toilet paper was available in the GS25 convenience store right below the dorms, it was much cheaper to buy it outside.
It was also nice to just take a walk to digest all the food we consumed and to enjoy the nice sunny Seoul weather. Would never know when monsoon rains would fall. Others had the same idea and brought out their skatesboards to the empty streets of Sinchon on a Sunday afternoon.
A mid-day snack of ice cream sandwich from Paris Baguette. I think they called it dorayaki, which is a Japanese pancake sandwich with red bean filling. This cold sweet doesn't stand out much in my memory but the concept was nice. I usually have a difficult time with ice cream sandwiches because of how frozen solid the cookies are. A pancake version was slightly easier to chomp on.
Sunday night delivery night! What can I say more? Whilst the food wasn't the best quality, it was a sort of comfort food for us. Something that was filling and shareable (kind of) yet no one had to care how they looked eating it. Brilliant!
Have you ever heard of banana milk or banana ooyoo 바나나 우유? It was something I heard of from Korean dramas and variety shows, but never tried. The banana milk tasted like cereal milk to me more than banana + milk. It had the extra sweetness kick that you would get from soaking your sugary cereal in cold milk. For those that have tried it before, do you think so?
Day 16 marked the first full week of classes. In reality that just meant an extra day, 4 days instead of 3, when compared to the previous week.
I purchased some breads for breakfast from Paris Baguette the day before in order to have one less thing to worry about in the morning. Imagine the surprise when I woke up to a breakfast treat from Bestie.
My morning Asian art history class was held in the EDU building near the main campus area. The above photo was a view from the top floor of that building. The little specks of brown amidst all the trees was where the dorms and Korean language buildings were. It was quite a trek from one point to the other. Despite all the eating, we still got our daily doses of working out by going to and fro.
It is plain to see that I was not very adventurous with meals the first few weeks of classes. Lunches AND dinners were purchased from the local convenience stores. Luckily there were about 4-5 convenience stores near the SK Global dorms. If there wasn't a good selection at one, it was a quick walk to scout another. I had never been to convenience stores as much as I had in Korea.
To not bore you guys with too many food posts...Enjoy the sunset from our dorm room!
I mentioned this earlier in the post already, but the summer in Korea usually means monsoon season. The year we went to Korea was an unusual one in terms of weather. A friend who went the previous year warned me of the crazy monsoon storms. How even your shoes could fall apart from the powerful rains. Bestie and I went prepared with our umbrellas and raincoats. Some Californian friends had specially bought rain boots for their stay. But luckily it only rained about a handful of times in the 50 days we were there. Of those handful, only a couple were of the torrential downpour capacity.
After a few too many convenience store meals, I told Bestie C I had to go out to try Okrumong down the street from the dorms. We passed by this desserts shop many times on our way to Sinchon and it was just calling my name. Mandy...we have red beans! So many red bean treats! Come, come!
I originally went in wanting to try the red bean porridge or patjook. However the names of the patbingsoo and patjook on the menu were similar, traditional (jeontong 전통) red bean shaved ice (patbingsoo 팥빙수) and traditional (jeontong 전통) red bean porridge (patjook 팥죽). The cashier must have heard wrong or I might not have been very clear. Either way, it did not matter!
The red bean shaved ice was delicious. How can ice be delicious you say? Well it isn't just ice...silly. Okrumong's patbingsoo is soaked in a sweet milk, maybe a watery condensed milk. Then it is covered in a layer of sweet red beans. At the end it is topped with 2 rice cakes or ddeok or mochi. This is definitely the most traditional version of patbingsoo there is. The ice could have been shaved a little finer but the sweet milk makes up for it 100%.
Bestie is the biggest matcha fan. It was only right for her to go for the green tea version. She really liked it and said the matcha flavor is definitely there. It is no skimpy, "only the top layer is matcha", type of shaved ice either. The ice was soaked in the green tea concoction. I gave it a try and wasn't too excited. The matcha was too strong and natural for my tastes, i.e. bitter.
These two bowls of red bean shaved ice will set you back ₩8,000 or ₩9,000. While it may look like a small rice bowl sized serving of shaved ice that's not worth the month, I assure you it is not. Please share with someone if you're eating this on a full-ish stomach. Okrumong is a chain in Korea and even have locations in California if I'm not mistaken.
Of course there were other red bean and rice cake sweets on the menu that I wanted to try.
One being the traditional red bean bread or jeontong patbbang 전통 팥빵. It is simple and we have similar breads to this in the Chinese bakeries in New York City, but I had to try it anyways. It was a nice ratio of bread to beans and just the right sweetness. But for ₩2,500, having one was enough.
The second & technically also third were these baked glutinous rice cakes or koo-oon chalddeok 구운 찰떡. Now these were something I don't think I have seen before. I have had sticky rice cakes boiled as tongyuan and steamed in other Chinese desserts, but never have I seen it baked like this.
The menu says the black version was black rice mixed with nuts, while the white version is made of white rice. Both were topped with a dollop of red bean paste in the center. Each little medallion was ₩2,000. I liked these even more than the beloved red bean bread.
On day 18, we went a step above our typical convenience store meals of the late. All that meant was getting lunch and dinner from the restaurants on the ground level of the dormitories. We opted for the trusty Obong Doshirak and a new contender, Crazy Brown.
I had ordered the chix steak. My only memory of it was not bad. What did leave an impression in my head was the pizza Bestie ordered. It was definitely not what I would have ever imagined. But then again potato isn't a typical topping we would see in America now is it? Safe to say we all agreed that Crazy Brown probably wasn't a "visit again" restaurant.