Korea Diary | First Class Trip & All-You-Can-Eat KBBQ (Day 19)
One of the reasons why I signed up for my Asian art history class at Yonsei was because of the scheduled field trips. Going to museums is something I enjoy. It is a plus if I could sneak a visit during class time. The first of the multiple class trips was to the National Museum of Korea 국립중앙박물관.
As it's namesake reveals, the museum houses everything that was a part of Korean history. From religious to non-religious, art to artifacts, and royalty treasures to commoner commodities. The exhibits are grouped and laid out across the multi-level museum by time period. For history buffs and anyone else intrigued by the past, it would be very easy to lose a few hours time exploring everything.
Since our class disbanded earlier than expected, Bestie C (who also took the Asian Art History course) and I decided to finally give Korean McDonald's a try before strolling around Sinchon for a bit. They had a few items that were also on the American menu, like the Big Mac for sure. But we were in Korea so the Bulgogi Burger was an obvious choice. From the looks it was just like any other McDonald's hamburger, just sans pickles and with lettuce instead. The bulgogi part mainly comes from the sweet sauce. Bestie and I both agreed on how different the bun tasted. It was much softer than expected! (That was a good thing.)
Word to the wise: Korea's trash disposal system is very organized and strict. You might not notice at other restaurants because there are people to clean up after you. At some cafes and fast food chains like McDonalds, however, you will probably have to throw out your own trash. A few things to keep in mind:
- everything recyclable should be separated from non-recyclable food garbage
- liquids have to be poured out in the right compartment at the trash station
- Then cups are thrown out separately.
If all else fails, stand and look a bit confused because there may be a cleanup worker nearby to keep everything orderly and clean. You don't have worry that much!
Dance crews are abundant in Sinchon at all times of day. In fact a foreign classmate in my Korean language class found her way into one during her short stay in Korea!
I always forget how special fruits are to people in Asia, particularly in Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. (Are there any other countries that do this as well?) Fruits at the big supermarket in Sinchon were really expensive when compared to what we could usually get in NYC. Melons can cost ₩20,000. A small pack of mandarins cost ₩8,000. Let's just say we didn't get too much fruit intake during our time in Korea. However, it is my understanding that people usually buy packaged ones like these as gifts or offerings.
Thank goodness for all-you-can-eat KBBQ! How can we go to Korea and not grill our own meat? Being able to choose whatever you want, however much you want is just the pinnacle of a food lover's dream. While the meat quality isn't the highest stuff you can get, it is all-you-can-eat for only around ₩10,000, plus or minus a few thousand won, or so per person.
Our friends found Chakhan Pig Self Cafe or Chakhan Dweji 착한돼지 via blogs. We were a little worried it wasn't going to be open anymore since turnover of restaurants seem to be quite fast. It was also an "easy to miss" yup of eatery since the restaurant is actually located on the second floor and the stairs are situated in a narrow spot amidst other narrow entryways. Luckily Chakhan Dweji was still running at what seemed to be full throttle when we were there.
Let's just say this was the first of many visits to Chakhan Pig and all-you-can-eat type KBBQs. This was also the places to get our fill in unlimited fruits. But besides being able to eat all the meat and fruits that I wanted, I discovered grilling rice cakes in Korea. That is not something we normally grill at KBBQ in NYC. But it gets better! Chakhan Pig had tri-colored filled rice cakes. The purple colored ddeok was filled with a sweet potato filling, the yellow ddeok was pumpkin filled, and the white ddeok had ooey gooey cheese.
Dinner only lasted until about 9PM. We were all stuffed silly from all the meat and grease. What better way to cut grease and beat the hot weather than by having shaved ice, again! We spotted a place called Cafe Bingsooya en route to the dorms in Sinchon. Our big group of 8-9 people shared a couple of shaved ices: Blueberries over milk covered ice & Injeolmi 인절미 (rice cakes, soy bean powder, and almond slivers) over milk covered ice.
I noted the time earlier because this shaved ice cafe closed around 10PM. I remember we were one of the last peoples to enter and the last to leave. While we were eating, the staff was already in the process of preparing to close shop for the night. All of us were surprised by how early a dessert shop closed. Maybe shaved ice in Korea isn't really a dessert in the sense that people eat it after dinner?