Korea Diary | Nom Life (Days 37-39)The second to last week of the study abroad trip arrived before we knew it. Things always seem to come to an end when it is at it's best. I finally got comfortable with a routine in a foreign place and around my newfound friends, yet we only had mere 14 days left together. When all of us weren't busy with the school aspects of the experience, foods brought us all closer.
Bestie C and I went out (of campus) for the majority of our lunch breaks during the remainder of our time in Seoul. We didn't have a particular place in mind but found a small restaurant named Noodle Box during a stroll through Edae. They sold a variety of different stir-fried noodle dishes that were served in cardboard take-out style boxes. I ordered the migoreng since I had never tried it before, but cannot attest to the authenticity of what I had. Of the noodles and the spring rolls appetizers we got, I remember much preferring the latter bite.
Whilst on the hunt for lunch, Bestie C spotted the other liquid nitrogen ice cream shop that she had read about. Since we had more fruity flavors at Solid Works, we opted to try the dairy based versions at Lab Time. Oreo milk ice cream can never be a wrong choice. Tiramisu ice cream was a pleasant surprise. I think it had some cheesiness to it and the melted chocolate syringe made the experience extra exciting.
After discovering the West Gate area of Yonsei, our group of friends decided to see what else Yeonhui-dong 연희동 had to offer. We stumbled into Yeonhuidong Kalgooksoo 연희동 칼국수 by pure chance. All of us were hungry after a day of classes and I think many of us had to get back to our studies. Somehow our big group walked into the bottom-most floor of this noodle restaurant one night. The servers didn't speak much English but it wasn't an issue because there was 1 and only 1 item that this place served, it's eponymous dish. The only options given were small or big bowls.
In translation, the restaurant name simply meant knife-cut noodles from the Yeonhui neighborhood. But the bowl of noodles was far from plain. It may look like just a boring bowl of noodle soup with only a few strands of julienne carrots, egg, and scallions at first glance. But this was the best bowl of noodles I had. The broth was so flavorful but slightly under seasoned. Their spicy kimchi was seasoned well, crunchy and not too fermented (just the way I like it) so it balanced the broth just right when eaten together. This restaurant even offered a non-spicy white kimchi that tasted just as nice. It seemed like everything that was served matched my tastes exactly! My friends and I probably devoured every last morsel of food on the table that night.
Ice cream cakes from the big chains, in NYC at least, are pretty boring. If not all vanilla flavored, then all chocolate. If not either then a combination of the two. If none of the above then part cookies 'n cream and part sheet cake.
We were all amazed by the ice cream cake selection we saw at all the Baskin Robbins. One night when we gathered one of our biggest group together for a dinner outing, the dessert of choice was to share a cake rather than each buy our own little cups. There were about 9 different flavored cubes of ice cream in the cake that we picked and none were the basic options either.
Our cake was safe from the heat since we all chipped away at the blocks right away in the shop. Had we chose to share it in the comforts of our dorm lounge, there was no need to worry about rushing back with a melting cake either. The Baskin Robbins in Korea actually packs the cakes first in the typical cardboard cake boxes and then in another styrofoam container with dry ice. How awesome is that?
In case you haven't noticed already, I really enjoyed going to the Hyundai Department Store in Sinchon for food. Bestie C and I stumbled upon a Japanese ramen vendor called Magokoro and had to satisfy our ramen craving. Even though ramyeon is very popular in Korea, that is just the instant variety for noodle fare. Nothing really beats the taste and texture of fresh noodles.
At first, I was skeptical of the flavors since most foreign foods we've had in Seoul didn't turn out to be all too authentic. But the tonkotsu ramen from Magokoro was pretty spot on. It wasn't the best Japanese ramen I have ever had but it was a good replacement to fill the missing void.
There weren't very many restaurants that my friends or myself visited more than once in Korea. The exception was albab house 알밥 하우스 in Edae. It was convenient and very affordable with decent sized portions. I tended to order the rice bowls and during this particular visit I had the mixed katsudon, which was essentially donkatsu, shrimp tempura, and egg over rice.