31 March 2004

Street Food 3

More street food. This street is lined with such food stalls. Here, they even serve cold drinks.

Hmmm .... skewers galore. You have the fried chicken fillets, sausage wrapped in bacon (for the cholesterol-deficient), dakkochi (chicken kebab) and hot-bar (fish paste sausage).

To the right of this platter of redness are (from top) twigims, goon mandoo and soondae (covered in plastic wraps to retain moist).

To the left is more teokbogki. They're just everywhere these rice flour rolls.

Close-up of the flour-battered deep fried chicken fillet, smothered in sweet and spicy sauce. KRW2,000.

Corn anyway you like it - steamed (right) or grilled (left). I find the corn here somewhat dry and chewy. I presume this is typical of corn grown in Korea? Personally, I prefer the soft Japanese sweet corn variety.

Anyone knows what those tiny green balls in the canisters are?

Here we have bungeo pang (carp cake), or sometimes called fish cookie or fish bread, so named because of its shape. However, no fish was killed in the making of a bungeo pang.

Cake batter is poured into the fish-shaped steel mould, then a spoonful of red beans sweet filling is dropped in the center. Cover the lid and a few minutes later, presto!

Eat it while it's hot. Crispy on the outside, hot red bean sweet filling on the inside. It's texture reminds me of McDonald's apple pie, except better. Ha!

Here's a mobile stall in a secluded dimly-lit area. The cart disappears after close of business.

Joel's comment yesterday prompted me to go get myself some hoteok (호떡).

To make this, a spoonful of the brown sugar filling is added into the center of a round piece of dough. It is then pressed into a flat round pancake and fried like burger patties on a heavily oiled pan griddle.

These are the hoteoks in better light. KRW500 a piece.

These sweet pancakes are filled with brown sugar, cinnamon powder, black sesame seed and chopped nuts (sometimes apple). All that frying melts the brown sugar into dripping caramel which is just sinfully delicious.

That concludes our final instalment of our 3 part mini-series on street food. I hope you enjoyed it.

29 March 2004

Street Food 2

Continuing with our street food theme, let's cover more ground today. You'll find many pojangmacha (street stalls/carts) littered all over Seoul. Some stalls are permanent fixtures, like the one below, while some operate out of the back of open-panel vans. During winter, they put up clear plastic tents to keep customers warm.

Front row left, you'll find some mini kimbaps. Beside it are baskets full of twigims (flour-battered deep fried veges, prawns, squid, etc. even hard-boiled eggs).

This must be the staple of all pojangmachas. Teokbokgi (떡볶이) are rice cakes in hot pepper sauce. These are originally long cylindrical rice cakes which are then cut into shorter pieces, and simmered in a spicy sauce made from gochujang (chili paste), chili powder & syrup. It can be eaten as it is. However, it is usual to also throw in some twigim, hard boiled eggs, goon mandu (dumpling) and odeng (fish cake).

This is soondae (순대). It is Korean traditional sausage made by steaming pig's intestines filled with a mixture of chopped vegetables, Chinese glass noodles and pig's blood. I guess it's one of those things you either love or hate, like Scottish haggis.

Soondae is usually served with a side of seasoned salt. I do not find it repulsive at all, but personally I don't fancy it because I find the taste rather bland and unexciting.

The next set of photos are from a different street vendor. The standard "meat" (don't ask what meat) sausages and fish cake sausages, with and without sesame seeds sprinkled.

The tray in front are skewered deep-fried chicken nuggets smothered in sweetish chili sauce and sprinkled with sesame seed. The tray behind this holds pan-fried goon mandu, Korean dumplings stuffed with minced pork, Chinese glass noodles and spring onions. Similar to Japanese gyoza.

This stall also offers teokbokgi.

In the forefront is dakkochi, one of my favourite. This Korean chicken kebab is made from several cubes of boneless chicken skewered alternately with leek or other vegetables. It is then grilled over a hotplate and smothered with sweet and spicy sauce.

This is odeng, fish cake skewered into a sausage-like form. I actually enjoy the soup more!! The soup is made from turnips and anchovy stock and peppered liberally. Served in paper cups. Very nice on a cold night.

Eating at such stalls is inexpensive (by Korean standards). Typically a skewer of anything is KRW1,000 - KRW2,000. The price for a plate of teokbokgi varies, depending on what you load it with but generally it shouldn't cost more than KRW2,000 - KRW3,000.

28 March 2004

Street Food

What a beautiful sunny spring day today. I came across these on my way to lunch. So you'll forgive me if I didn't stop to eat, which on any other day is a giver.

First stop. Mama sells dog on a stick and Papa sells mini pizza.

Deep fried jumbo sausages. KRW1,000. Just what I need. More cholesterol.

Papa's got a mini oven on his mobile cart. It's industrial strength too, not some plug and play oven.

Toppings are mozarella cheese, onions, diced sausages, corn, mushroom and capsicum (green pepper). KRW2,000 each.

These guys promote their product as Japanese pizzas. FatMan says Japanese pizza = okonomiyaki. These are actually called takoyaki, or octopus balls. Don't get any ideas. This is a family-orientated blog.

Flour balls filled with cabbage, spring onions, diced boiled octopus and served with katsuobushi (shaved benito; paper-thin dried fish flakes) and brown takoyaki sauce (sweetish like teriyaki). Sold in set of 6 balls. Did not get the price. Should be KRW2,000 - KRW3,000. I'll be back for this another day, rest assured.

Sidenote : Notice the flowers behind the octopus guy? That's the standard congratulatory flower stand you'd give someone when they open a new store or business.

27 March 2004

Seoul Station

This is Seoul Station, a significant landmark in Seoul and features prominently throughout Seoul’s rich history. It sits on the south-western tip of metro Seoul and is the central transportation hub for Korea’s rail system. It was built in the early 1900 and was originally named Gyeongseong Station. It was only renamed Seoul Station in 1947.

In May 2000, this all changed. The Korean National Railroad began work on the “new” Seoul Station just beside the original building. The original Seoul Station was designated a national landmark and now houses the Railroad Museum.

This is the new Seoul Station. It was officially opened in January 2004. The left wing is the rail terminal proper. It now accomodates Korea’s first high-speed bullet train system KTX which will officially be launched in a few days’ time. On April Fool’s Day to be exact.

The right wing of the building houses the subway station and the fun stuff. The anchor tenant here is Concos, a branch of the upmarket The Galleria department store.

You’ll also find McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Dunkin Donut, Baskin Robbins, Paris Baguette and upmarket Japanese, Korean and Chinese restaurants. There’s suppose to be an Irish pub in there too, although I didn’t see it for myself. Other Seoul-ites comfort include karaoke rooms equipped with large plasma display panels, a hair saloon, bank, post office, childrens’ playroom, etc. Everything to make your wait for the next train less painful.

This is the ticketing counter. 17 counters to be precise. Statistics has it that about 100,000 people pass through Seoul Station every day. Don’t quote me on that though. I lost track after 7.

The wait area is pretty spacious, with seats to the right as well as upstairs.

This way to the shopping zone. Don’t miss your train though.

People everywhere.

This way to the tracks.

My favourite part of any building ….. the food court.

I glanced through the menu and pretty much all the Korean standards are here. All priced at the typical KRW5,000 region.

It took me a while before I realised the ceiling clock!!

A quick note about food courts. Typically, you place your order at a centralised cashier counter and pay for your order. You’ll then be given a number coupon. You wait till your number is called by referring to an electronic signboard. That’s the red numbers you see on the board on the far wall (to the right of the photo).

An interesting blast from the past here.

26 March 2004

RSS Feed

I've enabled RSS feed to my blog. Well, technically it's an Atom feed, but let's not split hair.

The link - http://fatman-seoul.blogspot.com/atom.xml - is on the sidebar. So if you're using a RSS feeder or news aggregator, you can now add this blog to your client.

I hope you enjoy it. Let me know if you have any difficulties or you'd like to know more about RSS. Also, do let me know if you'd like to see any other features added to the blog.

25 March 2004

Mae Oon Tang

After the somewhat disappointing sam gyeob sal earlier, Mr. Stomach insisted that I make up for it. So I suggested Japanese, to which Mr. Stomach burped consentingly. So here we are at our favourite Japanese restaurant. If you read Korean, you'll get the real name. I just call it "The Big Fish". You can see why.

This is a popular lunch hangout for the working crowd in the area (despite the photo - had a late lunch again today). I used to be a regular here, but not of late.

This place is spacious, you can even play hide and seek behind them bamboo shoots. There are several private rooms for those who need to slurp their soup in privacy.

As always, you order your main course and then wait excitedly for the complimentary side dishes. This is what I like about this place - they have excellent side dishes and they don't stinge. Here's what we get today.

Sauteed mushrooms with carrots, onions, sesame seed, seasoning and a dash of sesame oil. Cold side dish.

Fresh salad of round lettuce, alfalfa sprout, shredded cabbage and purple cabbage, sesame seed, dressed in vinegared garlic and a dash of soya sauce.

Now this one I don't like. No matter how many times I've tried, and no matter how many times I've tried to like it, it just doesn't do it for me. Ice cold, very sour, "pick me up" appetiser with radish sticks. Sorry, next.

Now this one I really like. Salt grilled fish with a dash of soba sauce.

Tempura-style fried sweet potato slices and sesame leaves. Goes so well with the accompanying dipping sauce.

The side dishes of salad, grilled fish and tempura fries are the standard side dishes on every visit. The rest will depend on what's overstocked at the local market.

For today's main course, we'll have the seo deo ri mae oon tang (서더리 매운탕). Mae oon tang means spicy soup. Seo deo ri is black porgy fish. KRW5,000.

This is a hot and spicy soup (duh!). OK. This is a blaringly boiling-hot, runny-nose inducing, tongue numbing, blood pumping bowl of fish soup. Dig in and you'll find lots of leek, straw mushrooms, garland chrysanthemum vege, water spinach, sliced turnip & beansprouts. Delicious!

Good value for money this, with the side dishes and all. Thumbs up. OK. Mr. Stomach is happy now. Back to work.

24 March 2004

"Recent Comments" Know How - Anyone?

As the comments start to trickle in, I've come to the realisation that Blogger doesn't offer the "Recent Comments" listing feature on the sidebar. I know TypePad does but I'm not planning to move over there (yet).

I'm beginning to realise how neat a feature this is as returning commentators can monitor replies much more easily.

Does anyone know how I can do this on my Blogger-hosted blog? Any assistance appreciated. Thanks.

23 March 2004

Sam Gyeob Sal

Man ....... I've got a demanding group of readers. I slack for a couple of days and I get hell. :o) I love you guys still.

Tonight we'll go for some sam gyeob sal. Sam gyeob sal means three-layered meat, or more simply put, bacon Korean-style. I headed to my regular place, which serves great sam gyeob sal. But for some reason, it was closed last night as well as tonight. So I had to settle for this place, which is my first time.

(note - I'm sorry the photos turned out off-colour. I didn't use the flash to avoid drawing attention.)

This place is kinda kinky, as it's got suction cups exhaust fans hanging from the ceiling. I'm just kidding - these are quite common. These hoses are lowered mechanically once the cooking starts at your table. As you can see, there's the meat grilling slowly over the fire. I'll come to that shortly. Let's go through the many complimentary side dishes first.

Raw baby octopus (nakji) served with vinegared chili sauce and fresh cucumber and carrots.

Large-headed beansprouts (kong na mool) seasoned with chili.

Boiled baby spinach seasoned with sesame seeds and preserved beans (this type of non-spicy vege side dish is collectively referred to as na mool)

Japanese tofu (tubular silky smooth beancurd) topped with vinegared chili sauce, sliced fresh chilis and spring onions.

This is the standard Korean salad of shredded raw cabbage (the carrots & spring onion leaves are just ancillary) in dressing made from vinegar, soya sauce and a heavy dose of wasabe (the tear-inducing Japanese mustard).

Fresh lettuce and onion rings with vinegared chili sauce.

Fresh lettuce leaves, sesame leaves, large onion, straw mushroom and green chili.

This is a must have in any meaty meal. Raw sliced garlic (ma neul) and sam chang (chili paste mixed with preserved bean paste). One thing to note is that Korean garlic is really really pungent. Must be the Korean soil.

A dish of seasoned salt? Well, the meat is served and cooked unsalted. So you dab into this if needed. It's a mixture of coarse salt, black pepper and sesame seed.

This is one serving of sam gyeob sal. KRW7,000. As you can see, it is basically just slabs of bacon meat. No marinade, no salt, no nothing. Therefore, the quality of a sam gyeob sal restaurant rests principally on 2 things - the quality of the meat and the grilling medium (e.g. gas burner vs. charcoal).

This place had a charcoal-flamed grill, which I feel is better than the gas burners. After a couple of minutes, the meat starts to pop and sizzle. Be careful. Notice that the fat from the meat drips into a water-lined gutter underneath.

This is the part where your individual preference and skill comes in. It's all about timing. If you want it well done, leave it to burn to a crisp. If you want it tender, remove from fire to the side.

Cut the meat into manageable bite size with the scissors provided.

When you're happy with the meat, pick up a slice or two and place it on a leaf of fresh lettuce. Add salt if desired, the sam chang, garlic and any of the side dishes. Fold the lettuce over and pop it into your mouth. Now chew. When satisfied, swallow. Repeat steps.

There's no hard and fast rules with the side dishes nor with the meat. Eat it on its own or add it to the lettuce wrap. Anything goes.

This is a serving of go chu jang sam gyeob sal (go chu jang=chili paste). KRW7,000.

Almost done. Turn over.



So do tell. Was it good? I've had better. I'd rate it a 4 out of 10. Next time, I'll go back to my regular place. The pork here is not top grade, and I personally prefer the meat sliced thicker so that it would be crispy on the outside while still tender on the inside. Here it's a little thin for my liking.