Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Best Korean Food: Part 2

 The second part of my post on Korea's best food. The first part is here.

1. Bibimdangmyeon (spicy buckwheat noodles)

Enjoying bibimdangnyeon in an alley in Busan

We talked extensively to our Korean friends before and during our trip to Korea, asking for tips and suggestions about everything from transportation, to tourist sights and of course, food. One of the dishes they recommended, which I've never tried prior to the trip is bibmdangmyeon. Again, this is mostly sold by street vendors, and it is a cold spicy noodle dish made with the ever-so-versatlie gochujang (red chili pepper paste), beef or pork, egg, and cucumbers.

Bibimdangmyeon is best enjoyed in the very authentic setting of squatting on a small plastic chair, in the middle of the street, in front of the vendor's pots and pans.

2. Buldak (spicy chicken)  

Blurry photo of buldak, an extremely spicy chicken dish

This meal, we ate in an actual restaurant in Let's Eat Alley in Busan. It's a chicken dish that is quite spicy. It is marinated in a combination of sweet and spicy sauce, grilled, and then served in a sizzling plate with garaetteok (rice cake) and topped with cheese and corn. 

It's such a heavenly premise -- this spicy, chicken, cheese an corn combo -- and the first few bites are quite divine. But it becomes just too spicy towards the end, as you consume more and more. I actually suffered from really bad hyperacidity after eating this dish, but guess what, we came back the second night for another round.

3. Teokbokki (spicy rice cake)

This one, I also first tried during the Business Week of the school where  I used to teach, as I mentioned in the previous blog post. It's an incredibly popular snack in Korea. And its popularity easily crossed on to win over Filipino taste buds (at least as far as our school was concerned).

Teokbokki is made of rice cake (garaetteok), which is cylindrical in shape and very, very chewy. It is cut into many pieces and cooked in a steaming pot of gochujang (red chili pepper paste). It is quite spicy, and is mostly sold by street vendors.

Jotham was overjoyed when we chanced upon a lady selling these near Haeundae. When he said excitedly, "Olmayeo?" (which is suppose to mean "How much?") I don't know why, but  all the ahjummas within hearing distance laughed uproariously.

4. Bulgogi (barbecued beef)

Mouthwatering bulgogi in a restaurant in Myeong dong, Seoul

Bulgogi is the popular one, isn't it? Thinly sliced sirloin beef marinated for two to four hours in soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, and grilled on an open fire. It's the dish through which many are introduced to the wonderful world of Korean cuisine.

We had this for lunch, after a full morning of shopping in Myeongdong. Our former student Jerry, led us downstairs into a restaurant for this tasty bulgogi, which we ravaged within minutes.

5. Chadol Baki (beef brisket)


and in all its delicious glory, after.

We had landed in Busan at around 10 pm, having flown for four hours from Manila. It was nearing midnight when we were finally able to deposit our bags in the hostel. We were famished. We asked our hostel's manager where we could find some decent dinner at the late hour, and he gave us directions to a 24-hour eatery.

After getting lost, and crashing  a private party which we thought was a restaurant -- we found our 24-hour eatery.This being our first night in Korea, we just pointed to succulent looking dishes on the menu and hoped for the best.

What we got was chadol baki -- thinly sliced beef that is cooked on a gas grill on our table, and mixed with lettuce, spinach, onions, mushrooms, etc. After it is cooked, it is dipped in maacjang and again wrapped in lettuce.

I don't know, maybe we were just really hungry, but it was amazing. I read that the meat in chadol baki is fattier than the one used for bulgogi, so I guess that contributes to the tastiness. In any case, we had it again, a couple of hours later, when Jotham's brother and his wife, arrived in Busan.

Now that I think about it, we ate everything we liked twice or thrice, when we were in Korea. Hey, when everything's so nice, so you have to have them twice. 

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