Eating in Seoul

Food! One of my favorite topics indeed! Since being in Korea, I have eaten so many delicious meals that it’s hard to know where to start.
I lied, yes I do. 김치. Kimchi is fermented cabbage is a chili paste sauce. I have heard that for most people you either love it or you hate it. I love it, which is great because it is served with every single meal. Koreans love their kimchi and so do I. Some Koreans have been surprised that I enjoy kimchi as much as I do. It’s been a great way to talk to people! If you just can’t get into the cabbage, there are other variations of kimchi such as radish kimchi. You might find the one you like. Hey, I know some people who came here hating kimchi and now they love it.
It would be good for you would have love for rice. You eat rice with almost every meal. Being Nigerian, this was perfectly fine with me since I grew up eating rice almost every day. For others, this might get a little redundant, but never fear! If ever in need for an old-fashioned hamburger and fries, Seoul has you covered too. From McDonalds to Taco Bell, you can have your fast food fix anytime of the day. Now personally, I didn’t come to South Korea for food I can have in Dallas. I’ve eaten so many wonderful Korean dishes like 불고기(Bulgogi) Korean beef and 잡채(japchae), a kind of clear noodle with vegetables and meat. In all honesty, I have eaten these dishes back in the States. I am fortunate enough to have a Korean food restaurant right on my campus! So for me, I was excited to try new foods and compare the ones I’ve eaten in Dallas.
The food that has become my whole world while in Korea is 삼겹설 (samgyupsal) or pork belly barbecue! I can imagine some people reading, especially those out of the south (am I stereotyping?) would be shocked. Pork belly? Three words. Di. Li. Cious. Now I’d always seen the grilled meat at different Korean restaurants, but I never knew what was enticing about it. Firstly, I thought the price was absurd. Only once coming to Korea did I learn it was a group rate. And I couldn’t understand why there was so many side dishes that no one seemed to ever eat out of. Now I have learned the art of Samgyupsal. The meat is grilled, which on its own is absolutely delicious, but it is enhanced with what I like to call the Monster Concoction. You take a leaf, I have no idea what kind of vegetable it is but I love it. Then you put one or two pieces of meat inside. Add any of the (seemingly untouched) side dishes that you desire in as well. This is usually onion, green onion, garlic (it is not as strong as in the States), kimchi, and anything else that’s given. You then dip your leaf wrap into any of the sauces given. I also have no idea what they are, but they are delicious. Then in order to eat it properly you must stuff the entire leaf wrap with its contents into your mouth. That’s right folks! There’s no room for the weary here. This is the secret to complete enjoyment. When you are eating your wrap, feel free to shed a single tear in happiness. No one will judge you. In fact, they might join along and/or clap in encouragement. The great news, as if it could get any better, is that you do not have to only eat grilled pork belly. There are several different parts and kinds of meats that you can eat! The two most common are pork and beef, but they are several different options for those that want it.
Not a meat eater? No problem! Clearly samgyupsal and the grill are not for you but there are several options in the Korean palette that are meat free. Basically every kind of food can be eaten with the meat excluded and still be satisfying. My suggestion would be the food I eat probably too often, 비빔밥(bibimbap). Bibimbap is a large bowl with rice, vegetables and sauce. Many times, meat and or an egg is added, but this can be taken out. Now my description may seem a bit lacking, but in essence that truly is the entire dish. Like most all dishes here, it can vary greatly depending on who makes it and where you are. In fact, just last night I saw one with curry which is very unique. Normally, you can find, seaweed, bean sprouts, carrot and mushrooms. I remember the first time I had it, I didn’t know I was supposed to mix everything together so I sat there eating plain veggies wondering why everyone ordered it so often. All I can do is sit back and laugh now. I eat it maybe twice a week or more now!
It’s very difficult to go hungry here. There are great prices and great food to match, regardless of your taste.

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Filed under Chinazo in South Korea, East Asia, Writing Prompts

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