This is maybe my most useless post yet: a post where I eat a lot of food that I don’t know the name of, at restaurants that I can’t remember. But! It was really fun in real life. Due to our adventures at Narita Airport, we arrived in Seoul a day late and about an hour before our tour with O’ngo Food started. I’m not usually into any kind of group tours at all, but I was really glad that we did the this one, especially since our time in Seoul ended up being so short. There were only two other guys on the tour with us and they were both cool and willing to eat anything. We did the Night Dining Tour and got to try a bunch of different Korean foods AND drinks. Lots of drinks. (Which is probably why I don’t remember the names of any of the restaurants or the foods we ate.)
The first stop was a kind of Korean BBQ restaurant. It was technically outside, but there was a plastic tent thing covering everything. (It was cold in Seoul!)
Meat and mushrooms on the fire. We dipped them in some kind of sauce and a variety of powders, but as I said, I have no idea what any of this is called.
Our guide made us these drinks that were basically beer with a shot of soju and Coke. Shots are really the best way to start any tour.
This was some kind of makgeolli, which is Korean rice wine. But it’s not like sake (also rice wine) at all. It’s usually served in (and consumed from) a bowl and it’s thicker, sweeter, and not as alcoholic. I know that the one in the photo looks kind of gross but it was actually REALLY GOOD. Surprisingly, it tasted like root beer.
Amazing tofu! I don’t know if you’ve ever had good tofu, but it’s so different from the kind you get at the grocery store. Other than this, I’ve only had really good tofu in Japan and once in New York. We ate it with kimchi and it was my favourite thing from that night. Someday, I’m going to quit my job and become an artisanal tofu maker. (Okay, maybe not. Can someone else do this? I just want to eat it.)
The inside of the restaurant that I don’t remember the name of. It was a random place down some alley that I’d probably never find on my own. It had a layout like a traditional Korean house, which is what it used to be.
Korean (and Japanese!) graffiti.
I had to Google this, but apparently it’s called 꿀타래 or dragon’s beard candy. It’s a touristy street food, but fun to watch and tasty to eat.
Wandering around… somewhere in Seoul. Insadong?
Insert crying here. Kimchi in Seoul was so good.
Another kind of banchan. I was the only one in the group who knew the word “banchan.” A source of misdirected pride, considering that I barely know what any of this food is called.
Soju! We learned the correct way to hold the glass when being served, and how you’re never supposed to serve a drink to yourself. Which is exactly the same as Japanese culture. “Cheers!” in Korean is konbae, which also sounds very similar to the Japanese kampai. We spent a lot of time discussing the similarities between Japanese/Korean language and culture because both of the other guys on the tour lived in Japan. (But were not Japanese.)
Some kind of tasty meat dish but I don’t remember what it’s called! I need a Korean person to proofread this entry or something.
I think I had too many glasses of soju at this point.
More soju. We also learned some Korean drinking games and mostly failed at them.
Apparently one of the only Starbucks locations in the world without an English sign.
Being a tourist, like we do.
Okay, I feel pretty bad but I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THIS MARKET IS CALLED.
Fermented things! I wanted to eat all of them.
Even better: fermented seafood. I tried one of the little crabs and it was delicious.
I’m kind of obsessed with crab, actually.
This lady was awesome. She gave us her business card. (Which I lost, otherwise maybe I’d know what this market is called.)
Lots of food stalls/outdoor restaurants. You basically sidle up to the counter, sit down, and cute old ladies feed you.
I like her hat.
Crispy Korean pancakes called 파전 pajeon (yeah, I had to Google that too). Not like okonomiyaki at all. More fried. Really good drunk food.
EAT ALL THE BANCHAN
I love you, kimchi. Does someone have a Korean grandmother I can borrow or something? Why doesn’t the kimchi in Toronto taste like this?
More makgeolli, which was kind of weirdly popular. Every single table had a bottle of this stuff. You drink it out of the bowls beside the bottle.
Also interesting: Korean restaurants always give you scissors.
Seafood pancake! So good.
This was our guide (who was the best) doing a magic trick. After we were done drinking and eating, he walked the other guys to the subway and hailed us a cab. (Unrelated: cabs in Seoul are cheap. Especially after being in Tokyo.)
In conclusion, I need to go back to Seoul. You should go to Seoul too. And if you do, I recommend this tour, especially if you like drinking. (There is a no alcohol version, but what fun would that be?)