I want to tell you about my first autumn dinner in Korea because it was unforgettable!
Well, technically, it was my second dinner because I ate this upon my arrival at Incheon airport:
The label says Sokogi Gochujang – Samgak Kimbap. If I’m not mistaken, Sokogi translates to “beef” (kogi = meat), Gochujang is like “pepper paste”(?), Samgak I’m not sure, and Kimbap is literally “seaweed rice” (kim = seaweed, and bap = rice). Basically, it’s like a Korean version of onigiri – that Japanese rice ball with meat or vegetable filling and wrapped in nori or seaweed. This is one of my favorite fixes whenever I go to Korea.
Anyway, let’s go back to my “unforgettable” dinner.
So after I checked in, and rested a bit in World Hotel, my Korean friend arrived and took me out for dinner. We were instantly drawn in to this warm-looking joint just around the neighborhood.
I did not really take time to look at the food poster outside, nor read its caption. I just felt like the food was really good. Well, to be honest I have a biased judgment that ALL Korean food are good (sans the vegetables, which I don’t eat).
Looking again at the photo I took, the poster reads Chijeu Deung Galbi – 14,000 won. Chijeu is like a Hangeul-ized word for “cheese”, I don’t know what Deung is, but Galbi… Oh, Galbi! Galbi is one of my top 2 favorite Korean food (the other one I shall be talking about later). Galbi literally means short ribs, or so I think I read somewhere. It is like a grilled meat, mostly made of pork (Dwaeji Galbi) or beef (Sokogi Galbi). The chicken variety (Dalk Galbi), I don’t like much.
So going back, we ordered Chijeu Deung Galbi, and my mind instantly salivated at the thought of Galbi. And I didn’t even realize at that time that it was with cheese!
The waiter asked us something which I did not understand. “He says, do we like spicy or not spicy?” mi chinggu translated.
Haha. I almost laughed at my instant answer. I have a thing for spicy food. But East Asians definition of spicy is very VERY different. To them, spicy = ‘Do Not Eat’. Lol.
But seriously, I remembered this dinner we had at Makansutra in Singapore. It was the spiciest thing I have ever tasted. I was not able to finish my supposedly-yummy seafood. I ended up pampering my tortured tongue for a good 30 minutes with pieces of ice cubes from my iced tea. I even remembered ordering in a fast-food chain in Singapore and specifically asked not to make it spicy. It was edible, yes, but I was still sweating while eating the pale-colored fish.
Okay, so I wandered off again. Me = blabbermouth.
Going back, we ordered the food. Not spicy. And here it came…
It had some oksusu (corn), as well as tteokbeokki (rice cake).
I couldn’t wait to have a taste. I excitedly put one slice in my mouth. !@#^%@^$!*%!@*&@!*^!%&!!!!!! HOLY GOALIE!!!!
It was . . . It’s so . . .
I couldn’t even… WHAT THE FUCK!
Why the hell would someone make food as spicy as this?!!!! Huh? ANSWER ME!
But of course, I tried to contain all that emotions in. I did my best to fake a smile and wear delight on my face, I’m afraid I would embarrass my Korean friend. But perhaps he noticed that I was sweating gallons, and that prompted him to ask, “What’s wrong? Is it spicy?”
“Spicy? NO. I mean, a little bit. It’s just hot… still hot, yes.”
He gave me a sheepish look and had a taste of the food himself. “It is spicy!”
“Oh, is it?” (THANK GOD!)
“It’s spicy even for a Korean.”
“Really? Haha. But it’s good.” *smile*
It was good. Very good, honest. Just a little too spicy to be enjoyed 100%.
You know how Filipinos have a sweet tooth? That is a fact. So on the average, we have a relatively lower tolerance for ‘spicy’ compared to our Asian neighbours.
It was a good unforgettable Galbi, albeit, a spicy spicy one. Hence, after eating I needed to rush to the nearest hospital. I mean, to the nearest convenience store to buy this…
It reads Ddalki Uyu. Ddalki is the Korean word for “strawberry”, while uyu means “milk”.
Anyway, I will be talking next about my first meal the following day. I was thinking of making a separate entry for this part here but it would be too uneventful. Except that I had the other top 2 favorite food in Korea. Galbi, as mentioned earlier, is Rank 1.5. The other Rank 1.5 is Ppyeohaejangguk. (I wish I have a Korean keyboard here in my Mac, so I can type as well in Hangeul)
Ppyeo is “bone” in Korean, while Guk is a type of “soup”. My Korean classmate in graduate school told me that. Ppyeo = bone, Haejang = (roughly) for the drunk / for hangover, and Guk = soup.
The one particularly pictured is a special variety because it has some seafood in it. NYUM!
Oh, by the way, I also want to share this because I found it really cute. And handy. And innovative. 🙂
Well, I was fascinated to see that they have diagonal pedestrian lanes in intersections, for those who wanted to get across the junction diagonally. Picture the top view as a square with an X inside. This is the first time I noticed it in Korea. And I find it really really convenient. You know that rule in Geometry, the length of any one leg of any triangle (or any polygon, for that matter) is always shorter than the sum of the lengths of the remaining legs. Sorry, too nerdy? Just one more, for this particular case, since the (regular) pedestrian lanes form right angles, we are technically crossing the HYPOTENUSE! How nice is that! 🙂