A few weeks ago I went to Seoul for the weekend. To me Seoul is an amazing destination because I love to eat, but in turn I also become a stinky garlic monster that needs to be shut off from all human contact. Wherever I walk in Seoul, my nose catches the scent of beef broth being slowly simmered – such a comforting feeling when it’s super cold outside. I really enjoy the fact that food culture in Asia is a huge part of life; people are always asking if you have eaten yet, and this something that always makes me feel at home wherever I may be. So here is my list of the few things you should eat when in Seoul:
1) Myung Dong Kal Guk Su
This restaurant is super famous and specialises in ‘Kal Guk Su’, hand made noodles in a delicious broth. A Korean friend of mine described this restaurant as the only place she has to visit when she goes back to Seoul each year. The restaurant is also well-known for their home made kimchi which sure as hell packs a punch. Never in my life have I had kimchi that was so incredibly spicy from the copious amount of raw garlic that it contained. It is an experience. Steamed dumplings were what every table seemed to have ordered to go with their noodles, so I ordered some too. Like most Korean dishes, they reminded me of their Chinese relatives except that they were fresher and cleaner in taste.
2) Korean BBQ
What is a trip to Seoul with out a barbecue night! Find yourself a little mum and pa barbecue restaurant, order some delicious meats (like kalbi or ox tongue), and some barley tea. What comes next is such a delight: all the seasonal side dishes that are boiled, steamed or fermented in house and generously replenished on your table throughout the night. Two other favourite partners of barbecued meat are lettuce leaves and ‘Doenjang’ (a sweet soybean paste). I like to wrap my meat in a lettuce leaf with some Doenjang, some kimchi, and a clove of garlic (I didn’t spend time with many people – maybe this is why).
People describe Pajeon as ‘Korean pancake’ but I think that description is useless except for the fact that it is round and cooked in a pan (like a lot of things). It is a savoury dish made from an eggy floury batter that is the canvas for seafood, kimchi, meat, or my favourite version – spring onions. Eat it with good company, some tea or ‘Makgeolli’ (a kind of Korean rice wine), and finish off with a delicious soup before you’re on your way again.
‘Dreaming of my next visit already.
If you would like to know more about Korean food and Korean cooking, my absolute favourite Korean cook is Maangchi. I discovered her a few years ago on youtube and her site has become my Korean cooking encyclopedia. I swear by her home made kimchi recipe, and her video tutorials are very easy to follow as well as being SUPER entertaining!