Archive for the ‘Korean’ Category

California Soul: Park’s BBQ (LA)

March 3, 2008

Can’t go to LA and not go to Koreatown. Best Korean food ever, and it’s a trip down memory lane for me, cause that’s where we lived for 4 years when my family first moved to the States.

On my friend Jim’s recommendation, Keisuke, Yoskay and I went to Park’s on Vermont. It was late in the afternoon so we missed the lunch rush- the place was virtually empty. Lined with stainless steel hoods above each table, the ceiling beams here were covered with pictures of the owner with K-Pop stars. Nice.
Yoskay and I were sickly, so we got a bunch of soups. Also, we didn’t want to stink of beef, garlic and smoke for the rest of the day, so sadly, we opted out of barbequing. All the dishes were written in Korean, with only the descriptions in English, so I don’t know the names of most these dishes. SORRY.

Assorted banchan. The yellow radishes on the top right corner was very takuan-like (Japanese pickled daikon)- but a little sweeter. The jalapeño peppers were refreshing:

Not too spicy kimchee- very good. You can tell how legit a Korean joint is by their kimchee
Daikon kimchee- my fave:

Seafood pajeon- crispy on the outside, just barely cooked on the inside. One of the best pajeons I’ve ever had, no joke.

Kalbi “stew”- with noodles, enoki mushrooms, napa cabbage, and onions. Simple, flavorful and filling.

Yoskay’s super duper spicy kimchee noodle soup with tofu and veggies. He claims he was able to sweat out his cold with this. His whole mouth was red after eating, it was hilarious.
My bro’s spicy kalbi noodle soup with tofu and potatoes. Genius- the potats were so comforting.
The lunch special, a pork kimchee stew. Only $5!!! The pork just melted in my mouth.
Yongsusan across the street- Sonja went to the one in Seoul a few months back.

Stopped off at Renzo Piano’s new design for the Broad contemporary art collection at LACMA. Here’s a Chris Burden installation out front which was super neat.
Even though we didn’t end up bbqing, at the end of the day Sara still asked me, “did you eat garlic today?” Knew we should’ve just bbqed.

Park’s BBQ
955 S. Vermont Ave.

The More Things Change…

January 20, 2008

How do you document vacation trips? Taking photos of family, friends or famous landmarks? Well I’ve always documented trips with photos of my meals. I may have no clue where I was or who I was with but I totally remember what I was eating. Faces fade but food remains. So if you happen to have the same habits as me you might come across the “problem” of the repeat meal. You already ate the same exact meal before but you can’t help taking pictures of it. But then you can play compare and contrast:

This my favorite place for ddeokbokki, rice cakes in spicy sauce. All the pictures on the left are from about a year and a half old, the pictures on the right are recent. It looks basically the same except they’ve gotten a bit sloppier and saucy-ier on the right. It tasted exactly the same. Meaning I immediately got heartburn. Delicious!

Biji jiggae is a very mild stew of “tofu dregs.” I don’t know what that is but I think it’s like the ricotta of tofu. I’m probably wrong. Anyways, it was definitely spicier this time and didn’t have any seaweed in it. I think it actually tasted better the second time. The texture is amazingly soft and pillowy.

Hameul pajeon is a big green onion and seafood pancake that is dipped in soy sauce as you eat. Oops the picture on the left is actually the recent one. The chopped octopus used to be integrated into the batter and now it’s kind of tumbled on top. Definitely better the first time.

Kalgooksu is thick flour noodles in a konbu and seafood based soup. The broth thickens because the noodles are cooked in the broth, not separately. This place makes it with fresh clams. Okay so now I see they totally cheated me on the kim/seaweed, the amount of clams, carrots and zucchini. But it still tasted great! Oh MSG, what would Korean food be without you. Red but bland, I think.

Odds and Ends

January 13, 2008

Little things I’ve had recently that were memorable for some reason..

Definitely the dirtiest restaurant I’ve been to in Seoul (Insadong area, pic above). They serve fermented rice wine called makgoli which tastes like vinegar. Except opaque and alcoholic…mmmm. This is some mysterious fish that is completely fried and greasy but kind of delicious. Season it yourself with the coarse salt on the side. The place is most often frequented by workingclass men.

I think it’s “carp bread.” The woman squirts a bit of batter into the cast iron pan and tops with red bean, closes the top and rotates the entire thing. The taste is so normal but amazing when it’s fresh. Plus it’s cute. It’s basically the same as the Japanese version.

The smallest cuttlefish ever. They look like some sort of insect…you eat them whole, of course.

Doesn’t this look amazingly nasty? I thought it was some sort of weird fungus.

But of course it was just rice cake covered with very finely ground black sesame. So lightly sweet and delicious. “Ddeok” (rice cake) is one of my favorite foods but it’s actually quite bad for you.

My favorite at Dunkin Donuts. The Engrish reads “Green Tea Chewisty.” It uses sweet rice flour? The same for making rice cakes and it makes the donut really chewy. The icing is kind of marzipan-ish and it tastes blandly amazing.

Ha, I actually cooked something! These are garlic tops which are way more difficult to get in the US than in Asia. Why?? That’s all for now…

Yongsusan Traditional Palace Food

January 10, 2008

The average Korean meal will cost KRW5-7,000 (USD 5-7 dollars). But for KRW30-40,000 you can try an excellent traditional palace-style meal at Yongsusan. It’s located beneath the Seoul Finance Center and caters mainly to businessmen and their foreign business partners.

I thought the decor was kind of nice because they used traditional fabric for runners and patchwork lighting.

Millet and rice porridge. This was really blah as it looks.

Acorn jelly with toasted seaweed and stewed beef, various pickled veggies.

Bossam is wrapping boiled pork belly and spicy pickled radishes in blanched cabbage with a little salted shrimp. This was excellent because they also broiled the pork slightly so it wasn’t just a hot gray mess.

Jellyfish and cucumbers in a mustard sauce and frozen sashimi in a hot pepper sauce. I love jellyfish! The rubbery texture gets me every time. But Koreans are always putting hot sauce on raw fish which totally masks the flavor.

Rice cake soup. I was just reading that the rice cakes are shaped to resemble silk worm cocoons for prosperity…EWWWW!!

Okay it starts getting messy because the idea is you are served various courses but all on the same plate. But I’m not really a plate cleaner so you end up with various debris under the new course. This is a skewer of rice cake, beef and mushroom. It tasted exactly how it looked. Don’t you hate that? I mean fries should taste like fries but I hate cooked beef that just tastes like cooked beef.

Holy shit this was mad good. It was minced up beef short ribs sprinkled with pinenuts. You can see how fatty it was. Served with stew and rice.

Dessert included rice cakes with sweet white bean and TOMATO filling. Drink was the 5 flavor tea which is really bizarre and salty, vinegary and sweet. But it’s supposedly good for the complexion.

“Hanshik” (traditional multi-course Korean meal) isn’t really as fancy a meal as a full course French meal would be but it is a departure from the norm. I don’t think it’s that popular with the younger generation who prefer to splurge on Western food, but it’s definitely a must for anyone who likes Korean food. Like me.

148, Wonso-dong, Jongro-gu
Seoul, Korea
Tel : 02-743-5999

Dongdaemun Pochangmacha

January 8, 2008

Korean pojangmachas (street food stalls) are a common sight all over Seoul. I find them usually run by women who serve up cheap, filling and overly savory foods in a no-nonsense fashion. They park their carts on the street and you can find kids, college students and businessmen chowing down on the unsanitary delights at all times of the day (but usually at night).

This cart is in Dongdaemun, an area named after one of the four entrance gates in old Seoul. This is where you can find fake Gucci socks as well as fabric and trims. Note the toilet paper roll that replaces napkins.

The fried food is all cold and hard by the time you get there, but don’t worry they will REFRY it to get it nice and greasy. You can get squid legs, glass noodles wrapped in seaweed/kim, dumplings/mandoo and sweet potatoes all coated in thick batter.

So this is one of the options you can get. My mother thinks this is disgusting but I find it fabulous. They stick all the cold fried items of your choosing in the ddeokbokki sauce (rice cakes, fishcake and chili sauce simmered together) and slap it all on a plastic bag covered dish and sprinkle with perilla leaves. It’s spicy and warm and you can barely tell what you are eating, meat or vegetable. Delish! They also give you a paper cup of the soup that the fishcakes/odeng have been simmering in which has a dashi base. This costs 4,000KRW or $4.60 and is way more than anyone can handle.

Kimchi Jigae, Faking French Style

December 21, 2007

My sis sent me a couple pots for Christmas. Which sounds really sad but I like to roll like Martha and they are actually ideal presents for me.

But being 11 pm I didn’t have time to go buy ingredients. So I made kimchi jigae/stew. In a Le Creuset pot. Whatever…

Start with fatty pork slices in a dry pan over medium low heat. I just keep a few frozen slices in the freezer to use for this.

When your apartment smells horribly animal-y, add sliced garlic. A lot of it.

Add cut up kimchi and stir. The more funky the better. Somebody once told me there is some kind of kimchi that is fermented for years. But that’s just plain nasty. Funky is good but kimchi that starts smelling like cheese is so not it.

Now this is when you add powdered dashi or actual dashi broth. I have dried anchovy, dried shrimp, konbu, mussel and shiitake mushroom powders that are ground up. I keep them in individual ziplocks in the freezer and use them for soups. I think this is way better than that MSG-laden powder with the blue fish on the packaging, you know what I’m talking about. So anyways add whatever you want.

Add water and simmer for however long you feel like but the kimchi should become kind of translucent. I also add ddeok, or rice cakes.

I use these because they’re cute.

Okay so you end up with something that looks like this. I added sweet potato starch (??) noodles (it smells horrible when you are boiling them) and green onions.

I also made my favorite rice:

1/3 brown rice, 1/3 mixed grain wild rice, 1/3 white. I also buy these Japanese 13 mixed grains that are portioned into individual packets. Add a splash of sake and it tastes SO FREAKING GOOD.

Yeah so I started making this at around 11 and ended sometime around 2 am. Whatevs, it was good! I also just made up this recipe so anything goes. Tuna in olive oil or spam is also a good addition.


November 22, 2007

Hello my name is Sonja and I’m a new poster here! I’ve been taking photos of food since I was 16 and never stopped. My life is recorded better in food pictures than in pictures of friends and family (that is sad). I live in Williamsburg but have never had really great food there (I seriously don’t think it exists) so I usually eat out in Manhattan and randomly in New Jersey. I also cook quite often but I prefer to eat out every chance I get! I hope to post pretty often even though I don’t really use my blogger account.

I thought I would start out with this disturbing picture of giant oysters:

Here are some kumamotos in comparison:

I’ve been kind of on an oyster-for-dessert kick…I think it actually makes sense to eat them at the end of a meal.

I just had dinner at Korean barbecue at the Manhattan branch of Fort Lee staple Madangsui. I read reviews before I went and was expecting a great from their banchan (free appetizers).

There were quite a few but they were basically just different forms of kimchi. They do serve this preserved raw crab that’s kind of rare to get in restaurants.

You need to be a little careful though because food poisoning is possible. Now you totally want to eat it I know.

We ordered kalbi (marinated shortribs) and jumurok (tenderized short rib pieces). Too much meat! Their servings are quite large and flavored sweet. They use pear in the marinade. The fat marbling is pretty intense but not really any large pieces of fat.

Delicious but ask for perilla leaves, gheneep, along with the lettuce. It is in the same family as Japanese shiso but the flavor is somewhat different. The restaurant also provides a decently spicy jigae and steamed egg dish (pretty bad). This was probably some of the better the Korean BBQ I’ve had here but then again I don’t eat it so often. Anyways, nice to meet y’all!

35 W 35th St
New York, NY 10001
(212) 564-9333

Do Hwa

May 17, 2007

Wow, this is my first time blogging! How exciting.

Anyway, MRoach introduced Aya A. and two JS alums, yours truly and Gayle, to Do Hwa — a great Korean joint in the Village (55 Carmine Street b/t Bedford & 7th Ave S). We did not leave hungry…that is for sure! I specifically took the photos with my cell for Umami Mart!

Above are photos of our Deji Bulgogi (thin slices of pork in a spicy chili pepper marinade)…..soooo good!! It helped that Mel was the best BBQer, making sure the meat was getting cooked equally on both sides! 🙂 You wrap it in the lettuce & shiso leaves (last photo).

To start we had kimchi pancakes and a fried oyster appetizer. We also had two kinds of soups – Mandu D’uk Gook (homemade dumpling soup with rice cakes…which was more like mochi — YUM) and another one, which I think was Dwen Jang Chigae (dark miso soup with vegetables and beef).

The place is very cool – definitely a fun place to go in a group if you do the BBQ….but note: you cannot split the BBQ’s for two for an individual BBQ…must be for two…no ifs ands or buts.

When in Monterey…

May 4, 2007

I’m from Monterey, California (home of the world-famous — and deservedly so — Monterey Bay Aquarium) which is one of the most beautiful places on earth (the breathtaking landscape was featured in Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo), but the problem with the beautiful places on earth are that they are usually turned into tourist traps — everything is outrageously overpriced and cheesy. Same goes with the restaurants. There is no lack of fancy schmancy dining on the peninsula, but like most fancy restaurants, you are paying for the attitude or the view, and not the quality of the food.

If you ever find yourself in Monterey, California, and want a great meal, I would strongly urge you to skip the Fresh Cream, Sardine Factory, Fandango, and Anton & Michel’s (all of which are the kinds of places kids go on prom night) and head to NaRa Korean Retaurant in downtown Monterey (420 Tyler St). My mom and I always eat here whenever I visit her — at least once, and sometimes twice per visit! OK, so it’s not an all-out Korean BBQ place where you grill at your table, but they cover all the basics and they do it well. Bulgoki, Jap Chae, Bibimbop, Sundubu — all solid — complete, of course with all the kimchi and other appetizers.

The most amazing dishes, though, are the two sea bass ones — which, due to recent hikes in sea bass prices, they did not have for the last year or so. But serendipitously, when I was home just a couple weeks ago, they DID have the sea bass! Here is the Grilled Sea Bass:

It’s grilled with this viscous spicy-sweet sauce made from daikon and chilis, served with healthy slices of zucchini and daikon. Totally delectable. We also got the Spicy Sea Bass Soup, which is like a kimchi jige except with luscious chunks of sea bass, and the Japchae, a great standard noodle dish. (I just realized all my photos are blurry so I’m not uploading the others… sux) It’s totally a cozy place that prioritizes food over decor (they put tennis balls on the feet of the chairs to prevent scratches on the lino floor, and there’s a gigantic plasma TV usually on CNN). I don’t think anything on the menu is priced over $20 — this homey place is a favorite among the locals, and is usually packed with language student-soldiers from the Defense Language Institute practicing their Hangul.

So if you’re ever planning a trip down (or up) the coast, here’s a suggested itinerary: hit the Aquarium and work up your appetite for seafood before heading over to Nara. (And then later you may want to relax in the hot springs at Esalen and get a seaside massage!!)

Guaranteed Satisfaction

March 6, 2007

Since Japan is very close to Korea, the Korean food is leaps and bounds better than anything in the States. The ingredients are close to Japanese food as well, so that alone guarantees better Korean cuisine. Although in comparison to the food I actually ate last summer in Seoul, I can attest that the Korean food in Japan is less spicy than the real stuff.

Anyway, about once a week, I eat lunch at Ginza Kankoku Shokudou “Duoungdeji” (the spelling is probably wrong since I’m guessing from how it’s written in Japanese). And I go there for the number 6. Always the number 6: Hiyashi Bibinmen or Spicy cold noodles (pictured). For 850yen (about $7), about the cheapest lunch you can get in Ginza, you get a great, big, silver bowl full of bright, red noodles and soup with beef and daikon (radish) pieces. Topped with daikon, cucumbers and half an egg, these noodles are genius. Just the right spiciness and tang, I would rate this among one of the best meals I’ve had in the world. It’s got life.