Travel Photos: Weekend in Seoul
Paula and I spent a whirlwind less-than-72 hours in Seoul last month, hanging out with friends, recovering from jet lag, and doing all of the eating that we possibly could.
So instead of a recipe today, I’m sharing some of the food photos from our trip (Japan photos coming soon!).
I thought the coolest edible experience of this trip was our visit to a toshirak (lunch box) market. In the photo above, you can see kimchijeon (kimchi pancakes), lots of steamed mandu (dumplings), and a jar of coins, which are not actual South Korean currency — instead they’re just little tokens that you pay for, along with an empty bento-style container; then you use them to “buy” items to put in your lunch box along the market street.
Here are some shots of the alley with the market:
So many options, including nokdujeon (mung bean pancakes) up top,
and jap chae noodles (lower left).
The alley was lined with food vendors, though not all of them were participating in the lunch box market.
Dried blocks of doenjang (fermented soy bean paste,
similar to miso, which can be used to make doenjang jjigae).
Cucumber Kimchi (Oi Sobagi)
Besides all of the deep-fried goodness, there was also plenty of tteokbokki (cylindrical rice cakes, often coated in spicy sauce) — a very popular street food in Korea. You can see it in the first photo of this blog post above, and in the top/background of this photo:
And in the foreground of this photo, tteokbokki mixed with fried chicken:
I was excited to discover they were selling grilled octopus skewers:
After grilling the octopus, they topped it with a drizzle of a sweet brown sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise, and a generous sprinkle of katsuobushi shavings — in other words, it was served in a very similar way to Japanese takoyaki, just without the fried balls of dough around each bite of octopus!
After making some nearly impossible decisions, we used our last few toshirak tokens to buy rice and soup to accompany our lunchbox fare, and we sat down in their cafeteria/dining room area to enjoy our lunch.
Just some of the many things we ate…
I was too excited about eating to get better photos!
And that was all just one day’s lunch!
We had some memorable dinners, too. Here’s a photo from a grill-your-own-pork restaurant, right after the hot coals got delivered to our table, but before they’d set down the grill screen on top of the coals:
In this case I was feeling too jet-lagged to take better photos…
And this dinner, of Icheon salbap (Icheon’s a city outside of Seoul where they are known for serving a LOT of banchan (side dishes); the salbap is the rice… which you can’t see in this photo because it’s in the ceramic pot with the lid):
In fact, at the only two Icheon salbap restaurants I’ve ever been to, they bring you so many side dishes that rather than setting each one down on the table, they bring over a whole new tabletop already stocked full of dishes, and just slide it on top of your current table and lock it into place. Here’s the view from above:
And a close up of the fanciest dish on the table — gejang (soy sauce-marinated and fermented “raw” crab):
For lunch another day, I got to eat one of my favorite summer Korean dishes, naengmyon (cold noodles) — although it was unusually cold for April, and decidedly not summery weather when we were there!
Naengmyon garnished with cucumbers and daikon radish.
The weather was actually so chilly and fall-like, that we found someone selling hot roasted chestnuts on the street! (So delicious, and so hot they
burned our fingers warmed our hands up.)
Our friends kept us so busy restaurant-hopping (and kept us so full) that it was tricky to time our appetites so that we’d have room for much street food…
So mostly I just longingly snapped some photos of it as we walked past.
Fresh pomegranate juice in Myeongdong
But Paula did at least get to try one of these potato spirals:
That’s Paula’s hand, twirling that crispy-edged-yet-soft-middled
potato spiral in cheese powder.
Kimbap is so simple, and might seem like it would be mild or boring in flavor compared to other spicier Korean dishes, but every single time I’ve had it at a little lunch counter like this one, it’s reminded me that freshly rolled kimbap is one of the more satisfying meals in existence.
Last, but certainly not least, check out the size of what my friend thought would be a good afternoon “snack” (around 4pm… in between a restaurant lunch and a restaurant dinner):
This is one of my all-time favorite Korean dishes (though some Koreans might think of it as junk food or non-fancy comfort food): Rabokki, or ramyeon (ramen noodles) + tteokbokki rice cakes. (I love it so much, I’ve posted a recipe for rabokki here.)
The restaurant was actually a cook-your-own-tteokbokki place, where you choose your own add-ins to accompany the rice cakes, so OF COURSE we chose ramen noodles (I didn’t want Paula to leave Seoul without eating rabokki), but ours also came with: cheese (!), deep-fried mandu dumplings, eggs, fishcakes, and twigim (literally, “fried things,” but in this case: sushi-like rolls of seaweed wrapped around cooked dangmyeon — sweet potato glass noodles — instead of rice, and then deep fried).
We couldn’t even manage to eat it all, but we did make quite a dent in it:
…and after that, we were off to dinner!
Stay tuned for more recipes, and for the Japan food photos — I’ve only been posting every other Thursday, but I might squeeze in some of the other travel photos on an off-week, so that I can keep sharing new recipes with you guys, too.
(You might also want to check out some of the Korean recipes I’ve posted in the meantime.)
Related travel photo posts:
|Bibimbap and Banchan in Korea||Markets and Street Food in Seoul||Seafood and Sushi in Japan||Bento Boxes and Rice Dishes in Japan|