Hey Korea, I have a question for you…where you keep your fat people at?  (and do not say the Samkyung hiville room B105…I was being rhetorical!).

Seriously, Seoul seems to have two types of roads.  Highways–which are filled with lawless drivers constantly jockeying for position, and Runways–basically, every other street whereupon you can glimpse attractive women in their short skirts and stiletos strutting through the streets as if they’re putting on a fashion show.  These skirts are seriously short–which left me blissfully shocked when my cousin told me that they’re even shorter during the summer months.  Shorter?  What do they do, wear the skirts around their necks?  oh boy…let’s get to the food. 

This post is dedicated to my friend Jin, who has made repeated comments about wanting to see the street food in Korea.   By her eagerness to catch a glimpse of my primary diet for the past two weeks, I think I can safely presume that she and I are kindred spirits that fall into a specific category of eaters–we are cheap classless connoseurs of the under $3 meal ($6 for me because I eat a portion for Jin as well).   Whether it’s a crepe in the streets of Paris, honey roasted nuts in New York City, or a plateful of dukboki in front of Yonsei University in Seoul–all we want, is good cheap food with direct mano el mano commuication with the chef, server, and cashier who all happen to be the same person.  Enjoy this post Jin…and you owe me some malox.

The most common type of stand you’ll see is like the one below.  It’s primary draw is the dukboki (spicy rice cakes) and  the soon-dae (some kind of weird sausage concoction).  But just like the city planners of Seoul fill every possible space of land with buildings and markets, the street stand vendors also fill their carts with all kinds of other goodies.  Mainly, you’ll see a variety of tempuras–shrimp, stuffed hot peppers, kimbob, eggs, fried dumplings and my personal favorite–sweet potatoes.  They also have odeng (a fish cake) and sometimes, like in the picture, chicken skewers.  What do I get?  Usually a plate of dukboki for about $2 and sometimes, i’ll take the sweet potatoes to go (5 for about $1.50). 

I love you pojang macha!

I love you pojang macha!

Get ready to beat eaten little dukbokis...

Get ready to beat eaten little dukbokis...

Here’s a night view of one of these street stands. 

You're glow in the night is like a beacon guiding me to the land of yummy

You're glow in the night is like a beacon guiding me to the land of yummy

 However, you’ll also see all kinds of other stands as well.  the one below which I found in the heart of Kangnam (wall street by day, but party town by night) sells a variety of fried seafoods.  Check out the fried Octopus!

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Let’s take a closer look at the octupus tentacles…

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You’ll also find a variety of snack vendors as well.  My personal favorites are the ones that sell freshly roasted chestnuts–so yummy and you feel much less guilty after eating these.  For about $2, you get a bag full of about 10 roasted chestnuts (big ones, no less–talk about value).

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Another healthy alternative is the fruit stand–here’s one in Myongdong that was selling freshly sliced pineapples.

Pineapple on a stick for under $1!

Pineapple on a stick for under $1!

For a more guilty pleasure, you can also find snack stands that sell fish-shaped pastries filled with sweet redbeans (see pic), ho-duk stands (basically a flat pancake  like pastry but also filled with red bean paste.  And a new favorite of mine, egg-bread (basically, they fill a pastry with a fried egg.  The egg bread makes a great pick-me-up and costs about 50 cents each.

Welcome to my tummy fishies!

Welcome to my tummy fishies!

There are other typs of stands as well–it’s hard to keep track of them all.  But another notable one is the bar stand.  These stands light up the night in tents that line side streets and sidewalks and you can not only drink beer or rice wine (soju), but you can also get freshly steamed mussels and a variety of other seafoods.  At night, these places can get pretty packed–but they’re a lot of fun.

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Let me leave you with one other stand (at least for the moment).  Fortune tellers also work in stands along the side of the road.  (I stopped going to these though when they kept telling me I would marry late, weigh about 20lbs too much, and work for the US government–c’mon hucksters, who’s going to believe any of this crazy talk?). 

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Of course, it wasn’t always about street food.  Sometimes, I did actually step inside an actual restaurant.  Here’s a couple notable ones.  The first is a place that Hyree took me to.  Apparently, she used to go here frequently when she was in highschool and it was da bomb.  It was a place that specializes in dukboki–you cook it at your table, they add all kinds of stuff, and when you’re almost done, they add rice which you also cook.  For a 2 person serving, it cost about $7.  I didn’t realize you could improve upon dukboki–but this place figured it out. 

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Here’s the dish, moments before devouring…

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The 2nd place I went to is…gasp…a hamburger joint!  I didn’t plan to eat anything western while here, but this place called Krazeburger caught my attention (pronounced Krah-zay burgers).  It caught my attention because of two things–one, it seems to be a take-off of in-n-out on the west coast or 5 Guys on the East coast, and also, because Hugh Jackman ate there recently while he was in Seoul promoting Wolverine.  I figure if it was good enough for Hugh, it should be good enough for me as well…afterall, we have a lot in common, don’t you think?  (don’t answer that, it was also rhetorical). 

while they advertise this place as being health conscious--c'mon, it's burgers and fries!

while they advertise this place as being health conscious--c'mon, it's burgers and fries!

Burger and chili fries--yummy but not good for my tummy!

Burger and chili fries--yummy but not good for my tummy!

For my sister Sandy, here’s some updated family pics.  This set is from aunt Youngsook’s family.  You know Haesun, but we can also see Wonsik, his wife and baby and also the other two sisters.p1010053

Wonsik looks just like uncle changyong!

Wonsik looks just like uncle changyong!

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