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Food Friday (on a Saturday) 5.9.2015

Yes, I am late once again. Those who are simultaneously traveling and managing a blog will understand: sometimes schedules change. Hopefully my readers understand! On to the food!

First things first. I know I posted this picture on Facebook, but I feel the need to plug my favorite coffee shop yet again. Homestead Coffee is a chain in Korea that you can find in many areas, but I love my Itaewon location. I am there at least once a week and always order something to drink and eat. Lately I've been on a big grapefruit kick and, luckily for me, grapefruit is much more popular in Seoul than in any area I've lived in the States. Fresh grapefruit juice, ade, tea. I've tried them all. They also have a relatively extensive menu, including an "American Breakfast" with pancakes and sausage; rather nice when you are missing home.

Bottom line, if you are looking for a good coffee shop with great drinks, service, and food, Homestead is perfect. It's not fancy; it's homey.

With plans to film the sunset, I went to Oido with a friend. Alas, the wind in this area can be very strong and I didn't feel like risking my GoPro crashing to the ground, so what to do? Eat, of course. Oido has a ton of seafood restaurants because it is located right on the water. The warm seafood and noodle soup on the left was perfect after coming out of the chilly wind, plus it was jammed pack with tons of clams, crab, oysters, shrimp, and other shell incased sea creatures. So tasty. The hamul pajon (seafood pancake) was the best I have sampled in Seoul and was so large the two of us couldn't finish it.

Craving something sweet, but unable to eat ice cream due to my dairy intolerance, a guesthouse friend and I stumbled upon a little shop in Hongdae selling fruit and red bean mochi (though, to be proper, I should call it chapssaltteok (찹쌀떡) since I am in Korea and not Japan). We bought grape, strawberry, and kiwi. While my friend favored kiwi, I definitely liked the strawberry best.

As I am sure you can tell from many of my photos, part of Korean food culture is cooking the food on your own at the table. The reason I am not very fond of going to this style of restaurant alone: I don't want to be the silly foreigner who burns the food! Luckily I have a few Korean friends that I often share my meals with. Below is my friend Hannah killin it on a table grill in Itaewon. This restaurant had combination platters of beef, pork, squid, and a HUGE prawn.

The accompanying onions, potato, and mushrooms were fantastic combined with the meat and seafood. Funny story: when we started cooking the squid, the restaurant staff bought out a small container of honey butter to melt on the grill. When Hannah asked what it was, they explained that most foreigners really didn't like the taste of squid so they dipped it in the honey butter. I tried it, and really disliked it! But then again, I LOVE squid by itself so I may be an exception to the foreigner rule.

Collage time!

Top left: Tteokbokki (떡볶이) is a very popular and commonly known dish in Korea, usually associated with street vendors where you can eat each rice cake with a toothpick. There are also restaurants that have varieties of ttoekbokki, with many other ingredients. It is usually quite spicy, but the dish we ordered was not spicy (thank goodness for my Korean friend since there was no English on the menu). The added cabbage, glass noodles, ramen noodles, fish cake, etc. really adds amazing flavor and texture to an otherwise simple meal.

Top right: More mandu (만두) in Itaewon! This time I tried the mushroom and veggie. So delicious. Word of warning! This type of mandu has egg in it. If you are in Korea, and something looks vegetarian/vegan on the menu, there is a large chance it has milk, eggs, cheese, meat or fish based broth, or other non-vegetarian/vegan friendly ingredient. Ask first!

Middle right: A cold noodle soup that we ordered with Korean beef bbq. I have to say, this was a very new experience for me. While cold pasta salad is something I am used to (and really love), cold broth and noodles shocked my American tongue. It was salty and quite good, but I think my brain was having a hard time processing the temperatures and textures together. I will be trying this one again.

Bottom left: More tabletop grilling! This time in Bucheon. While most restaurants of this style generally serve the same kinds of food, the taste and look of the meals vary.

Bottom middle: Raw fish. I'd love to tell you what kind but this was part of a snack after a meal...a meal that involved soju. Therefore I forgot to ask our host exactly what kind of fish this is. Nonetheless, I have found that I am more willing to try raw fish in Korea than I am in America and I have never been disappointed. Maybe it's because I can see the fish swimming around in a tank right before I eat it, so freshness isn't an issue.

Bottom right: Yes. Yes that is Burger King. What?? I feel you judging me through that computer screen! Here are my excuses: (1) I was slightly soju hungover and who doesn't appreciate a good, greasy burger when you feel like that? (2) If you spent over 6,000 Won, you could buy an adorable Kakao Friends plush toy!!! Isn't mine cute? (3) I wanted to see if the menu was different. It was. Kind of. (4) I wanted to see if the burger tasted different. So I got a Whopper. Verdict? Yup! It tasted more smoked and, in my opinion, much better thank the American version.

Lastly, just for fun, an angry squid face and chilly makgeolli served in a bowl!

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