Category Archives: Epic Meal Time

Non-Korean Cuisine #2: Belgian Brunch

If you’ve been in Korea for a long enough time in which you’ve realized that they do not have REAL bread, then Big Bread is just for you! And yes, when I say Korea lacks REAL bread, I mean it. Their bread is never toasted, usually VERY SOFT, seems like it should only be part of pastries or desserts, and is just plain WRONG to be called bread or toast. Really now, why do all of the breads in Korea taste like white bread or sweetened bread?

So as planned, Casey, Debora, and I headed for a popular restaurant on our way in Sinchon called Big Bread. Apparently all the meals are cooked by their one and only Belgian chef who’s name I don’t recall. This hidden gem of a place is located below a Starbucks, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled. Outside you’ll see a menu and an included advertising picture above of the two girls from the Korean show Tasty Road, posed with the chef.

The menu included not only lunch and dinner dishes, but cocktails, beers, and desserts as well. They had a variety of dishes from both Italy and Belgium. Debora ordered the chicken pita, Casey ordered the Croque Madam, and I ordered the pizza bageutte. The wait time was not long at all, and it felt even shorter of a wait when they served us all free vegetable soup on the house. The consistency of the soup reminded me of mushroom soup from the warm, creamy broth. I was afraid they might have overly peppered it, but it was actually the perfect amount, where we could just catch a whiff of the seasoning.

Debora’s Chicken Pita was delightful, with a very heavy bread that went nicely with the finely cooked and cut pieces of chicken in it. Casey’s Croque Madam consisted of a sunny side up egg on top of a toasted cheese & ham sandwich, which was the perfect brunch combination. She also had a side of lettuce with a strange mixture I couldn’t figure out: tuna, crab meat, something?? Too bad I couldn’t take a picture of it because I had dove into my Pizza Baguette, topped with olives and cilantro, along with its perfect cheese and tomato sauce proportions. Usually I’m picky when it comes to cheese, but the amount was perfect. The baguette was toasted nicely where I could easily crunch down on it, but still enjoy the soft middle where the cheese, tomato, and toppings lay. The prices were definitely worth the meals, because even sharing bits of each others breads, lettuce, eggs, and slices of baguette, we all felt stuffed.

Recommendations to the chef: Try not to cook the ham on the Croque Madam too much where it ends up losing any kind of soft texture to it. Maybe just cook it to a warming temperature while the only crunchy part of this dish is the toast. Other than that it’s all gold stars from here because we LOVE that all the breads are cooked from the kitchen and that the consistencies of flavors can be easily noticed and appreciated.
Recommendations to the restaurant: Please change the “lunch hour special” to somewhere along the times of 11a.m.-2p.m. or 11:30a.m.-1:30p.m. because it makes no sense that “lunch” begins from morning, and ends at 12p.m. Customers WILL buy your meal sets, but you just have to make it available for us.

Next time when I feel like splurging on desserts like their crème brûlée, or even a wine and an appetizer, I’ll be sure to return to Big Bread and remember to give my compliments to the chef!

Overall Rating: 9/10

Fear Factor #1: Cup O’ Larva

If you’ve read Day 37’s excerpt, you might’ve noticed a brief mentioning of me eating larva. That’s right, I did it! I consumed the delicacy that is bugs. BUGS!

If you’re exiting Yeouinaru (by either bus #753 or gate 3 of the Purple Line / Line #5) while on the way towards the Han River, you’ll happen across many grannies and uncles selling various street food, from dried squid, fried chicken, cotton candy, or delicacies like Beondegi, 번데기. Beondegi, also known as silkworms, or larva, apparently is able to be consumed by 60% of Koreans. Or.. at least that’s what Yunik informed me. I mean he is from Jeju, so he probs knows what’s up right?

So I was the crazy hoe who instead of buying “normal human snacks” like cotton candy, took the initiative to purchase the 2,000 W cup o’ larva from the kind Ajjumma and feasted like a peasant. But no really, a PEASANT. Apparently it smelled REALLY BAD, but I didn’t notice it. I popped one in my mouth hesitantly and DUUUUUUUDES!!! Each one was differing in how much it might have squished, popped, or squirted in my mouth. It tasted like a mushy or liquidized assortment of nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc. It really wasn’t gag-worthy or as “Fear Factor”-y as I had imagined, so yes. I DID scarf down ALL OF IT! I mean not the bottom soupy leftover part, but each little bug. I ATE IT. Each freaky looking insect in my cup. I ATE IT. And the last bite of my 2,000 W purchase. I ATE IT.

Check it out:

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Overall FEAR Rating: 3 out of 5

Snacky Snack #1: “Fish Ultima”

On a quest for the deliciousness that was the ice cream in Pei Hsia’s Instagram collection, we wandered Sinchon after a filling dinner. The hunger for sugar was strong in us, when suddenly Alison, Stacey, and I stumbled upon the holy grail of a street snack I have dubbed and named “Fish Ultima.”

Come to me "Fish Ultima"

Come to me “Fish Ultima”

For the cheap price of 3,000 W, this delicious post-dinner treat can be eaten between 1-2 humans depending on the amount of hunger, or selfishness for this sugary delight. At Sinchon Station this street snack has begun to be sold since this mid-September, coming in two flavors: 1) red bean, and 2) custard.

Note: The flavors mentioned are NOT related to the ice cream, but rather the FILLING inside of the breaded “Fish.”

With a cute little spoon, excitement for sweets, and empty mouth, you’re ready to dive into “Fish Ultima.” Start with a spoonful of the fruity, lightly sweet soft serve ice cream, topped with chocolate and nuts. Or maybe grab the stick of chocolate coated fruits and eat that grape and pineapple right off. Still not satisfied? Take in the carbs that come along with the “Fish Ultima” bread that shields your hands from mess.Still a messy hoe? Napkins were not the thin rinky-dink ones that rip at the touch of a pinky.

Next time I will visit the Ahjumma for the red bean flavor because the custard filling was a tad too thick and sugary for me since it was only at the end of the “Fish,” which really can make a full 5’2″ girl thirstier than she should be. I just prefer going from a lightly sweet ice cream flavor to another lightly sweet filling because the custard fills out when biting the “Fish” too quickly, and causing a sticky mess to spill out. Let’s just say messy eaters like me is better suited with fillings that stay a bit more still. Soo.. it looks like I have an excuse to get another “Fish Ultima” soon yah?

Do I have diabetes yet? No? Then it’s time to find more snacks.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Non-Korean Cuisine #1: Uzbekistani Yum

WARNING: The following description about the deliciousness found in Dongdaemun may trigger anger, fear, or sorrow among vegetarians, vegans, or non-meat eaters, or even just animal lovers. You have been warned…

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Bread crumb appetizer anyone?

As Mary had been planning for us this Saturday, we all met at 6:30 at Sinchon station to go to Dongdaemun to find either Uzbekistani or Kazakhstani food, more specifically lamb and skewer cuisines of any kind.  The winner went to this Uzbekistani restaurant that’s name we don’t even know how to read or pronounce, but let’s just go through the beautiful ~41,000 W total meal among 6 hungry humans (3 Koreans + 3 ‘Murican appetites CAN be filled with just 3 main dishes, 2 skewers, and a small appetizer).

The first main dish we started with was lamb and rice. Simple yet tasteful. The rice was unlike any rice I’ve ever tried. It was light and thin like brown rice, yet soft as rice soaked in curry. Topped with diced carrots and best of all, tender cuts of lamb, this dish was worth the money and 15 min wait time.

Lamb and rice

Lamb and rice

The second main dish, pictured to the right of the lamb & rice dish, was purely lamb meat and potato chunks. Soft enough to be cut and divided with a spoon, the lamb was especially exquisite. I’m not sure what secret sauce they use to cook this tender meat, but I feel this could have easily cost us $16 alone without the potatoes back in Orange County. Marinated in the remnants from the lamb cooking, the extra taste of lamb to the potatoes no joke. Devouring the potato chunks bite after bite required no kind of sauce because of how well it had soaked up the lamb liquids. My only question is what was the point in all the onions? It provided no extra aesthetic or tasteful appeal in all honesty, and just became wastefully tossed aside.

Uzbekistani Lamb and Beef Skewers

Uzbekistani Lamb and Beef Skewers

Lamb chunks and french fries; what more can a college student ask for? The third main dish consisted of chunks of tender and chewier meat. Cooked to completion, the well-done lamb went hand-in-hand with the tomato-like sauce that reminded me of a lighter version of salsa (lacking in just any hint of spice that I would have thoroughly enjoyed). And rather than potato chunks, we had the least greasy/oily french fries ever. They were warm, filling, extremely potato-like as they should be, and not at all crunchy from the large-cut size. Yet another simple, but satisfying dish, we could not get enough of their varying lamb dishes. And last but not least, we had the beef skewers to diversify our meat choices. These were almost as soft as the second lamb dish, easily divided by just a spoon. The onions topped on it were completely removed by us, and the beef was just perfect. Cooked lightly, I was surprised although the taste was light, it was not at all bland. The beef did not seem marinated, salted, or sprinkled with any kind of special ingredient, yet it hit the taste buds cleverly after the taste of lamb and potatoes.

Recommendation to the chef: Try making a different sauce for the different meat dishes. When it’s the same exact sauce over and over, we can get a tad tired of it no matter how light and delicious both the sauce and dish can be. Maybe have a spicy sauce for the sturdier meat dishes because many Asians enjoy a bit of spice. We are in South Korea you know?
Recommendation to the restaurant: CLEAN EVERYTHING MORE THOROUGHLY. Not to deter anybody from this restaurant, but the small pitcher of water they gave to our table had this random pink gunk come slopping out into one of the cups, stunning the table for a good 3 minutes of silence, disgust, and confusion. Thank you for handling the situation by taking it away and replacing both the cup and pitcher, but it can really hurt your business if we were more germaphobic or easily deterred by things like this. CLEANLINESS IS KEY GUYS.

Overall Rating: 8/10