Monday, February 21, 2011

Kimchi Confessions

As I reach the halfway point of my time in Korea, I can't help but think of what I'll miss the most. I'll definitely miss the friends I've made, my students, the lifestyle. But the thing I'm going to miss above all else? The food.

Korean food may not be exceptional in comparison to other cuisines, but I have yet to try a dish in Korea that I absolutely despised. The fact that food is so cheap makes it all the much better. And to top it off, you get a never ending amount of sides (and we all know I can't seem to get enough kimchi).

I've briefly mentioned food throughout my entries, but here are the foods I am most fond of.

3) Kimbap 김밥

Kind of like sushi (but not) kimbap shops are on every street corner in Korea. You can get them in a variety of flavors. I like the standard kimbap rolls which include a plethora of items. Sometimes you'll get pickles, cheese, crab or hotdogs, but don't be alarmed. It's delicious. You can also order different food items at these shops, including ramyeon 라면, mandu (dumplings) 만두, kimchi jigae (soup) 김치 찌개 and about 30 other options I haven't translated yet. Food from these shops will cost you a whopping 2,000 - 5,000 won (or about two to five bucks).

2) Galbi 갈비

A food you have to work for but oh-so-delicious in the end, galbi restaurants are also common throughout Busan. There are different types of meat you can get at these particular establishments. I usually rely on the "point and order whatever your finger lands on method," and have yet to be disappointed. You get strips of meat (that you might have to cut up) that you grill yourself. This is when it's nice to have a man, the presumed grillmaster, so you can sit back and eat all the side dishes while he makes sure the meat is cooked to exactness. A galbi dinner that could keep you full and satisfied for 24 hours will cost you around 10,000 won.

1) Shabu Shabu

Having lived in Busan for the last six months, I'm disappointed I just now discovered the magic that is Shabu Shabu. Although I'm not sure this food has a Korean origin, I appreciate Korea's ability to stuff me to the brim of existence. Shabu Shabu comes in three parts. First, you put meat and veggies into a hot pot. Once cooked, you make your own spring rolls. Fill the rice sheets with meat, veggies, pineapple, whatever, and then dip them in any sauce that fits your liking. After you've stuffed yourself, it's on to the second course. Noodles are added to the remaining broth and you now get to enjoy a delectable soup. And if that wasn't filling enough, you then add rice and egg to what remains. Every part of the meal being somehow amazingly better than the last. This three course meal will cost you a staggering 11,000 won. Or to put it simply, 11 McChickens.

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