Explore South Korea [Part IV]
Food. When most people talk about South Korea they talk about the food. Taking cosmetic products into consideration, the greatest gift South Korea has given the United States is their food. Los Angels has an enormous Korean population, and has given birth to some fantastic fusion flavors. On our side of the continent, Boston (and to a lesser degree, Providence) has its own selection of Korean resturants and food trucks.
As a first generation New Englander, with Portuguese and Italian backgrounds, I have a confession to make… I don’t eat seafood. That’s a generalization, but I mainly stay far away from ingesting shellfish, crustaceans, and fish. I just don’t like it much. But I made a point (under threatening duress from my wife) to have an open mind and pallet for our trip to Seoul. I’ll try anything, but I can’t promise I’ll like it. While I tended to stick to Bulgogi and spicy Kimchi here in the states, I expanded my appetite a bit in country and found that everything was quite tasty despite the inclusion of seafood in pretty much everything. In fact, my favorite meal was superb shrimp balls at a mandu place we stopped at. The only less than satisfactory experience I had was actually with some of my favorite beef dishes— when the inclusion of fish sauce was a bit sharp for my tastes. That said, the anchovy soups and street foods were spectacular.
Bagel and Waffle shops/stands were a plenty. Some of Ashley’s favorite Korean snacks were their interpretation of waffles. Picture a thick, and perfectly cooked waffle around the size of your head; crispy on the surface, and warm and soft in the center. Then it’s folded up on itself, with a fruity cream frosting in the center. We must have tried three different vendors while we were there, and the best by far was just beyond the Incheon University campus.
Fast Food chains were more or less what you’d expect for international brands. Most have their own interpretations based on traditional Korean tastes, like a Bulgogi Burger. Lotteria is Korea’s answer to McDonald’s. One of my favorites was unique to Korea, as far as I know, and was an interesting take on a savory sandwich. Issac Toast has a selection of toasted bread sandwiches filled with pressed meat, cheese, and potato options. Complimented with asian herbs and yellow corn, a very interesting savory-spicy sauce made it a place we had to hit twice. Steamed corn is a frequently used food accessory… especially on pizza. It's weird but satisfactorily hits the spot.