Not many. Only been back a week and my mother-in-law has been plying me with home-cooked food every waking hour, so we haven’t eaten out a lot yet. (I think it’s because she doesn’t speak English, and my Korean sucks after being away so long, so she needs us to be doing something with our mouths when most normal people would be talking)
I don’t have a phone yet (gonna wait for the Galaxy 3!! which is probably a couple of months away), but when I do, this aspect of the blog will become more interesting, as I will be able to take photos and actually remember what I ate clearly. But still…
Restaurant 1: Some hole-in-the-wall in the underground mall area of Kangnam Station. Seemed busy, but probably because it had like 6 seats and was the only eating place that wasn’t overpriced coffee and cake. I promise I’ll remember names next time. The food was out in less than three minutes (really!) and the staff were friendly.
Dish: Bipbim guksu (비빔국수). Basically thin flour noodles mixed with various thinly sliced vegetables and red pepper sauce (gochujang – 고추장). The noodles are light, and it makes an excellent light lunch.
Looked kind of like the photo above, except with about ten times the sauce. It was almost like a soup. Yes, this was one of those places where they put the sauce on for you, and seem to forget that you are one mere human, not a platoon of army trainees. It was drowned in the stuff. I much prefer it if the sauce is on the side and you can administer it yourself according to your innate wussiness. I don’t find gochujang that spicy, but it’s not something I would drink either, put it that way.
It’s hard to go wrong with Bibim guksu, and it pretty much tastes the same wherever you go, so it’s hard to complain when you order such a universal, safe dish. But complain I shall: less sauce next time!
Side dishes: None that I recall
Cost: 4,500 won (from memory)
Recommended?: The dish itself, absolutely, but not from this restaurant. However, the other dishes may be worth a try here. It’s certainly fast and cheap.
Restaurant 2: One of the ones on the 7th floor of the Lotte Department store in Anyang. Again, I forgot to note the name, but if you stand at the Subway counter, turn your back to the Subway clerk, it is the restaurant on the far left in front of you. Probably had a Korean name, or something. Not a huge range of items to choose from on the menu, and most were for a minimum of two people (i.e. you had to eat what your partner was eating)
Dish: My wife’s not here at the moment, and she could easily tell me, but I think it was on the menu just as Ssambap (쌈밥) or maybe Modu Ssambap. Anyway, this dish is basically a bunch of various lettuce leaves (or similar), which you use to wrap a little parcel of rice, meat (marinated pork or beef being the two most common) and ssamjang (쌈장), and it is served with a number of side dishes that you can also cram into your wrap so that it becomes so big that you can’t really fit it into your mouth so juices just go all over your fingers when you are forced to bite it in two when it should just be one simple mouthful, like I do, or eat separately, like most normal people.
(PS This photo was taken from here). Our one wasn’t nearly so lavish, as befitting one of those moderately overpriced department store versions of traditional Korean food, with only about 8 different side dishes, but they were tasty enough. The marinated pork (in a spicy sauce; Dweji bulgolgi [돼지 불고기]) was much better than the marinated beef (bulgolgi – 불고기), which I thought was too both too watery and sweet.
I think this is a great go-to dish to have at a regular haunt, so it would pay to order it at a few different restaurants and find the one that has the best meat and side dishes. Because it really is a healthy lunch/dinner and great fun to eat.
Side dishes: Given what we ordered, lots.
Cost: 10,000 won per person
Recommended?: Not sure about the usual cost of this type of meal, being the first time I have ever ordered it, but except for the watery bulgogi, the rest of it was delicious. I’ll definitely be looking out for ssambap again, but the restaurant itself is disposable.