Thursday, September 5, 2013

Korean food...the good, the bad, the ugly

I've had some great food here in Korea...and some iffy food.  I don't really like to eat something where eyeballs are staring back at me.  I know...eyeballs are good protein.  Well, I don't know.  I just made it up.  It sounds good.  I do know that in some cultures eyeballs are a delicacy.  Not in this Texan's opinion.

The Good:
  • Sweet and sour pork - I had THE best sweet and sour pork at our orientation...yes, dorm food
  • Korean BBQ - This is my favorite thing I've eaten so far.  My co-teacher took me, and I can't wait to go again.  Apparently you point to the picture of the animal that you want to eat.  We had the beef, but I've heard the pork is divine.  
  • The amazing dessert I had the other night with the shaved ice, berries, and frozen yogurt.  It's only for a limited time.  I just might have to find it again. 
  • Jap-Chae - We had this at lunch today at school, and I love it.  I've had it twice now and eat it up.
  • Texas Burger and fries at the House Grill.  OMG!  Wow. Wow. Wow.   Yes, it is THAT good.  This place was recommended to me by Rachel, the teacher I replaced, and other Daejeonites.  It's a hush, hush little hole-in-the-wall in Daejeon, and you wouldn't know it's there unless someone told you specifically where to look for it.  Gayong, my co-teacher, and I went after school.  Rachel had told her to go before she left, and Gayong had never been.  So we went there in a taxi, and the taxi dropped off us according to the address on the business card.  We crossed the busy street, but there is no House Grill anywhere.  Gayong sees an entrance to a hallway with shops and says she thinks it's there according to the address.  Now good thing that I had read a lot of blogs about teaching and living in South Korea and Daejeon before I even moved here.  So I said, "That's it! It's at the end of this hallway!"  Gayong wondered how in the world that I even knew that.  I had remembered one particular blog describing just that hallway, saying that you wouldn't think the restaurant would be down there, but just go all the way to the end, and there it is.  So we walked to the very end of the hallway with all these shops and there it was at the end of the hallway.  It's a tiny little place with only about 4 tables and a couple tables outside.  It wasn't crowded when we went, but I've heard that on the weekends it's packed and good luck finding a table.  I introduced myself to Brian, the owner.  He actually lived in the states for a couple of years and worked as a chef.  There are several burgers that I wanted to try, but I ended up going with the Texas Burger....of course!  I HAD to!  This is like no burger I've ever had in Texas but wow, was it good.  It had a fried egg, a thousand island type of dressing, and lots of onions.  
Waiting at the stop light to cross the street and go to House Grill
The long hallway
The outside of the restaurant
My amazing Texas Burger and mouth is watering just looking at it
The whole restaurant

The Bad:
  • Anything with eyeballs
  • The head on the fish
  • Octopus tentacles
  • Shrimp skeletons 
  • Bones, bones, and more bones in my fish
  • Grapes - their grapes are not our grapes.  They smell weird and taste weird.  However, they are the only grapes I have seen in Korea.  Today, a teacher brought me a gift of these lovely grapes.  I graciously accepted them (with two hands such as the Korean custom dictates) and then gave them to the security guard as I walked away from school.  Gifts are HUGE in Korea.  You give a gift to your principal, vice-principal, and co-teachers.  They give gifts to you.  This works for me!  I love to give gifts.  And I love to receive gifts.  I'm hoping everyone's love language is gifts!
They sure do look pretty though

The Ugly:
  • Anything with eyeballs 
  • The head on the fish
  • Stick things that are in my soup - they really do look like sticks
  • HUGE radishes - I've only ever seen small radishes.  The ones in South Korea are huge, about the size of a roll of paper towels.
I'm trying to be somewhat adventurous in my eating. There are certain things however that I will not try like dog (could NEVER try that....EVER).  I am at least trying everything at lunch at school.  Some things I don't like and won't eat a second bite, and some things surprise me.  For example, the other day I had a pancake with kimchi, tons of vegetables, and red pepper paste (they put red pepper paste or red pepper sauce on everything and yes it is spicy).  I was really surprised that I liked it.  The Korean teachers that I eat lunch with (mostly I just sit there and listen to them speak Korean...but they do try to ask me questions in English and make me feel welcome) are surprised when I actually like something.  It makes me giggle.  Gayong actually told me last night on our way home from dinner that she liked the fact that I tried everything.  I might not like everything but at least I tried it.  I was glad to hear her say that.  My dad would be proud too!

One difficult thing for me is the lack of protein.  Today at lunch the only protein I had was a tiny portion of chicken in my soup.  Even on days where there is fish or another form of protein, the portions are tiny.  Yet they pile on the rice.  Literally!  I'm going to need to start bringing half a peanut butter sandwich or a protein bar (if I can find them) to school with me.  I need my protein. 


  1. Can you get Canned tuna or is that on your list of things you won't eat?

    1. I can get canned tuna here! And yes, I do it. That would be a good protein. Thanks for the idea!