Sunday, January 7, 2007
Sundubu, Street Food, and Noodles
Breakfast: sundubu jigae and gimbap. The sundubu jigae is a tofu soup with kimchi (or something spicy) and a small about a seafood (for xian1 wei4 or umami in Japanese). Gimbap is also referred to as "korean sushi", although there's no raw fish and the rice is seasoned differently... it's closer in form and taste to futo maki.
On the way to Dongdaemun, we passed a seafood restaurant with a few tanks of live critters out front. These baby octopi were quite active. I'm not sure what those other mollusks were.
Street food adventures begin! This is a skewer of some sort of meatballs, but I can't tell you what animal the meat came from. It's lightly battered, then fried, and then coated in some sweet and spicy sauce. It was tasty, but nothing super special.
Round 2: "peanut buttered roast[ed] squid" (you can see that on the packaging on the second photo above). Basically squid tentacles in some sort of peanut butter sauce, and then pressed in a grill that looks sort of like a panini press/George Foreman grill. It sounded so weird I had to try it. The squid was a bit on the chewy side, but the flavor was surprisingly good. There were some other odd items that I was tempted to try, but I'll save those for another day.
I went out to dinner with Younggyun and his parents. They took me to a 50+ year old noodle house. It was down some tiny, dark street; it's the type of place that no tourist could ever find on their own, so I was quite happy to have some locals take me to one of their favourites (Younggyun's father has been going to this place for 40+ years). The soju was good (Korean sweet-potato liquor, sort of like vodka but smoother and not as strong - approx. 40 proof). One of the appetizers that we got was egg-battered and fried slices of fish and beef lung (yup! at least that's what they translated it as). The lung was actually quite tasty and far more tender than I expected lungs to be. The other interesting appetizer was slices of raw octopus which I had never had before (the octopus that you get in a Japanese sushi restaurant or market is actually cooked). The rawness made it a little chewier and slimier than the cooked version, but it was very fresh so the taste was quite pleasant (if you like octopus in the first place, which I do). The main dish was some sort of noodles in a light broth; these were different than the korean noodle soups that Sue and I get on Buford Highway in ATL. The noodles had a pretty light flavor, but that was quite good after the richer appetizers. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from dinner (I didn't want Younggyun's parents thinking I was totally nuts for the first time meeting them).