Monday, March 26, 2007

Something Fishy

For Lunch yesterday, we went to a place called City Tuna (시티참치) near campus.

For appetizers, they brought us this hunk of fish stewed with turnips. There really wasn't much meat on the fish; mostly skin and bone, so I'm not sure how you would go about eating it. The turnips had soaked up a lot of the fish flavor... perhaps a little too much; it was really fishy smelling and tasting.

The main dish was raw fish, fish roe, and some veggies (lettuce, daikon sprouts and seaweed) that you mix with rice and a spicy sauce. It's called hoedeopbap (회덮밥). The closest thing I can think of would perhaps be Chirashi Zushi, but even that's not really quite the same because that's lacking the sauce and the mixing. In any case, it was good and fairly healthy.

Paul and I have been frequenting a Korean BBQ place. They know us there now, and we usually get free "service" items whenever we go. Usually it's a bottle or two of coke or beer, but last night, they gave each of us a bottle of soju. I'm not sure if this soju is special or not, but it seems fancier than the standard soju you get at restaurants and bars. The fact that it came in a box (most soju that I have seen come in bottles on their own) and has a heftier, higher quality bottle seems to indicate that it is better than normal. I'll crack it open next week when Sue's in town again.

Variation on a Theme

Tteokbokki is a very popular Korean Street food (previously featured here), and I found a variant of it: Labokki, which is basically the same thing but with Ramen noodles (and there's still some tteok/ricecake in there as well). Pretty good, but I think the original with tteok only is better.


Among the many things I ate when I got back to Atlanta was soft-serve ice cream from Zesto. If you haven't tried it before, you must (there's one on Ponce, and another in L5P). Best soft ice cream in town.

Other things consumed this past week: cuban sandwich from Kool Korners (classico), country fried steak from the Majestic (this is currently the source of my all time favorite CFS as well as pork chops), a cheeseburger from the Vortex (my favorite burger joint), a sub from Jimmy John's, and pizza from Savage Pizza (my current favorite pizza spot in ATL). Unfortunately, I didn't get to hit all of my favorite spots.

Flight back to Atlanta

In the airport, I saw this. The sign says "Broth to Chasa Hangover," which I think means "Broth to Chase a Hangover." I wonder if it works.

On the flight to Seoul, you get BiBimBap, but on the flight back, you get BiBimMyeon (the noodle version) instead. I think I liked the rice better.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Normally, galbi ("ribs") is from pork. This is dakgalbi (닭갈비), which is "chicken ribs," although it has nothing to do with ribs. I think they have similarities in how they're marinated (although this has a lot more chili pepper than the pork galbi I've had so far which actually doesn't have any pepper). Anyway, it was tasty; salty, spicy and a little sweet. They also piled on some chewy noodles and some rice and sort of made it into a big fried rice platter.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Ceci n'est pas Dim Sum

I went to a Korean Chinese restaurant for dinner with Paul and his girlfriend the other night. One thing we ordered was their "dim sum." Well, it was pretty bad... not much else to say about it. Stick to the Ja Jang Myun.

(The Magritte reference is because I'm going to go check out the Magritte exhibition at the Seoul Museum of Art this weekend.)

Doctor Capsule!

There are all sorts of health and yogurt drinks here in Korea. Walk into any 7-11/GS25/Family Mart, and the drinks section will undoubtedly have a large selection of such potables.

I decided to try one the other day more or less just for the helluvit. This one is "Doctor Capsule" (or Dahk Tuh Kep Syul), which is a yogurt drink. The weird part is that they have extra yogurt bacteria in these little capsules that don't dissolve until they get to your intestines, which is supposed to be better for you (I have no clue why). It tasted fine (mostly tasted like yogurt), although the little capsule thingies floating around were a little weird texture-wise. (They're a little smaller than the flying fish or smelt roe (tobiko/masago) that you get with Japanese food.) It didn't make me sick, but I didn't notice any positive effects either.

Singapore, Day 3

After we lost our playoff game in the morning, I went back to the hotel and showered up. M and I then checked out Little India first.

Veggies at a Indian market. Bitter melon in the foreground, and I think those are some gigantic bhindi/okra in the back right and green beans in the back left.

Another small veggie stand.

Indian food stop number one. Sambal fish (bottom left), bhindi/okra masala (bottom center), garlic naan and ginger lassi. The food was *very* good! The naan was out of this world. Fresh, fresh, freshly baked naan with lots of garlic. I could eat that bread all day. So, so good!

So good we had to order some more. We got cheese naan this time, mainly because I had never seen cheese naan before. This is sort of like a grilled cheese sandwich almost. Also incredibly good.

We only sampled a few dishes, but here's a shot of a lot more of what we missed out on.

Stopped at a roadside stand for some fresh young green coconut. I have been buying these from the markets off of Buford Highway, but my standard method of opening is just with a screwdriver and fist. It seems like a good heavy knife can actually whack through the shell. I'll have to try that next time. As far as the coconut goes, I actually like the ones in Atlanta more because I toss 'em in the fridge first so that the juice is nice and cold.

Indian food stop number two. From the left, rice, some mutton dish, and a lightly curried pumpkin and peas dish. The mutton was tasty, but I think the pumpkin dish was actually my favorite. I also think that this pumpkin is not what we carve jack-o-lanterns out of, but that "pumpkin" is probably a generic term for any orange colored squash.

On our way from Little India to Arab street, I saw this funny sign. On the top left, we have "curry fish head", and on the right, "curry fish tail." Basically the same exact thing, you just have to choose which half of the fish you want.

We also stopped by a street market before getting to Arab Street. Different type of coconut. This is a "thai coconut." It's much smaller (and these were in ice water, too), so instead of hacking the top off, the guy just dug out a hole and stuck a straw in there.

You can see how small it is. About the size of an orange or grapefruit.

We didn't actually eat anything over around Arab Street (shock!). After that, we wandered down toward another shopping area called Bugis Street.

Every year when we go to visit relatives in Toronto over winter break, we inevitably end up going to Pacific Mall in Toronto (more accurately Market Village - see also my younger brother's blog) to visit a Chinese dessert soup shop there (in a week, consumption of well over a dozen dessert soups just for me is not uncommon). Anyway, so on our way to Bugis Street, I found one so I was pretty excited and had to go in. Unfortunately, it's so hot there that ordering a hot dessert soup didn't make much sense.

So I just went with the tried-and-true mango with sago (small tapioca balls). The mango was fresh. Interesting was that their sago was opaque, whereas the few places in North America that I've had sago (Toronto, San Fran, and when I tried making it myself) it was more translucent.

We eventually made our way over to Bugis Street. Nothing fantastic shopping-wise (I'm not a big shopper), but there were more food stalls. Unfortunately at this time, I really only had room for liquids (they can fit easily in the cracks!). Above is a cup of fresh soursop juice. Pretty good. I also had a cup of fresh watermelon juice that M ordered but didn't like.

She instead got dragonfruit juice. I tried a little; I thought it was ok, but I don't think I could drink a whole glass of this.

So besides the final banquet for the ice hockey tournament (pretty must all ok-but-nothing-special Western fare), this ended my Singapore gastronomical adventures.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Singapore, Day 2, part 2 (Lunch, The Dinner Triumverate, and Supper)

After the second hockey game, I grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch from the mall food court on the floor below the ice rink. (Who says you can't have lunch after brunch?)

This is Laksa, a curry noodle soup dish that is apparently a hybrid of Chinese and Malay influences. Besides the noodles, there were fish cake slices, fried bean curd, and a shrimp or two. The noodles were just plain spaghetti-style noodles, but the soup was very tasty. Along with that was a lychee and shaved ice drink. Delicious as well. After that, I went back to the hotel and showered, but then didn't know what to do with myself (I couldn't walk around because I didn't have all that much daylight left and it was raining out), so I went back to the rink.

As I mentioned earlier, the shopping area next to the rink has a lot of food hawkers. This is called otak-otak, which is a Malaysian fish cake grilled inside a banana leaf. It was kind of funny because right before I left the hotel, I had the TV on and the Singapore episode of Tony Bourdain's No Reservations was showing and he had just eaten some of this on the show.

Next stop, the Million Fish Ball stall!

This was a very simple dish, consisting primarily of noodles and fishballs in a light stock. But this simple dish may have been one of the better dishes I had in Singapore. (Which is not to say that the other food I had was not good! It was just that this really did it for me.) The noodles were freshly made and so they had that wonderful consistency, texture and mouth-feel of fresh pasta. The fish balls were also freshly made by hand, and they had a softer texture than frozen store-bought fish balls that are more commonly used. And the broth was very light and simple, but it was a perfect backdrop for the whole meal. That was dinner #1.

More food pictures. This stall had all sorts of sausage-y items. I think the red things on the bottom right are grilled or roasted cuttlefish. I didn't eat anything here.

I finally decided on getting some Mulsim food. It just seemed a little more off the beaten path.

I chose a dish at random because I pretty much had no clue what anything was. It turned out to be some sort of seafood fried rice, which actually wasn't all that exciting. However, I did also get a cup of fresh-squeezed pineapple juice, which was very good. Pineapple is supposed to have a lot of some protein dissolving enzymes (pepsin? amylase? I can't remember, but it's why your mouth gets sore if you eat too much and also why fresh pineapple can eat its way out of jello) which I figured would be helpful to aid digestion of all of the food I had packed into my gut. Even if it didn't have that effect, it was tasty. This was dinner #2.

Another food stall. More traditional Chinese foods.

Another shop had various fruit drinks. The unusual one was water chestnut juice (do nuts technically count as fruit since they do actually contain a seed inside?).

So of course I tried it. It actually tasted pretty good. Reminds me of the water chestnut cakes you can sometimes get at a good dim sum restaurant (I don't often see it anymore though). After that, I took a break because I needed to digest enough of this so I wouldn't get sick during the third hockey game of the day. However, after the hockey game...

Some more food. At this point, it was already about midnight, so most of the stalls had closed. Two were still open: one that sold food, and one that sold drinks. How convenient. This dish above is mussels in a fermented black bean sauce. Awesome delicious.

This was a scallops and aspargus dish. Tasty as well, as you usually can't go wrong with scallops. Not pictured, but I also got a lime juice for my beverage. While this was dinner #3, I did have one other person helping on this one. After that, it was back to the hotel, and then out for some partying. There were drinks and dancing a plenty, and after the bar/club closed at about 3am or so, we headed back toward the hotel.

But instead of going to sleep, we went in search of more food. This was the only place I could find that was still open at that hour (it's actually the same place that I went to on the first night that I arrived). Six of us shared a big pot of "bone-meat soup" (gu~ ro\ tang)... or maybe it was meat-bone soup; I don't remember. It came with white rice, some pickled vegetables on the side, and some sort of thick, black sauce with spicy red peppers in it. The sauce was sort of like a super-thick version of oyster sauce perhaps? Anyway, it was a nice simple dish, but it tasted very good. This was too late to call dinner, so I called it supper instead. Then I went back to the hotel, took yet another shower (I think that might have been the fifth shower I had taken since waking up that morning), and went to bed.

Singapore, Day 2, part 1 (Chinatown)

So after the first ice hockey game of the day, I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon wandering around and eating my way through Chinatown.

First stop: Chinese pork jerky! I haven't had this in a while and this was very fresh. You could still smell the smoke/char on the meat. It was so good! ^^

Besides the sliced pork (jerky), you can also get pork "floss"! Most foreigners probably do not know about pork floss, but it's basically dried, shredded pork that looks sort of like brown carpet fuzz. My mom used to make butter and ro\ song (the Mandarin name for pork floss) sandwiches for me when I was a kid. It sounds weird, but they were tasty.

The bin in the top right contains dried sea horses! I didn't buy any of these. I'm not sure if it's for food or for medicinal purposes.

For breakfast, I eventually settled on a dim sum restaurant. This was really nice sitting on a sidewalk patio eating dim sum in warm weather. What a great way to have brunch! Anyhow, I ordered plenty of dishes even though I was eating on my own, and just trusted in my stomach capacity. Starting with the fuzzy things in the top-right corner and going clockwise: (1) prawn and banana in dragon beard, (2) prawn and mushroom dumpling, (3) yam/taro cake, (4 - skipping the plate) chives and something dumpling, (5 - slightly obscured) baked BBQ pork pie, (6) free peanuts, and (7) carrot cake (obviously nothing to do with the desert that you would normally think of if anyone said "carrot cake" to you).

And there was one more late arrival: cuttlefish balls on soft tofu. In the end everything was very tasty. I left the restaurant as a very content man. And the whole thing only cost $18.80SGD ($12.27USD)! Total bargain for the quantity that I ate.

After that, I wandered over and found another food court/food stall place. Some of the stalls were not yet open (it was before lunch time on a weekday afterall).

I think this stall is sort of like a do-it-yourself hot-pot station. You grab a bowl and a pair of tongs, and just grab whatever you want. You hand it to the person working in the back, they cook your selection in hot broth and add noodles. Since I just had too much dim sum, I skipped this, but I would have loved to have tried it.

This was kind of creepy looking. I'm not sure if they sell these, or if these are just for show to indicate that their meat is all freshly harvested. If you can't tell, it's a bunch of chicken heads plus their spines, but nothing else.

Various fresh baked Chinese pastries.

Freshly made yo/ tiao/ (literally "oil sticks", but sometimes called Chinese doughnuts). Really good with a fresh bowl of hot soy milk. I didn't get any because I was still feeling pretty full and a stick full of oil probably would have caused me some pain. However in retrospect, I'm regretting not having had one. They looked so good!

This is just a menu outside of a congee (xi fan\ or rice porridge) stall. I took a picture of this because if you check out the zoomed in version, you can actually see that "frog congee" is listed there! Weird!

I did have some room for something to drink, and it was so hot out I needed something cold anyway. So I got some fresh squeezed sugar cane juice.

Just a silly display with sugar cane and a green coconut sitting on top.

Sugar cane going into the machine. (I started taking pictures from outside of the stall, but the guy invited me inside where I'd be able to get a better shot of what was going on. That was very nice of him.)

Sugar cane coming out of the machine. They actually pass the sugar cane through a couple of times to extract as much juice as possible.

The juice pouring out.

And, voi la! Fresh, cold, sweet sugar cane juice. After that, it was off to ice hockey game number two. More food to follow after the game.