WILK (Why I Love Korea): Reason 3: Delicious barbecue buffets

1 10 2013

I live in Cheonan. Here are two meat buffets that I have been to. I also ate at a meat buffet in Seoul, but I don’t remember the name or directions. Out of all three, Mammoth Meat is by far the best one I’ve been too (ambiance, price, taste and service).

1) Dino Meat
Directions from Ssangyong-dong Yongam Mall (쌍용동 용암마울): Take bus 12 heading towards Shinsaegae. It is about 3-5 stops away. You will see it directly across from the bus stop where you get off. There are around 8-11 meats to choose from. You sit on the floor, but they honestly have the most comfortable butt cushions that I’ve ever sat on. It felt like Tempur-Pedic! Price is 16,000 won a person.

2) Mammoth Meat
Directions: Near the Lotte Mart that is by the Post Office, McDonalds, Baskin Robins, and Holic Cafe: Face out the door of Lotte Mart (looking across the street you will see the Holic Cafe in the building across the street on the 2F). Walk across the street and weave in and out of the side streets. You will find it.

It has a great ambiance, service and the food is wonderful. You can select from around 7-10 different meats. Unlike Dino Meat, there is also a large selection of delicious side–including steamed, skewered fish cake, potato salad, mandoo, ddeokbokki, and other salads. Price is only a measly 11,900 won per person! Unbelievable!

Mammoth meat

Thank you Kari Killion Stiles for these pictures.





Korean Dish 1: Samgyeopsal (삼겹살)

20 01 2013

I had another night of mouth watering food and an aching stomach.

First, Rosa and I hit up a samgyeopsal restaurant in Cheonan. Many restaurants carry samgyeopsal. If you like bacon, you’re sure to love this dish. Samgyeopsal is quarter-inch sliced strips of pork meat. It’s a popular late-night meal that goes perfect with soju. But bacon fan or not, if you get the chance to order this dish, do it!

Did you know? While pork is an extremely popular meat in Korea, and many Korean meals have meat, Korea’s pork consumption per capita in 2010 was 42.5 pounds (KREI). The USA’s pork consumption per capita in in 2009 was 49.6 pounds (USDA).

1. What It Is
It’s such a complex, yet simple, dish. The meat isn’t seasoned or marinated, but it’s accompanied by an array of Korean side dishes, such as different kinds of kimchi or bean sprouts. Samgyeopsal always comes with some staple sides: raw garlic (that you can cook on the grill), sliced, green hot pepper, ssangjang and lettuce.

wpid-IMG085.jpg2. Preparation
The meat cooks as strips. Make sure it’s cooked all the way since it’s pork. Once it’s cooked good enough, cut it into bit-sized pieces.

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 3. How to Eat
Now it’s finally time to eat. Carefully wrap the meat in lettuce with ssamgjang and any other sides. There’s an art to wrapping the lettuce. I use to try and fold each side over the other (like I was wrapping a present), but the lettuce snaps, and you’re left with food falling in your lap. It’s much easier to pinch all the sides together at the top and shove it your mouth. Wash it down with soju, and that’s it. It’ll be gone before you know it.

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Korean food in a nutshell:
삼겹살            Sam-gyeop-sal (a Korean dish made with thick cuts of Korean pork)
소주                 So-ju (a popular Korean alcohol)
고추장            Go-chu-jang (hot, red chili pepper paste)
된장                 Dwen-jang (fermented soy bean paste)
쌈장                 Ssam-jang (mixture of gojjujang and dwenjang)

Sources:
Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI)
United States Department of Agriculture (USDS)
(ESV)





Korean Dining 101

20 01 2013

I will try and post as many different Korean dishes as I can. I will tell you what it is, what to eat it with and how to eat it.

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1. Kitchen Scissors at my Table?
Koreans are smart. They use kitchen scissors to cut almost everything. That’s why scissors are at most Korean restaurant tables. You just snip meat into pieces–rather than try and cut it with a knife on a plate.

2. Raw Meat
Some restaurants in the USA are popular for dishes that chefs cook right at the table. In Korea, most restaurants that serve meat have gas burners and pans built into each table. The owners bring out raw meat or soup ingredients, and it cooks at your table. It’s fresh, and you don’t need to worry about it getting cold.

3. Soju
First distilled around 800 years ago as a drink for the high class, today soju is a an important aspect to Korean meals. This popular Korean alcohol usually ranges from 20-30 percent proof. It’s mainly made of rice but is usually mixed other ingredients such as barley, sweet potatoes or wheat. It has a similar taste to vodka, but it is much smoother and refined. All soju that is sold now it diluted (rather than distilled). Jinro is one of the most popular soju brands–it’s sold in the USA as well.

4. No Tipping
This is self explanatory. You don’t need to tip anyone for anything–not for taxi drivers, hair dressers or people at restaurants.

5. Side Dishes
Any restaurant meal always includes at least three small side dishes, called banchan (반찬). A combination of countless sides may appear, but common ones are various kinds of radish kimchi, cabbage kimchi, green onion kimchi, seasoned bean sprouts, seasoned spinach, braised tofu, and sweet soy sauce glazed potatoes. These are included with your meal, and you don’t order them. Feel free to ask for more.

6. Sharing Food
While most foreigners are use to each having their own plate of food, Koreans share food from the same bowls, plates and heated pans. Korean meals are about being close with your friends and sharing the food. Just take your chopstick and eat what you want.

Sources: 
American University
Princeton University
TriFood.com