Tag Archives: South Korea

Korean Food Delivery: Living in the Lap of Luxury

2 Dec
Here it is, wrapped up nice in saran wrap, stacked neatly and still super hot.

Here it is, wrapped up nice in saran wrap, stacked neatly and still super hot.

It finally happened.

I ordered food from one of the magnets that I have stuck on my door.

Everyday I come home to find another delicious looking meal magnet stuck to the outside of my apartment. I bring it in and stick it on the inside.  Read it, imagine that I am going to find the courage to call and order it but I never do.

My dream when I came to Korea was that I could call a delivery service, a scooter man would bring me a meal in a big plastic rubbermaid container, dishes and all. I would leave my dishes outside my door and he would come and pick them up again later.  No fuss, no muss.  Yes, these are the types of dreams that I have.  It is a glorious thought.

Someone asked me if I wanted to go bungee jumping today.  They were surprised when I said that is something I have no desire to try.  You can’t eat and bungee jump at the same time. In fact, bungee jumping might cause me to not want to eat anything (GASP).  Opening up that plastic treasure chest was thrill enough for me.

How to order Korean Delivery

Delivery is amazing in Korea.  It is probably more amazing if you can speak Korean.  I know very limited Korean. So, how do I order food you ask?

  1. I learn how to say my address in Korean and how to read the food that I want.
  2. I write it all down on a piece of paper.
  3. I listen to Survivor – Eye of the Tiger to pump myself up
  4. I call a take out number.  No answer. Probably closed.  Throw that one way.
  5. I choose another take out place and something else I want to eat.  I don’t write these down, I just remember them.  Ain’t nobody got time for that anymore.
  6. I call.  They answer. It goes like this:

Food Gatekeeper: “Yeobusayo?” (Hello)

Me: “Nae, waegookin-iyayo” (Yes, I am a foreigner) I want to warn them they are going to have a bad time.

FG:  “Yeobusayo?”

Me: “Yeah…uh…daebal? kinchanayo?” (yeah…uhh..takeout? Is that ok?)

FG: *CLICK*

So, they hung up on me.  This is actually a really hard blow to take.  They had food.  They were open.  I practiced saying your address.  Now I am hungry, depressed and angry.

There are two options now.  Text a Korean friend to call for you (this always works, but I hate to be such a bother). Or, order chicken.  I don’t know what it is about chicken. I can always order chicken easily.

I try again:

Chicken Peeps: “Yeobusayo?” (Hello)

Me: “Nae, waegookin-iyayo” (Yes, I am a foreigner) I want to warn them they are going to have a bad time.

CP:  “Yeobusayo?”

Me: “Yeah…uh…daebal. Sal sal Cheeken jusaeyo.” (Yeah…uhh.. daebal *confidence boost* sal sal chicken please)

CP: “something something oedie something” (something something, where)

Me: [Address that I have memorized]

CP: [Something else in Korean, I am not really sure but I know that they are really trying to get me this chicken. ]

Me: [repeats the food that I want and my address until someone says “yes” in English]

And it usually ends by someone telling me the price of the food, or reverting to English, or someone hanging up and leaving me wondering if the chicken is actually coming.  With chicken: the chicken always comes.  I don’t know why, but the chicken people just have my back.

How it Actually Happened Today

So remember earlier when I said that I ordered the food that came with all the dishes? Well, technically, I did.  I called them, twice.  But they hung up on me and I ended up texting a friend to call for me.  Listen, I almost got the woman who owns the 7-eleven downstairs to call for me.  I was hungry! It’s Monday.

BUT if I had decided to get chicken, they would have came.  The BEST part about calling for chicken. Since I already went through the awkwardness of calling and giving my address.  Every other time I call it goes like this:

Me: “Sal sal cheeken jusaeyo” (Sal sal chicken please)

Chicken Peeps: “Naaae.” (Yeeees)

*CLICK*

My number is on file, I just have to call and say what I want.  Then it comes!

Alright so, my friend called for me.  The food comes.  We take it out, feast too much.  I clean the dishes (I don’t think that this is expected, I just couldn’t bring myself to pack them back in there with food on them) and they are sitting outside my door right now.  Waiting to be taken away.

For a mere $14 CAD we got plates, cutlery, mains and side dishes and delivery.  This was definitely too much food.  There was also like five fried eggs.  I am not really sure why because we didn't ask for any. Pictured here is: kimchi bokumbap (kimchi fried rice), tuna kimchi jjigae (in the stoneware), donkassu (fried battered pork), a plate full of fried eggs, soup, kimchi and banchan (side dishes).

For a mere $14 CAD we got plates, cutlery, mains and side dishes and delivery. This was definitely too much food. There was also like five fried eggs. I am not really sure why because we didn’t ask for any. Pictured here is: kimchi bokumbap (kimchi fried rice), tuna kimchi jjigae (in the stoneware), donkassu (fried battered pork), a plate full of fried eggs, soup, kimchi and banchan (side dishes).

 

So if you are in Korea and you are not in the mood to go out and get your own food (you were out too late last night, or you had an exhausting day at work, or you just want to experience a new dining experience, maybe you have access to a rooftop!) give it a try.  It is really not that hard if you are willing to suffer through a few hangups until you get someone who is willing to try to decipher your thick, unfamiliar accent.

If you are in a hotel: lucky you! Just go to the front desk, they will hook you up with menus. They will call and have it delivered to your room for you.

Hooray for food!

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At the Market

1 Dec apples, oranges, grapes!
apples, oranges, grapes!

I love the abundance of fresh produce that is so affordable (when it is in season). Fruit is one of the only things that I can buy at a market fairly confidently.

There are plenty of little open air markets all of Seoul.

Earlier in the fall I got out and snapped a few pictures at Suyu Market.  This is me trying to overcome my fear of taking pictures of things in public.  I spent most of the time red-faced, quickly snapping pictures and moving on.  I think it was the guilt of taking a picture and not buying anything.  Sorry!

This man is most likely buying a delicious treat for his offspring.

This man is most likely buying a delicious treat for his offspring.

This guy was buying stuff.  Actually, I totally would have eaten street food if I wasn’t carrying my camera around.  I had no excuse here.

I love seafood.  I wish that I could buy this stuff and know what to do with it.  I realize that I have been spoiled to have always bought my seafood cut and cleaned for me.  I don't know what I would do with any of this.

I love seafood. I wish that I could buy this stuff and know what to do with it. I realize that I have been spoiled to have always bought my seafood cut and cleaned for me. I don’t know what I would do with any of this.

More fish, but this time of the dry variety. Each stand has it's only very strict theme.  I do love when the cafeteria serves the tiny dried fish with spicy powder.

More fish, but this time of the dry variety. Each stand has it’s only very strict theme. I do love when the cafeteria serves the tiny dried fish with spicy powder.

This market has a little of everything.  The stalls are organized by product and colours it seems.  If I knew what anything was, I am sure that I would be able to easily find it.

I am going to guess that these piles of spices are all very spicy hot.  I still don't know what they are.

I am going to guess that these piles of spices are all very spicy hot. I still don’t know what they are.

One of the first things I learned to say in Korean is "The apple is green." Too bad these ones are red. I can say that too, however.

One of the first things I learned to say in Korean is “The apple is green.” Too bad these ones are red. I can say that too, however.

I can always buy fruit!  Not intimidating at all.

AUG_2483

Everything is displayed just perfectly in every market I have visited.  Things are piled neatly.  I can't imagine even buying anything for fear of ruining all of these nice piles.  That, and I wouldn't know what to do with it when I got home.

Everything is displayed just perfectly in every market I have visited. Things are piled neatly. I can’t imagine even buying anything for fear of ruining all of these nice piles. That, and I wouldn’t know what to do with it when I got home.

And that is the mini-tour of the market.  If you get a chance to, definitely have a cruise around one of these.  They are really interesting!

A Guide to Hack into Korean Nightlife

3 Nov Korean Bar
Korean Bar

The name of this bar is actually Cheong Chun ShiNae

There was this bar that my friends and I used to frequent when I lived in Mokdong.  It became legendary because every time we came there we would meet hilarious, friendly locals that we would share drinks and laughs with.

We came to this bar because we could get good, cheap food.  Lots of beer and soju and more often than not, after a few jugs of beer and two bottles of soju, someone would raise a glass to “chunbae” another table and before long our tables would merge and there would be a lot of broken English and broken Korean.

The decor and food is enough that if you go with a group of your friends and don’t meet any locals, you will have a fun time.  This bar was fun because the ceilings were covered in newspaper style, black and white comic strips.  The walls are decorated with old Korean vinyl record cases.  There were half dozen television screens perpetually playing some weird k-pop music show.  Also, they served “pop-rocks” candy with the soju.  We always assumed that this was the soju chaser.  On top of all of this, they had the best cheesy ddeok-bokki I have had in Korea.  Their pajeon is also notable.

We always called this place the “K-Bar.”  That was not the actual name of the bar, but we called it that because it was our favourite Korean Style bar.  There were a lot of Western style clubs and pubs.  There are also a lot of Chicken Hofs selling fried chicken, beer and soju.  This one was unique in that it had escaped teh Western influence but was not too foreign to us that we felt uncomfortable (In fact, we took Korean friends here and they were shocked that we enjoyed coming here).

We met some hilarious characters here, like the older man whose knowledge of English, I can only guess, encompasses only the lyrics of “We are the world” the 1985 charity song.  There were the young girls that taught me how to “one-shot” makgeolli (a Korean rice wine) and I helped them practice their English.  There was also the pineapple salesman who was selling pineapples to pay for college.

This place was a hilarious introduction to the drinking culture of Korea.  I think that there are many places around Korea that you can create your own “k-bar” in.  I have learned the secret trick to breaking the ice with strangers; it’s as easy as raising a glass and sharing a smile.

I don’t spend a lot of late nights out drinking anymore.  Late nights make wasted morning.  Every once in a while it is a fun laugh though, and Korea is a hilarious place in the wee hours of the morning.  You can get your people watching in and experience a part of Korean culture that is just non existence during the day light hours.

If you are in Mokdong and you want to go to this particular bar, go to Mokdong Station (Line 5) exit 1.  Walk straight for a few minutes and it will be on your left hand side.  Look out for the sign in this post.  When it is warm, there are tables set up outside.  

For Google Map click here

Friday Photo: Photographer on the Roof

2 Nov rooftop
rooftop

I was up on a hill in an old part of Seoul and I saw all of these old rooftops. I love these rooftops, I think they are beautiful.

Sushi Conveyor Belt

29 Oct
Sushi Belt

Guests can sit at the bar while the chefs made sushi and dropped fresh items on to the belt as you eat. There were also lovely ladies who topped up my soup for me whenever I get less than half full.

Sorry for the mini hiatus (I missed Photo Friday!)  Something unfortunate happened last week and I was a little down.  So, in light of cheering up and appreciating all of the positive things in my life, I am going to share something great that happened last week.  Of course, this involves food.

Last week I tried something that has been high on my ‘to do’ list for months: eating at a conveyor belt sushi bar.  In South Korea it is called  회전초밥 (hye cheon cho bap) or revolving sushi.  It was all of my wildest dreams come true.  Yes, all of my wildest dreams involve food.

I went to a Lotte Department store food court to find it.  Lotte Department store is quite fancy and I like eating at their food courts, everything is so pretty there and there is a variety of Korean and International foods.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and saw something that was being brought out to another table and it looked so amazing you had to ask someone what it was so you could order it?  Or more unfortunately, you see something that looks amazing and you have already ordered/received your food and you regretted your decision?  I have done this so many times.  I was also a waitress for years and have seen it happen to a lot of people and my heart always went out for them (you might be thinking that I over think food – if you are I am thinking that you under think it).

The rotating sushi belt was incredible because you could just pick up that plate as it went by.  If it looked delicious, just take it. If you were not too keen to try it, let it pass you by.  You are hungry right away?  Sit down and start grabbing plates.  Eat until you can eat no more, then someone counts up your plates (colour-coded by price) you pay them and then you leave, belly full.

It is brilliant.  There is literally nothing that can put me in a good mood faster than a pleasant meal.  Good company, food, and fast amazing service.

What kinds of things put you in good spirits?

Learning What Authentic Actually Means in a Korean Tae Kwon Do Class

19 Oct
Punching out the flame of a candle.  Watch out!

Punching out the flame of a candle. Watch out!

I wanted to expand my experience living in Korea by taking a Tae Kwon Do class while I was here.  Tae Kwon Do is one of the most popular martial arts in the world and it originated in Korea.  It was developed in Korea during mid twentieth century.  It combines self-defense and fighting techniques.

I took Tae Kwon Do classes when I was in Junior High almost 15 years ago (I just realized how long ago it was!) in Canada. I really enjoyed it then, I had never imagined that I would ever go to Korea at that time.  Now that I was here, it was a great opportunity to see what the differences were in a martial arts class in Korea versus Canada.

Cue awesome Rocky-esque Training Montage…

I assumed that a Korean Tae Kwon Do academy would be much more intense and serious than a Canadian class.  I assumed that it would be a lot of rigorous training, stern faces and a lot of sweat and tears.   I imagined that at the end of the year I could reflect back on my training like a montage in a movie, I was clumsy and inexperienced at first, no one believed I could do it but through my hard work, determination and natural skill I would bloom into one of the greatest martial artists of all time.  I was like the karate kid.

Reflecting back, I don’t know why I ever thought that.  I have no coordination, rhythm or balance.  I am literally the worst.  I am pretty strong, but that is all I had going for me.

Anyway, I joined this class with a coworker.  The owners of the academy were the gym teachers at the kindergarten that we worked at.  It was not a foreigner class, it was run entirely in Korean and we did not speak Korean.

I definitely sweat and worked hard but there were a lot more laughs than I had expected.  My instructors were like a performing comedy trio.  They would use props like gigantic drums or anything they might find lying around with a mix of physical humour and a few English words that they knew.  Every once in a while if something was really difficult, or if someone was getting frustrated one of them would scream out, “STRESS!”  My coworker and I spent most classes laughing until we cried.

We took a class that was a mostly High School and Junior High students.  There were two brothers that were 10 and 12 years old, they were the youngest.  They were also the only ones who spoke English so I tried to talk to them a lot.  I often asked for translations during lectures, but the boys were never listening.  I felt like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation when the teacher would go on an epic rant for a good five minutes and one of the boys would sum it up with, “I don’t know, you should stretch, maybe.”

Yeah, maybe I will.  Thanks.

Thankfully, one of my instructors knew a little English.  Well, he could quote all of the Star Wars movies, often in context.  I remember paying my fees for the first month that I was there, I handed him a white envelope with cash in it, and he studied the envelope for a few seconds before quietly saying in his best Darth Vader impression, “Impressive…”

He paused, shifting his eyes, waiting for me to acknowledge his use of English.

“What?” I asked, I was trying to process what I had just heard.

He looked a little disappointed.

“Did you just say ‘impressive’?”

I know the feeling.  You are trying to speak in a foreign language and it flops.  I normally don’t try to quote Science Fictions films from the 80’s but in his defense, it was proper use of the word.

The Difference between Canada and Korean Tae Kwon Do (not really) …

I am comparing two schools in two different countries that have literally thousands of Tae Kwon Do Academies each.  These are my experiences, so keep in mind that I have not been training more than a year in either country and my experiences are about fifteen years apart.

In Canada, it is difficult to get a black belt.  You have to train for a few years and you need to be very talented (I am told).  In my Korean class, it seemed that I could take a belt test every month, if I took the test, regardless of how prepared I was, I would be given a belt.  At first, I was disappointed, it seemed like a sham. But I continued to go to the class and I avoided taking tests.  The instructors managed to get me to do two tests in a matter of seven months, so I had my green belt.

There were a lot of kids with black belts.  In fact, almost everyone had a black belt.  Some of the kids with black belts did not seem very impressive to me.  I felt like I could have taken them in a fight.  A 27 year old woman would probably win in a fight against a 15 year old, especially when she is about a foot taller.

Then I actually thought about why it was so easy to get a black belt.  I would bet money that a lot of these kids were there for exercise; their parents made them go for the physical activity.  It was a sport that was culturally important.  That’s two birds with one stone.

However, there were a lot of very talented fighters in the schools.  They were incredible.  One kid could jump about five feet off the ground with ease.  He could round house a giant.

Sure, anyone could get a black belt but at the end of the day, you take out what you put in.  Some took it more seriously than others.  The ones that took it seriously trained hard and became incredible fighters.

Expectations versus reality…

This class what not what I expected.  I did not get to have the authentic experience that I imagine.  It was not like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, which is what I really wanted.  I would hate them and they would be too hard on me, but out of my hatred, pain and determination would grow a strong mutual respect.

Instead it was soccer games with balloons, impromptu salsa dances and many gag show impersonations.  There was a lot of training as well.  It was really fun, and usually a great workout, just not what I expected.

The authentic experiences that you plan for rarely ever happen the way you want them to play out.  Instead, I learned that I did not know what authentic Korean culture was.  This was it, this was a real class with real students.  I saw some of the most talented fighters that I will ever see in my life.  I also met some of the laziest students I will ever meet (there was this one yellow belt, they never gave her another belt because she literally made like 3% effort, she was so funny, I used to make her practice patterns with me).

This class was not designed for foreigners.  It was designed for youth.  I was 27 years old; I was actually older than one of the instructors, which made him really uncomfortable (Darth Vader).   I really shouldn’t have been there to begin with now that I think about it.

I learned about stepping out of your comfort zone, overcoming language barriers and that I don’t know what an authentic experience is.

I also have a pretty decent back kick.

Friday Photo: Temple on Bukhansan

18 Oct Temple
Temple

This temple is pretty high up on Mount Bukhan (Bukhansan, ‘san’ meaning ‘mountain’ in Korean). I took this last year on a hike up during one of the peak weekends to see the fall colours.

I am getting really excited for the fall.  I love South Korea in the fall.  If you ever come visit, you should do it in November so that you can see the fall colours.  The weather is also perfect, it isn’t humid or raining.  The summer heat just suddenly lifts one day and you can wear scarves and boots.  But the best thing about it is the beautiful colours of all the leaves.