North Korean Food in Seoul

A short while ago, Bobby wrote a nice piece about Pyeong Ga Oak (평가옥) – a franchise featuring North Korean style cuisine.  The post caught not only my eye, but also that of Jo-Anna of The View From Over Here. She put out an ask on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to venture out to give the restaurant a try, and seeing as how it was a long time since Jo and I had seen her, we gladly told her we’d love to come.

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The restaurant looks much nicer than the building it is in, which is undergoing some renovations at the moment. This particular branch is located not far from Gwanghwamun Station Exit 1.

Meals inside are about W10,000 per serving, no matter what you buy. They do have a number of larger dishes, serving 3-4 people, and those are priced the same as well.

North Korean Food - QiRanger

To be honest, I wasn’t able to really see what distinction can be made between “South Korea” style and “North Korean” style. But then again, I can’t discern regional specialties either. I opted to try the beef mandu soup and found it delicious. The beef was tender and the four mandu that were included in the brother were stuffed and amazing. They were seriously some of the best mandu I’ve ever had. However, I thought the broth lacked flavor. It was really subtle, and I found it a little lacking.



Jo-Anna and Sanghyun had to leave after lunch and prepare to teach a Korean class. So Jo and I opted to stay in town and take in the 2012 Seoul Lantern Festival. Because I was trying out some new mics and camera techniques, I opted to shoot everything that day with the GoPro Camera.

 

Mom Eats More Street Food

Sunday saw the first full day out exploring Seoul. Up until now, we’ve been staying in Gyeonggi-do.

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Mom takes a moment to pose with the skilled chef making hotteok.

Our first outing found us passing a hotteok (버블호떡) stand, which happens to be Jo’s favorite street food. So naturally, we had to have mother try it.


From there we needed a little more snacking power, so I talked mother into trying a samgak kimbap (삼각김밥). While not really street food, it is great for getting a quick bite to eat.


I have to say, she was a real trooper and did a great job opening it right up!

What’s your favorite street food?

Mom Eats Korean Food

With mother here, Jo and I have been out showing her the sights… and of course the food. Here are a few videos I released on Friday as she begins her Korean Food Tour! Since she doesn’t like Spicy foods, most of what we’ll be trying will be great for those interested in coming to Korea but are afraid of spicy foods.



In these videos, we try Fried Chicken and Dolsot Bibimpbap. Fried chicken is usually served hot, and while there can be spicy varieties, most of the time it isn’t The same goes for the mixed rice dish bibimbap.

Korean Breakfast: Baekban (백반)

I know I hit the coffee pretty hard in the mornings. I mean, it just isn’t a day without a pot of coffee! Why stop with a single cup? But one thing I do remember from growing up in Texas, was that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. Living in Korea, that sentiment is also shared, but rather than load one down with carbs and sugars, the meal is quite healthy and obtainable in just about every restaurant.

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Baekban

On the menu, simply look for Baek-Ban (백반). It will usually run a few thousand won. At our local place, it costs W5,000 per person. Probably one of the greatest selling points of baekban is how healthy it is. Above you can see our recent breakfast consisting of a doenjang-seaweed soup, potatoes, fish cakes, and a few different styles of kimchi. My favorite had to the be the spicy lettuce kimchi seen above on the extreme upper left.



One might think that having only a half-cup of rice, some veggies, and a bowl of soup isn’t filling, but they would be wrong. It’s surprisingly so. While at our homestay in 2010, the baekban served also included grilled fish and some egg, making the presentation of the meal versatile and reflective of the establishment.

Baekban isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in Korea and want a quick meal that is healthy, then this is one I would recommend. Going out for it doesn’t have the same allure as hopping in the family car and heading to IHOP, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.

If you head out for breakfast, where do you go? What do you pick up? I used to take off every Sunday for the aforementioned IHOP run and simply fell in love with their coffee and pancakes!

 

Mom’s First Meal in Korea

Here they come… a new patch of posts chronicling my mother’s trip to Korea. Some will be simple vlog posts, like today, where I introduce a quick meal to her that I’ve previously recorded for the main YouTube Channel and other will be more in-depth reviews of her trip here, as seen through her eyes. Those will go up in November.

Mom eating Korean Food

My mother’s first real meal in Korea.

For this meal, we ventured to our first floor restaurant and had their lunch special. Since mom doesn’t like spicy food, she wasn’t able to take advantage of all the goodness that was laid out on the table, but I knew she’s love my choice for her. Ddukbaegi Bulgogi.

As expected, she loved its sweet broth and savory beef.



I took her to one of my favorite places for dinner as well… that video is coming soon!!!

What else should I have her try while in Korea?

Korean Street Food: Hotteok

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Fall is quickly approaching, and that means one thing: the piping hot street foods are set to return and I thought I’d take a moment to share with you one of my favorite street foods. What makes it even more interesting is that this singularly named street food comes in two varieties. What is it? The hotteok (호떡).

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The Hotteok

If you ask most people what a hotteok (호떡) is they will tell you something like this: a doughnut fried up on a griddle and pressed flat with cinnamon inside. It’s believed that hotteoks made their way into Korea with Chinese immigrants near the end of the 19th Century. While the Chinese variety are often stuffed with meat and savory fillings, Korean hotteoks usually have a sweet center. The most common filling is cinnamon and sugar, but sometimes honey and nuts are added. Recently new varieties have been popping up using vegetables, green tea, bokbunja (raspberry), and other sweets to liven up this traditional treat.


But what about the other kind? I’m glad you asked!

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The Bubble Hotteok (버블호떡)

The above is the second variety. While traditionally hotteoks are fried, bubble hotteoks are baked. They are still made from dough and filled with cinnamon/honey/sugar, but are rolled out flat and then placed onto griddles over an open flame and baked. The result is a light and crispy shell filled with a gooey inside that is delicious. Of the two types, this is Jo’s favorite. I will also admit to liking this one a little more, since it isn’t as greasy.

Initially these treats were served primarily during cold weather months, but now they can be found on streets year-round. Price for each hovers around W1,000 per tasty morsel, but have seen a few roadside stands offering up a great 2-for-1 deal. If you’re walking the streets in Korea, and are craving a sweet snack, this may just be for you – but try to get a fresh one. If they’ve been sitting for a while, they’re not as great.

TQRAP Video Extra – Olive Show

Recently, I had the honor of appearing on the Olive Show. In the You Can Cook segment, I made a number of dishes with the host Fabian.

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It was a great experience. As promised, they sent me the video file and I’ve uploaded the segment as a video podcast extra. What do you think?

Have you made Kimchi? I love making it and the batch we made on the show is great!

What’s for Lunch? Myeongdong Kalguksu!

No one can go shopping on an empty stomach, so when you’re in Myeongdong feeding that need, why not take a little time out to feed your body as well. Today, Jo, Alex, and I ventured out to one of my favorite places tucked away behind Forever 21.

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This restaurant is amazing. It serves up three different soups and some amazing mandu (dumplings). But if you don’t like crowds, this isn’t the place for you. During lunch it gets packed, and we’ve seen lines out the door before. If you don’t see a line outside, that doesn’t mean they’re not busy. Lines inside are divided between the upper and lower dining areas.


Just about everything on the menu is W8000. During our meal, I was able to finish my soup and a good portion of the mandu, but not quite everything.

Myeongdong Kalguksu is located about 5 minutes from Myeongdong Station Exit 6. Head down the main street until you reach Forever 21. Then walk around to the back side of the building. The address is 29 Myeongdong-10-gil.

How To Make Pizza

If there’s one complaint I hear most often from foreigners living in Korea time and time again, it’s about the pizza. Many don’t think that the nation makes a good pizza. I disagree and think the pizza here is just about as good as you’ll find back home. However, if you think you can do better, then I suggest you try! In today’s post, I’m going to share with you a simple recipe and teach you how to make pizza — from scratch.



To get started, you’re going to need  a few things:

  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups water
  • cheese
  • tomato sauce
  • toppings
  • butter/cooking spray/shortening

QiRanger’s Korean Pizza

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Step 1 – Place 1.5 cups of all purpose flour in a bowl.

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Step 2- Add 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast.

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Step 3 – Add 3/4 teaspoon salt.

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Step 4 – Give everything a good mix to distribute the flour, salt, and yeast. This takes 10 seconds at best.

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Step 5 – Add 3/4 Cups of water.

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Step 6 – With the water added, reach in and mix again. It takes about 15-30 seconds to successfully create a dough. Once the substance has that dough look and feel – you’re done!

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If when looking at your bowl, your eyes see this… STOP!

Step 7 – Set the bowl aside and cover for 12 hours. YES, 12 hours at least. This is a no knead recipe, so the yeast needs time to work its magic. You can let the dough form more than 12 hours, but for pizza dough, I’ve found that 12-14 hours is best.

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After 12 hours, the dough will look like the above and it’s time to assemble your toppings. While you’re doing so, preheat your oven to 204C.

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I said this was going to be a Korean pizza and what better way to showcase that than with a little kimchi and SPAM!

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Step 8 – Take the baking tray from toaster oven and grease it up! I use butter, but lard, shortening, cooking spray can all be used.

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Step 9 – Take your dough and stretch/press it into the baking pan.

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Step 10 – Add your tomato sauce. You can use a much or as little as you like.

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Step 11 – Add cheese and your other toppings!

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SPAMtastic!

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Cooking with Kimchi!

Step 12 – Baking! Place your pizza into the oven for about 20 minutes. The actual cooking time will vary based on how think the toppings are, so it may take a little longer if you really packed on the goodies.

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Step 13 – When the pizza has finished cooking, pull it out of the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. If you used butter on your pan, it should pop out easily.

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Step 14 – Cut and serve.

The baking pan used in this example measures about 30cm by 20cm, making it the perfect size for a single pizza. I usually divide the pizza into six slices and devour the whole thing. This recipe works easily with just about any toppings, and believe it or not, the spam/kimchi pizza tastes pretty damn good.

What do you like on your pizza?

New: Vic Market Pizza

I love warehouse shopping. I remember going for the first time with my family in the mid 1980s to The Price Club. It was a huge box building situated in the middle of nowhere with isles and isles of goodies. Price Club later became Costco, and thanks to its success, launched several competitors, most notably Wal-Mart’s version: Sam’s Club. Since 2009, I have been shopping at the Yangjae Costco; however, there’s a new kid in town: Lotte’s VIC Market.

Becoming VIC Market

Since the tail end of 2009, when Jo and moved into our current building, we’ve enjoyed walking down the street to the local Lotte Mart. In bad weather, we could hop on a bus and be there in two minutes. It was convenient and allowed us to get everything we needed in a matter of minutes. When Lotte announced the VIC Market concept, our Lotte Mart was chosen as one of the first to be converted. In a matter of days, the entire store was shut and the conversion process began. (It’s my opinion that the reason for this store being chosen was due to Costco’s plan of opening a store in nearby Giheung.)

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As you can tell from the image above, my VIC Market is open, complete with “WOW Prices!” As advertised, it is very much a take on Costco’s concept. We enter and are shuffled to the consumer goods area. Then, after taking an escalator down, we go shopping for food. They layout is similar with little difference between VIC Market and Costco. Shopping at the two stores elicits a similar experience when comparing Sam’s Club and Costco. Pretty much everything is the same, but each store has some exclusive items. Because of its proximity, we’ll most likely be shopping at VIC Market for many of our consumables. However, I think the snack, whiskey, and coffee selection at Costco is better.

VIC Market even took Sam’s Club lead and copied Costco’s food court. Little is different between the two. Jo and I opted to try their 45cm bulgogi pizza (W12,500). It’s comparable to the Lotte Mart Pizza, which is all right. I find that they need extra time in the oven, but at least I can now get my hot dog fix without having to go into Seoul.

Have you tried VIC Market?