Monday, March 31, 2008

You just had to be there

Today has definitely been filled with a handful of those "you just had to be there" moments, which I'm jotting down for my own recollection.
  • Hawaii Aunty Mina will be in Seoul... tonight!
  • Talked to Josh from jr. high (!!), who decided to move to Korea, and called from Incheon Airport to let me know he arrived. It went something like this: "Hi Cheri, I moved to Korea." I appreciate the spontaneity.
  • Randomly chatted with Josh from elem days, who spoke of a thing called chocolate covered ddeok?! Seriously?
  • Conversation with Josh #2 also led to side-tracked thoughts of Ithaka...
  • Saw this kid from Mongolia who, especially from a side profile, looks just like Kenny!
  • Spent a little too much time reminiscing over restaurants, after adding 131 "already dined," 11 "want to dines," and 23 "favorites" to my new Facebook application (and I'm nowhere close to done). Wondered how much money I've spent dining out over the past 5 years and concluded that I had better stop calculating - it's a really scary thought. ; )
  • Thought about all the potential SJ has this week to dine at a celebrity chef picking of his choice! Thomas Keller's Bouchon perhaps? One of Emeril's eats? Nobu? Joel Robuchon? Alex Strada? I guess there *is* a part of American life that I miss... come to think of it, my next culinary vacay should probably be Vegas...
Lotsa !!'s for one day... I guess my life really isn't that exciting... time to get back to work.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The food challenge

When the words "buffet" and "Cheri" are found in the same sentence, 80% of the time, you'll also see "sore stomach" and "regret" alongside.

I take "all you can eat" a little too literally, and should remember that as a "young lady," it's probably not as cool or proper to out-eat a guy (and attempt to brag about it) anymore. ^^;;

Here we go... YS (top photo) vs. C (bottom photo)!

Round 1 - Cheri gets off to a competitive start, defying all odds and adding pasta to the mix before having a chance to question, "Hmm, why is there spaghetti in a sushi buffet line?"

Round 2 - Cheri should probably stop eating at this point... but forges on like a trooper!

Round 3 - Defeat. YS wins.

It might be wiser of me to stick to sushi on a conveyor belt like we did in Suwon... ^^

Speaking of which, had some good ol' home cookin' while I was there this past week.

Sukmo's japchae (잡채)...

Imo's dak dori tang (닭도리탕)...

And her nameless crab dish... (Well, I didn't eat this one obviously.)

But I did try mussels again for the second time, with SJ again! It was a comp dish, or as the Koreans call it, "seoh-bis" (service).

Tuna kimchee jjigae (참치 김치찌개).

Kimchee jun (김치전).

Red Mango pit stop...

On another note, I learned a new Korean word. We went to
Mr. Pizza tonight, and YH described my eating habits as "편식". I'm really not that picky... but I felt guilty we couldn't order one of the more extravagant combo pizzas since I'm a 편식하는 사람 haha... but hey, as long as the crust is stuffed with sweet potato, there's nothing to complain about. ^^

What was even more interesting was dessert - black sesame seed ice cream (!!!) from Baskin Robbins. ^^

I swallowed it pretty quickly since they wouldn't let us into M Zone, a Samsung gadget playroom in the COEX Mall, with our cones. Check out my future entertainment room... I'm going to steal the pod and mirror concept!

I apologize for the inarticulateness... I'm about to pass out from all the food... time to hit the sack!

PS. Thank you for the li hing mango, 엄마 and 아빠! 맛있게 먹을께요! ^^

A couple more Korean flicks...

Watch 바보 if you...
  • Want a Korean language confidence booster
  • Like simple, poignant stories

Watch 숙명 if you...
  • Are prepared to hear a lot of bad words in Korean ㅎㅎ
  • Have a thing for action/gangster flicks
  • Like 송승헌

Both entertaining in their own right. ^^

Oh, and we got carded for the latter movie...!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Live from Seoul...

I've been a little musically deprived as of late... missing out on tons of amazing spring concerts... especially THIS one. (Pleeeease go show your support for Temposhark in my US absence! ^^)

But recently, I've been fortunate enough to have a few run-ins with some live performances. Haha, okay, so I didn't get tickets to Jason Mraz or Harry Connick Jr. nor did I see Celine Dion or any K-Pop bands, but I DID get to see this random guy jam at Namsan Tower...

He's good at what he does... but the view definitely made it better. ^^

Here's what it looks like from outside.

Light show...

Upon first glance, I thought this was a real person attempting to be David Blaine-like. ^^;;

We also checked out Nanta, which in the US, is known as Cookin', or more descriptively (in my opinion), "Benihana meets Stomp with a little Blue Man sprinkled in here and there." If you're pressed for time and have to choose between being late or leaving early, definitely opt for the former! (For pure theatrical effect, half the men rip off their shirts in the last 5 minutes of the show, as they fiercely pound on water soaked drums while female members of the audience shyly grin and sink into their seats... not to forget the hundreds of colorful playpen balls that get shot out into the audience prior to this spectacle.) Incorporation of audience participation also makes it fun, but in that 42nd Street kind of way (when you'd rather see something with a bit more substance or edge like Cabaret.) 

Of course, I saved the best for last - my friend's awesome classical guitar concert! ^^ I caught bits on video but unfortunately the sound didn't catch so well on the camera. Here's a little preview...

Very cool.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

You ate WHAT?!

I'm running a little behind on posts so I thought it'd be more efficient to simply throw some of my recent eats into a single appetizing photoblog. Unfortunately, I'm missing a very KEY picture so you'll just have to trust me and leave the visuals to your imagination (but if you find it too hard to believe, I have a witness!) when I say... 

***Drumroll, please!***

...It's been a decade, but I finally gave into BEEF! Are you still standing?! Okay, I admit it was consumed in very small quantities via shabu shabu, and I'm not quite ready to move onto anything like kalbi or a hamburger, but it's all about baby steps, folks.

Now that we got that out of the way, might as well let another cat out of the bag. I broke a second pact (I'm sorry, Matt & Grace) and went to McD's - but it was only for a cone AND it was dipped in chocolate! ^^;;

A fun little tidbit about about eating/drinking/meeting at restaurants in Korea is the tendency to refer to our favorite dining spots as "the pasta place across from the waffle place," "the chicken place near Adidas," or something to that effect (unless we're talking about McDonald's, since it seems to be THE place to meet when in Sinchon).

Take a look at my mushroom and pea pasta in a SOY MILK based cream sauce from "the pasta place across from the waffle place." It was surprisingly delicious and went down guilt-free. ^^

Soondubu from "that really good soondubu place everyone goes to." Finally started a frequent diner card here!

Bokkum bap (fried rice) with chicken and mozzarella-stuffed ddeok (rice cakes) at "that dak kalbi place in Myeongdong sort of near the mandoo place we went to last September." 

Gan-jajangmyun (간자장면) at "that Chinese place that makes good and cheap jajangmyun."

A mango yogurt shake from "that cafe where Jihey Onni gets free cookies and cheesecake since she's a regular."

This chicken dish and restaurant lack a special name like the aforementioned eats, but I should at least try to give it one. Let's call it "two orders of kochujang chicken that I watched my friend attack since I had already eaten dinner but he hadn't yet, at some random place we walked into."

Just to mix things up a bit, I'd like to introduce you to yogurt flavored Ritz sandwich crackers, which I haven't fully formed an opinion on yet. However, I will say that the cheese version didn't quite meet the American processed cheese standard. I suppose I just set myself up for disappointment, in an attempt to fill the void from this country's lack of cheese flavored Cheetos. I'm not kidding - they have BBQ, "hot & spicy", and pizza flavored Cheetos, but is too much to ask for a bag of cheese flavored Cheetos?! 

Moving on... bibimbap, kimchee jjigae, and kongnamul (bean sprout) soup from "that place near my house that I finally got around to trying."

Clearly, people like to throw in the peace sign regardless of whether they're meant to be in the frame or not. It's cute. ^^

I call this "nok cha from that tea place with the really cool atmosphere." Oh wait, I actually remember the name of this place (perhaps because it was in English) - Tea for Two! ^^

Last but not least... I never thought I'd drink black tea, but with a name like Liliuokalani, how can one pass up the opportunity? Really, just to see the name "Liliuokalani" in Korea was fascinating (I am easily amused), and the scent of the leaves alone reminded me of Hawaii... ^^

Monday, March 17, 2008

Get your directions right!

The internal display screen on my Nurian shattered a few days ago... >_< ....resulting in a trip to the Nurian office, where I was surprised to find pinups of Stephanie's favorite Korean, Hyun Bin. ^^ Never really put the two together (Hyun Bin + electronic dictionary) but hey, celebrity sells! I mean, I for one, now like my Nurian just a skoshi more, and despite the fact that it cost me about a baker's dozen bowls of soondubu jjigae to replace the touch screen, I suppose seeing Hyun Bin hold a Nurian adds some credibility to the brand.

Am I being serious? That is for you to guess and me to know. Stephanie, I thought you'd appreciate these videos...

If Hyun Bin tells you to love the Nurian, you better love the Nurian!

CF Part 1 (Real life situation illustrating how an e-dictionary can come in handy.)

CF Part 2 (Just in case you need a recap.)

I digress.

En route to the office, my buddy took me as far as the subway station, then whipped out the mobile, dialed the office, and handed it over, as part of his new attempt to be "strict" and "decisive." ^^ Well, I, instant master of direction, swear to goodness the Nurian rep told me to get out of Exit 2 and take the 70-1 bus, but KH called back and we ended up taking the 604 bus from Exit 4... sketchy! My Korean, that is. (Note: I was later offered some consolation, as he pointed out the 70-1 bus on the street, and said it was likely that we could have taken it just the same, thank you very much.)

Anyway, drumroll please...

I ate a few clams today! It's not going to be an everyday occurrence, but my tolerance level is improving (granted in small quantities.) ^^

This place had a pretty neat decor - it was covered in bamboo and had an old rustic (though not quite the word I'm going for) charm about it.

I should have guessed off the bat that this was makgeolli (막걸리), but he attempted to trick me into thinking that 1) it was coconut milk and 2) we were supposed to sip it with our spoons. Do I really look that gullible?

Originally not a bit fan of muk (묵), I have to admit it's grown on me since I've been here...

And last but not least... the closer.