ZenKimchi http://zenkimchi.com Exploring Korean food since 2004 Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:23:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Copyright © ZenKimchi 2014 zenpickle@gmail.com (Joe McPherson) zenpickle@gmail.com (Joe McPherson) Food 1440 http://zenkimchi.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/ZKFoodcast_144.jpg ZenKimchi http://zenkimchi.com 144 144 Korean and Asian food podcast Korean food and more Korea, Food, Asia, Cooking, Restaurant, travel Joe McPherson Joe McPherson zenpickle@gmail.com no no The Secret to Great Kimbap http://zenkimchi.com/featured/the-secret-to-great-kimbap/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/the-secret-to-great-kimbap/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 09:52:11 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44889 2014 07 10 18.13.37 466x700 The Secret to Great Kimbap

 

Put tasty grilled sausage in there. EJ threw some li’l smokies in these. Ni-i-i-ice.

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Review: Pizza Hut Kitchen http://zenkimchi.com/featured/review-pizza-hut-kitchen/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/review-pizza-hut-kitchen/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 06:56:34 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44872 2014 07 11 13.58.40 550x363 Review: Pizza Hut Kitchen

Location: Jongno
Cuisine: Pizza
Price: $
Reservations: No
Suggested Items: Lunch special

Oh, the things I do for you. There’s been a lot of talk about pizza lately, so I’ve been looking for a lunch-affordable pizza place near my office. This new concept from Pizza Hut Korea, “Pizza Hut Kitchen,” tries to make the red roof a little more upscale. I don’t know what’s so upscale about ordering at a counter and picking up your tray after your buzzer goes off–but it’s supposedly so.

It attracted me because they advertised a lunch special at W7,900. That’s under W10,000, which is my lunch budget. It is counter service, but it’s not that complicated. Order at the register and pay. They give you a buzzer. When it buzzes, you pick your order up at another window. Napkins and condiments are also self serve. When finished, deposit your tray in the rack at the other end of the restaurant.

Supposedly, it’s simple. But I still got a little confused by what the special entailed. It says on there that you get a lunch pizza, an appetizer, and a drink. The oblong lunch pizzas are displayed on the menu easily, but the appetizers were on a separate part, far away from the lunch pizzas. At first, I thought the salads, which were next to the lunch pizzas, were the appetizer options. So I told him what salad to order with my pizza. I then saw on the register that it was over W16,000.

WHOA!

Cancel that salad. We have a miscommunication here. I pointed out that the lunch special included an appetizer. I asked the clerk what appetizers were available.

“Chili Cheese Fry.”

Unless there was another miscommunication, it looked like that was the only appetizer option. The lunch pizza options were not thrilling. There was nothing “traditional” there, and they all looked like they were a tad on the sweet side. One was a blatant dessert pizza. I ordered the Cheese Steak pizza.

The interior follows the trend of Korean cafes, meaning random English that is 95% correct with those tiny errors that make you develop ticks in the corner of your eye after a while. Why does every cafe in Seoul need to be plastered in bad English? It’s so depressing to see my language being used only for design purposes with no intent of communication–like a Chinese tattoo on a drunk sorority girl on Spring Break. You also gotta love that “How to enjoy” section, where the only English in this how-to segment is the phrase, “How to enjoy.” Either go all the way with the English or don’t use it. I don’t need this lingual cocktease.

The crust itself is better than the usual chain pizza crust. The head of Pizza Hut Korea has been lauded for this innovation of getting chewiness out of a relatively thin crust in a mass operation. The quantity of food was fine as well. The steak was tender, and the taste was not bad, if leaning more on the sweet side. What I would prefer is to have some non-sweet pizza options. I also would like more appetizer options, preferably healthier options, like salads. The soggy Chili Cheese Fries just made me feel heavy and guilty.

The Pizza Hut Korea head said that he designed this place for women diners. I hope this is not some commentary on Korean women then. Because then according to Pizza Hut, Korean women are highly infantilized to only want candied pizzas and “ades” for lunch. Again, I hope that’s not the case. On the plus side, it’s a decent value for the type of pizza you get at lunch, if only there were some less flamboyant options.

Reviewer Rating

Ambience **
Food **
Service *
Value ****

Diner Rating
Please vote ONLY if you have eaten here.

Other Amenities: Some very bad English

Phone: 02-6328-5587~8

Website: The closest thing I could find. Here.

Location 

2014 07 11 13.53.37 550x412 Review: Pizza Hut Kitchen

Even if the grammar was correct, what would it mean anyway?

2014 07 11 13.54.01 315x550 Review: Pizza Hut Kitchen

Okay, I see a Margherita, but if those others are “Traditional Pizzas,” I’m scared to see the others.

Lunch set W7,900. Cheese Steak pizza with Chili Cheese Fries and drink (not pictured)

2014 07 11 14.01.24 412x550 Review: Pizza Hut Kitchen

Gotta have the random English

2014 07 11 13.54.11 550x545 Review: Pizza Hut Kitchen 2014 07 11 14.03.13 427x550 Review: Pizza Hut Kitchen Please help complete this review by adding information in the comments

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Must Watch: “Choose Your World” http://zenkimchi.com/featured/must-watch-choose-your-world/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/must-watch-choose-your-world/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 08:44:28 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44855 There are many reasons why I like this video. It’s entertaining. It’s for a good cause. But most of all, it’s local.

Yes.

Can you believe this was made right here in Seoul? If you look closely you’ll catch a glimpse of legendary expat Nevada Rhodes (the blonde guy on the scooter) and the ravishing Jyoung-ah Kim (pulling some cart in the background). That’s your first hint.

This was also made by a small team of expats doing what is very difficult to do in Seoul–own and run a business as an expat. So you may see I feel a kindred spirit towards them.

I’ll make this simple. Spend two minutes and forty-three seconds of your time watching this video. If it inspires you, donate.

Done.

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Another Hilarious Bibimbap Ad http://zenkimchi.com/featured/another-hilarious-bibimbap-ad/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/another-hilarious-bibimbap-ad/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 09:43:16 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44838 BigMacAd 550x550 Another Hilarious Bibimbap Ad

CORRECTIONS AND UPDATES: The Bibimbap Backpackers contacted us and informed us that they have been working separately from Seo Kyung Duk since 2012. Even though it wasn’t mentioned in the post, they also want to verify that they get no government support. They regret the ad they posted and will try harder to contemplate their promotions before posting.

From the Bibimbap Backpackers, who are a subsidiary of Seo Kyung Duk’s ForTheNextGeneration–you know, the guy behind the cheesy New York Times ads.

There is SOOOO much that is wrong with this ad, which they briefly posted on their Facebook page.

For one thing–THAT IS NOT A BIG MAC!

That’s the first fib they told on this. The other one–a Big Mac is 550 kcal, not 1055!

When I mentioned this on their Facebook page, they said that they were talking about a Big Mac set. To people not familiar with how Korean fast food restaurants run, a “set” means a combo meal. Fries and drink. Again, not very forthcoming in the truth department.

But really, we’ve gone over this before. Don’t try to make traditional Korean food look healthy by comparing it to the worst of American junk food. That’s so dumb! Was this the school project of an 8-year-old?

I myself love bibimbap, which is why this ad infuriates me. It is trying to make bibimbap into something it’s not. It has its health benefits from a variety of high vitamin ingredients. But it’s hardly the food for calorie counters. As an exercise, I posted on their Facebook page all these other traditional foods from other countries, including America, which have less calories than bibimbap. There are quite a bit. Bibimbap is closer in calories to a Philly Cheesesteak than it is to a Cobb Salad.

This is another area that they just stubbornly can’t wrap their minds around. How do they think they can successfully promote Korean food by insulting other foods?

Yes, I said they were comparing it to junk food, but I have run into this time and time again that Koreans assume Americans only eat hamburgers and pizza all the time. One young man seriously asked me how many hamburgers Americans eat per day. It’s similar to that study that was posted (and taken down) on the Korean Food Foundation website that compared sperm counts of people eating traditional Korean food with people who ate burgers and fried pork cutlets. There’s this frog-in-the-well stereotype (I’m not saying racist stereotype) that Americans are fat because all American food is unhealthy. When in fact it’s because Americans are eating cheap junk foods and not exercising much. They have access to plenty of healthy traditional American cuisine, but they just choose not to eat it. Telling someone that bibimbap has less calories than a Big Mac ain’t gonna change the mind of someone who is craving a Big Mac.

The whole “Korean food is healthy” angle is such a dangerous and unproductive approach. For one thing, it’s not like there aren’t healthy options available to westerners, who are waiting for some Hansik white knight to rescue them. But also, Korean food is just as healthy and unhealthy as other traditional cuisines. It does use less oil and animal fats. Koreans are generally thinner than their western counterparts. But they also have the highest stomach cancer rate in the world.

After I posted a little of what I wrote up here, they took down their post. A pity. It was such a great model of how not to promote bibimbap.

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Taste of London, Day 8: That’s a Wrap http://zenkimchi.com/featured/taste-of-london-day-8-thats-a-wrap/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/taste-of-london-day-8-thats-a-wrap/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 16:09:22 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44762 I awoke early to pack. I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing in the evening. And I wanted to see how everything would fit into my suitcase. All my glass jars I wrapped in dirty laundry. I think my suitcase is a bit heavy. I hope not too heavy.

2014 06 22 10.46.25 412x550 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap

We got to the venue a bit early because the organizers were serving breakfast. It was basically pastries. I had my first bacon butty.

Musetti kindly gave away coffee drinks for free.

By this time, I think I was getting my fill. I’d tried most things I wanted to try. There were still a few on my list.

2014 06 22 12.12.27 550x412 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap

Gaucho was serving spiral cut steak marinated 48 hours in garlic, parsley, aji molido, and olive oil with a humita stuffed baby red pepper. I chose it for the pepper. It wasn’t spicy (darn), but I liked the creamed-corn-like filling.

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I went back for the sea trout ceviche with pink grapefruit, fennel, and tiger’s milk. Easily the best thing I had all day.

2014 06 22 12.41.59 366x550 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap

2014 06 22 12.38.57 366x550 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap

The Galbi Bros. showed up for the final day. It was their turn at the street food station. They were extremely popular, selling kimchi burgers, dwaeji bulgogi sandwiches, and just straight up dwaeji bulgogi and lettuce. I wanted one of their shirts. Yeah, it’s hangul, but look closely. It’s the lyrics to “Gangnam Style.”

I wore an “I Love Korea Foods” t-shirt today, which signified that I was an exhibitor. It actually helped me get secret discounts. I bought one more thing to bring home–a mother-daughter set of retro June Cleaver aprons. They really looked cool.

We did our last service. It went very well again.

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After that, I thought I’d use up my crowns. I got roast artichoke tortellini from The Truscott Arms because, well, artichoke. It was meltingly pleasing.

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I used my last three crowns in getting a gin and tonic cupcake. Tasted like a lemon cupcake. Ah, well…

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The rest of the time we spent taking pictures with each other. The festival closed. The loudspeaker regularly spouted rules. Whoever the woman was on that speaker sounded like an unpleasant person. “Contractors are reminded that no drinking is allowed.”

2014 06 22 17.41.17 366x550 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap

“Contractors, if you are drinking please walk to the nearest exit.”

I was expecting her to say, “Contractors, if you are doing anything that brings happiness, kindly leave the premises.”

We worked quickly to break everything down. It was amazing how much dust was kicked up. I waited until the last minute to take my cheese out of the refrigerator.

2014 06 22 19.38.03 412x550 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap2014 06 22 19.41.41 412x550 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap

Dan took a more scenic route back, past Parliament and the London Eye. EJ said she wanted me in the pictures this time, so I was working out the logistics of taking selfies in front of international landmarks while in a car with the sun setting.

The plan was to go to a pub and have dinner while the Korea vs. Algeria game played. We went back to The Ship, which had that really good food. But it was PACKED with soccer fans. The next place was The Charles Holden next to my hotel. I had a feeling it wouldn’t be so packed because they proudly announce that they don’t show football.

And my hunch was correct. There was just pub trivia going on with cricket on the telly. I was chomping at the bit, regretting that I wasn’t playing pub trivia myself, but one category was all about Wimbledon–I mean, we’re in Wimbledon, so why not? I know little of sports and nothing about Wimbledon.

Dan set up the game on his iPad. I realized that if you’re a soccer team, you want Dan to watch you the whole time because every time Dan looked away, even for a second, Algeria scored. Dan also figured out that the chef at the pub was Algerian.

2014 06 22 20.49.45 366x550 Taste of London, Day 8: Thats a Wrap

I ordered a Sunday roast. This time, I finally got my Yorkshire pudding. The meat was perfectly cooked with some punchy horseradish. The vegetables were fresh from the garden they have out back. I really like this pub.

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And I just had to get another sticky toffee pudding.

After washing that down with my last pint of bitter, I bid farewell to my host and returned to my hotel room.

And so, folks, that’s the end of my trip to London.

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Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-7-big-saturday/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-7-big-saturday/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:36:34 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44757  Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

It was packed. Even more, it was the warmest day I’d ever spent in the UK.

I guess it was also the day they decided to start following rules. I went to the exhibitors’ entrance like I had every day, and the guard wouldn’t let me in with my press pass. He told me to wait until the event started.

Screw that.

I went to the other end of the venue–the Taste of Thailand side–and walked up to the gate. An exhibitor was walking ahead of me with a suitcase and listening on headphones. The guard asked him for his ID, and he ignored him. As the guard chased him down, I sauntered in unhindered.

Gizzi showed up in bad shape–sunglasses and pasty skinned. To add to everything, the health inspectors decided to lay down some obscure rules right before service, causing us to kill one of the dishes (Yukhoe) from the menu.

Before our service started, I went to Flesh & Buns to try their two Korean-inspired dishes.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

The Korean Fried Guinea Fowl was quite crispy. It was obliterated with sauce. The sauce was fine, but it would have been better if it was just tossed in the sauce rather than drowned in it.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

The other dish was a steamed bun with sea bass, coriander miso, and kimchi. It was fine. Messy but fine. The kimchi complimented it well.

We did service. I think I was a little quiet this time. It still went well.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

After that, I shot over to finally get my Mahiki Pina Colada in a pineapple. It was good. 10 pounds, but it was good. Or rather, it was good, but it was 10 pounds. Again, I had heard a lot of talk from festival goers and exhibitors about the high prices. It’s already a high price for the ticket, but some of the dishes are also pricey. If I was organizing this I’d encourage the vendors to sell their wares at or around cost. The unashamed money grabs were discouraging people from showing up next year.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

With my pina colada, I had a nice Indian chilled octopus braised with chilli, garlic, and smoked paprika from Assado.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

Ah… what to drink next? You know, I can’t believe I’d never had a Pimm’s Cup before. The booth was right next to our restaurant, so I got one. And yes, refreshing, slightly bitter and not too sweet.

I also tried me some of the Harold Brompton’s alcoholic iced tea. That was excellent. No artificial flavors. Lemony. And smooth. Could hardly taste the alcohol.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

I went to Le Gavroche to try the Pork Cheek & Belly braised with Balvenie Whisky Sauce and Soft Polenta. This turned out to be the same dish that the judges shared with us a few days before. It was fine, but I couldn’t taste the whisky at all.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

I was not happy with the BBQ spiced crispy pig ears from Duck & Waffle. I should have tried some free samples. I almost broke a tooth on some.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

Yet I was quite pleased with the chicken mole street tacos from the Mexican pavilion. They were cheaper as well.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

My next disappointment was the Crispy Pig Cheeks with Piccalilli and Mustard Frills. Way too dry for pleasure. Needed some lube.

 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

The surprise hit for that day was the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Vanilla Cream from The Truscott Arms. The pudding itself was hot, gooey, and decadent. I shared it with people at the Korea pavilion, and I noticed them getting their own later.

But the BIG surprise that day came later. I was sitting, waiting for the next service when these two young ladies came up and said, “Joe?”

wpid 20131021 203212 550x412 Taste of London, Day 7: Big Saturday

(The only people not flicking off the camera)

They were two people who had been on my BBQ tour in Seoul last year. They weren’t just that. They were part of one of the most memorable tours I’d ever done. I was so happy that they found me at Taste of London.

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Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-6-finally-tasting-london/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-6-finally-tasting-london/#comments Sat, 21 Jun 2014 07:08:12 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44720 Yes, I finally started going around and tasting things. I bought some crowns, the currency for the festival, got a guide with a list of all the restaurants and their dishes, and made a plan.

First, I had to get a beer. Got an IPA from the Chapel Down booth. I must return for the bubbly and oysters later.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

Funny thing that Shake Shack made an appearance here. I know its reputation in New York, but I have never tried their burgers. I absolutely had to try one.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

And you know, pretty darn good. As an aside, my camera phone was having trouble focusing for a while. It later started working, and I have no idea what happened.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

Great name for a meat producer

During the first service, a lovely couple highly suggested the beef tenderloin at Plum + Spilt Milk. It was one of the pricier items, but they were right. The meat was so tender that I could slice right through with a plastic knife. Flavorful pate as well. The asparagus was gently tender as well.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

Pla Goong–Grilled prawn salad topped with roasted chili paste and chopped fresh chili (Thai Rice Fulham)

I ventured to the Thai section. I love Thai food, but for some reason I wasn’t all that excited. I did get some shrimp. The crime that put a bad taste in my mouth was a section that promoted Thai fruits with large durians on display, but they didn’t have any to eat.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

As I ventured back to the Korea pavilion, I stopped by the Argentina booth for a steak sandwich and beer. By then I was feeling full. When I got back, it was break time for much of the pavilion, and they were passing around steak sandwiches to everyone. I can’t believe I turned one down. But I really was satiated.

I also tried an amazing product–Biscuit Butter. It’s these Belgian cookies pureed into a spread. Bought two. I went back to the pavilion to show Rupert what I got. He pointed to my side and mouthed, “Amabassador’s here.”

The Korean ambassador was there with his entourage, and Dan was showing him around. He introduced me to him, and we had a pleasant chat. He invited me to his house for dinner, but the invitation was for after my departure.

The first session ended, and everyone had an hour break while the festival reset (i.e., clean the toilets). I perused my guide and decided I had enough time to take a whisky master class at the Balvenie lounge, which is a spacious comfortable lounge. Kimberly from Korea Foods wanted to try it as well, so I got us both reservations.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

Smoked Short Rib–Worcestershire Glaze and Horseradish Mash

On the way there, I decided I had some time to try this little morsel from Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa. This was one of the best things I tasted at the festival. Others at my table inquired about my dish and got their own. I finished and entered the Balvenie lounge.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

It was a pleasant time learning about this particular whisky and some more facts about whisky itself. We were taught by Miss Whisky herself, Alwynne Gwilt.

I returned in time for the evening service. We started it a bit early this time, so I had some time afterward to try some more vittles on my list.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

Bahn mi: Vietnamese baguette, confit duck, foie gras pate, pickles & coconut, chili sauce. (Bar Boulud) It worked well as a banh mi. I couldn’t distinguish the individual flavors. I only could taste the foie gras when some of it got stuck to my thumb and I licked it off.

 Taste of London, Day 6: Finally Tasting London

Duck and dog. (Club Gascon) I guess it was a hot dog with duck. Maybe not. I didn’t see any hot dog. It was fine but not memorable.

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Taste of London, Day 5: This is How You Promote Korean Food http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-5-this-is-how-you-promote-korean-food/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-5-this-is-how-you-promote-korean-food/#comments Sat, 21 Jun 2014 05:29:50 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44702 Update if you care: I got the shoe issue settled. They’re being delivered this morning.

Today was the first full day of Taste of London. I took the tube up to Regent’s Park and made my way to the exhibitors’ entrance. I took a wrong turn and ended up in the utilities area. There were these bladders of water used to supply the festival. Looked like the bottoms of bouncy castles. I found my way back and went to the Korean pavilion.

The Korean pavilion is a major section, and I need to point this out. THE KOREAN GOVERNMENT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS. The only bigger national pavilion is the Thai one, and I’m pretty sure their government gave it some backing. The Korean government has for years been pouring money into this wormhole in promoting Korean food in the least effective ways possible. They don’t do things like this. It’s nervewracking.

Instead, this is entirely put together by Korea Foods, the UK food importer and grocery chain. I’ve been friends with them for years, following how this scrappy company has been able to do what the Korean government and even large corporations like CJ Foods have failed at. This is their next risky bold step. If today was indication it their investment has paid off.

The Korean pavilion has booths dedicated to different products, like Shin Ramyeon. And the companies’ reps are there as well promoting their products. The “38th Parallel” bar sells soju drinks. Next to it is a street food showcase. A different local Korean street food vendor takes over that spot each day. At the end of the pavilion is Gizzi’s “K-Town” pop-up restaurant. As I mentioned yesterday, most every part, including the pop-up restaurant, is free. They also give out free goodie backs with “I Love Korea Foods” printed on them. As the day progressed, I noticed more and more of those bags on people’s arms throughout the festival.

If the Korean government was smart (stop laughing), they’d pitch in and help build a more extravagant pavilion that looks like a Korean hanok or temple next year.

My job, I’ve found, is to talk up the menu during Gizzi’s pop-up restaurant service. It’s easy and fun. I just talk about Korean food and the dishes everyone’s eating. I get a lot of questions about living in Korea itself.

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During the break times I’ve been wandering, trying to find new things to eat–or just anything to eat. I get hungry. What sticks out in my mind is this Strong Pale Ale that was cask conditioned. Hoppy and bitter. I nursed on that and went back to say hi to Theo Randall. He was getting people to eat his cheese.

2014 06 19 14.55.11 412x550 Taste of London, Day 5: This is How You Promote Korean Food

He saw me and asked where my partner in crime was.

“She’s flitting around.”

“You want some scallops?”

My mother taught me right. Never turn down a free scallop.

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Cape Sante in padella: Pan-fried scallops served in the shell with pancetta, red chilli, parsley, capers, lentils di Castelluccio and chopped rocket

PERFECTLY COOKED!! Oh, and they had lentils, capers, arugula–everything a growing boy needs. And notice the serving dish.

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Norwegian smoked salmon

2014 06 19 15.00.10 550x412 Taste of London, Day 5: This is How You Promote Korean Food

Someone told me this was very good. I’ll need to try it.

I was so busy eating that I didn’t get around to shooting pictures of everything. I went to the small producers section. Reminded me of the flea market at a county fair. A local cheddar producer had samples out of their different flavors of cheeses. I was so impressed that I bought a pack of six. Don’t tell customs. A little later I wandered to the Argentinian booth and chowed down on a light and filling Beef Empanada while also enjoying some spicy bread from the Jordanian booth.

At the Stubbins demo theatre, Scottish BBQ master Neil Rankin (Smokehouse) was talking up about barbecue. Dan had told me that I needed to meet him, so I introduced myself after the show. I was my usual awkward self, trying to impress him with my Decatur, Alabama, credentials.

I also met and got interviewed by Danny McCubbin of Danny Vlogs and the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation.

The festival’s first session ended at four o’clock. They closed down to clean the toilets and get ready for the evening crowd. The weather suddenly started to get colder and threatening to rain. I moseyed back to the Korean pavilion and saw Gizzi sitting at a table in her restaurant with a few others, sipping on bubbly.

“Is there a meeting?”

“Yes. Sit down.”

2014 06 19 15.32.41 550x412 Taste of London, Day 5: This is How You Promote Korean Food

Action Against Hunger’s “5 Star Haute Dog,” created by James Knappett (Bubbledogs), Brett Graham (The Ledbury), Anna Hansen (The Modern Pantry), Mark Hix and Tom Parker Bowles. I normally don’t like dressy dogs, but I liked this one. Bun was softer than it looks. The white stuff is apple puree.

 Taste of London, Day 5: This is How You Promote Korean Food

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I sat. We drank. More chefs showed up, including Neil. A lady promoting her bubbly gave us a bottle. A bartender showed up and dropped off a pitcher of this lovely gin and grapefruit punch. I was happy doing what I was looking forward to doing this whole time–drinking and chatting with chefs and others from the industry.

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I think this was the critics’ winner. Club Gascon’s Croque Gascon: Crispy barbecued foie gras. Actually, none of us liked it. Tasted like it was doused in Cattleman’s Ranch, the generic BBQ sauce supplied to restaurants.

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Unfocused close up.

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Smoked Bloody Mary, made with Chase English Oak Smoked Vodka

When things started up again, there was a new emergency. There was some Kimchi Bokkeumbap that needed to be made for tasting at the street food area, but nothing was prepared, and it looked like no one was going to cook it. I went into cook mode and started prepping for what we usually have as our Sunday Kimchi Bokkeumbap. Then the girls who were supposed to cook it showed up, so I didn’t need to do anything.

Emergency again.

They burned it.

They also didn’t use the onions, ginger, and garlic I prepped. But they did burn that nice steak I minced. I took over and cleaned and scraped the flat top. I asked the kitchen for more rice. They had some extra. I turned on the griddle, laid down some oil, and got to work. Since it was a flat top, I cooked it Chinese style rather than Korean. Korean style usually just lets the rice sit there, but I needed to toss it so it wouldn’t burn again. The smell started to attract festival goers. I was looking like some Benihana cook tossing the rice around–looking like I knew what I was doing. At the end, I backed up and said, “Let it sit for one to two minutes. Korean fried rice needs a crust.”

I saw some surprised looks, as in, “I didn’t know you could do that to fried rice.”

When it was ready, the girls and I tasted it. It was fine. I left while they served. I heard it was all gone in no time.

Gizzi’s second service started, and I did my thang again. It’s so much fun. During all this I also met some more bloggers, including May Chong of Eat Cook Explore and Wai Lu Yin of SumGyeoJin Gem. In fact, Wai Lu Yin joined me for pizza after the festival.

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Taste of London, Day 4: And So It Begins http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-4-and-so-it-begins/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-4-and-so-it-begins/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 08:02:35 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44680 Slept through breakfast. No matter. It gave me an excuse to go to the Charles Holden pub next door for lunch. Had a bitter and watched the end of a rugby game.

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I ordered the sausage and mash, which came with onions reduced in red wine. Oh, it was a lovely lunch.

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But in doing my research before coming to London, I had my eye on their hot Toffee Pudding. It gives you a foodie hard on.

So, EJ, it turns out, has picked the most difficult thing for me to get in London. There are all these things I could get, but she has her heart set on these Victoria brand shoes. It’s a Spanish brand, but they’re still cheaper to get in the UK. The trouble is that it’s been a pain in the ass to order from their website, and their customer service seems to be out to lunch 23 hours a day. I don’t know where to find them in the wild. And really, they’re ugly shoes. Look like something nurses wear for orthopedic reasons.

She also decided to tell me that I can’t say I’ve been to London without getting a picture in front of Buckingham Palace. I ventured out there and got that done. By coincidence, the changing of the guards happened, so I took some video with my DSLR. Unfortunately, this laptop has gotten so old and lazy that it refuses to download pics from my DSLR. I’ll have to wait until I return to Korea for that.

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I needed to be at Regent’s Park by four o’clock for Taste of London. Using the very useful Citymapper app, I checked on different ways to get there. One option was walking, and it told me how many calories I’d burn. Decision made. It was a good 40-minute walk.

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I arrived and found the exhibitors’ entrance. Dan showed up, and he gave me a press pass to enter. I found the team hurriedly getting the Korean section put together. They regaled me with tales of the delivery truck being late, that the organizers wouldn’t allow it to go all the way to the Korean section, and they had to carry all the heavy equipment by hand over electrical cables and other obstacles to get at least something put together on time.

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When it started, though, Gizzi’s pop-up restaurant still wasn’t finished. Schedules were rearranged, and people ran out to quickly buy decor to turn this tent into something of a proper restaurant. In the meantime, Gizzi showed me around and introduced me to some people, including chefs and food critics from The Guardian and other outlets. The critics were just finishing some judging panel. Since they were stuffed, they had only taken single bites out of their last dish and gave them to us. Pork belly and jowl in cheese polenta. Yeah, pork and cheese grits, really. One of them complained the polenta wasn’t salty enough. My palate has gotten more sensitive to salt in Korea, so it didn’t taste that way to me. I’ve noticed that the longer chefs and writers are involved in the restaurant industry, the more their palates get deadened to salt–the same way musicians’ ears get deafened to sound.

Gizzi introduced me to Chef Theo Randall, and we had a nice chat while she flitted to some other old friends. Next to Theo’s booth was Salt Yard. They specialize in tapas and Spanish charcuterie. They offered us some lovely slices of Iberico jamon. I saw their menu and vocalized, “Oh my goodness.”

“Oh, you want to try that?”

“May I?”

“Sure.”

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What we received were sliders filled with Iberico pork, Manchego cheese, and foie gras. Ni-i-i-i-ice!

Taste of London is Disney World for food. I wanted to try everything. So many interesting beverages and vittles. Dan opined for the olden days when it wasn’t all about money. Vendors would give out samples for free. I did notice that most booths had food people had to pay for–at pretty steep prices. You’d think after buying a pricey ticket that the vendors wouldn’t want to come across as greedy. But the crowd here is a different kind of crowd, making the type of money I briefly made during my dot-com days. Still, if I was an organizer of an event like this, I’d request that the vendors at least sell their wares at cost and not for profit.

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Oooh! A tiki bar! But what’s behind that lovely lady?

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Why, a pirate and a professional wrestler, of course.

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I also found this cool product. Self-standing knives with this clever knife block.

At another booth, Judy Joo of the Food Network program “Korean Food Made Simple” was giving a demonstration. Dan introduced me to her. I had earlier met the charming Ching-He Huang of “Easy Chinese.” She was also at the demo, and Judy joked that people confuse them. (Read: man, racist Americans)

I also met American blogger Julie Falconer of A Lady in London. Very happy to meet fellow bloggers. I want to hug them.

The Korean section had some popularity. Shin Ramyeon did well. The bulgogi section had some fans. An enthusiastic crowd clamored around the Gochujang Chicken station, which was essentially DalkGalbi without all the trimmings. I was pleasantly surprised by that reaction. We have a bar called The 38th Parallel, that sells soju and somaek bombs. The most popular area by far was Busan BBQ, run by Dahae and her husband Gareth. He was making bulgogi sliders with fine British beef aged 28 days. He told me that when he tried bulgogi burgers in Korea, he hated how sweet they were, so he developed a marinade that made them taste more like bulgogi. He cooked the slightly seasoned beef on the griddle to medium rare, dunked them in the sauce, and served them on buns with mustard-marinated onions. Juicy motherfuckers! Got my new Star Wars t-shirt dirty.

We rushed to get Gizzi’s restaurant set up. Because of all this, her opening was delayed. Service was so delayed that security was kicking us out during dessert. I’d forgotten how strict authority is in the West. Korean security woulda been flexible if you gave them a good enough explanation with the right amount of firmness. Nonetheless, the British security was friendly, and I worked with them to secure our tents.

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Gizzi’s food got great reviews from the diners. I’ll go into detail about that in the future.

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Taste of London, Day 3: Can’t Escape Korea! http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-3-cant-escape-korea/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/taste-of-london-day-3-cant-escape-korea/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 11:35:07 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44675 Tuesday was my only fully free day. Thus it was the only day to get some shopping done and to visit my high school friend Jason, who lives and works in London.

Here’s a traveler’s tip. When traveling abroad, some of the best souvenir shopping can be done in a local grocery store. That’s true in Korea. I did that in the Philippines. And I did it here.

Within walking distance from my hotel is a Sainsbury’s. It’s just your run-of-the-mill florescent-lit cold supermarket. But I really stocked up there. Marmite, Marmite XO, jams, lemon curd, Jaffa Cakes, brown sauce. I even found an amusing t-shirt of Darth Vader playing soccer.

I met Jason in Brixton. I arrived early to explore Brixton Market a bit. The market has a strong Afro-Caribbean vibe. It’s a reggae version of Ansan. Since my food obsession before Korean was Jamaican, I made sure to stock up on Jamaican ingredients, since you absolutely can’t find them in Korea. I met Jason, whom I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. We had lunch at a Jamaican restaurant.

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Jerk Chicken. Rice & Peas.

It was a regrettably short visit, but we caught up as much as we could. 2014 06 17 14.02.26 550x412 Taste of London, Day 3: Cant Escape Korea!

Then it was off to Piccadilly Circus for some souvenir shopping. I’ve said many times I’m a slave to kitsch. I love touristy things. I love to visit Ripley’s Believe It or Not museums wherever they are. And I like Made in China souvenirs. I went to two of the powerhouse souvenir arcades. Got some magnets for co-workers, a Paddington Bear for Jian, and some toys for her. I then went to Fortnum & Mason, the famous tea emporium. The goal was to snag a nice tea set, but as predicted, they were formidably expensive. I did get some tins of teas and some local honey.

On the way there, in front of the Eros statue, was a dance troupe performing to “Gangnam Style.”

I can’t escape Korea, huh?

I then walked to Soho to meet Dahae and Gizzy. I think Gizzy was doing some photo or video shoot. I got to the area early and popped off to Norman’s Coach and Horses pub, which turns out to be London’s first vegetarian pub. I was there for the beer and restroom. Dahae met me there, and we had a great conversation. She and her husband run the Busan Galbi street stand on the weekends. 2014 06 17 16.18.29 412x550 Taste of London, Day 3: Cant Escape Korea!

Gizzi texted us, and we met her at the legendary cocktail bar Dean Street Townhouse. She looked great as always and had lots to talk about. Our goal for this short meeting was to decide what to do for our presentations together. I told her I felt like I was standing on the tracks with a freight train speeding toward us. I was just closing my eyes and bracing myself. She felt similar, so we decided to just roll with it. We’ll see how things go. 2014 06 17 17.31.19 412x550 Taste of London, Day 3: Cant Escape Korea!

Gizzi had to leave for another engagement, as did Dahae. I picked up all my heavy stuff. Dahae directed me over to this sign.

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“This is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes at this address.”

Dan and I planned to meet a Leicester Square. On the way there, I noted this sign–a little tribute to Clerks.

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“We assure you, we are open.”

If I lived here, I’d be going to that theater often. It is the type that shows cult films and participatory films, like Rocky Horror and the sing-a-long version of Frozen. I met Dan, and we had dinner in Chinatown. I tried to track the steps my sister and I took there from memory in 1993. I remember that Jurassic Park had just come out in theaters, and I wanted badly to see it. My sister didn’t want to waste time seeing a movie she could see anywhere else. When she and I went to Chinatown, we looked for the restaurant with the least white people. It turned out to be another one of those life changing meals.

Dan took me to a similar place, where we had crispy duck, char shiu, and baby bok choy in oyster sauce. When we sat down, my jetlag started to hit. Dan pointed out I hadn’t taken my obligatory nap. I did all I could to stay awake for dinner.

But there was much more to do that evening. Dan had gotten us and the office tickets to this club to watch the Korea vs. Russia World Cup match. When we got there, I met Moses and Hanbit from The Galbi Bros.

The gang from the office met us way downstairs, along with some people from Korean food companies who had just flown in. It was packed. It was surreal. I was in London, and it felt like I had not left Korea. To make it even more surreal, the jetlag continued to pound me. There was nowhere to sit, and I was carrying my increasingly heavier bag. There were points when my knees buckled. Towards the end of the game, I told Dan I was getting hallucinations.

“Great!”

It was a good game, but I was really zoned. I stopped watching what was happening on the field and watched the clock instead. Only three minutes left. Two. One… Oh no! Four extra minutes?

I survived, though. Dan got us a cab, and we rode back to Colliers Wood. I was still hallucinating. I tried to speak, but rubbish escaped my lips. I got home at 2 o’clock.

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