ZenKimchi http://zenkimchi.com Exploring Korean food since 2004 Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:40:57 +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 Moved In http://zenkimchi.com/diary/moved-in/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/moved-in/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 22:24:08 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44929 It’s early morning in Gimpo. I’m first struck by how amazingly quiet it is. I’m equally struck by how noisy our old place was. True, we now have the occasional jet flying overhead. Someone in another building, maybe another apartment complex, is practicing violin–and practicing it well. Other than that, it’s just the rhythmic pulses of crickets and birds.

As predicted, I got a little teary the last time we saw the old place. EJ did too. But after everything was moved out, I was blown back by how small our place really was. And dirty. What got me wistful was looking out my veranda one last time. I had seen so many seasons pass from that vantage point. Seen buildings be razed and built.

I was impressed by the efficiency of the movers. Things started a bit before eight, when a man came by to check the utilities, so we could pay the last bill. The movers consisted of four men and a woman. They immediately started taking out plates and wrapping them. EJ, Jian, and I had to go around and get paperwork done. We went to the management office to pay the bills, the grocery store to get stickers to throw away some big items, the real estate agency twice. The movers had finished in three hours. I was continually explaining the process to Jian. I remember from child psychology courses that I needed to prepare her for big changes. She seemed uninterested. You know what, my family moved when I was her age, and even though I remember that house, I didn’t miss it. It was the one that we moved into that I missed badly and still do to some extent. I remember lying in my bed our last night in that house in 1987. We had lived there for ten years, and I had just turned thirteen. I had made a solemn vow to one day buy back that house and live there. Count that as another vow broken. I wouldn’t want to go back now. That house is frozen in the ’80s. The other one frozen in the late ’70s. The apartment we just left will be frozen in time as well. If anything, I was surprised by how unemotional I was. I think we were all happy to leave. Or rather, once we started moving into this new place, our last feelings of the old place evaporated.

Poor EJ was getting highly stressed. She was becoming more like me. I’m always juggling a lot of things at once. As a result, I forget things and get temperamental. She was getting a taste of how I am all during the week. While the movers were loading us in, I felt it was best to see if EJ needed anything. She didn’t. So I took Jian outside to the playground.

At the playground, I met a couple similar to us. The husband was Korean, and the wife was Canadian. They had a son, who was zooming all over the playground. He and Jian quickly became friends. It’s rare that she meets a child like her. Back in Anyang, we knew a lot of international families, but they all moved back. This couple told me that there are other foreign and international families in this complex and close by. Jian already has a Korean friend here, so I felt energized that she could make friends with international kids as well. She’s a very Korean little girl in the best way possible. We also want her to have a base of friends, a support system if you will, of children who have similar backgrounds and challenges–other fusion babies living in “racially pure” Korea.

I saw our moving truck leave. Jian and I returned. EJ looked a little better, like a cook who had just gone through her first lunch rush. Her OCD was in hyperdrive. She was obsessing over matching the coffee cups that we never use and moving plates around. The woman with the moving company had put away our stuff, but the way she did wasn’t always logical. So we’re going through all our stuff and organizing it. Yet it was getting late, and we hadn’t eaten dinner. It was past eight, but EJ couldn’t tear herself away from the coffee cups. I told her that we needed to go out now to eat, or I need to go to the store to get something. But it had to be now. She said she was in the mood for meat–for Korean barbecue. It’s rare that she’s in one of those moods, but I could tell she needed some protein replenishment.

I found a charcoal grill galbi place on Google Maps and programmed it into the navigator. We got into the car and drove. Soon after we left the complex, EJ pointed out a Mapo Galmaegi place right across from us. This is a cut of pork best described as the skirt steak of the pig. And it’s done Mapo style, which means that a ring of egg is poured in the pan around the meat. This is the type of place I take people to on my barbecue tour. Yet EJ has never had this cut of meat or this style of barbecue before. I made a couple of U-turns to get there. We ordered two orders of plain galmaegi and two of spicy. Ordered some rice for Jian and a beer for us. EJ loved the meat. Even more surprising, she drank all of her beer. She usually only takes two sips. Jian spent the whole meal dancing and singing for the restaurant in between bites Mommy constructed on her spoon. I manned the grill. This honestly was one of the best Korean barbecue places I’ve ever been to. In the top ten easily. That’s another thing we’ve noticed about Gimpo–the food is SO much better here. I really want friends and family to visit now.

The area we’re in now is much smaller. More rural. We only have one big box supermarket, Home Plus. Yet we do have a lot of grocery stores and smaller supermarkets. We have an E-Mart Everyday within walking distance, which is a smaller version of the big box chain. I ventured in there, expecting to find the average smelly local grocery store. Yet it really was a miniature version of E-Mart. It stocked some rare items that aren’t normally in neighborhood groceries, like imported beer, tortillas, coffee filters, and a multitude of “foreign” items. The prices are the same as E-Mart, which means that the veggies are a bit steep, but there’s a mom-and-pop across the street with cheap vegetables–and we noticed that the veggies in Gimpo are much cheaper.

It feels like we’re on vacation. It feels like we’re living out of suitcases. We knew that our furniture would hardly fill out this place. I was unprepared for how dingy our furniture would look inside it. I remember getting the white beach condo style hutch and how it brightened our old bedroom. Now it looks like some sad yellowed piece of junk. Our brown couch sadly sits alone in the shiny living room. Our table, which we were planning to get rid of anyway, has revealed marks and stains that we hadn’t noticed before. Jian’s room, in contrast, looks great. She’s been playing in it the whole time. Our stuff is scattered all over the place. Some food pantry items are in the computer room. I have to go to our bathroom closet, the computer room, and Jian’s room to assemble a wardrobe for the day.

Today my challenge is figuring out how to get to work efficiently. When that’s done, I’m going to figure out a workout routine. We have the fitness center here. The complex is perfect for jogging. And I was told yesterday that there’s a swimming pool at the rec center just outside the complex.

EJ has just woken up.

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Time to Move On http://zenkimchi.com/diary/time-to-move-on/ http://zenkimchi.com/diary/time-to-move-on/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 13:57:31 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44920 I sit here in my bedroom on a cool summer night. The mountain breeze gently flows through the screen. Sometimes I hear the sounds of one of the four Buddhist temples nearby. The stream is still rushing from the recent rains.

I’m going to miss this.

We are moving tomorrow. Not only to a different apartment. We’re moving to a different city–Gimpo. It’s a much better apartment, twice the size of our current place. It’s so new that parts are still under construction. It’s super high tech. And it has great facilities and perks, like multiple well-made playgrounds, a fitness center, golf practice area, all underground parking, and a two-year free membership to Hanhwa resorts.

Yet my feelings are mixed. EJ finally admitted she had some as well. We’ve lived in this place for eight years. I’ve lived in Anyang for nine. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I was thirteen. Almost a quarter of my life has been in Anyang.

I keep expecting some grand sweep of sentimentality, but it’s forced at best. I know when I gaze upon this apartment for the last time, once again empty from all our belongings, my eyes will burn and mist. So much has happened here. Yet we’re getting too big for this place. Most of the things that made Anyang special to me are no more. Most all my Anyang friends have left–moved to Seoul or back overseas. Most of the restaurants and bars I’ve loved are gone–Churrasco, Atlanta, Uncle Don. Even Bori-ne is a shell of its former gloriousness. This neighborhood was teeming with nice restaurants when we first moved here. Now it’s a wasteland. It’s sad that the only restaurant I may possibly miss is the Taco Bell in Lotte Department Store.

The commutes have gotten more challenging with the elimination of most express bus routes between Seoul and Anyang. The car doesn’t make it any faster. As Jian gets older, I realize the dearth of decent playgrounds in our area.

Yet I’m going to miss this stupid city. I lobbied really hard to get us to stay in this neighborhood. It had been so long since I had grown roots anywhere. None of us have true ties here. No family. Few friends. The only friends are the parents of Jian’s friends, and from what I gather from EJ’s stories, a lot of the dynamics are straight out of high school.

Then Lex died.

His sudden death in April, just hours after we had eaten together, had jarred me. I decided it was time for change again. Drastic change. EJ found the apartment in Gimpo, and we jumped on it. It’s not only been that. I’m changing my lifestyle. I’ve reduced my drinking by eighty percent. I never drink at home, and when I do drink while out, it’s rarely more than two beers. I’ve reduced the portion sizes during meals. I’m planning to start seriously exercising. I’ve thrown out a lot of things I have held on to for years. The “Berserker” t-shirt like the one worn by Jay in “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” which I bought in the ’90s and last wore at Lex-i-con. The WeakLazyLiar t-shirt I got (still my favorite band) from the band itself right around the time of my divorce. The cap I creepily kept that reminded me of a woman who I fell in love with in the ’90s for a short intense time. All the hard drives from old computers I had been meaning to salvage (goodbye, old porn).

The only thing I’ve surprisingly been sentimental about is the curb in front of our building. It meant nothing to me, just a place I walked across while exiting the building to work or getting out of a cab late at night. In the past year, it has become the place where I wait for the school bus with Jian. I’ve been so busy that we don’t have much time together. So our mornings standing out on the curb have been special. I showed her ripe persimmons on a tree, revealing to her that fruit grows on trees. There were mornings she insisted I hold her and not let her down, and she’d hold my face in her hands, studying it. On rainy days, we’d go out early so she could jump in the puddles. I don’t know what the situation will be at the new place.

I’m going to miss this particular area. We’re technically in the city, but we are tucked in the crevice of a green mountain. Frogs and crickets sing us to sleep. I have a nice night view of the city, though that’s been changing with more and more apartment construction. I do like watching the Number One subway line snake by in the distance on its way between Anyang and Myeonghak Stations. I meant to buy binoculars since I first moved here so I could see more closely what was out there. I was planning to sit out there with a drink and a cigar, to gaze over the cityscape and ponder things worth pondering.

I wasn’t planning on being here this long. Every two years, when our contract was up, I was secretly joyed that we weren’t moving. This was the first time I didn’t want to stay, especially now that I know that we’re going to a much better place. I have a decent view at the new place, but it’s not going to be of a cityscape, or mountains, or Buddhist temples. Our door won’t freeze solid during the winter because it will be inside a hallway. We won’t have the noise of an elementary school’s overzealous sound system or of old people arguing at six in the morning outside our window. The people seem much nicer in our new town. There’s more space to drive and park. Each restaurant we’ve stumbled upon has been much better than equivalents in Anyang.

At eight tomorrow morning, the movers will arrive. They will pack and handle it all themselves. We won’t need to do anything beyond paperwork. We spent the weekend throwing out excess possessions while a TLC hoarding show played on NetFlix. EJ finally said it yesterday, “I’m nervous about moving because this is our home.”

But like any major event, I’m just closing my eyes while the freight train rushes at me. Let’s see what’s next.

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Paris Baguette and the Soft Bigotry of Exoticism http://zenkimchi.com/featured/paris-baguette-and-the-soft-bigotry-of-exoticism/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/paris-baguette-and-the-soft-bigotry-of-exoticism/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:54:50 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44907 6287683602 020cd54d61 b 700x393 Paris Baguette and the Soft Bigotry of Exoticism

Credit: Anokarina on Flickr (cc)

You may have heard the news. Korean bakery Paris Baguette has opened in Paris. This was quite the ballsy move. Immediately those who know Paris Baguette inside its home territory predicted its inevitable doom. Yet I’m going to go against the odds and predict that it may actually succeed.

Even though it has greatly improved over the years, Paris Baguette has historically been one of the largest aggressors of food crimes in Korea. It would take on a western food and, rather than improve upon it, would screw it up in the name of “local taste” and serve it stale, wrapped in plastic like a cheap snack cake in a convenience store. Think of a delicate flaky pastry, light and airy with just the right amount of moistness. Then imagine that doused in cheap ketchup. In regards to sandwiches, it seemed that PB lives by the 80% rule: get it 80% right then fuck it up. Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and… Tartar Sauce. Ham, Cheese, Lettuce, and… Sweet Pickles. Croque-monsieur with ham, cheese, and… loaded with mayonnaise and raw onions. “Pizza Bread” topped with ketchup and mayonnaise. Garlic Bread sprinkled with sugar. These were the concoctions that a five-year-old would come up with if let loose in a kitchen.

3545148674 9e02577731 o 700x524 Paris Baguette and the Soft Bigotry of Exoticism

Credit: Calamity_hane on Flickr (cc)

Admittedly, PB has improved a great bit. I love their garlic baguettes, the kind without the sugar. Their wasabi and fake crab sandwiches are quite yummy. Yet I’m being easy on them like you would with a special needs student.

Paris Baguette has already expanded overseas, and people had also predicted their demise. Yet they have done better than expected. Which makes many scratch their heads. Then I read the Yelp comments. People in California and New York don’t like Paris Baguette because of its quality. They like it because it’s exotic. It’s Asian. It’s oriental. A green tea chiffon cake evokes images of pandas flying through bamboo forests and wise Mr. Miyagis giving sage ancient one-liners.

It’s this exotic orientalism that drives some westerners to believe in the mysticism of traditional oriental medicine, which is just the eastern equivalent of bleeding people with leeches. It’s this orientalism that drives adults to become devotees of the ancient art of Taekwondo, which was invented in the 20th century. It’s this orientalism that gives some Asian chefs a free ride to celebrity over other talented non-white  peers (I stress the word “some,” and those in the industry know who I’m talking about–and try to name an African-American or Mexican celebrity chef in under three seconds). There’s a whole category of porn devoted to Asian women. It’s white people who want Asians to fit this mold of being exotic ideals of ancient mysteries that drive this. And it’s an uncomfortable subject. I’m guilty of it myself. How many times have you heard westerners complain that Seoul reminds them too much of America? Underneath that complaint is this lightly bigoted expectation to have an Asian country act…

shojumaru.regular Paris Baguette and the Soft Bigotry of Exoticism

In reality, Asians are just like everyone else. Asian cultures are just as awesome and fucked up as other cultures. And I HATE using the word “Asians.” Lumping all these diverse nations under that umbrella term is, ICK, so American (see what I did there). People see a croissant with ketchup on it at an American bakery and get grossed out. They see it at an exotic Asian bakery, and it’s a novelty. Where is the person who says that shitty Paris Baguette pastries are shitty because they’re shitty?

That’s also the soft bigotry SPC (Paris Baguette’s parent company) has towards Koreans themselves, as have Korean beer makers and pizza corporations. They make cheap crappy products because they say that’s what their market wants. In other words, they’re saying that Korean consumers are no more discerning than Honey Boo-Boo’s trailer park neighbors. Koreans like ketchup pastries, but PB would not dare serve that to the more sophisticated French. Expats, including me, had gotten into the habit of dissing Korean tastes. When in reality, Koreans love great food as well. In 2011, Koreans had more access to foreign beers and loved them, demanding that domestic beer makers create better products. Bold pizza parlors opened that served traditional Italian and New York style pizzas that weren’t covered in mayonnaise and candied gimmicks. Koreans lined up outside the doors to those places. Right now sandwiches are getting popular with the Korean public–with no sweet pickles, honey mustard, or strawberries. The only reason they ate those nasty foods before was that was all they had access to.

I’m an optimist. The food scene in Seoul is booming because Korean diners have great tastes and are demanding better foods the more they are exposed to them. I’m not worried in that department. I do worry when Americans, and maybe even Europeans, give Paris Baguette’s ketchup pastries a pass because they’re exotically oriental.

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Final Wine Down Wednesday of the Season http://zenkimchi.com/featured/final-wine-down-wednesday-of-the-season/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/final-wine-down-wednesday-of-the-season/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 07:55:30 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44900 Poster 700x525 Final Wine Down Wednesday of the Season

Hey folks! This is our FINAL Wine Down Wednesday of the 2013-2014 season. But don’t worry! We will start our new season in September.

Let’s enjoy the nice evening on a lush patio in Cheongdam at The Class. As the name suggests, it’s a classy place near swanky Rodeo Street in Apgujeong. They rarely take clients like us, so this is a special treat.

LOCATION: Gangnam-gu Chungdam-dong 82-4

Here’s what we’ll have that evening.

  • Unlimited wine and beer
  • Buffet (served at 8 p.m.)
    • Fried chicken wings
    • Pasta with cream sauce
    • Green salad
    • Risotto
JP C60 RE W mediaMainHD Final Wine Down Wednesday of the Season
  • Raffle Prizes
    • Nespresso espresso machine
    • Dark Side of Seoul tickets
    • Bottles of wine and spirits
    • And more!

Here’s an idea…

LET’S MAKE THIS FUN!

If you bring a dessert, such as a cake, cookies, or a pie, you get 10 free raffle tickets!

Pre-pay W45,000 ($45)
At the door W60,000
Group ticket (4 or more) $39.99
You can pay by cash or bank transfer. NO CREDIT CARD THIS TIME.


BANK TRANSFER DETAILS:
강태안 플렌이엘

Kookmin Bank

204401-04-028904

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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“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.

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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.

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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?”

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(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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