ZenKimchi http://zenkimchi.com Exploring Korean food since 2004 Sun, 26 Oct 2014 02:35:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 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 Anthony Bourdain in Korea? http://zenkimchi.com/featured/anthony-bourdain-in-korea/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/anthony-bourdain-in-korea/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com?p=45921&preview_id=45921 wpid kfood 02 Anthony Bourdain in Korea?

Well, the secret’s out.

From tweets and Instagrams, Anthony Bourdain has announced his presence in Seoul, confirmed by Food Republic.

Team ZenKimchi may or may not have been working the past month or so, along with others Nari Kye has dubbed the “Dream Team,” on setting up and executing this production. I am not at liberty to divulge much more. But already this is looking really good.



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Seoul Food Buzz: It’s Jeon-eo Season! http://zenkimchi.com/featured/seoul-food-buzz-its-jeon-eo-season/ http://zenkimchi.com/featured/seoul-food-buzz-its-jeon-eo-season/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 05:28:30 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=45875 Here is the latest talk on ZenKimchi’s Facebook groups.

Restaurant Buzz Seoul

 Seoul Food Buzz: Its Jeon eo Season!

Libertine Bar and Kitchen. Credit: James Yu

  • Brian tries out a new American-Chinese shop, Panda Express. Yes, that Panda Express. It’s in the food court at the Lotte Department Store in Myeong-dong. The verdict so far has been greasy and good.
  • Maloney’s does these Monday homemade specials. I was there on a Monday and asked the owner, Brendan Maloney himself, what that day’s special was. Cuban Sandwich. But the pork was still roasting in the oven. When I tried it, it was just like how I remembered Cuban Sandwiches back in Alabama (we’re close to Miami, right?). Other people tried it, and it became a hit and a regular menu staple.
  • Libertine Bar and Kitchen, run by Chef Drew Keith, is putting out some jaw dropping food porn stars these days.
  • The American BBQ trend continues with the opening of Holy Smoke in the HBC. Fat Girl’s review is here.
  • Route 66 in Itaewon is becoming the darling of the Food Lovers groups. Jo Mooney raves about their chicken wings.

Mexican Food Lovers Seoul

 Seoul Food Buzz: Its Jeon eo Season!

Coreanos Tacos. Credit: David Kim

Pizza Lovers Seoul

10608574 10152236632235493 8722449414309491817 o Seoul Food Buzz: Its Jeon eo Season!

The scary Domino’s World Cup pizza IRL. Credit: Max Watson

Sandwich Lovers Seoul

 Seoul Food Buzz: Its Jeon eo Season!

Reuben from Gramercy. Credit: Brian J Ro

Booze Lovers Seoul

Korean Food Lovers Seoul

 Seoul Food Buzz: Its Jeon eo Season!

Jeon-eo. Credit: John Kim

  • John Kim tells us about a 24-hour Jeon-eo shop in Hannam-dong, SoYangGang 소양강. Jeon-eo is “gizzard shad” in English, but that’s an awful name. Around this time of year, they get fatty, but their bones have hardened yet, so you can eat them bones and all. They have a mildly sweet flavor to them. Since you can eat the bones, they’re not fileted but just cut up. And eating them grilled whole is a special treat. Jeon-eo season is usually in October, but it started early this year.
  • So, the place near Linus’ BBQ supposedly has good Janchi Guksu.
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Grilled Intestines in Gangnam–Yeontabal http://zenkimchi.com/restaurants/korea/cuisine/korean/grilled-intestines-in-gangnam-yeontabal/ http://zenkimchi.com/restaurants/korea/cuisine/korean/grilled-intestines-in-gangnam-yeontabal/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 02:45:57 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=45688 Location: Gangnam, Sinsa, Jongno
Cuisine: Korean BBQ
Reservations: Recommended
Suggested Items: Hanu ribeye

Other Amenities: English menu, Valet parking

Phone: Check map


* Please help complete this review by adding information in the comments

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Myongwolgwan 명월관 http://zenkimchi.com/restaurants/korea/cuisine/korean/myongwolgwan-%eb%aa%85%ec%9b%94%ea%b4%80/ http://zenkimchi.com/restaurants/korea/cuisine/korean/myongwolgwan-%eb%aa%85%ec%9b%94%ea%b4%80/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:24:11 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=45642 Location: Sheraton Walkerhill
Cuisine: Korean, Fine Dining
Reservations: Recommended
Suggested Items: Beef Galbi, Yukhwe

Other Amenities: English spoken, Valet parking

Phone: 02-450-4595


* Please help complete this review by adding information in the comments

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PIERRE GAGNAIRE à Séoul http://zenkimchi.com/restaurants/korea/cuisine/european/french/pierre-gagnaire-a-seoul-2/ http://zenkimchi.com/restaurants/korea/cuisine/european/french/pierre-gagnaire-a-seoul-2/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 07:57:52 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=45637 Location: City Hall, Lotte Hotel
Cuisine: French, Korean, Fine Dining
Reservations: Recommended
Suggested Items: ANYTHING

Other Amenities: English, French spoken, Valet parking

Phone: 02-317-7181


* Please help complete this review by adding information in the comments

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NEW TOUR: Simon Lee’s Korean War Tour http://zenkimchi.com/announcements/new-tour-simon-lees-korean-war-tour/ http://zenkimchi.com/announcements/new-tour-simon-lees-korean-war-tour/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 06:10:55 +0000 http://zenkimchi.com/?p=44949 We are happy to announce our latest tour. Here’s a description.

Korean War Tour Meal 700x512 NEW TOUR: Simon Lees Korean War Tour

Unique Way to Experience History

They call it “The Forgotten War,” but its echoes are very much present in modern day South Korea. Military enthusiast and former Korean Air Force pilot Simon Lee shared riveting tales of a brutal war that ripped a country apart, including accounts from his own family. Walk through the Korean War Memorial and see true artifacts that bring this era to life. At the end of the tour, everyone enjoys a lunch of Budae Jjigae, an American-influenced stew that was borne from this era.


Tour includes experiencing the following:

  • Learning the causes, major battles, and aftermath of the Korean War
  • Personal family anecdotes that make the war feel closer
  • Exploring the Korean War Memorial museum
  • Seeing and touching authentic tanks, planes, and equipment used in the Korean War on both sides
  • Boarding a ship that was shot up by North Koreans in 2002, a truly scary experience
  • Lunch of Budae Jjigae (Army Base Stew)


This tour is great for

  • History buffs
  • Military enthusiasts
  • Families looking for an enriching excursion
  • Foodies


Wear comfortable shoes. The ticket price includes all food.

Length of tour: approx. 3 hours
Type: Walking indoors and outdoors, meal
Food types for special diet consideration: beef, gluten (can be removed upon request), pork, slightly spicy

Tours run most Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, starting at 11 a.m.

To learn more and to sign up for the tour


A French cuisine trained chef, served in the Korean Army’s very unique unit, former bush and commercial pilot, a military history maniac and big-time military enthusiast.

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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, 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 are 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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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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