Bibimbap and other delights in Seoul
A couple weeks ago, I had the great fortune to be able to visit the very cold but delightful city of Seoul in South Korea. The language barrier there is pretty intense, but luckily one language we all have in common is pointing to things we want to eat. Korean restaurants are great for many reasons. Firstly, they have pictures of all the food outside so you can just point to something and then they will bring it to you. Also, they serve you 3-5 side dishes (the famous kimchi which is pickled cabbage – I had never really liked that much until I tried it in Seoul, hot soup, pickled vegetables, etc) before you even order which is awesome. And of course the food itself is amazing – flavourful, super spicy at times, and mostly quite hot in temperature too which was wonderful considering how cold it was! Below is but a sampling of some of the amazing things we tried.
The famous Bibimbap. It’s basically a rice bowl with tons of awesome stuff on top (veggies, sometimes meat, sometimes an egg, etc). Then when you get it you have to stir it all up. We stirred it a lot but then the waitress came over, shook her head at us in disdain, and vigorously stirred it much more. So apparently you really have to dedicate yourself to the stirring experience more than we did.
Incredible steamed buns with vegetable and pork fillings at a stand in the Myeon-dong region. There was a massive line and we’d just eaten lunch but obviously we had to get them anyway (and it was so worth it – like pork buns but better)
At dinner we got these fantastic small dishes to go with the meat – a kimchi soup (hot and spicy – I was sweating from eating it haha) and on the right another version of bibimbap, but this was served in a really hot bowl so the rice was still cooking and when you stirred it up you’d get little bits of crispy rice. So delicious.
A centerpiece of Korean dining is of course the famous Korean barbeque, where they cook a bunch of meat over a grill at your table. And by “they cook” I mean they put a lot of raw meat in front of you and then you actually cook it. I am not a meat lover as you all know, but this pork was really delicious.
Street food fare. On the left is a Korean pancake (kind of like a scallion pancake but potentially even better as it has lots of different vegetables in it and also sometimes includes seafood as well. On the right are just some basic veggie dumplings but man were they good, especially after trekking all over the city and up the mountains in Namsan Park in the middle.
Food is so reasonably priced in Seoul and the best part of it is that you can walk into anywhere off the street and eat delicious things (which is good because it’s not like I could find an address of highly rated restaurants or anything). There is definitely far more to do in Seoul than just eat – there are some fascinating cultural attractions and mind-boggingly large amounts of shopping, just to name a couple. But rest assured that if you ever visit the city you will be well fed no matter what you decide to do!