SOUTH KOREA: Seoul Food is Soul Food

South Korea Seoul Food Danhae
To truly experience one's culture is to taste their authentic food. This is very true as we went to explore Seoul, South Korea. As we look for a place to eat, we decided that we would want to relax and feel the typical Korean food service so we entered a Korean restaurant near our hotel. A typical Korean culture we practiced as we enter is leaving our shoes by the doorway before entering in the establishment (a good relief to our tired feet), we're ushered in a private dining room and we sat on the floor just like Japanese/Chinese style (our sitting position is more for our leg's comfort). While waiting for our food to be served, we appreciated the Korean ambiance of the place. Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables, fish and meat.

South Korea Seoul Food Danhae
We ordered only two main dishes, the Jang-er Jeongsik(broiled eel served in stone pot rice with side dishes) and Ori Tang(duck soup) and we have like 15 served side dishes(bonchon), all with chili sauce. Traditional Korean meals are noted for the number of bonchon which accompany steam-cooked short-grain rice. Every meal is accompanied by numerous bonchon as what we have experienced. Kimchi, a fermented usually spicy vegetable dish is also commonly served at every meal and is one of the best known Korean dishes. Though all kimchis served were fresh and tasty, we were not so used in eating fermented veggies, aside from the fact that it is really too many for our appetite, so we were not able to finish all those kimchis but we definitely love the mood of the surrounding, so intimately relaxing and the food is deliciously enjoyable!

South Korea Seoul Food Bulgogi Brothers Myeongdong
As we walk around Myeongdong area, we take the chance to taste bulgogi, a famous korean dish. Bulgogi, which means fire meat in Korean, is made from thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef served with kimchis. In the Restaurant we entered, Bulgogi Brothers, we were the one to do the cooking which adds-up to the excitement and thrilling experience. Before cooking, the meat is marinated to enhance its flavour and tenderness with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper and other ingredients such as scallions, onions or mushrooms, especially shiitake. No worries because the restaurant will provide you the well marinated sirloin already.

South Korea Seoul Food Bulgogi Brothers MyeongdongBulgogi is traditionally grilled, but what we did was pan-cooking which we enjoyed so much. The dish was served to us with a side of lettuce and other leafy vegetable, which is used to wrap a slice of cooked meat, and then eaten as a whole.

South Korea Seoul Food Bulgogi Brothers MyeongdongSoups are also a common part of a Korean meal and are served as part of the main course rather than at the beginning or the end of the meal. Soups known as Guk are often made with meat, shellfish and vegetables. Once you're in Korea, you shouldn't miss the chance to taste another signature Korean dish, the Bibimbap. The word literally means "mixed meal." Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sautéed and seasoned vegetables and chili pepper paste. A raw or fried egg and sliced meat(usually beef) are common additions. The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It can be served either cold or hot.

South Korea Seoul Food Insadong
Korean food is also highly influenced by Japan. Like Japan, a common traditional food in Korea is just plain fish paired with rice, soup and a number of side dishes and appetizers. This is because of the fact that both Japan and Korea's main source of food was the Pacific Ocean and the crops they can grow on their land. This is still evident in Korea as we have experienced in a restaurant in Insadong.

South Korea Seoul Food Omuto Tomato
Spare ribs omurice and porkchop omurice from Omuto Tomato

While we were in the airport, we found a restaurant called Omuto Tomato which serves rice omelette or Omurice. Omurice originated in Japan and widely embraced in Korea. Another food we found is a chocolate-covered biscuit stick in boxes which is pretty much a Pocky-clone. Again, more evidence of Japan's influence in Korea.