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Last week I finally made it out to the Taco Bell in Itaewon, Seoul.  I’d walked past it several times since it opened but one look at the line going out the door and down the street put me off.  I really wasn’t in need of 100% nuclear processed fast food.

Julianne and I were there again last Thursday, and walking past Taco Bell, when the line was only a couple bodies out the door–we decided to go for it.

(Sorry about the quality of pics–I was using my point and shoot camera.)

I quickly realized that in spite of the small number of people that the wait was going to be a long one.  The staff are all still very new to their jobs, and I imagine with the insane lines that there hasn’t been much time for the manager to train the staff as they’re always knee-deep in orders with impatient customers clamoring for their food.

Then there are the Koreans who have never eaten Taco Bell and have to figure out what they want to order . . . asking questions about the food, and not knowing what they’re ordering . . . yeah, that takes up time too.

Add to this some people place huge orders for take out . . . and yeah, even with a small number of people in front of you it can take a long time to get your food.

While waiting for our order, I chatted with an American who works on the base nearby.  He’d only been in Korea for four months and was astounded by how slow the orders were being filled.  We killed a few minutes talking about living in Korea, and I told him how there was another Mexican food place just across the street from Taco Bell.  It’s more expensive but the quality of the food, in my opinion, is much better than Taco Bell.  That being said, NOBODY goes to Taco Bell for good Mexican food cause Taco Bell food falls into a category all its own, lol.

Oh yeah, I saw this poster while waiting in line to order–nice “English.”

I also mentioned “On The Border” (there’s one in COEX Mall, for example), and how they seem to have the best Mexican food in Korea–period.  It was nice to be able to help out a guy who was new to Korea, and he seemed to really appreciate the food tips.

Finally, after nearly 20 minutes, our food was ready.  One thing that surprised me was that the girl calling out orders that were ready was doing so only in Korean.  This is kind of unusual in Itaewon cause there are so many foreigners who are customers.  The girl would only say the order in English after saying it in Korean several times–yet the ratio of foreign to Korean customers was 50-50,  and sometimes more foreign customers were in the waiting area.  Oh well.

After chowing down on the food . . . I felt like crap.  I haven’t had that much processed food in a long time.  I mean, McDonalds and KFC are one thing, but Taco Bell, like I said, is a category all to itself.

Anyways, I don’t think I’ll be eating there again for a long time.  It was nice to be able to have Taco Bell in Korea, but I’d rather spend a little more money and get some good Mexican food.

J


Last night while Julianne and I were in Itaewon eating some yummy Greek food we also went to check out What the book? (click on the link for pictures, a description, and directions) used bookstore.  After that we dropped in to the  Foreign Food Mart to see if they had anything new and Julianne saw this in one of the coolers against the back wall . . . HOLY COW!  A&W Rootbeer in Korea?!  Awesome!

Looking around at all the different stuff that was in this particular fridge we also noticed that they have Canada Dry Ginger Ale–also something that is hard to find in Korea.  A friend of mine says she can get it in E-mart out in Wonju, but I haven’t seen it in other E-marts (though I haven’t gone into an E-mart in several months so that may have changed).

The other thing we noticed was that the owners have renovated the store and opened up a huge area in the back so they can stock more merchandise . . . the store actually seems organized now whereas before stuff was piled on the shelves and sometimes on the floor too due to lack of space.  (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the new section.)

If you’re new to Korea the Foreign Food Mart and What the book? are two places you DEFINITELY want to visit in Itaewon.  If you live outside Seoul and make a weekend trip into town buy a cooler with ice packs and pick up stuff to take back with you on the bus or train at the end of the weekend.  You can get things like REAL CHEESE, dill pickles (my personal favorite), cereals, granola bars, spices, and more.

Check it out.

J

Julianne and I went out for Greek food last night in Itaewon.  I didn’t bring my camera with me, yes, shocking, but the food was so good I took a picture with my phone camera.  We ordered lemon chicken and it was amazingly good.  We also got some cheese thing appetizer, sorry don’t remember the name, and it was fantastic too.

Go the street running behind the Hamilton hotel, and with the hotel behind you turn left and start walking.  After passing the “Holy Chow” Chinese restaurant and walking a bit further (about a block) you’ll see a Greek restaurant on the second floor on the left called Santorini’s.

Definitely worth a visit if you want some Greek food–that, or just don’t feel like eating rice and kimchi for the thousandth time.
J

Tonight Julianne and I wanted to eat something other than our usual fare so we headed to Jonggak Station.  Inside the station we then walked into the World Food Court to go to Namaste, our favorite Indian food restaurant.

We ordered the “Couple’s Set B” and I then killed some time playing with my Canon ES-71II 50mm lens . . . I love the bokum (background blur) that it can produce.   I put the F stop at 2.0 and really love the portrait shot I got of Julianne.

Julianne then took a shot of me . . . I enjoy taking the pics much more than being the subject, lol.

The set comes with 2 lasi . . . we both ordered strawberry–they were very very good.

The only item in set B that I, well, it’s not that I think it’s bad or anything, I just don’t get how it is an Indian salad . . . the raw seafood (mini octopus, muscles) in it don’t really strike me as Indian cuisine.  The salad is the only item in the set that strikes me as a deviant hybrid that somehow snuck onto the menu.  All that being said, it’s not bad to munch on as you wait for the other entrees.

And then the samosas came . . . I love these things.

I took this shot to show the contents: “a savory filling of spiced potatoes, onion, peas, coriander, lentils, or sometimes fresh paneer (from wikipedia).

After that came a dish with two giant shrimp, and two pieces of tandoori chicken–awesome.

And then came the naan bread and lamb saag–seriously, this stuff is so amazingly good that words cannot describe the luscious, tender, juicy, savory, just spiced right, taste of heaven . . . okay, so I tried, lol.

lamb saag

Julianne and I ordered garlic naan to have with our lamb saag . . . you rip up the naan into small pieces and then put some saag on it . . . oh soooo good.

There are something like 6 options you can choose from for dessert.  Tonight we chose yogurt with fruit.  It was really good though I would have liked the fruit to be fresh (I suspect it was from a can).  That being said, for the price it was pretty good.

For 45,000won the Couple Set B is definitely worth the price.  Add to this the service was truly top notch.  Our water glasses were constantly being filled, our plates cleared, the table wiped down with a clean cloth and cleaner at one point when it got dirty, and our needs were attended to by polite and professional staff.

I highly recommend you visit Namaste in Jonggak Station’s World Food Court (just above Bandi & Luni’s bookstore) if you want some Indian food when you’re in Seoul.

My last thought on the evening is that my Canon 50mm is now my favorite food lens.  I think I’ll be using it more for that in the future.

J

Last night Julianne and I went to find a new (not sure how new, but it’s new) Outback Steakhouse that her co-teacher found online for us.  Apparently it’s only 2 blocks or so down from Jongno Tower.

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The service was fantastic.  Our server spoke pretty good English, and was very attentive and checked on us periodically and always seemed to know when we needed a refill or something.

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Here are the hours in case you want to go.

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Go to the opposite side of the street across from Jongno Tower/Jonggak Station to the historical structure with the bell inside it (you can’t miss it).  With the tower and bell behind you head down the street until you come to the redmango store . . .

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Look to the left of the redmango store and you’ll see a small doorway with stairs leading down . . . the Outback Steakhouse sign is practically invisible to people unfamiliar with the fact that it’s there.

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Here’s the tiny entrance that leads down to the restaurant.  When you get to the bottom of the stairs the door in on the left.

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Enjoy,

J

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