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It’s INSANELY HOT and HUMID in Seoul right now, so Julianne and I reluctantly left the air conditioned coolness of our apartment to go get some dinner.  We decided to get some Korean food, and I ordered ‘mul nangmyeon’ (water noodles’).  This is what it looks like before you cut the noodles up into shorter lengths and then mix the other ingredients and hot sauce together.  Tonight the noodles had some peanuts sprinkled over them which I’ve had before a few times although I don’t think that it’s typical to see that.

I don’t have much of a problem eating noodles with chopsticks now, but when I first came to Korea noodles were probably the most tricky for me to manage . . . but I’d say after my first year of practicing I got the hang of it.  Oh yeah, watching how other Koreans eat noodles with their chopsticks gave me some tricks too.

We also ordered some ‘gogi mandu’ (meat dumplings).  They’re a little spicy but I like spicy food and don’t find them to be very hot at all.

And, of course, with the meal come the typical side dishes of kimchi, and a few others.  Hmmm . . . kimchi.  I like kimchi, and it always kills me to see other Koreans who are shocked to see a foreigner munching away on it as he waits for his food to arrive at the table.

Well, time to keep watching the best of season 5’s “Deadliest Catch” on Discovery Channel.  I really hope we can still get access to Discovery Channel in China!

J

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Last week was Julianne’s birthday and I decided that we’d try to find a good dakgalbi place in Seoul.  Now this might seem like a fairly easy mission but factor into this that Julianne and I lived in Chuncheon for nearly 2 years and kind of consider ourselves to be connoisseurs, lol.  A while back Julianne and I were in the Sinchon station area of Seoul and we came across Chuncheon Myungdong Dakgalbi restaurant . . . and we made a mental note to try it sometime.  I took Julianne here for her birthday dinner last week.

The restaurant is only a few blocks away from Yonsei University (one of the top 3 in Korea that all students want to go to) so there were mostly university students in the restaurant.  The wait staff were very good and constantly checked on us to see that everything was okay.

When the platter of dakgalbi ingredients was brought to our table and put in the pan Julianne and I exchanged puzzled looks . . . the amount of food we saw was maybe 40% of what you’d see for two people in Chuncheon in a dakgalbi street restaurant (yes, there actually is a street of dakgalbi restaurants in Chuncheon).

After our server left we talked it over and decided to get a third serving added because we were both hungry.

After our server added the extra serving and mixed it up we were chatting about how long it had been since we’d eaten dakgalbi when we both realized that there were no rice tube cakes in the dakgalbi . . . apparently at this restaurant you have to individually add ingredients like the rice tubes versus in Chuncheon they just automatically put them in for you.  Hmmm . . .

Here are the ‘rice tubes’ as I call them.

Eventually the dakgalbi was finished cooking, and I served Julianne and I our first bowls of dakgalbi.  It was really good . . . but unfortunately not as good as authentic Chuncheon dakgalbi.  Julianne and I, however, both enjoyed the dakgalbi at this restaurant and would recommend anyone in Seoul who wants to try dakgalbi to come here.

All that being said, though, if you have the time we’d suggest that if you want the AUTHENTIC Chuncheon dakgalbi experience that you should jump on an express bus to Chuncheon (it only takes about 50 minutes now to get there from Seoul with the new expressway) and go to dakgalbi street restaurants . . . here are two posts of mine from when Julianne and I were in Chuncheon.

Chicken dokgalbi in Chuncheon, South Korea–up close and personal

2008 September Chicken Dokgalbi Dinner

Yikes . . . after looking at the pictures in those two posts I realize that my photography skills have improved just a wee bit, lol.  Anyways, here’s a closeup shot.

Two guys sitting next to us had rice and cheese after they were done their dokgalbi so we decided to follow suit.  The cheese was real mozzarella and tasted fabulous!

After dinner we decided to walk around the area a bit as the streets were lined with cherry blossom trees.

This guy was walking towards me as I was taking this picture.  He paused, stared up at the tree, and then started rapping, lol.  Yeah, he was practicing while walking around . . .

The neon lights of the shops and restaurants made the cherry blossoms take on some interesting tints.

After about 20 minutes of walking around taking pictures Julianne and I were ready to head home and relax.  I was happy that Julianne enjoyed her birthday, and that the dakgalbi satisfied her cravings (and mine too).

Now we just have to pick a weekend to do a run down to Chuncheon . . .

J

Directions: Walk out of Sinchon Station towards Yonsei University.  About four blocks from the station you’ll come to an intersection, turn right.  About two blocks down you’ll see the restaurant on your left.

Walking around the Kwang Jang Market area Julianne and I saw this mandu shop.  These are always very conspicuous as massive clouds of steam pour out of the openings of the shop where they have the steamers.

If you come to Korea definitely try some mandu (there are many varieties).  They’re really awesome.  Be careful, though, if you’re not into spicy foods as some are filled with peppers or kimchi, etc, and can be pretty hot.

If you’re Korean and reading this please be aware that some foreigners love spicy food, some are kind of okay with it, and some really dislike it.  All too often I hear Koreans using the stereotype that foreigners don’t like spicy food–and it’s just not true.  I LOVE SPICY FOOD, and for example when I’m eating bibimbap I always put on tons of spicy red pepper sauce . . . and it’s highly amusing to watch the other Koreans I’m eating with all freak out and try to tell me I’m using too much, and that’s it’s spicy.  I appreciate their concern, but really, I LOVE SPICY FOOD!

Hmmmm . . . I think I’ll get some mandu tomorrow for lunch.

J

Tonight Julianne and I went to our new favorite BBQ galbi place in Dongdaemun, Seoul, South Korea.  I brought my Canon D400 and Canon 50mm lens to take some pics . . .

One thing that still makes me nervous EVERY TIME I eat Korean BBQ is when the server brings out the coals in a bin that sits in the center of your table.  I have to wonder what happens if she drops it or somehow tips it while moving it into the recessed holder in the table . . . I pretty much turn into a live wire of ready to jump, duck, and dodge the coals if something happens . . .

Anyways, here’s a pic of the coals . . .

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Putting the meat on the grill and cutting it up into small pieces with scissors.  Scissors are used to cut meat in Korea, and most foreign teachers seem to embrace this practical use of scissors that isn’t very common back in their home countries.

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Julianne is now a pro at manipulating the meat with the tongs in one hand, and the scissors in the other, while being quick enough to avoid cooking the bottoms of her hands.  The heat from the coals is pretty intense.

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Spicy tofu vegetable spicy soup served at a nuclear boil temperature.

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One of the many side dishes you’ll typically see with this meal.

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Gochuchang–‘red pepper paste.’  Julianne and I LOVE this stuff!

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Garlic . . . you can put it on the BBQ or slip it into the lettuce leaves you also put the meat and other side dish items in to make a lettuce leaf wrap with meat and other odds and ends inside.

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Salad side dish with sauce.

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Broccoli with a sweetish and tangy red sauce with a bit of red pepper sauce mixed in too (I think, not sure about the last part there).

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Rice comes in a stainless steel bowl with a lid.  Be wary of how hot this might be if it’s your first time eating in at a restaurant in Korea–sometimes they can be pretty hot.  Sitting on top of my rice is a spoonful of the nuclear hot soup that I wanted to let cool down before eating it.

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I was really happy to see Julianne eating solid food and then not running for the bathroom because she’s been sick for the last 10 days–really sick.

Earlier today Julianne and I headed out to get some lunch.  It was the first time she’d been out of the apartment in FIVE DAYS.  While walking to a nearby restaurant Julianne found this gigantic fall leaf, wow!

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After a great BBQ dinner and some blogging . . . it’s time to watch some TV, relax, and snuggle with the still semi-sick girlfriend . . .

J

Julianne and I headed over to the Dongdaemun Market area tonight to eat some BBQ galbi (pork ribs).  On the way there we passed by the Disco Ride.

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The Disco Ride seems to be a very popular ride for teens and 20-something Koreans . . .

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It has lasers . . .

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I like this cropped close-up cause you can see everyone freaking out . . . hehehe.

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The ride also has different speeds and rotation angles . . . this is slow speed.

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Medium speed . . .

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Fast . . .

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After watching the ride for a bit, and listening to the screaming and laughing Koreans, we headed to the BBQ place.

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The heat off the coals was brutal because the door to the restaurant was open and pulling it towards the door . . . I put the metal chimney down as low as I could so that some of the heat and smoke would be sucked away from me . . . the sacrifices one makes to have good galbi–hmmmm, galbi.

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Just in case you haven’t seen it before here’s a pic of using scissors to cut the meat Korean style.

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The food was good . . .

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Walking home we passed the Disco Jump again, so of course I had to take more pictures.  This time two guys were in the middle . . . I got excited cause I thought they’d BOTH be doing flips and jumps in the center . . . I was disappointed!

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I walked up onto the exit platform to try and get some better shots from a more elevated position.  I only had my Sigma 10-22 mm lens with me and was wishing I had my Sigma 18-200mm lens so I could do some zoomed close-ups.  Maybe some other time.

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The guy operating the ride can also hit air compressors that bounce the ride up and down really hard.  You can see the people who were unable to hold on to the railings on the floor here, lol.

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After taking more pics of the ride Julianne and I began to walk home.  We passed Dongdaemun Gate on the way . . .

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And then this behemoth of a machine . . . anybody know what it’s used for? Some kind of concrete removal chewing machine maybe? They’re replacing all the sidewalks in my neighborhood, and repaving sections of the streets, so maybe it’s used for that.

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Well, time to go to bed in a little while . . .

J

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