Monday, July 04, 2011
When it comes to eating out, Korea is truly one of the best countries because of the number of choices and service hours. Nowadays
no one in Korea cooks at home any more -sorry about the exaggeration *wink* let me rephrase it – many people don’t cook at home, especially, young, single people - whether it is because they are so busy with many late nights at work or it is simply ecomonical to eat out, with grocery prices skyrocketing each year. There is a wide range of chocie for restaurants from casual everyday meals or takeouts to high- end eateries, and the best of all is delivery food. Everyday the front door of my house gets plastered with flyers and pamphlets advertising delivery meals and snacks of all kinds. The variety is so great that every time I flick thorugh 5 different pamphlets at once to choose a menu, I experience a mental torture trying to pick one out of hundreds of menus.
There is no lack of choice for sure, nor is there a limit to eating time. The businesses are usaually open till wee hours of the morning and regardless of where you are, which defines a major characteristic of Korean eating culture. They love to eat in groups in general, drink and share jokes over a pot of stew or a grill at night. So there is always food around and you will be amazed by countless neon signs of Korean style pubs and bars flashing in some hot spots. There is no lack of supplies for drinks as convenience stores sell acohol. Another thing you will notice in Korea is that many of the restaurants are fanchised so you will find branches in almost everywhere.
One of the major trends here has been chicken franchise, but not KFC! If you are a fan of chicken, Korea is the perfect place for you. There is a colloquial expression in Korean, “Chimaek”, which is an abbreviation of chicken and maekju(beer), and over the last year, there has been a booming trend of baked and barbequed chicken restaurants. The flavours range from chicken topped with a mass of garlic or thin slivers of spring onions to dare-devil chicken inducing tears and a fiery mouth, and the cooking methods go from deep fried, fried and smothered with sauce, baked with and without coating, boiled,panfried in tappanyaki style, and also there is charcoal grilled chicken. And you are not to forget the chicken roasted in the back of a van parked on the street that sell at the price of just $10 for 3 whole chickens!
I got carried away talking about food delivery, which was the title for my next post. So I will save the rest of what I want to say for another time and get back to the current topic I was talking about before I got distracted.
Out of all, the best-known chicken stew dish served in a big plate to share in a group is called “Jimdak” and the original franchise is called “Andong Jjimdak”, which is just a simply name indicating the city it originated in and the way it is cooked, jjim(steamed), dak(chicken). One thing I need to point out is that “jjim” is a misleading term because the dish actually isn’t steamed, but instead, it is actually slow-cooked in a pot with soy based seasoning, more like stew. What makes the dish unique is the fact that it is usually spicy as you can see lots of chillies in it and served with flat glass noodles thrown in.
It is a kind of dish that people never refuse and one of the first items that come into people’s mind when they just want to have a decent and satisfying meal without any risks of disappointment. Also, the fact that it goes well with anykinds of alcoholic beverages is a big plus. That night we had a Korean drink called “Maewha-su”, which is made with a combination of white wine, plum and a hint of sake, so it’s a bit sweet as you can imagine. Does sound odd? Well, it is hard to explain the taste, so I recommend that you try it one day.
I was feeling kind of guilty about using those photos I took at the restaurant where I dined because I didn’t have a great experience there; the chicken was a bit too dry and what is worse is that I found a little date tag in my bowl of radish kimchi and when we showed it to the waiter, she wasn’t even apologetic at all and said, “It is not from our restaurant.” What?????
So I took a photo of the sign board to add to my never-go list and let people know about it. It is located in the restaurant street near Shinsa Station, Seoul. If you ever end up in the area, go to any other restaurants and avoid this “Andong Jjimdak” branch.
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