25 July, 2011

Pork Pancakes and Galbijjim at Dong In Dong

I am a fan of Seoul Eats and I have been wanting to go to Dong In Dong ever since I read the restaurant review posted on the blog. The poster, Dan, says "They serve Daegu (SE Korea) style food that is spicy, filling, and flavorful." And he is right. The food is very spicy. While it was perfect for me, my Korean friend was suffering a little. We ordered the pancakes and the galbijjim which were talked about in the article. Both were fantastic. We also ordered a pitcher of makgeolli (Korean rice alcohol), which was really great for cooling the fires of the galbijjim.

Galbijjim is Korean style braised short ribs. The short ribs are slowly cooked for a long time in a sauce until the meat is so tender it basically falls off the bone. The sauce is not normal spicy, but here they they cook the ribs in a flavorful spicy garlic filled sauce. It's so great you'll be dreaming about returning within days.

Spicy Galbijjim

The pork pancakes were also good. They had really good flavor and also were a good break from the spicy galbijjim. All of this was more than enough food for two people and we ended up taking some of the pancakes home, which were a good snack later on. The restaurant was nice enough to include some dipping sauce to go as well.

Pork Pancakes

Dong In Dong is great. I highly recommend it. I can't wait to go back.

Directions: Sinsa Station (Line 3): Go out exit 6 pass Beans Bin coffee and go right. It's a little ways down on the right.

21 July, 2011

(More Than) One Night In Bangkok

I went to Bangkok lat week for a few days and as usual, had a really good time. Well, for the most part anyway. It started off not so well because of some scamming taxi drivers and some rude hotel staff. The taxi driver problems are, unfortunately, somewhat normal, but hotel staff in Thailand are usually always nice and friendly. I am happy to say that after the whole trip, these incidents were the exception and not the norm.

Bangkok was Bangkok. It's a big city that comes with big city issues: overcrowded, lots of tourist, big city attitude, etc. Anyway, despite being the rainy season I really lucked out and had very little rain.

Stayed at the Davis Hotel. I've now stayed there three times. I have to say I think the quality of the hotel is slipping somewhat. However, I still enjoyed my stay there. The hotel is located a little far from the Sky Train and the small road gets really jammed up at times, which makes taking a taxi long. I like this hotel for what you get. You can get a pretty nice room for a very nice price. This is because Bangkok is a pretty inexpensive city. I also like it because it is located near two of my favorite restaurants.


Lemongrass is a place I found last summer right near Emporium shopping mall on Sukhumvit Soi 24 (Sky Train: Phrom Phong). They do a really nice job with there Thai food. They are a little on the more expensive side for Bangkok, but the quality is good and the food is authentic. One time I overheard a local explaining to his dinner quest that "this restaurant challenges foreigners because the food is authentically spicy." And he was right. Just then I noticed two Brits next to me suffering from the spiciness of their food.

Lemongrass' spicy red curry without coconut milk is face scorchingly hot, but oh so good. Their green coconut curry can also be fairly spicy. Since I love spicy food this is a big plus in my book.
The quality of this restaurant has declined a little, but the food is still good sometimes.

Thong Lee

Thong Lee has one of my favorite Thai dishes of all time: pork fried in shrimp paste. Their food is of good quality and their prices are fantastically cheap. You can eat a lot here twice for what you pay at Lemongrass. It's no frills and the presentation is minimal. It's small and looks a little old (been there for 60 years). But, that all makes it my kind of place. Basically, Thong Lee is a small mom and pop restaurant where the food tastes very homemade, kind of like your mom or grandma made it.

Pictured above is Tom Yum, Red Curry, and Pork Fried in Shrimp Paste.

I've also had the green curry and the sweet fried noodles. All the dishes here are great. If someone asked me what my top 5 places I wanted to eat where location didn't matter, Thong Lee would be on that list. It's located about halfway up Sukhumvit Soi 20.

I also enjoyed some pretty good activities; visited the Moon Bar @ Vertigo (first pic), located on the roof of the Banyan Tree Hotel and listen to live jazz music at the Bamboo Bar in the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel (below).

Despite my body's aversion to heat and humidity, I really like Thailand. This visit was short, but I will return soon. Till next time...

20 July, 2011

Korean Grilled Eel in Ichon

I've been wanting to try Korean grilled eel for a long time. I have been a sushi eel fan for a long time now and after reading this article on Seoul Eats, I have been eager to go eat some here in Korea. Unfortunately, I have not been able to make it to an eel place the last two visits.

Luckily, today my friend suggested we meet up at an eel restaurant in Ichon. Hurray! I finally got to have eel.

Eel in Korean is Jangeo (pronounced Jang-oh). It is popular in the summer and is supposed to be good for stamina.

The restaurant doesn't really have a name. The sign reads Jangeo gui, which literally means grilled eel. I think the place is pretty well known because they had posters outside showing them being on multiple tv shows.

So, how was it? It was great! The eel was perfectly grilled and the special soy sauce (kind of like teriyaki sauce) was rich and sweet. It is very similar to Japanese grilled eel, but I think the taste is much better. It's more rich and savory.

The eel is 22,000 won per serving and comes with a great eel soup, side dishes (banchan), lettuce and other things for wrapping. In Korea it is the norm to eat grilled meat in lettuce wraps. Along with the lettuce, the eel comes with pickled radish leaves, fresh ginger, fresh slices of garlic, and gochujang (a fermented hot pepper paste). Honestly, the gochujang and garlic overpowered the taste of the eel and I found it was best to wrap the eel with only a little of the fresh ginger.

The full spread.

The grilled eel.

The eel soup.

I really enjoyed the grilled eel. It was really a light meal and I can see why it is popular for summertime. When I was finished I felt full but not stuffed. I also felt like it gave me a pick-me-up so, maybe it is good for stamina. I think I am totally hooked. I will certainly be going for more eel soon.

Directions: Ichon Station (line 4): Go out exit 5 and walk about 10 minutes. Its just past a Domino's Pizza on the second floor.

06 July, 2011

Le Saigon

If a there was a contest for which restaurant gets to be graced with my presence the most while I am in Seoul, then Le Saigon is certainly in the lead and may well run away with the crown. For the past few months I have started to become mildly obsessed with Vietnam. Not sure why, but thoughts of visiting the country and eating Vietnamese foods have been occupying my mind since about the middle of spring. I have even read through a large portion of the section of my Lonley Planet Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos book as well as Graham Greene's "The Quiet American."
Anyway, I knew Le Saigon was here because I ate here with a friend when I was here in April. However, I thought the Phở was just good, but not great. It certainly was better than some of the bad Pho (as in not Phở) chains I've tried around Seoul on previous visits. Mostly I was unhappy with the noodles quality on my last visit.
Maybe it was an off day (for them or me) because I am happy to say that my opinion has changed. I have now had the Phở twice and I was quite happy both times. I got the set menu A which comes with fresh spring rolls and a choice of beef or chicken Phở (I will certainly never get the chicken). The spring rolls are really tasty, filled with fresh herbs and vegetables. I was not happy with the dipping sauces though. They seemed to lack flavor.

Beef Phở

Fresh Spring Rolls

Below is my most recent lunch: Phở, fresh spring rolls, and Hanoi beer. The beer was okay. I'll have to try the Saigon beer next time.

On two other occasions I have ordered their pork bánh mì for take out. Bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich created out of French colonialism. Le Saigon's are very tasty and worth a try. I'll get some pictures up after my next visit.

Directions: Noksapyeong station (line 6) exit 2. Go straight and take the underpass. Go left to get back up and it's right there.

Budda's Belly

I have been to Buddha's Belly in Gyeongnidan twice now. They make some pretty good Thai curries. I tend to stick to curries when I go for Thai food, and I am a big green curry fan. I tried the green and red curries on my visits. I really liked the green curry, but I thought the red curry lacked something and was just okay. The vegetables were not exactly what I would call traditional, but I've seen other Thai restaurants use them as well. I especially liked the pumpkin (not the jack-o-lantern kind) in the green curry. Another bonus was finding real kaffir lime leaf pieces in my curry. The fresh (live) leaves have become hard to import in some places recently.
From what I could hear from the kitchen the cooks are Thai, a good sign I guess. Although I have had bad Thai food made by Thai people and some very good Thai food made by some non-Thai people. My only real complaints for Buddha's Belly are that they don't give enough rice and they don't have pork. I'm not really a fan of beef and I get too much chicken in Switzerland.
Directions: Noksapyeong station (line 6) exit 2. Go straight and take the underpass. Go left to get back up and it's right there.