Seoul Eats Kimchi Jjigae, South Korea

The thing about Seoul is that although they are very cosmopolitan, in a sense, like how they are very much influenced by American culture (quintessentially American sports like baseball and basketball are huge here, the roads are numbered the same way as in America) and food is so international (there's an Italian eatery at every street, American franchisee steakhouses at every mall and French bakery cafe at every corner), it's really difficult for a foreigner to get around in Seoul because everything is in Korean. It's sometimes frustrating if you don't speak the language because it's just so unfamiliar. That said, Koreans are really a very helpful bunch of people, even if the way they speak Korean is a little "rough". Even if they usually sound like they are "barking at" or scolding each other, they really are very polite and nice. All you have to do is ask for help and even if they themselves don't speak English, they will even call their friends on the phone, who can speak English, to translate. Now, that's what I call going the extra mile.

Like for example, this restaurant that we went to for dinner, situated along a particular street lined full of food places just round the corner from the Ritz, (which is apparently dubbed "Restaurant Street" by the locals). We couldn't tell the English name of the restaurant because everything is in Korean hangul, including the signboard and menu. The staff only spoke a smattering of English, and so we relied on hand gestures, pictures, rudimentary Korean (because the Fiance's Korean is terrible) and pointed at the menu to get the food we wanted. Although the restaurant specialises in Korean bbq, The Fiance was thrilled to discover that they served his favourite Korean dish of kimchi jjigae.

The Anchovies was salty, pungent and softened.

We didn't quite take to the Pickled Green Chillis, seasoned very differently from our local pickled green chillis. This was done a little too sour.

The Spiced Radish was not bad, not too soft, crunchy, piquant and tangy.

The Spinach Kimchi was nice, with just the right amount of spiciness and a little sweetened.

This was deceptively good, the Omelette looked simple but was fried with some kind of garlic and soy bean seasoning, so it was aromatic and tasty.

The Fiance called this the best Kimchi Jjigae (5,000 Won) he's had in his life (he put a picture of this as his facebook profile picture for months after this!), with the unique addition of sardines into the stew. The stew had a robust rich flavour, and a heady spicy aroma.

Chunks of decadent pork belly lent flavour, while the clean plain taste of the silken beancurd added dimension to the dish.

The Soy Bean Stew (5,000 Won) was also nicely done, light, with pungent fermented yellow beans being the primary source of flavouring. This was mildly spiced with a peppery taste.

Clams, a whole flower crab, and veggies, including courgettes, onions, mushrooms, leek and spring onions, helped sweeten the stew.

The steamed white rice also had some kind of flavouring that made it extra fragrant and sweet.

The Shop Facade for reference. It's one of the first few restaurants along the Restaurant Street just further from the Ritz Carlton.

South Korea

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