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Asia eats, korea eats

protein galore

I’m sorry!! I really EVERY INTENTION on updating last night (which would mean morning for you guys in the U.S.) but jet lag hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday and I totally passed out at like 9 PM -o-; I apologize. I’ll make it up to you guys by making this post nice and long.

So, yesterday made me fully realize the extent of how much I will eat over the course of my stay in Korea. I am definitely going to get FAT while I’m here, because there’s so much damn good food!

You guys saw what I ate for breakfast,  so I’ll start with lunch. My dad, mom, sister and I were driven to my paternal grandmother’s apartment to say our greeting and spend some time together for lunch. After chilling at her house for a little bit, we decided to go to a restaurant only a short walk away from her apartment building that specialized in making tofu.

the sign says "soybeans: handmade tofu"

They don’t put up that sign there just for show; all their soybean and tofu dishes are made in house. One of the banchan that came out was freshly sautéed tofu and it was really good – you could taste that it had just been made.

my family devoured it before i could take an intact picture..

It was so light on the inside, but crispy and golden on the outside. Ah. Tofu nirvana.

My dad and sister ordered soondooboo, or spicy tofu soup.

jiggly chunks of extra soft tofu swimming in a spicy broth

I don’t know how they could stand to eat a hot dish when it was this humid outside, but both of them gave their soondoobos a thumbs up.

I, on the other hand, decided to cool off by ordering konggooksoo.

cement gray konggooksoo

See how gray the soup is? That’s because they added black sesame seeds to the soybeans when they ground it up. I’m telling you, me and black sesame were meant to be.

nooooods

The soup was really thick and tasted strongly of sesame so I enjoyed every last drop of it. I actually ate the soup around the noodles instead of loading up on the carbs. However, the noodles themselves were also really good; they were springy with just the right amount of chew.

After our meal at the tofu house, my family decided to walk around for a little bit to digest our meal. This is one of the nice things about Korea; because you walk everywhere, you get to digest a little instead of lapsing into a food coma on a car ride back to your house.

While walking around, we saw exercise machines. Outside. In a park. What the heck?

a public, double-sided elliptical?

Of course, my sister and dad just had to try it. There were other machines too, but I don’t know how effective they were. I guess it’s a smart idea to try and get people to exercise, but it’s still kind of weird to see things in a public park that look like they belong in a gym.

I guess we felt like we needed some kind of dessert after our meal, because we walked into one of the many bakery/cafes that line the streets of Seoul. This one was called Wien, and it had an impressive assortment of all things sugary and delicious.

cake and ice cream

My dad got a tiramisu cake, which I tried a forkful of. It was wonderful and light and fluffy, but not too sweet and with a good chocolate flavor. My mom and my grandma got green tea and coffee flavored monacas, which I guess are the Japanese version of an ice cream sandwich. It’s pretty much ice cream slabs encased in a sweet Japanese crackery thing. They were a little hard to eat because they were frozen solid, but once they thawed, the monacas made for a nice summer treat.

Upon leaving the bakery, my family and I kept on walking around, just looking at the BoonDang curb appeal. Then we went into one of the ubiquitous convenience stores, called HomePlus Express.

We actually went into the legit version of HomePlus yesterday morning, before meeting up with my grandma. It’s a huge, multistoried building that sells just about everything you can think of – imagine it as a cross between a mall, Target, and ShopRite. I wanted to take pictures because I’ve never seen a store with everything so clean, packaged so prettily, faced so well, and with so much variety. They even wrap the produce pretty! But camera use in HomeSale is strictly forbidden; apparently it’s because they have an intense rivalry between another sell-everything-in-the-universe store called EMart, and if you take pictures, they’ll think that you’re a spy from there. BOO FOR ANAL STORE MANAGERS! So I had to make do with pictures from the baby version called HomePlus Express.

One of the things that fascinated me were these:

not your average juicebox

Apparently, Koreans are such alcoholics that they need their soju in prepackaged, convenient juice boxes for when they need to get wasted on the go. And as another plus, as long as you covered it with your hand, people would never know you were drinking alcohol! Drinking boxed soju with little straws for the win!

Anyways, we eventually made our way back to our grandma’s house where we bid her farewell until next time. My family took a taxi back to my maternal grandparents’ apartment where we rested for a little bit; I ended up staying home while everyone else went shopping for my dad’s pants because I had to take my online placement test for Hamilton. It was a struggle I tell you, trying to fight jet lag fatigue while conjugating Spanish verbs at the same time.

But my efforts were rewarded!! Because for dinner, everyone in my maternal family decided to meet up for dinner. I got to see all of my adorable cousins, as well as my uncles and aunts who I haven’t seen in forever. My grandpa had decide that he would treat all of us at an excellent nearby restaurant, so we all met up at his house and walked over to the restaurant.

my family :D

When we arrived at the store, flashing lights boasted that their specialty was roast duck.

note my family posing on the left side of the door..

I know, I know, I’ll probably get to eat roast duck while I’m in Beijing. But the house specialty here is duck roasted in clay, and you actually have to make a reservation in advance if you want to eat it.

fresh out of the oven

The people at the restaurant actually get whole duck and stuff it with different types of rice, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, jujubes, ginseng, sweet potato, and gingko nuts. After stuffing, they cover the whole thing in clay and slow roast it in an oven so all the fat is rendered out and the flavor from the the stuffing is absorbed into the meat. When the duck is done, they take it out, crack open the clay shell, and serve it to you. The whole duck arrived at the table in a silver dome, and the hanbok wearing waitresses cut it in front of you tableside.

cut right down the breast bone

The steam that comes out of the duck smelled absolutely AMAZING, ducky, herby and nutty all at once.

look at all the ingredients that go into the stuffing

Once the duck is split down the middle, the waitresses stir it up to make sure there is an even distribution of meat and stuffing in every spoonful.

stir, stir

You can see in the picture above that each person got 2 sauces for dipping – both were made with mustard, but one was spicy while the other was a little more sweet. I preferred the spicier one with my LOVELY, DELICIOUS DUCK MEAT. This was actually my first time eating duck, and it was absolutely AMAZING. It tasted a lot like chicken but darker and fattier; it was also a little sweeter, probably because of the stuffing. OMG THE STUFFING. To be honest, I actually enjoyed the stuffing more than the duck itself. It was sweet and herby with so much variety from the seeds and the different types of grain. The rice was also perfectly cooked so that they were plump, but still with a little bit of chew.

The duck dish came with a soup made from the duck wings.

duck wing soup

The duck wings weren’t very meaty – they were mainly there to add flavor to the broth. But the broth was nice and spicy with a bunch of greens and ground soybeans thrown in for good measure. It was a side with a fiery kick that went well with the duck and stuffing.

But that wasn’t the only side dish. As if a Korean restaurant would only serve one banchan!

oh yes. let the feasting begin.

Everything was excellent, although I have to say that the pink dressing on the iceberg lettuce was a little off-putting for me at first. But I definitely enjoyed the other vegetables dishes, particularly:

mook, mashed squash, ggetneep, and eggplant

Yum. I love how Koreans can make vegetables taste so darn good.

I definitely recommend this place to anyone who happens to be in BoonDang. Not that I know it’s address or anything… -o-; But the duck here is a must-have. Even my dad said out of all the ducks he’s eaten, this place served it the best.

After our duck feast, my entire maternal family went back to my grandparents’ apartment to enjoy Korean grapes (YUMMM) and watch embarrassing baby videos of me. They had to leave early because my cousins still had school tomorrow – it’s testing week for all the Korean students, so they have to study their brains out until their summer break next week.

So that concludes my day of fooding for yesterday. Now, do you know why I’m going to get fat while I’m here? How am I supposed to resist such good food, HOW??? T_T

I’ll just leave you guys with a picture of the drink that epitomizes Korea for my sister.

banana milk!!

Ah. The childhood memorizes come rushing back. I’m sure all of you have tried the sugary, banana goodness that is banana oohyoo. They do have this in the States, but they only have it in juice boxes and that ain’t legit; YOU HAVE TO DRINK BANANA OOHYOO FROM THE PLASTIC BOTTLEY THINGS! Oh, and with a straw. You have to drink it with a straw :D.

And one of the many Korean inventions that amaze me:

swiffer slippers..?

So you can clean the house while you walk around it. Amazing.

That concludes Day 1! I’m doing a lot of stuff today too, so look forward to the next post!

From an ocean away (for most of you guys anyhoo),
Eunice

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