Seoul-Busan Backpacking 2011 – Food

Hi everyone..

Is this my fourth write up? Fifth? Hehe. Let’s just stop counting. Don’t know how long this would take me to finish but I hope I could do it fast coz suddenly I feel like there is still so much more to share with everyone about Korea.🙂 For this entry, I will talk about FOOD. A rather sensitive issue for Muslim travelling in South Korea, where only a small percentage of the citizens are Muslims.

This would probably be the most popular question I would get when I mentioned about travelling to Korea; “Is it easy to find HALAL food there?” My answer would always be the same. It’s hard, but it’s possible. Meaning you CAN FIND halal food in South Korea, but of course there are not as many choices as those in Malaysia.

Don’t expect to find a restaurant with Halal logo because it’s almost impossible in central Seoul. You will need to go to Itaewon where most restaurants operated by Muslims are situated. There are a variety of choices here and most of the menus are suitable with our taste palette (Indian food, Pakistani, Middle Eastern) et cetera.

However, if you’re like me, who wants to taste the local food when you’re in Korea, here are some suggestions. After all what’s the use of coming to Korea if you can’t eat its food,right? Food has always been one of my reasons to visit Korea. So here are the list of food that I have eaten during my stay in Seoul, Gyeongju and Busan.

Ttokbokki (떡볶이) – Spicy Rice Cake

Ttokbokki - Spicy Rice Cake

You would always see this dish if you’re a Korean drama addict. Ttokbokki is a very popular street food usually sold in stalls on the streets in a big and deep rectangular pans. You won’t miss the ahjummas (or even ahjusshis) making this spicy and hot dish. Ttok means rice cake. It’s a type of Korean rice cake made from glutinous rice flour or plain rice flour, steamed and made into big rod-like shapes.

You should be careful however when buying the ttokbokki. Look into the pan carefully. Usually the ttok are cooked with fish cakes, which means it’s perfectly fine for us Muslims to eat. But there are some who mixed the ttokbokki with Korean sausage (순대 – soondae) which is a Korean dish made generally by boiling or steaming cow or pig’s intestines that are stuffed with various ingredients. So do check the ingredients before you buy the ttokbokki.

Kimbap (김밥) – Rolled Rice in Seaweed

1,500 won per roll. Veges+fried egg kimbap

Kimbap is probably our equals to rice during our stay in Korea. Or maybe just for me and Shambie. We would eat kimbap everyday bought from the nearest 김밥천국 (Kimbab Heaven) near our guest house. If you’re staying in Myeongdong area, take Exit 4 and you won’t miss this outlet. Also if you’re staying at Namsan Guest House like I did, it’s just a few minutes walk from it.

I think this place is used to having Muslim customers so when I asked for kimbap-minus-the-ham, the ahjumma quickly understands my request. “Ham pae-go?” she asked. Which means leave out the ham? I said yes. You could just tell the ahjumma “ahjumonim, ham shiro-yo” which means I don’t want the ham. Alternatively, ask for tuna kimbap (참치 김밥 – cham chi kimbap) from the ahjumma. The price here is very reasonable and you have a lot to choose from the menu.

Jang-eo-gui (장어구이) – Grilled Eel

20110618-105427.jpg

super duper delicious eels made our mouths water

This was our scrumptious lunch in Gangnam. Freshwater eel is a delicacy in South Korea and is super duper expensive. A kilo of this costs a fortune so we were really shocked us when we found out about it. Thanks to Appa (Oggy’s foster father) we got to taste this super-duper-finger-licking-good dish.

The eels were still moving and wriggling when they were put on the fire, so it was actually a new sight to us. LOL. The ahjumma at the restaurant skillfully grilled the eels for us. When they are ready, we eat it in vegetable wraps, with salad and also sesame leaves. The taste?? M-I-N-D B-L-O-W-I-N-G!!!Oh my goodness, writing about this made me salivating all of a sudden. Haha.

A fun fact about the eels. I asked Appa why Koreans (especially the men) love to eat the eel’s tail. He laughed at my question and told us it’s because the tail is believed to be good for their “stamina” if you know what I mean. *wink* LOL. *blushed*

Chu-eo-tang (추어탕) – Mud Fish/Loach Stew

20110618-105227.jpg

Tastes like Laksa gravy. lol

After finishing an eel each (at first we thought one eel for each person is not enough – but we were so wrong!) Eating eel on its own might not make you full, but try eating it with wraps, it will surely make your tummy burst. But Appa said it doesn’t end there.

The ahjumma brought us a bowl or Chu-eo-tang EACH. We were all like, HUHHHH??? More food?? Thank god Appa was being considerate and ordered only 3 bowls of rice so we shared them (he would’ve ordered 6 bowls of them if it’s according to the locals’ appetite.) Hhhnnnnggg.

The chu-eo-tang is surprisingly good, and tasted very much like the laksa gravy we have in Malaysia. The “tang” – meaning stew – was made from grounded mud fish or loach and made into stew/soup and added with some herbs. But it was not as sour as the Laksa Penang. The taste is just nice for me.

Soon Dubu Chigae (순두부찌개) – Soft Tofu Stew

Soon Dubu Chigae - Soft Tofu Stew

This was our lunch in Gyeongju. It’s soft tofu soup/stew, mixed with eggs, dried shrimps and some vegetables/herbs. The taste is a bit bland, perhaps because Abonim (our foster father in Busan) purposely asked for a non-spicy dish for us. To be honest, I think Korean’s level of hotness (in terms of food) is rather acceptable to us Malaysians. If they said it’s spicy, perhaps for us in Malaysia it’s just a mild taste of pepper/chili. But IDK, this is just my opinion.

The dish was served with a few banchan (side dishes) and a bowl of rice. O-M-G. Try having rice with a bowl of tofu+egg soup. Too much for me I think, sadly I could’t finish all (which made me guilty for wasting the food). Huhu.

This is something that I can make at home. Just a simple dish of boiling tofu,egg,dried shrimp and some vegetables. Very healthy, and fulfilling.

SWEET TREATS

Bbopki (뽑기) – Sweet Candy

Sweet Treats - Bbobki @ Myeongdong

Bbopki is a candy made from mixing sugar and baking soda on a ladle over a fire. Once the mix is melted, it’s poured on a flat surface and made into a flat disk with various shapes stamped on it. Sometimes it’s also molded onto a stick to make it like a lollipop.

It tastes sweet, but with a tinge of bitterness in it, which I kinda like. And you might be wondering why the vendors stamped the shapes on the candy. There’s definitely a reason.🙂 Take some time to sit at the vendor stall and try to take out the shape without cracking the figures. If you managed to do it, I’m told you will get one piece of bbopki free. LOL. Though I got one anyway because the ahjumma was surprised I told her I like the candy. Hehe.

This sweet candy costs 1,000 won a piece and you can see vendors selling them in Myeongdong.

Gyeongju Bbang (경주빵) – Gyeongju Bread

A must have if you ever go to Gyeongju!

Thankfully, we managed to squeeze Gyeongju into our 7-day-itinerary in South Korea. Gyeongju is a beautiful city with lots of monuments for you to visit. It’s very tranquil here and picturesque. If you have the chance, take the free bus tour here. You won’t regret it (take the tour bus, as going around on your own might be hard – we had Abonim to tour us around).

You will see lots of outlets selling Gyeongju Bbang (bread). So after touring the city, while waiting for our friends, I asked Abonim what’s so special about Gyeongju bread? He said according to him it tastes like any other bread, so he didn’t really get it why Gyeongju bread is so special. LOL. But he bought us a box anyway, and I think the warm bread tastes so nice.

It’s the usual bread with red bean paste filling, but I guess WHERE you eat it matters. Having Gyeongju bread in Gyeongju, perhaps made it tastes a bit more delicious? Hehe.

Hodo Gwaja (호두과자) – Walnut Cake

20110618-105123.jpg

Yummy Walnut Cake at the rest stop on the way to Gyeongju

On our way to Gyeongju, Abonim stopped at a rest area to get ourselves a bottle of water each. He also bought us a packet of these heavenly walnut cake. The cake was still hot from oven and we even got free pieces from the seller onnie. Ahhhh, sometimes it’s nice to be a foreigner! LOL

The cake was in the shape of a walnut (what else?) and its filling was made from red bean paste, but there’s a piece of walnut in each of the cake. We could not stop eating the cake. Haha. If you ever found this in your trip to Seoul, do try it!!

Deli Manjoo (델리만쥬) – Corn Shaped Cake with Cream Filling

You can get this at Myeongdong Station

I would say me and Shambie literally ADDICTED to this during our stay in Seoul. A packet of Deli Manjoo costs 3,000 won, was just not enough for the two of us. We finished them in a blink of an eye.

You can find the Deli Manjoo stall at the Myeongdong Subway Underground Shopping arcade. You won’t miss it as it is situated just outside the exit from the subway. The ahjummas at this stall were all very nice and friendly.

You can buy 3,000 won packet (I think about 9 pieces) or the 7,000 won packet. Eat this while it’s still warm. Guaranteed to satisfy you.🙂

{ Coffee Houses.Universities }

-coming soon-

11 thoughts on “Seoul-Busan Backpacking 2011 – Food

  1. Pingback: Seoul-Busan Backpacking 2011 – Food (Part II) « Burning Fizzy

  2. Pingback: Seoul-Busan Backpacking 2011 – Food (Part II) » Norang Narang (You & Me)

  3. Assalam’kum siapa2 Muslim yg nak balas,

    We (hubby and I) are travelling to Seoul and Jeju from 5th-17thSept 2011. Appreciate if there are Muslims in Seoul who can be our tour guide during that time. If we can stay with you in yr home, its so much better because we want to live in a Korean home but with a Muslim family. So far we had two offers from Koreans (non-Muslim). One is living ia a high end apartment (very nice place) and will charge us just USD 250 for the 8 night stay and we can use the kitchen. Please Muslim friends if we can stay with you please email me dr.ramlah1@gmail.com or sms me at +60142765949. We are an elderly couple, Govt pensioners, very clean and neat. We don’t drink and don’t smoke. Thanks a lot:

    Aunty Rom and Uncle Nan

  4. bestnyer backpacking tour korang~ lame ke korang plan tuk trip nie?? bleh x nk tau brape yg korang kene blanja to go to all these places that you have been in korea?? I’m going to start planning now so that when I’m going there , hope that they would not be much a problem.. so, harap kamu dpt bg tips2 menarik kt saye.. tq~ ape2, harap bleh emel saya : redskyesyazana@gmail.com

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