Showing posts with label Korean Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Korean Food. Show all posts

Friday, December 15, 2017

Local Delicacies in Pyeongchang

" First we eat, then we do everything else." 
- M.F.K. Fisher

One of the joys of traveling is the opportunity to taste and appreciate local delicacy. Korea is surrounded mostly surrounded by the sea and 70% of the land is mountainous. Regions within Korea are bounded by steep mountain ranges and rivers. Thus, climate conditions vary within these regions and hence, there is a great variety of natural produce. During our winter trip to Pyeongchang, we got to taste and enjoy the various local delicacies as recommended by our pension hosts. 
Hwangtae (Dried Pollack)
 
Pyeongchang is the birthplace of yellow dried pollack. The fish is left to dry for weeks under the winter sun and it can get as tough as cowhide. In fact, dried pollack is considered the national delicacy. Our pension host recommended this place and even drove us to the restaurant. This place must be very popular for there is always a constant stream of diners walking into the restaurant. 
Hwangtae contains almost twice as much protein as fresh pollack due to the lengthy freeze-dying process. It is also a high-nutrient, low cholesterol health food. It is rich in amino acids, which is believed to aid the liver to recover from heavy drinking. 
Hanwoo Beef
Hanwoo is one of the four indigenous Korean breeds and it is regarded as a premium beef because of its high palatability and desired chewiness. Hoengseong County in Gangwon-do is best known for its hanwoo cattle, where the environment is well-suited for cattle farming. 
You get to choose your own meat from the butcher or buy from the pre-packaged section, then head to a table and grill the meat for a small table fee, which includes an assorted variety of banchan. 
The meat literally melts in your mouth, yum!
Osam Bulgogi 
Osam bulgogi is a dish made from squid and pork belly, marinated in a blend of seasonings and then cooked over a grill with vegetables. This dish is well-known for its texture, hence making it the ideal dish to eat with rice and/or goes well with wine. In fact, according to this report, a new food alley for this dish will be developed near Alpensia Resort, the main venue for the Winter Olympics. 
Dalgakbi
Dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) is not only a representative dish of Chuncheon, but also famous across the entire nation. Listening to the sizzling sound made from stir-frying the marinated chicken in gochujang-based sauce within the cast iron pan will make you salivate! Nothing goes to waste in this dish, for the remaining sauce is used for making fried rice after devouring the grilled chicken. 

These are just some of the Korean cuisines that we tasted over winter in Pyeongchang. I will be back with more local cuisines as I sort out our Korea adventures, stay tuned!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Royal Cuisine: Jihwaja 지화자 , A Taste of Joseon Dynasty

With over 5000 years of history, royal cuisine is the essence of Korean food culture having been passed down by word of mouth of court cooks and royal descendants as well as the records written on royal feast. Royal cuisine was prepared by the best cooks in the court with quality ingredients sourced from across the country. Having reached its peak during Joseon Dynasty, there are still 7 traditional restaurants in today serving the royal cuisine that has been inherited over generations so that more people can enjoy the taste and art of royal cuisine. We decided on Jihwaja, which was the first restaurant specialising in royal cuisine in the country. 
The entrance to Jihwaja.
Directions to Jihwaja
There are a couple of ways to get there:
By Subway
* Alight at Anguk Station, Exit #5 and walk for 50m straight to SK Hub Plaza. Jihwaja is located on the first floor of the building. 
* Alight at Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit #3. Go straight for 1.2km, approx 20 min walk. Jihwaja is located on the left side of the street.
By Bus
* Gyeonggisanggo High School bus stop, green bus: 1711, 7016 and 7018. 
We reached slightly ahead of our reservation timing, so we ventured into the mini gallery next door which documents the history of Jihwaja and the founder, Master Hwang Hae-Sung. The late Master Hwang Hae-Sung, was appointed master of royal culinary art when the Joseon Dynasty royal cuisine was proclaimed part of the Important Intangible Cultural Properties of Korea (no.38). Jihwaja is run by the family and her daughter, Han Bok Ryeo is also known for her commitment to the culinary tradition. 
Posing on the Eojwa (the King's royal throne during the Joseon Dynasty) with Irworobongdo, a Korean folding screen with the landscape painting of a sun and moon with five peaks. The sun and moon symbolise the king and the queen while the five peaks denotes a mythical place. 
We were greeted by this gigantic porcelain vase when we stepped into the restaurant. We were then shown to our table at a little corner, giving us a lot of privacy for picture taking. 
A place card which detailed about the history of royal cuisine, as well as the founders of Jihwaja. 
Leecher kept saying that he is Jeonha (전하) aka King since this is a meal fit for a king. 
For appetizers, we had pumpkin soup, water kimchi and also, sauteed vegetables wrapped in pancakes and cucumber-stuffed dumpling. The pumpkin soup was so good and sweet. My first try at mulkimchi and the broth tasted so refreshing. The veggie wrap was really chewy and needless to say, they are delicious yet healthy. 
The highlight of the day - the royal casserole with vegetables and meat. I was talking to the server when I got startled by the fire and she was, in turn startled by me. 
The royal cuisine are very healthy and nutritious as they are prepared with only natural ingredients and royal culinary techniques, without using any MSG, artificial flavours or additives. As the server was explaining the dishes, I had a vision of Dae Jang Geum (大长今) preparing my dishes at the back of my mind. 
This was indeed a meal fit for a king for we struggled to finish all the dishes placed in front of us which included the casserole, glass noodles with sauteed vegetables and several other seasonal delicacies. 
We finished off the meal with dessert and tea.
We were lucky that the chef came out of the kitchen to greet the customers, so we took the opportunity to take picture with her and also, thanked her for the amazing meal. 
Jihwaja 지화자
Address: 125, Jahamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Tel: +82-2-2269-5834
Reservations are required

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Fun facts about Pyeongchang + Winter Olympics Event at Korea Plaza

Pyeongchang has been in the limelight ever since they won the rights to host the Winter Olympics games. As we talked about Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, we should also mention about Pyeongchang, the county at which the games will be held. Here are some fun facts about Pyeongchang:
  • "Happy 700 Pyeongchang" is the slogan of Pyeongchang. It takes the slogan from the city's average elevation, which is approximately 700m above sea level. This altitude is considered optimal for the human health and wellness. 
  • The city is marketed with CamelCase spelling of "PyeongChang" so as to avoid confusion with Pyongyang, the capital of neighbouring North Korea.
  • A KTX line will be built between Wonju and Gangnrung via Pyeongchang, which will shorten the traveling time from Seoul significantly. 
  • While the county of Pyeongchang is the host city of the Olympics, none of the events will be held in the actual city of Pyeongchang-eup (평창읍). This city is located on the left bank of the river Pyeongchanggang.
  • Dried pollock is considered the national delicacy. The fish is left to dry for weeks under the winter sun and it get as tough as cowhide. 
 
******* 
Here's a shout-out for those who are interested to know more about Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Pop by the Korea Plaza for a day of fun-filled activities as we countdown to D-200 days of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics! 
The activities look interesting; I'm particularly interested in taking part in the curling experience and also, sinking my teeth into those yummy street food! Besides engaging in the fun activities, you can also get more information in preparation of your Korea trips. The friendly staff are always available to help. Refer to the map below for more information on how to get there.

Address: 3 Church Street, #01-02 Samsung Hub, Singapore 049483
Opening Hours: 10AM till 7PM (Mon-Fri), 10AM till 1PM (Sat)
Tel: 6533 0447

Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter in Korea: From Incheon to Pyeongchang + Lepovill Pension + 그곳에가면

Hello December baby, my favourite time of the year! Oh, did I mention that my heart is still in Korea even though we have been back for almost a month? Ha, serious withdrawal symptoms. My life feels so empty recently; is this what they call mid-life crisis? To make things worse, Facebook reminded me of my winter memories from 2-3 years ago. Can I just hide in a hole and hibernate? That seems like an excellent idea now. By December, most of the ski resorts would be opened and there are several ski resorts which you can explore - Jisan, Yongpyong, Alpensia (just to name a few). Being an avid K-drama fan, Yongpyong was my top choice since this is the filming location of Winter Sonata, tsk tsk. We decided to save costs by staying at the pension instead of the resort itself, for a room within the resort could easily set you back by at least KRW200,000/night, which I will touch on later. 
Our tired faces after a long flight. After immigration, we hurried to the nearest convenience store and bought some snacks/drinks for the next leg of the trip. I'm not a coffee drinker, but somehow I always ended up drinking coffee in Korea. I think I'm more attracted to the packaging than the drink itself, ha. From Incheon airport, we headed directly to Pyeongchang where the ski resorts are located. 

How to get to Pyeongchang from Incheon Airport?
The ticketing office is located outside of the airport, opposite the arrival terminal. Hence, you will need to head outside, cross the road and look out for the office at 9C. 
The pension that we will be staying at was nearer to Alpensia ski resort (알펜시아리조트 스키장), hence we booked tickets from Incheon to Alpensia. A single trip ticket is KRW$29,000. The whole journey takes around 3 hours, with several stops along the way including one at the rest point for toilet break. We arrived at Alpensia and called Mr Kim, the owner of the pension for pick up. While waiting for Mr Kim's arrival, we booked our return journey (back to Seoul) from the concierge at KRW$17,000/pax. The bus will bring us directly to downtown Seoul, where we can then transfer to metro for the next part of the journey. 
We stayed at Lepovil pension for KRW$100,000/night, way cheaper than staying at the resort. Well, the downside is that we will have to call a cab whenever we head out or Mr Kim will give us a lift if he happened to head out at the same time. Cab rides mostly cost us around KRW$15,000 max (from city back to the pension) so it was still more affordable to stay in a pension. Plus, we had a great interaction with Mr Kim and his family/friends, hence it was a great experience for us too. 
The river flowing through the pension, which froze overnight due to the cold. We took a stroll around the compound on our last day, which I will share later in another entry. 
We were shown to our home for the next couple of days. I fell in love with the house and the surrounding, which reminded me of our Europe vacation. Mr Kim gave us a mini room tour, then left us to unpack/settle down. 
Our room came equipped with a small kitchen but we didn't cook anything apart from boiling water for cup noodles. We loved eating cup noodles whenever we travel, for it was so convenient to curb hunger pangs. Especially in cold weather, slurping up hot noodles just warms the body. 
레포빌 보드하우스 Lepovill Board House
Address: 대관령면 횡계리 14-343, 232-950 Pyeongchang, South Korea
Tel: +82 10-5755-8698
Our tummies started protesting once we settled in comfortably. We have not had a proper meal since we landed, for we were rushing from place to place. We asked Mr Kim for recommendation and he kindly drove us to this restaurant serving BBQ. 
Choice of floor or table seating; of course we had to go for floor seating - just for the fun of it. 
The standard drink for every meal. These are so cheap in Korea that it was hard to justify buying these in Singapore for personal consumption.
Check out the tray of meat; I'm so hungry looking at this.
I absolutely love the range of banchans that were served. Meanwhile, the fire is ready for cooking; can't wait to start! 
The most agonising part was waiting for the meat to be ready. Ahjumma helped us with the cooking while our duty was just to eat. 
All ready to eat, yum! I normally wrap it with half a lettuce, meat with a bit of gochujang and alternate between either kimchi or garlic (heck the smelly breathe). The meat was so tender that we devour ate pieces after pieces without stopping. 
그곳에가면
Address: 대관령면 대관령로 192
Tel: +82 033-336-9290 
Ahjumma helped us to call for a cab. With our tummies satisfied, we headed back to the pension for another round of gathering at the cafe with Mr Kim & friends; I will leave that for another time. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Pyeongchang (^^)

  ☃☃☃ Read the rest of our Winter adventure here  ☃☃☃

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