Day 2 and I have learned this: Koreans are basically Polish grandmothers.
From the second we met up with Sungwoo at the airport and made the one hour+ subway ride to our hotel, he’s been trying to feed us. When we met up with his wife, Park You-Young, the efforts to shove food down our faces doubled.
We went to dinner below a baseball batting cage complete with pitching machines and someone swinging with the might of Babe Ruth but the accuracy of Nefi Perez. We went to a restaurant that was a little like a Mongolian BBQ place, but the skillet was at each table in the HyeWha district very near our hotel. A waiter came out with a large slab of pork loin and a pair of scissors and began cutting up each piece of pork and placing it on the skillet. They turned the skillet on and the beautiful smells of searing pork wafted over the table. There were many sides brought as well and we found the pickled radishes pretty good, actually.
I was impressed that Brett was diving into some of the sides. Kimchi, pickled radish, some sort of cole slaw. He was tackling it with fumbled chopsticks like a champ.
The dish was called Samgyeopsal which translates to three-layer pork. The fatty layer, the pork layer and the tougher meat layer all seared over a hot plate.
But then Sungwoo took the lid off of a aluminum tin on the side of our skillet to reveal this pork in some red sauce. “Be very careful. Spicy.” He wasn’t fucking around. About 30 seconds after I threw a piece of pork down, I was gasping for the water.
On our way out of the restaurant, we walked around the market and, Polish Granmother style, they got us some street food – which was basically biscuit dough flattened and filled with brown sugar, and then fried in oil. It was pretty amazing. Our first Korean street food. It would not be our last.
We drove back to the hotel and exchanged gifts – a Korean tradition. Sungwoo and his wife got us some banana flavored Moon pies (which the Koreans think they invented, but we know the truth.) He wanted to get us Poop Cake (which is a street food – basically a cookie shaped like the poop emoji) but couldn’t find them. So he said we could smush the two together to make homemade poop cake. The logic there is pretty sound. It’s unlikely these will make it back to the US. They’re delicious.
We returned the favor with a generous sampling of Boulevard Beer, some shirts from BBB Printing and my friend Amy at Sassy Pearls as well as some Russell Stover candy. (Kansas Citians are always so quick to gift BBQ sauce and Boulevard – we forget about KC being basically the candy capital of the world.) I am also thankful that my suitcases will be much, much lighter on the way home. (At least until I tell you about shopping in the next blog post.)
— THE Fake Ned (@TheFakeNed) March 4, 2017
About four seconds after Sungwoo and his wife left our hotel room, Brett was asleep. Only one more use of the bidet in our room and I would be asleep as well – only to have the Lee’s meet us for breakfast as they restarted with their Polish grandmother ways – shoving more food down our faces. (This time it was KimPop – or breakfast seaweed rolls. Like sushi, but instead filled with ham, cheese and other breakfasty things.) Kind of like when Sonic makes a breakfast burrito – except wrapped in seaweed.
And THEN, as a palate cleanser, they took us to Starbucks and watched Brett destroy a piece of banana cake. Well, I wanted him to eat on this trip. Mission accomplished.
Day 3 will tell you all about our walking tour of Seoul (our 20,000 FitBit step walking tour), shopping, random words, and the vibe of a country trying to come to grips with an embarrassing President. And, probably, knowing my Polish grandmothers are everywhere, more food stories.