Typical Korean restaurant table setting (ondol-style)
One of our meals
The best bibimbap we ate throughout the trip!
Korean food is loaded with carbs and you seem to have 3 lunches/dinners everyday. Breakfast with bread and butter is seldom seen at the table in the morning. Rice, or bap, is a must have at every meal. Although I do not really enjoy eating rice, I liked the bibimbap (rice topped with vegetables and egg mised with gochujang). Interesting thing to note though is that the taste varies from place to place. Not once did I eat a bibimbap that tasted the same as somewhere else. Awesomely unique if you ask me. The Korean style porridge/congee (juk) is starchy and thick. This is different from the watery thin kinds that my mom makes at home the way she likes it. My sister and I especially liked the abalone juk hahah, no surprise there.
Side dishes (banchan) are also ubiquitous. They include Kimchi (preserved cabbages/cucumbers/radish etc), cold boiled beansprouts doused in sesame oil, seaweed with a sweet red sauce, boiled spinach with some sauce, tasty ikan-bilis (anchovies) with some spicy sauce etc etc. There is simply too many to be named!
Haemul casseroleOh yes, you cannot forget the Korean barbeque. If you're a vegetarian or simply detest meat, Korea might not be the place for you. Barbequed bulgogi (marinated cooked beef), galbi (marinated pork/beef short ribs) and others are heavenly. The protein might be too much for you to handle thus moderation is key. Chicken dishes such as samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup stuffed with rice) is a popular dish during summer although we had it during the winter hahah. My parents liked it but I personally didn't enjoy it much.
Soups and stews such as jjigae (Kimchi, miso, seafood etc) and other seafood (haemul) casseroles in the form or steamboats are common as well. Simply pair soup with rice and you get a one way ticket to food paradise. But if you ask me, I would prefer it if the rice was replaced by bread xD
Then there's the noodle dishes. Ramyeon (something like the La Mien of the Chinese except in spicy Kimchi soup), Naengmyeon (Cold noodles in a sweet broth) and jajangmyeon (noodles with bean paste sauce) are just some of the noodles that we tried in Korea, but there are many many others available too.
Finally we have the street food. Gimbap (something like the Japanese sushi), tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes, sometimes with fishcake slices), fishcakes on sticks, pajeon (Korean style pancakes filled with seafood, spring onions, kimchi etc), japchae (Korean starch vermicelli fried with vegetables), chestnuts etc. Okay chestnuts are not really Korean but we saw many stalls selling them and they are bigger than the ones in Singapore. The pajeon is also about 4 times the size of that sold in Singapore. There was also many stalls selling cooked silkworms and some small shellfish. I tried to have an open-mind towards the preference of people from other countries but I got repulsed. I'm sorry.
Well, that's about all for my Korean food experience. Although we were there for close to 10 full days, my family and I didn't get sick of Korean food! But there was one little deviation from Korean food - Paris Baguette. It's this bakery/cafe which is literally everywhere in Korea, advertised by 2PM! I especially liked their sweet red bean paste bun :D Reminds me of the Japanese Dorayaki hahah. We got like 8 posters of 2PM from Paris Baguette! Really goes to show how mad we were over Paris Baguette hahah
Our very first purchase from Paris Baguette I think (my red bean bun is the one with black sesame seeds!!)
We bought back some Kimchi (cucumber and cabbage), the tasty ikan-bilis, gochujang and the red chilli powder for making jjigae! All in all, this was a satisfying trip for both the materialistic and non-materialistic aspect. Thoroughly enjoyed myself :D