Englishman in South Korea – Part 1

This has been an interesting first week. The language barrier really hit me hard when I realised I couldn’t confidently order food and to make it worse I decided I’d have a look round some shops on my own and apparently was looking at women’s clothes. I had no idea… I have managed to up my game and I can order a hot latte all in Korean which is a feat I am really quite proud of but as soon as I can order a burger I’ll be completely self-sufficient.

I know it seem sacrilegious to come all the way across the world and the first food place I talk about be a fast food joint but there’s a brand over here called Lotteria that I feel deserves an honourable mention. It’s not the nicest thing ever, I’m not going to lie, but my first thought about it was that it just tastes very real. When you go to a Burger King or a Mcdonald’s, the burgers, no matter what you order, always taste like a “Burger King burger” or a “Mcdonald’s burger” whereas this Lotteria burger tasted like someone had taken all the real individual ingredients and put them together. Just quite interesting but I’ll move onto the better food now.

This isn’t specifically a food blog, but gosh darn the food over here is just so great it might primarily be that. A very traditional Korean dish, Bibimbap (비빔밥) is thankfully is healthy supply over here because it really is brilliant. Engage history nerd mode for a second: back in the days of kings and queens, the royals wanted to know what they were eating for the meals and so the bibimbap was served unmixed up. Disengage. I’ll put a picture below of the one I ate to make it clearer but the basic idea is cooked rice with all the ingredients above it in separated segments, an egg on top for good measure and then the whole meal is mixed up on the table.

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It’s a work of art. And to top it off, it tastes just as good as it looks. Only downside is it takes ages to make at home…

We went out one night to a place called Itaewon (이태원) for dinner and a drink. I’ve never been big on the whole nightlife thing due to me being a little village boy and the trip into Southampton being just too far and daunting for my little heart to handle. Now however, I’m in the city already so I’m all about it and this place is all about it too. It reminded me of the scene in Spirited Away when all the spirits woke up and this picture should hopefully make you think of the same.

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Food for days and rooftop bars make Gabe a happy boy.

Definitely worth a visit if any you find yourself in this neck of the woods but the prices are fairly steep, so be warned.

I think as the weeks go on, and my confidence with my Konglish improves, I’ll have more to talk about than just food but for now you’ll have to deal with some beautiful meals and the odd incredible place. That actually doesn’t sound so bad…