Traveling to Korea was more than just a chance to see some new sights. It was a chance to eat my way through some of the best food on the planet. I must admit, this took me by surprise. I have always enjoyed such stalwarts as bibinba and Korean BBQ, but the huge variety and tons of amazing flavors rather blindsided me.
Like most in most Asian countries, eating in Korea is about more than just sustenance. Eating out is a chance to excite your taste buds while you enjoy the company of your friends and family. The first part is covered with liberal application of chili paste and garlic in most meals. Some of the worst (best?) garlic breath of my life was on Jeju island, and not Italy as one might expect. After the more subtle flavors that predominate in Japan, I was pretty excited at the thrice daily chance to sear a few layers off of my tongue.
As mentioned, eating is very communal in Korea. Rather than pick a dish and order it for yourself, most restaurants will serve up a huge main dish, with five endlessly refillable side dishes to share. These side dishes were quite interesting. Usually composed of a variety of kimchee or two, with other various veggies, pickles and what have you. They were often mysterious, but always delicious. Top the meal off with few bottles of cheap beer and/ or soju and by the end everybody feels great.
I was happy enough to come back to okonomiyaki, sushi, shabu shabu and tonkatsu, but Korean cuisine will always hold a special spot in my pantheon of food.
|Korean BBQ, one of the best things. Ever.|