Saturday, February 28, 2009

Food in Korea

A week in Korea.

The first question out of everyone's mouth is, "Did you eat some hella good spicy food?" Yeah, of course. That's what this post is all about, the super cheap, mad flavor food of Korea. If you want to know about places where you and a date can sleep in hot salt, or how Seoul has lasers at every tourist attraction, or Hooker Hill, you'll have to wait till I have some more time to write.


Bibinba, available at most shopping mall food courts around the world.


Street food was plentiful. A pickup truck full of peanuts was not an uncommon sight.


Rice porridge. If you are hurting from a night of spicy barbecue and copious drinking, this makes a good breakfast.


Spicy shrimps. Remember, alcohol can counter spicy food.


Black noodles. I've heard that you should eat this on April 14th if you didn't have anyone to celebrate Valentine's Day with. I say this is a conspiracy by the ultra right wing noodle conglomerates of the communist north.


Frying up some Korean bacon. Those peppers are mad hot. Remember, alcohol can counter spicy food.


Lettuce and black sesame leaves to wrap your meat in.


Almost finished. You can fry anything on the grill. Go ahead and just dump the whole plate of garlic on there.


Don't forget the liquor. Soju is the common rice wine that is drunk in Korea. It goes down smooth. There are a lot of flavored drinks, like this one, Guk-hwa-ju, made with chrysanthemum flowers. Remember, alcohol can counter spicy food.


In your lettuce, wrap some meat, kimchee, garlic, sauce... whatever and eat it. Remember, alcohol can counter spicy food.




A typical meal has about a dozen side dishes.


Fermented milky rice drink. It's called something like Malak. I don't know. It may or may not lead to an interesting night.


Korean izakayas are similar to Japanese izakayas, except more about drinking and less about the food. And more about socializing. People wouldn't dare talk with another table at a Japanese izakaya. In Korea, it wasn't long before everyone is pouring each other drinks and dancing on tables.


Real sausages from a real street vendor. It costs about a dollar.


Thirsty? Try a pine bud drink. Tastes like apple juice, but smells like pine resin. Awesome.


Rotti. I'm not sure what it is, but there was a Rotti Bun shop across the street from a Roti Boy, down the block from a Roli Roti. Crispy baked bread with a gooey middle is the best I can come up with.


Shellfish soup that tasted like pee.


Korean style sashimi. You point at the sea life in the big tanks outside and they prepare it. From front to back we have Mi-deo-deok ( sea squirt), some sort of sea cucumber, and something that is called "dog's dick" in Korean.


The sea squirt was pretty good. Very soft. The other 2 things were not. And, yeah, dog's dick looks like dog's dick.


Maybe this raw fish is Jeoneo-hoe, gizzard shad fish. The difference in Korean and Japanese sashimi is that in Korea, you get the whole fish served to your table.


The leftover fish parts are thrown in a pot to make a soup. I think this is Agwijjim. Spicy fish soup. Remember, alcohol can counter spicy food.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Junior High Farewell Messages

I had to share.

Today the 3rd graders started a farewell project. Next year, they will be off to high school. In Japan, this is a big deal. When I was in junior high, almost everyone just continued on to the same high school. Not in Japan. Here, the kids take entrance exams that determine if they will go to the "good" schools and have a long fruitful life of prosperity, or the "bad" schools, where they will learn how to drive taxis and spend all their income gambling on pachinko machines. No pressure on the 13 year old kids.

So the farewell project, today they had to write a simple message. I showed them examples and let them have at it. Here's some of them:
  • I'll remember you all.
  • Good luck.
  • I will miss you all
  • Everyday is a big treasure.
Then there are the... exceptional... ones.
  • 3B (the class) was snug. He used a dictionary.
  • I decided not to forget about 3B forever.
  • I enjoyed talking with my friends. Junior high summed up into one sentence.
  • I'm going to Computer Club in high school. Dream big kid!
  • I enjoyed destroying Masashi's eraser. It's true, he totally ruined that dude's eraser.
Then there was the... questionable.
  • I cheer Registance. Registance made this school a good society location. But they shall die by the teachers in this school. I'm sorry that they don't have right and they are not respected by everyone. I wish they could change this school.

I'm open for explanations on this one. The boy is really shy. I thought at first it might be a quote from some manga he's reading, one where a band of rebel school children take on a corrupt system. Actually, I'm sure I've seen that theme in a few different manga books. I noticed he was reading some French book, maybe it was a Hugo novel and he was just being impressed by that. Either way... WTF?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Snacks in Kamakura


A little ways south of Tokyo is Kamakura. Kamakura is one of those ultra historical places in Japan. It was the capital of Japan during the... blah blah blah... stop paraphrasing Wikipedia.

Oh snap, Kamakura is also a lesser known G.I. Joe character! Word.

One of the popular activities enjoyed by all at places like this is snacking. Straight up just eating a bunch of street food as you wander down the alleys. In Japanese お菓子, okashi, is often sweet, sometimes made with local ingredients, many days containing sweet red beans, usually delicious, and on occasion completely whack. I'm talking about fermented squid inards. So be careful what you bite into... and enjoy.


抹茶 と 蕨餅 - maccha and warrabimochi.


地ビール - Local microbrew beer


サーセジビールセト - Sausage and beer set





いろいろ 豆 - Various dried and flavored beans


蜂蜜 - Honey


タルト - Tortes


いも餅 - Sweet potato mochi


コロケ - Croquette. These had sweet potato in them.


Sweet potato jelly. Oh snap! Half price!


ゆず飲み物 - Yuzu citrus drink


Most of these things cost about a buck.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Happy Setsubun

Happy 節分


Did you eat your 恵方巻き (ehoumaki - lucky direction roll)? You see, on the 3rd of February, you buy overpriced sushi rolls from the convenience store, throw beans at devils, and generally look confused. Maybe it's just me who looks confused. Also, this means spring is now here.

Nope, still ass cold outside. Luckily each of my classrooms has a heating unit in the corner. A heating unit which feels like an industrial strength hair dryer if you stand in front of it. I can actually smell burning hair when I get too close.


Look, I actually did something besides eat ramen! Checked out Yushima Seido temple (near Ochanomizu station). Pretty standard temple stuff.


Then, inside, you are greeted by all the colors of the rainbow!


Designs for robots modeled after primitive life forms.




Almost all of them had these giant drill noses. So according to this designer and his team, expect frequent and painful... probing.. in the post apocalyptic future.





At least you can enjoy all the pretty colors as the rainbow-bots proceed to eviscerate you and your loved ones.


Good thing I ate my lucky direction roll and am now immune from all bad luck for the next year.