September 2006

Before having a chowdown dinner at Kang Tong Degi, Peter and I went for part 2 of the pojangmacha
crawl. We opted for the Korean bacon and sirloin which we grilled at our table. Instead of the usual lettuce wraps, we were treated to a type of wide flat short noodle instead. It was chewy goodness. The Korean bacon was light and tender. The sirloin was not as tasty but still adequate. You could either wrap it in the noodle or dip it into sesame seed oil, or a spicy mixture. Bacon, Beef, Noodles, Beer, and Soju. What more could you ask for?

What tasty treats will I have in store during the chowdinner? Stay tuned.

Kang Tong Degi

Kang Tong Degi


Golden Gate Golf Club
Originally uploaded by hoonhkim.

Surprisingly enough Golden Gate Park Golf Course has really good BBQ. I opted for the Pulled Pork brisket sandwich. The meat was really tender and the sauce was slightly sweet but not overpowering. The bread did not get watered down. The weather was also perfect for a BBQ. Overall a very tasty sandwich.

After coming back from Korea, one would think that Korean food would be the last thing that I would want, but it was. It only spurred on my fervor to seek out authentic Korean food in the Bay Area. My friend Peter and I checked out this local hot spot popular with the Korean exchange students that go to UC Berkeley. It was once called KoKo House, but the owners were caught one too many times serving alcohol to minors, so it shut down. It was closed for a while, but then OB Oriental BBQ Chicken house opened it’s dimly lit doors.

Like many other Korean drinking/eating places (Pojangmachas), the menu differs from regular Korean restaurant fare by concentrating on Korean "pub food". Since chicken is its specialty, the menu was heavy on … BBQ chicken dishes. I ordered the Fire Chicken, while Peter ordered the Seafood mixed Fire Chicken (same dish but with calamari, clams, and shrimp). I’d have to say that this is one of THE spiciest meals that I’ve ever had! Peter first started to make fun of me by saying that my tolerance had gone down, however 2 more bites into his meal he was complaining as well, comparing it to one his mother’s super spicy Vietnamese peppers.

OB Oriental BBQ Chicken House
OB Oriental BBQ Chicken House

The chicken was very tender and whatever flavor was left after the spiciness numbed your taste buds, was not too sweet and pretty delicious. It was hard to judge, so I will have to be back and order the mild to better assess the food. However, the extra pitcher of beer to cool our tongues and the general atmosphere did make for a pleasant dining/drinking experience. Time for a
Pojangmacha crawl to see which one will reign supreme!

Day 7 was our last day in Korea. It was also our last chance to eat some authentic Seolungtang
(bone marrow soup), which happens to be Courtney’s favorite dish. We stopped by a Seolungtang place in MyongDong that was packed with people in the morning. It was very, very delicious and one of the best I’ve every had. The only place that I have had better was a few winters ago in Seoul at a particular place that I will probably never find again.


After some intense last minute shopping, we were on our way back home. Inchon International airport happens to have one of the best airport foods around so unsurprisingly enough Courtney had Seolungtang again for lunch, while I had albap (fish egg rice). The Seolungtang wasn’t that great but the albap was just what I wanted, hot rice with little crunchy bits of fish egg.

Al Bap and Seolungtang again.

One last thing that I should mention is that on Asiana Airlines, the airplane food is quite tasty. If you ever have a choice get the bibimbap. Best airplane food ever! Alas our delicious trip to Korea was over. However I am now off to discover Korean places at home that come close to the motherland.

During the day, my father took Courtney and me to the countryside to see where his grandfather grew up. We went to Kanghwa island to the west. After paying our respects to my ancestors, we enjoyed a delicious meal at a restaurant my parents frequent whenever they visit the island. Their specialty is a chicken stew simmered in broth with medicinal roots and spices. You do not have the broth but rather the flavor is infused into the chicken meat. The chicken was very tender with a great combination of hard to place flavors. You take strips of stewing meat and then dip into salt. Of course all the panchan was also delicious, especially the agar salad with a light vinegar soy and sesame seed dressing. Another highlight of the meal was having some dongdongju or a kind of moonshine that is a little syrupy and quite strong, though real subtle on the kick, the kind that sneaks up on you.

Country food
Country Chicken soup

That evening the food fest was not over. My mother took my sister, Courtney, and me to one of her favorite places that specializes in Black Pig that is specially grown in Jeju Island. They bring out a grill on a slant over a fire and put what looks like thick slabs of bacon onto the grill. We had to wear aprons to prevent grease from popping all over our clothes. At the bottom of the slant is a bunch of kimchee. The pork is very tender and lightly seasoned and not at all like bacon. Again we wrap the bits of bacon into lettuce leaves with bean paste (kochujang). If that wasn’t enough, the pork grease drips down into the kimchee and after the pork meal, the waitress dumps rice onto the grill making kimchee fried rice. The rice wasn’t as flavorful as I would have thought, though it was still tasty.

Black Pig BBQ
Fried Rice with Bacon fat!
Final Product

Although totally gorging ourselves, this is our last night in Seoul so Courtney and I continued on to a pojangmacha (outdoor food stall). Ordering our beer and soju, at any other place we would have gotten peanuts, but this place served us freshly steamed mussels. We order the ddukbokki or rice cake. I could hardly eat any more but the ramen and rice cake were so delicious, with just the right amount of spiciness and sweetness.

Pojangmacha food

Day 5 was the day of the big family dinner at my grandfather’s favorite restaurant. It is a fancy Chinese restaurant located on the top of the 63 Building (the tallest building in Seoul). It consisted of several courses all expertly prepared. We had a beautiful private room overlooking Seoul. It reminded me of my recent dinner at Jai Yun.

We started with Shark Fin Soup that was very gelatinous and surprisingly a little creamy. The shark fin had a great texture that bordered on crunchy but was soft.

Fancy Chinese - Shark Fin Soup

Next we had Abalone and Sea Cucumber. Both are delicious, though they do not look it, and the texture is like nothing else.

Fancy Chinese - Abalone and Sea Cucmber

The highlight was the "Gold Bar". It is a dish that is supposed to give good fortunes to anyone who eats it. It was a concoction of tofu and minced crab on a bed of foam. It was utterly delicious.

Fancy Chinese - Gold Bar (tofu and crab, with foam)

My least favorite dish was the beef and mushrooms, although I just love mushrooms. The beef was nothing special and the mushrooms were just okay.

Fancy Chinese - fancy beef and mushrooms

Next was scallops with vegetables. The scallops were fresh and tender with a not too salty sauce.

Fancy Chinese - Scallops

At the end of the meal we had a choice between JaJangMyun (black bean noodles), JamPong (spicy seafood noodle soup), or Fried Rice. I chose the JaJangMyun. There is a clear difference between high class JaJangMyun and low class JaJangMyun. JaJangMyun is like the mac and cheese of the Korean people. The JaJangMyun was delicious and expertly prepared. It wasn’t greasy at all and the noodles were nice and chewy. That being said, there also is no substitute to a cheap JaJangMyun place, similar to a greasy spoon meal at your favorite diner. Look at Seoul Day 3 pics for a comparison to the quality of the JaJangMyun, both delicious in their own right. 

Fancy Chinese - Ja Jang Myun part 2

Seoul Day 4

jalgachi fish market in pusanJalgachi 2

Our final day in Pusan lead us to the Jalgachi Fish Market. It is the largest fish market in Korea so there are a ton of vendors selling their wares from fresh fish to dried squid. We ventured into the indoor market and picked out two types of fish (I think it was some type of halibut and mackerel), fresh shrimp (freshly peeled but still alive), and chopped up live octopus. Courtney did great and actually ate some of the still moving octopus! Afterwards we had a seafood stew with mussels, crayfish, and cuttlefish known as Haemultang.

Here is a pic of the fish about to meet their maker.

Getting lunch ready

Fish turned into fresh sashimi.

See the getting ready photo

Live octopus with fresh condiments.

Live Octopus and shrimp

Me admiring the fresh Haemultang.


That night we headed back up to Seoul and went to an awesome spicy pork BBQ place with my father and sister but forgot to bring a camera. We had been there 2 years ago and it was still going strong. The coals are heated outside and people are shoved into little tiny tables. The pork is spicy and delicious.

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