Monday, November 23, 2015

Kyochon or known as bonchon Chicken in NYC and Kyochon chicken in Korea. Both are damn good. The secret is to brush the sauce on with a brush. #koreanfood #friedchicken #koreanfriedchicken #kimchi

via Instagram

Organic, Sustainable, Local Foods in South Korea

In Korea, the food keywords are: organic 유기, local 국산, and sustainable 자속가능성. Organic grocery stores were a novelty a few years ago are now everywhere. Even large department stores have a section dedicated to organic, local, and sustainable foods. Koreans are more curious about the sourcing and the means of production of foods these days. You’ll see more Koreans reading labels at the grocery stores and reading up on brands on the Internet. Koreans will scrutinize what sort of oil is used, if there are artificial flavoring agents and if GMO ingredients are used. Consumers are smarter now and want better ingredients that are produced in a healthy fashion. Just offering “bigger” or adding the moniker “Well-Being” to the label is not enough.

There is an emphasis on farms as people want to know the farming practices and there is more pressure on farmers to go pesticide free. Over in Yangpyeong country, local government is supporting farmers by helping them become organic farmers and have created a “Special Zone for Environmentally Friendly Agriculture.” They offer incentives and education for farmers to become organic. The Mayor, Kim Sun-kyo says in his Mayor’s Message that Yangpyeong is, “an eco-city where there is a harmony of nature and people! A rich farming land that produces safe, eco-friendly agricultural products that result in high income for the hard working farmers!” Other places in the city are also putting an emphasis on becoming eco-friendly. There are urban farms such as at the Incheon Urban Agriculture Network (IUAN) also the rooftop gardens by Marche in Hongdae.

Here is a list of some of the leading organic companies in Korea.

Orga Whole Food and Pulmuone
Orga is the premium, organic storefront for the Pulmuone corporation. Pulmuone was has a long history of being one of the first organic food corporations in Korea. They started their company in 1981 as Pulmuone Chemical-free Product Market in Apgujeong (풀무원 농산물 직판장). The founder Kyung-sun Won has strong ethics and principles on creating healthy, clean food. Because of this his company has grown to nine different branches with an annual income of over 1 trillion won (1 billion USD). Founder Won was one of the first to show transparency in the sourcing and creation of food products. They introduced LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) standards to Korea and their aim is to become a global company.

Their signature products include their healthy and clean tofu, pesticide-free bean sprouts and their organic line for babies.

Hansalim began in 1986 and it has more than 2,500 producers and near to one million consumer members. Hansalim is among the world’s biggest and successful farming cooperatives. They created an alternative economy that supports organic farmers and local agriculture that produces healthy food while simultaneously protecting the environment. At Hansalim, customers and producers meet every year to choose what and the amount of product they will deliver. Then they mutually decide on price of goods for the accompanying season. These prices are locked in and even if, let’s say a disaster occurs, such as the kimchi crisis in 2010 which raised the prices of cabbage to prohibitive levels. Non-Hansalim members were looking at paying close to 10,000 won ($9USD) per head of cabbage retail, Hansalim members paid the price that was locked in the year previous at about 1,500 won ($1.3 USD). Hansalim also runs the only livestock-feed factory in Korea that uses only local feed sources from nearby farmers. Unlike the majority of livestock farmers, Hansalim livestock is therefore not dependent on feed imports that make up the majority of South Korean grain imports.

It’s signature products include their local vegetables and grains, their barley pork and local beef.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Best Places to Eat in Yangpyeon, Cheonan and Andong

If you ask any random Korean and ask them which area or city they think has the best cuisine, you'll receive a myriad of answers. Koreans tend to be nostalgic for their hometowns and say that area has the best food. Even though Korea is a small country. Its relative size is that of Indiana in the United States or of Great Britain, the country has a diverse food culture. And it doesn’t apply just to the south. I have interviewed North Korean Refugees and when I ask them if there is anything they miss from the North, they often say the food.

Regional food specialties are one of the reasons to travel. If you go to a place of prominence let’s say to Gyeongju, Jeonju, or Jeju Island, your friends and family will expect snacks from that area to commemorate the journey. For business trips, you’ll often have to get snacks for colleagues. Now if you do go to an area and you don’t eat at the famous restaurant of the area, your friends and colleagues might think you were foolish for wasting the opportunity.

Now in this article, I’m not going to focus on lesser known culinary destinations and not already popular tourist destinations. My belief is that the best foods are off the main path.

Sandang Restaurant: Crabs Walking

Chef Yim with friends

Yangpyeong: The Eco-city focused on Sustainable Agriculture

The blood of Yangpyeong is the Namhan River that flows heavily from the mountains and through the valleys. The city’s focus on eco-tourism and organic agriculture has helped build its city brand. Now it is one of the few small cities to experience positive population growth among small cities and it has a robust organic farming industry. The city is also home to famous Chef Yim Jiho and his destination restaurant: Sandang. The food is a combination of health, art, tradition and modern cuisine. Courses consist of tea marinated pork with salted shrimp, delicately weaved fried baskets of potato with lotus, and chestnuts set aflame. Meals end here with bowls of skillfully fermented kimchi, soy-marinated crabs and rice steamed in a stone bowl. The other famous regional food in this area is Okcheon Naengmyeon. They specialize in fresh made buckwheat noodles with Wanja: seasoned meat patties dipped in egg and fried. The savory wanja pairs perfectly with the refreshing, chilled buckwheat noodle soup.

Address: Gyeonggido, Yangpyeong-gun, Ganghamyeon, Gangnam-ro 138-12
Phone: 031-772-3959
경기도 양평군 강하면 강남로 138-12

Okcheon Naengmyeon
Address: Gyeonggido Yangpyeong-gun Okcheonmyeon Okcheonri 884-12
Phone: 031-773-3575
경기도 양평군 옥천면 옥천리 884-12

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Awesome Serbian Food at Belgrade Restaurant in Itaewon

Belgrade Restaurant Seoul Photo by Belgrade Restaurant

Belgrade Restaurant Seoul Photo by Belgrade Restaurant

Belgrade Restaurant Seoul Photo by Belgrade Restaurant
Belgrade Restaurant Seoul Photo by Belgrade Restaurant

photo by Drew Binsky
Last night I was lucky to have been invited to Belgrade Restaurant. It's located just up the hill from the old O Kitchen (which is now some terrible chicken I went there with the famous Drew of The Hungry Partier  who was kind enough to send me the picture above.

The restaurant is quaint and has a European feel to it. The mood is perfect for a date for it is quiet and intimate. This place kinda reminded me of going to the Bulgarian Restaurant Zelen. I mean in the feel, the flavor and the menu in a way.

The menu consists of great Serbian dishes but if you want it all (like I do) I would recommend that you get the meat platter. This is a huge meat fest that is loaded with amazing meats, salad, and french fries. The sausages were herbacious and savory. I really liked the oregano kick there. The grilled chicken and the chicken wrapped in bacon were chargrilled to perfection. The cheese stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon was scrumptious. Actually, more than was like the something that I think would have been on the youtube channel...Epic Eats (see below). My favorite part was the shredded feta cheese that was like snow on the tomato and cucumber salad.

Oh, the meal came with some great homemade bread with fresh yogurt for dipping and some delicious dipping sauces such as the honey-chili sauce.

Everything was delicious. I would highly recommend you take a trip up this great restaurant.

118-4 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
+82 2-796-6933
Google Map

amazing gourgefest housemade sausage, cheese stuffed chicken, shredded feta salad and more #seouleats #awesomeeats #serbianfood

via Instagram

Hibiki 17 year scotch. #whisky @oaknbarley #seouleats

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At Belgrade bar and grill having a meat fest. Come join me. Thanks to @belgrade_in_seoul and @drewbinsky #seouleats #meat

via Instagram

Lazy Cat at Gangnam Station

This cat cafe promotion guy was perfectly in character as a nonchalant, ennui-filled lazy cat so I had to give him props. Look how he just points in the general direction of the cafe. #props #lazycat #gangnamstyle

via Instagram

Lunch: Do the Jajang.

Korean Chinese takeout is the best because you can have it all. I love the half half bowls and the sides. Of course you need to get the jajangmyeon and jamppong with it. #chinesefood #seouleats #korea
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