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Brew 3.14 Update: The Neighbors

Thursday, November 27, 2014 / No Comments
Our small little pub in the back alleys of Ikseongdong had done well. It is filled most nights and we are planning on opening during the day. We have a good group of regulars that come frequently and business is steady. All seems right, right?


The neighbors complain more and more as we emerge from a quiet impossibility to a local speakeasy. We get notes from angry neighbors about the noise and the trash and about the foreigners that frequent the bar. They will complain with each other and with the other "Korean" businesses around us. They spread rumors about this and that and they paint us as an outsider to their quiet quaint neighborhood. However, I know the truth.

The spot where our bar is and the empty lot a block over and most of the areas around us are stale with notoriety. Our building used to be a house of prostitution and so was the building that used to be in the empty lot. The building in the empty lot used to be one of the most famous Giseng houses in Seoul. This was where studied and educated women skilled in "Korean" arts were housed. I remember passing the place years ago and seeing the many sedans parked outside and fierce looking drivers milling around their turf just waiting... They didn't bother me and I of course didn't bother them. Where our building used to be was a "lesser" house which I think was owned by gangsters since we have had a few run in with surly types that seemed intent on revisiting the past. I just played the stupid foreigner card and they left after a few beers (luckily they didn't like our craft beers so they didn't come back.)

Other neighbors said that our street is much quieter than it used to be in the old days. The building we were in would have cacophonous howls of "working" girls singing in sinning rooms while across the lot would have an ominous silence for what happened in those walls were meant to stay. The alley in front our our store would have stumbling drunkards reveling in the events that preceded while calculating the energy and the costs of another go. Some would contemplate so hard that they would lay passed out in the alley howling occasionally.

Across the lot, the Hanok-styled Giseng house would sit like a jewelry box, keeping all it's winded within.

However, the Giseng house's secrets would not be contained and major scandals implicated the stories house. It has now been bulldozed to the ground and will be the new Jongno district central office. However, that has been delayed for historical artifacts were found on the lot. While they are being excavated, the lot waits to be transformed from a place of promiscuity to the place of respectability.

Will our neighbors complain about that? Of course. Is there a way to get to stop? I don't know. Hopefully in time.


Art Exhibition at Studio collage+

Saturday, October 05, 2013 / No Comments

91-5 Cheongdam-dong (34 Seolleung-ro 152-gil)
Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Street Food Tour in Insadong and Jongno

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Today I had a family of 7 people do the street food tour and we tried 8 different snacks at different stalls around Insadong. It was a good day and I was surprised to find that the little kids aged 2 and 5 ate and enjoyed almost all the different types of food. They especially liked the fresh steamed dumplings and the kimbap. Korea's street food scene is quite exceptional and you can get a varied and filling meal at almost any place you visit. I highly recommend you try it out. 

Shopping for very expensive water at Lotte Department Store

Saturday, September 28, 2013 / 1 Comment
I am doing a bit of retail therapy today at Lotte Department store. 

Snack: Mango Smoothie from Snow Mounteen

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Korean Fried Chicken

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 / 1 Comment
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There is a debate right now about Korean fried chicken. One group thinks it can be considered Korean food. The other group thinks that it is just western food. What do think about this? I believe that Korean fried chicken should be promoted as a Korean food because it is Korea's unique food culture, which led to the development of its unique taste and texture. The sauce, dips, style of eating, and side dishes also make this uniquely Korean.

Chicken in the past was considered a boyang (endurance) food that was often eaten during the three hottest days of summer. Korea was mainly a farming country and when you work all day in the fields, you need protein to stay healthy. The problem is that in summer cattle needed to work the fields and the meat would quickly spoil.

Smaller animals would be eaten instead such as eel, duck or chicken. But for the Korean palate, eel and duck are too greasy so many preferred the taste of chicken. The problem is that the lean chicken doesn't have enough fat so they would usually stuff it with rice, veggies, oriental herbs, and then boil it with potatoes and other veggies to fortify the chicken.

Chicken in Andong was stir fried and then braised in a seasoned a black-sesame-soy sauce and served with potatoes and noodles. In other regions such as Chuncheon it was marinated and braised in a chili sauce.

As more and more Koreans traveled overseas and saw the concept of fried chicken many tried to develop one for the Korean people. When Western fried chicken franchises came to Korea it started a fried-chicken phenomenon. Although Koreans liked the crags, flavor and crumbly texture, it tended to be a bit greasy, messy and it wasn't food that could easily be shared. Also, the chicken’s one time frying method meant it had to be cooked to order, which would take a long time.

To make Korean fried chicken, you first chop the chicken with a knife to make smaller peoples that are easier to eat with chopsticks. The chicken would be marinated and then dredged in a flour and cornstarch mixture. It would then be fried. After a few minutes, the chicken would be taken out of the oil using a wire basket and shaken and metal tongs would be used to beat on the metal basket. This is what makes the crackling texture. Taking it out of the oil gives the chicken time to cook inside while staying moist. It is then fried again a few minutes later making it hot and delicious. It is also often topped with a spicy chicken sauce, which is usually made from gochujang, rice syrup, vinegar, garlic and sesame seeds. It is delicious.

This was written for KBS World Radio. You can listen to my Korean Food Story Every Wednesday at 10am.


Hanuso: Abalone Bibimbap

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During spring I am always on the search for fresh, crispy and nourishing bibimbap. Hanuso uses top quality ingredients to create dishes that will please the epicurean in you. Their Yukhwae (raw beef) bibmbap has fresh sprouts, various lettuces, julienned carrots and pears and more. With this you get clear beef soup, Korean vegetable side dishes and a steaming bowl of hot rice. All combined, it becomes a nourishing meal that feels like a bowl of sunshine and spring rain. Pictured here this is some abalone bibimbap. Although the abalone is fresh, it is a bit chewy. For those that love fresh abalone, this is quite excellent. I would say that Hanuso has some of the best bibimbap in the city because the ingredients are very fresh. It's more like a salad with a side of rice than a heavy bibimbap. I would recommend you make a stop there.

Jongno-gu Nakwon-dong 272
Hours: 11am-10pm
Price: 8,000 won-18,000 won

Pho bo

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 / No Comments
4,500 won at Pho Bo in Noryangjin Station area. Broth is ok, they use thick rice noodles. Not a lot of fixings but it works. And for the price you can't go wrong. 

90-8 Noryangjin 1(il)-dong (27 Noryangjin-ro 16-gil)
Dongjak-gu, Seoul

Chuseok in Boeun

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After a long day on the road, I made it to my mother's house where she had a feast waiting for us. We had spinach, bean sprout salad, pan-fried snapper, marinated beef, ginseng kimchi, beef and turnip soup, and rice cakes. Oh, and egg battered fish and crab sticks. It was a great meal and it was great to have my fiancé and my mother get along so well. To walk off the meal we are at Beojusal temple at Songnisan mountain. It is truly great to get out of the craziness of Seoul.

Happy Chuseok everyone!


Just some of the cool things I ate this weekend

Monday, September 23, 2013 / No Comments

Wow, another epic food week. Our food tours have been hopping nonstop and I have tried all sorts of great food and met great people from around the world. I feel quite blessed to be able to do a job as this and that so many are enthusiastic to come meet me and our team. In the last week, I have met people from Singapore, Australia, USA, and Canada that all came to Korea for the food. 

Some of the cool things we saw were a cool plate that let the kimchi juice flow down and make a rose. Lots of great street food like the eggie bread thing. Is also got some Chinese moon cakes that had some beautiful writing on top. At Brew 3.14 (my pub) we made some tomato pie to the dismay of my chef. It's been a good week I must say. My chef also made some quiche at our pub and they have been a big hit. 

Ok, back to work. Thanks for reading.