Thursday, July 30, 2015

Famous Naengmyeong Place by City Hall: Nampo Myeonok

Nampo Myeonok for Naengmyeon in Seoul

Nampo Myeonok for Naengmyeon in Seoul

Nampo Myeonok for Naengmyeon in Seoul

Nampo Myeonok for Naengmyeon in Seoul
It's hot, so it is best to get some cool, chilled Naengmyeon at the classic Nampo Myeonok Restaurant by City Hall.

Pictures by Jihyun Lee

Seoul Eats: Nampomyeonok

Contrary to popular belief, Korean “naengmyeon” is a wintertime specialty dish that originated in North Korea. I guess the idea of combating cold with cold is similar to people in India drinking blazing hot coffee to fight the heat. Although some still eat naengmyeon-which translates to “cold noodle”- in winter; these days it is more common to eat it in summer cool down from the heat

Naengmyeon has become ubiquitous around Korea and the world. The standard seems to be a brown chewy noodle that's dense (and often clumps), a salty beef broth, half an egg (which you are supposed to eat first to prepare your stomach for the cold meal), turnip, chunks of crushed ice, and julienned cucumbers and pear. This standardized dish is the result of many shortcuts and compromises in ingredients. This is where Nampomyeonok stands out; it has stayed true to its origins and the evidence is in the food.

Nampomyeonok is near Eujiro 1-ga exit 1. You take the first right past a strange stone tower that is eccentrically covered in headlights and straight into an alley. About 100 meters into the alley you will see a big wooden sign to the right that says 남포명옥. If you miss the first entrance; don’t worry, there are two. As soon as you walk in you’ll be intrigued by the traditional han-ok (Korean traditional house) décor and the pots embedded in concrete on the floor. These pots contain dongchimi: a water radish kimchi, that is essential to the soup’s broth.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Reve Bakery: Have Heart. Your bread is good, so people will come...if you do some marketing

There is this little bakery I go to by my home and they have good bread. It's a little mom and pop shop which a young couple. I often see their daughter in there with them. 

They make organic bread and good bread I must add but there is always a gloomy atmosphere even though the setting is bright. I overheard that business isn't going very well and the couple is a bit stressed. They keep adding things to the menu when they should simply focus and do a bit of marketing. Oh, and being positive and friendly will make people want to visit more often. 

Food businesses take time. Especially in a country that is crowded with eateries. This couple has a product that is unique, well-made and what can't easily be replicated at home. 

I suggested to them to be proactive in marketing but there is a strong distrust of bloggers in Korea. I say they should simply look at numbers. If you invite a local blogger that gets 1,000 visits a day that is 30,000 visitors a month. Free bread or drinks is worth it. To pay a blogger 100,000 won ($100 usd) to have them visit is much cheaper than traditional media or newspaper. For paid bloggers I try to get people in the 1500-2000 visits a day and then I leverage other social media like Twitter or Instagram. I figure if two people come in I can make my money back. 

Anyway, if you are in Gwangmyeong come visit Reve Bakery. No, I am not getting paid for this. I am just trying to keep them around because my family likes the bread. 

Reve Bakery
350-14 Gwangmyeong-dong, Gwangmyeong-si, Gyeonggi-do

via Instagram

Honey why is there strawberry jam on my egg sandwich? #foodcrime #sandwich

I know some people like it but...i prefer hot sauce or maybe some ketchup.


via Instagram

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chinese Noodles by Hakdong Station

via Instagram

Excellent Fresh Roasted Coffee at Coffee D.N.A at Hanguk University of Foreign Studies

via Instagram

Finally a big wheel for big kids

via Instagram

Calories in Soju and other things I Know about Korea's Famous Swill

Just in case you were wondering, one bottle of Soju contains 540 calories. That's like 4 beers. So to put it in perspective, you would need to walk about two hours to exercise it off. (Walking two hours with a soju hangover is not an easy task.)

Soju originally was made from rice but whenever there were rice shortages, people were forbidden to make Soju. Alcohol producers the started to use sweet potatoes and tapioca to make an ethanol based alcohol. Overtime they doctored up the taste so it has a smooth, crisp taste that goes great with raw seafood and grilled meats.

The world drinks a lot of Soju. 61.38 Million cases of soju were produced in 2012 with Korea consuming about 2.75 billion bottles of Soju a year. You would think that everyone would be falling over drunk in Korea, but this is not the case. The alcohol is only about 17-19% so a bottle won't wreck you (but two or more might.)

Koreans judge how good of a drinker you are by the number of bottles of Soju you can consume.

Monday, July 27, 2015

How Beans and a Magic Pot Can Create so Much

This post is sponsored by Host is a food and hospitality conference in Milano, Italy which will be held from October 23-27, 2015. I will be in attendance, hope to see you there.
Picture from Korea Tourism Organization

Koreans call beans, ‘Meat from the fields.’ A long time ago, meat was a luxury that commoners rarely had a chance to eat. So instead of meat, Koreans cultivated a wide variety of beans to supplement their diet. Beans such as black beans and peanuts were often used to make banchan or side-dishes, but others like wild kidney beans, white beans, and peas were added to rice. Red bean in a sweetened paste was used as a filling for rice cake desserts.

There is even a bit of notoriety about eating rice steamed with beans. If you suspect someone has spent some time in prison, you could subtly ask them, “how long did you eat beans and rice.” If they know what you are suggesting, they’ll tell you how long they were in prison. Also after being released from prison, the first meal would often be a block of white tofu in order to signify they will live a pure and innocent life from that moment after.

Now the most important bean in Korea is the soybean but in its regular form, it is nothing special and they are quite inedible. However, when the soybean is transformed using artisanal techniques and a special slab pottery pot called an Onngi. These clay, slab pottery pots can be made in various sizes that can hold from 500ml to 100 liters. The pots are the perfect vessels for fermenting food for it is waterproof yet porous for air due to the high proportion of sand in the clay. These pots are one of the most important elements in making soy sauce and bean paste that are two very important jangs, or fermented sauces, in Korea.
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