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Food News, Tidbits of Zen

Surviving Seoul: Tips for Getting around the Metropolis

Our company gets a lot of questions from guests that are coming to Seoul for the first time as tourists. I try to answer their questions as often as possible. Here is a checklist of things they should know when tourists come to Seoul for the first time.

Dan

Surviving Seoul: Tips

1. Rent a cellphone or get roaming on your phone when you come to Korea. It’ll save yourself a ton of headaches and there is a foreigner helpline you can call 02-1330 24-hours a day.

2. Having the address doesn’t mean anything in Korea unless it is a major hotel or attraction. Taxi drivers have GPS Navigators, but often won’t use them. Find out which subway station and exit that is closest to and tell drivers to go there. If that doesn’t work ask them to call where you are going and they can give him directions.

3. Korean metal chopsticks are thin and can be difficult for some to handle. You might consider bringing a fork or disposable wooden chopsticks.

4. It is not customary to tip in Korea. Many 5-star hotels and upscale restaurants might charge you a 10% tax and a 10% service charge. If a taxi driver has been especially nice such as picking me up when it rains, I tend to let the driver keep the change or tip a dollar or two.

5. Most franchised stores, restaurants, and convenience stores accept credit cards. At these places you can’t barter. You can exchange money at most banks, but be sure to bring your passport. If you need cash right away, usually the ATM’s at the 7-11 convenience store or KEB Bank will let you withdraw cash.

6. At markets such as the fish market, electronics market, or Dongdaemun fashion market it is ok to barter. They will go down about 10 to 20% if you pay cash. Korean shopkeepers tend to want to give you something free if you buy lots of stuff instead of discounting. If the shopkeeper walks away from you and doesn’t come back, you know you’ve offered an insulting price.

7. At restaurants, the button on your table is to call your server. If they can’t be seen, it is ok to yell out “Yogiyo!” Oh, and you pay your check at the counter.

8. At the seafood market, you are charged a fee per person to sit and eat at the restaurant. There is also a cooking charge (usually by weight) for each item you want cooked, so it might not be cost effective to have 1 abalone steamed. There is no extra charge for raw items.

9. At barbecue restaurants, if you ask for rice, it will be accompanied with side dishes and soup. Koreans eat rice after eating the meat.

10. Finally, don’t get offended if someone bumps into you or pushes you on subways or while walking. Seoul is small and many people have places to go.

11. Relax. It’ll all be fine.

Come take a cooking class or take a Culinary Tour in Seoul! http://www.ongofood.com

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Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

The Christmas Market at the French Village in Seorae

Christmas Market

This is always a great event and I’m definitely thinking of going. Who would like to join me? It’s this Saturday from 10am to 4pm an they have foie gras, good cheese, and bread!

Dan
Come take a cooking class or take a Culinary Tour in Seoul! http://www.ongofood.com
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Food News, Tidbits of Zen

The Korean Food Truck Adventures: Chapter 1: Insomnia

I am happy to introduce Ms. L, a chef that is embarking on starting her own Korean Street Truck business in middle America. These are her true story. Names and locations have been omitted. You can leave Ms. L a message in the comment section of this post.


Dan

Chapter 1: Insomnia

So here I am, it is 3 in the morning and I’m spending another insomnia filled night on the Internet researching recipes. If trying to develop a menu was the only thing I have to deal with I would have been asleep hours ago.

Licenses, vendors, legal protections, insurance, marketing are just the beginning of opening your own business. Trying to find a place to start has made my head spin and I’ve had to keep reminding myself of one of my favorite sayings:

How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.

And in this case, preferably with some ssam and kimchi.

So how did I, a half Korean, half American get to the idea of opening up a Korean street food truck?

I didn’t grow up with Korean food. I was born and raised in a Midwest state where “immigrant population” meant people who’s ancestors came through Ellis island. I had Korean food a few times when my grandparents came to visit, all I really remember was it was spicy and kind of stinky. The closest Asian market was an hour drive away and everything smelled like fish- not exactly exciting to a 8 year old kid.

It’s not that I don’t love food, I do. I even wound up going to culinary school in a major city to pursue that love. And moving to a bigger city meant there were actually Korean restaurants and groceries. Heck, there was even this buffet that had kalbi on it!

After that it seemed like access to Korean ingredients got a lot easier.
One day about 4 years ago, I was plating a mini pajeon to go under a char-sui grilled pork chop, chili glazed eggplant finished with kimchi vinegarette, the umpteenth of the night and it occurred to me; that my town, Cowtown USA, was ready for Korean food.

The idea for the truck, well that popped up over the last couple of years as I watched guys like Kogi in L.A. and Korilla in New York make their mark. I knew what I took open a new restaurant. I knew the costs and knew I would never be able to afford that.

A truck, now those were far more affordable and far easier to run. No bathrooms to clean, tables to be bussed, or plates to wash. Food is only a part of what has to be done however.

At the end of the day, it is still a business and businesses require money. Getting money means proving your idea. To prove your idea to the banks and organizations like the SBA to get money is to write a business plan.

Good news is, I’ve actually written one.
Bad news is that was over ten years ago for school so it wasn’t for a Korean street food truck.

Sigh…

I think tonight is going to be another late night.

 

CHAPTER 2: Sexism in the kitchen

CHAPTER 3: Sanitation

CHAPTER 4: Rage

CHAPTER 5: Yipee! How to pick up a Guy with a Truck

CHAPTER 6: Korean Palate Training

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Non-Korean Eats, Northeastern Seoul, Original: Seoul Eats/ Blogger Version

Live Blog: Bossa Nova Brazilian in Uljeongbu

I am having dinner with my friends in Uljeongbu at Bossa Nova. The place has a cool vibe and unlimited meat. This Brazilian BBQ is generous with their meat. I recommend their rump steak and their top sirloin. The meat is 25,000 a person.

Directions Uljeongbu exit 2:

Take exit 2, when outside look for 7-11 on the corner, (at about your 10-11 o’clock with your back to subway exit). Get to 7-11, then continue down the street for a couple of buildings, turn right into Seo-bu Tower (orange sign, between cell phone store and empty restaurant under construction. If you look up, you will see big sign that says Bossa Nova on the second floor. Take elevator and you are here!

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