A couple culinary thoughts about Seoul …

When you don’t speak the language in any country, it can lead to some comical errors. When you don’t recognize the characters within a language, then you’re asking for trouble by assuming ANYTHING.

For instance, my hotel recommended a restaurant called Bulgogi Brothers. They’re a homespun chain out of Gangnam. Of course, I wanted Bulgogi … in line with my expectations in North America, since all my Korean food IQ is derived from cities like Toronto, San Francisco and New York. I’ll tell you … nothing makes you feel more retarded than assuming you know something about a country’s food – then getting to that country and not knowing how to even eat the damn things.

I ordered Bulgogi at this place and this is what I ended up with …

In the end, the food was decent – the rice was actually quite excellent … it just didn’t expect an almost live squid on top of the shitload of beef. It also didn’t help that the description wasn’t really much of a description … to me! Maybe you can tell me, if the description described anything.

As for the food …it started out like this

Then turned into this …

My first night in … I went along with some more assuming … I obviously will never learn anything about assumptions … so I ended up grabbing some street food from the first person who looked even remotely decent (most people look decent) and had some people around them.

I ended up snacking on some dukbokki. Now if you’ve never seen what it is … look at the platter of what looks like pasta … there you … that’s what it looks like. Thankfully, I’ve had that before in Toronto and I quite like it, but I wasn’t sure what it would taste like here … so I pointed and got a plate.

The doughy cylinders were prepared simply and satisfyingly with thin cuts of beef, a smattering of vegetables, plenty of garlic, and an umami-fied soy sauce – so this was a win. I also had some Gimbap – which are the rolls that look like sushi except that the Korean version is often filled with egg, fresh and pickled vegetables, and sometimes meat or seafood.

After walking around and taking pictures of Korean Lanterns and generally freezing my ass off … I was still hungry and decided that I would do some Korean BBQ – since I assumed that I knew something about Korean BBQ. I can safely say, that I didn’t expect what I was served. For instance … look at the scene below

I’m sure you’re assuming that this was bacon or some derivative. I was told that this was pork loin … you can only imagine my reaction. It eventually turned into this … with the huge set of Kimchi on the side

In the end, I wasn’t happy with this … even the kimchi was great. Then again, I’m in f’n Korea … Kimchi should be amazing everywhere .. as if! So here are the lessons learned …

1.  Just because you “learned” about a type of food in your country … don’t assume you know anything about how it is, in the country of origin.
2. Things never look the way, they’re supposed to look
3. Drinking 3 shots of Soju before eating anything weird … will always help
4. Look at lesson #3
5. If you’re asking for Kimchi … you have to be specific about the type of Kimchi that you want.
6. Don’t attempt to eat sushi here, unless you know how they roll in Japan. It will be awesome and authentic but for a North American palate … it might be too authentic … just sayin’

Bonus points, if you can figure out what this is?

I eventually figure out … it was “sweet potato soup” … I tasted like porridge to me … and I hate porridge.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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