My friend Kate arrived in Korea this past week. She is in Gwangju, which is a little over two hours south of Daejeon. I went to visit her on Saturday and make sure she was getting settled in all right. She really lucked out, I think. Kind of like I did. Great apartment (who couldn’t love sparkly cabinets!), a seemingly well-organized school, and a rockin’ cool co-teacher who took us out for the day.
I took a 12:40 train so I got there around 2:30. Her co-teacher’s husband text me our meeting location in Korean so I would have that to show the cab driver once I arrived. (It’s always handy to have a Korean nearby!) We met at the YMCA (yes, they have those here, too) and began our day. We spent a lot of time just hanging out at her apartment educating her on the little things that make Korea, Korea. The things that you won’t read about on my blog. (i.e. public urination.)
Later we did a little walking around and introduced her to the industry that is Vanity over here. No matter what you need (make up, cleanser, hand/foot crème) and what you never thought there would be a desire for (skin whitening cream, anyone?), there is a store carrying it on a block near you. The Face Shop, Skin Food, Misha, Olive Green, InnerBeauty, It’s Skin, Etude House, Nature Republic…there is never one far away. And there are generally several on each block once you get in the city. Korea has the rest of world beat on skin products. They are amazing. And you always get free gifts with purchase!
For dinner I was introduced to the best Korean food I’ve had since I got here. Shabu Shabu. Amazing. You start with a beef broth of sorts and bring it to a boil.
Then add veggies, tofu and dok (rice cake - an Amy favorite)
and meat and a lettuce type vegetable…
After it’s cooked, you serve only veggies and meat, leaving the broth in the pan.
Delicious. The weird looking purple thing is dok with sweet potato filling. OMG.
After that you cook noodles and mandu (dumplings) in the broth. I didn’t take a picture, I was too busy eating. After the noodles, you cook rice in the remaining in the broth. Such.Good.Food.
You also have your traditional side dishes, banchan. This time was kimchi and a cabbage salad. This kimchi was actually far less abrasive than most.
Shabu shabu is fantastic! I can’t believe it took me almost 6 months to learn about this!
The hard part (other than the spicy factor) about eating in Korea is that you are almost always eating and cooking simultaneously. You never know how much you have eaten until you can’t stand up and have to be rolled out of the restaurant.