Saturday, October 25, 2008

Amigos - dinner

We had dinner at Amigos in Itaewon last night. The sign says hot food, cold margaritas, and live music.

The margarita was good -- decent sized, good flavor. The chips were decent, and so was the salsa. It was made with fresh tomatoes.

The presentation was nice, with the sides elegantly displayed. This was the burrito.

This is the taco dish, which comes with rice and refried beans. The tacos had shredded beef, which is good. It's often hard to find shredded beef, it's usually ground beef, and I much prefer shredded beef. There was lettuce, tomato, and cheese on top. The beef had a nice spicy flavor, and was hot. Everything else on the plate was a bit on the cold side. The taco shells fell apart a bit too easily and I ended up with bits of taco all over the place once when I bit in and it fell apart.

In between the live music, they played real salsa music. The musicians played a range of music, including Lionel Richie. Unfortunately, it was a bit difficult to tell what the song was, and occasionally took me some time before I recognized the song.
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There is a world outside of Seoul...

I actually got to go outside of Seoul the other day for work. There are trees and fields out there! At some point, I hope to actually take a trip to another part of Korea while we're here.

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Dongdaemun Wandering

As I wander around town, occasionally I see logos, or signs, or other things that catch my eye, either because they are so different from what I'm used to, or I think they are amusing or entertaining.

This is a chicken restaurant sign in Dongdaemun.
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And these little guys were just outside one of the Dongdaemun Stadium subway station exits.
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Dongdaemun - East Gate

This is Dongdaemun, the east gate, one of the few surviving gates from the Joseon period. Dongdaemun is also a huge shopping area, with a toy and stationery area, a shoe area, and several large stores. We didn't find the food market, but that's on our list, because apparently you can find just about anything you ever imagined as being edible there.

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Last weekend we went wandering around the Dongdaemun area. At one point, to cross the street, we decided to go down to Cheonggyecheon instead of crossing on the street. We had to walk down and cross on some rocks in the middle of the stream.

Cheonggyecheon is one of the urban renewal projects in downtown Seoul, and is a stream that runs through town. It has been cleaned up, with art and historical plaques scattered along the route, with benches and seating areas. There are fountains and rocks, and plants also.

This is a frog statue in one of the fountains along the side of the wall.
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Seoul wandering

After dinner, we wandered around. We actually wandered all the way down to the next train station on Line 6. But it was all downhill, and there was no way I was going to turn around and go back up the hill all the way up to the Itaewon station.

This little guy was begging at this restaurant until someone tried to get his attention. Then he scurried away.

I just liked the 4 little mice in this display window. This is the display for a Japanese food restaurant, and includes some of the plastic food samples.
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Syd 'n Mel's - dinner

We headed out to Itaewon for dinner last night and ended up at Syd 'n Mel's, an Australian style restaurant. I'm at work when they serve their lunch/brunch menu, so dinner it is for us. They had a nice long wine list, but for bottles. I just had a glass of the house shiraz/cab blend.

I had the hamburger steak, which is just a hamburger patty served over mashed potatoes with grilled vegetables. They also brought out a basket of garlic bread. The garlic bread had real garlic in clearly recognizable chunks, with butter, on relatively thinly sliced pieces of french bread. It was excellent when they first brought it out, but when I tried a second piece after my entree arrived, it was chewy and tough. The main course was good. The vegetables were fresh, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction sauce. I'm not fond of grilled tomatoes usually, but here, it's still recognizable as a tomato, and tastes like a tomato, instead of a cardboard mush that sort of resembles a tomato. In addition to the tomato, there was a piece of zucchini, mushroom, eggplant, and bell pepper. The beef patty was spicy, and well-cooked. The potatoes weren't as good as I was hoping for, there were bits of what looked like green onion to give a hint of bite. But they were bland with no character.

This is the Queensland chicken served with a cheese sauce and fresh vegetables over rice. The sauce, while it looks like the nacho cheese sauce sold at stadiums in the US, didn't taste like it. The vegetables were fresh and tasted like vegetables, and the chicken was also fresh.
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Enchilada from Chili Chili

I went to Chili Chili in Itaewon the other day for lunch. It's a little tiny place, with a few tables out front, and if you head towards the back, there's a hidden staircase, with some more tables upstairs.

This is a beef enchilada, which is a flour tortilla wrapped around chunks of beef (they're like little squares the size of Scrabble tiles) and cheese, with red enchilada sauce, another red sauce, a bit of sour cream, a bit of nacho cheese sauce, some pickled jalapenos, and fresh cilantro on top. On the side is shredded lettuce and some onion.

I was a bit taken aback with the cheese sauce, but once I dug in, I couldn't really tell whether it was there or not. Overall, good. Something I'd try again. Although next time I might try the tacos. And the burrito someone else ordered looked good, too.
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The best burger in town...

Is from my own kitchen. A little overcooked this time since I'm still getting used to the cooking implements available.

I've heard of a few other burger places to try, and last night we walked by one in Itaewon, which had a line out the door. Which is a very good sign.
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Adventures in transportation...

My taxi driver fell asleep. At the wheel. With me in the car.

I decided to take a taxi back to the office after running a few errands yesterday. Grabbed a taxi outside of the building, hopped in, managed to explain where I wanted to go, and we took off. We were stopped at a red light (a long red light), and I watched his head drop down, like the people on the subway when they fall asleep. I ended up nudging him with a stack of papers in my hand to wake him up again.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Yes, another post about food. A few friends have commented about how many of my photos have to do with food. Whether it's actual photos of food, or photos of restaurants. Yes, I like food. I enjoy cooking. And these days, I don't have much free time, so what time I do spend outside of work is usually spent eating or looking for food. Hence, the preponderance of food related photos.

After work yesterday, we didn't feel like cooking, so we headed out to find dinner. There's a pasta place called Spaghettia that we've been to before that's kind of a default -- if we can't find anything else, we know we'll find something there that at least somewhat resembles what it's called. But it appears that Spaghettia is closed for the month of October. So we wandered around and ended up at the beef restaurant on the first floor of our apartment building.

They brought out a variety of dishes, including an iceberg lettuce salad with a sesame dressing, kimchi, pickled green onions, an octopus dish, some sort of paste, and what looked like pickled cabbage. The green onions were light, and had a slight vinegary taste. The kimchi was good, but too spicy for me (yes, I have a low tolerance for spicy foods -- I don't go above 1 pepper in an Indian restaurant). But I have discovered that kimchi isn't as bad as I thought it was, and I actually enjoy it, unless I feel like I could breathe flames after eating it. The octopus was good, as long as I didn't get a bite that was covered with red chili sauce.

We had bulgogi. They brought out a dish full of meat, mushrooms, vegetables, and some noodles and put it over a flame and cooked it in front of us. This is one of my favorite dishes. Once it's all cooked, they put it in individual bowls along with some of the broth.
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Yesterday, I had lunch at a traditional noodle shop in Itaewon with a co-worker. It was a gray, overcast, slightly gloomy day, so perfect for a bowl of warm noodles.

Below is the appetizer. We had kimbap, which are rolls made of seaweed wrapped around rice and fish, in this case, with a spicy sauce. I had one that wasn't spicy that was really, really good. I may ask my co-worker to write down what it was that she ordered and go up there and get some more soon. There are also vendors selling these down on the street in Insadong, and I just may have to go sample some of theirs. The spicy ones at lunch even made my co-worker cough. They made my mouth burn for a long time.

The white dish in the upper right has kimchi while the lower right one contains dried fish in a red chili paste.

My lunch consisted of noodles in a broth with a seaweed garnish. There is a small square container that had soy sauce with sesame seeds and chopped green onion in it that I added to the noodles to give it a bit more taste. The sesame seeds gave it a nice roasted flavor, the green onions a hint of bite, and the soy sauce a touch of salt.

This is a bowl of kimchi flakes. Instead of noodles, they used flour to make a dough, then cooked it into lumps -- they aren't round, they aren't square. In this case, they added kimchi to the broth and flakes, resulting in a nice spicy broth. I believe the flakes were created from flour provided by the government during the war when rice was not available, so this is a very homestyle type dish.
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Apartment puppy

I've seen this little guy out and about near my apartment building a few times now on my way to work in the mornings. This time I managed to have my camera with me and to get a photo before a driver waiting near his car shoo'd him away.
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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Take me out to the ball game...

We went to the last game of the LG Twins' season last night, against the Lotte Giants. It was a lot of fun. I've only ever been to a minor league game in the US before, so I have no idea how this would have compared against a major league game. In the forefront of the picture, with the red thunder sticks, are the Twins fans. Across the way were the Giants fans, with white, and then later in the game, orange, and then white again. Oh, the Twins won, 4-0.

They have cheerleaders for baseball. I couldn't really see the Giants cheerleaders, but I know they had a guy in white we called the Elvis guy, and I think there were some cheerleaders as well. This photo shows the Twins cheerleaders in one of many of their different outfits. Here, there's the hooker outfit, the Santa outfit, and the 1001 Arabian nights outfits. I noticed that these cheerleaders, while trying to emulate the moves and the outfits of American sports cheerleaders, were too cute to pull off some of the moves. They just didn't have the attitude to carry off some of the more rap-style music video moves they were making. They were smiling and looking entirely too happy. Which is definitely not a bad thing.

At the end of the game, they handed out red balloons and sparklers to those of us in the Twins section for an end of the season ceremony. The players came out and the cheerleaders and managers all said a few words, along the lines of thank you for the season, and we will miss the games, and look forward to seeing you next year. Then the balloons got released and you got to light your sparkler.

As we walked up to the stadium before the game, we noticed that there were KFC and Burger King vendors and booths. You could buy an entire KFC meal, complete with beer, on your way up to your seat.
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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Baby margarita and food review - The Irish Wolfhound

We went out for dinner last night -- it was the end of the week, I was tired, didn't want to cook, and there wasn't much in the refrigerator to inspire either of us, so we headed out to Itaewon.

There's an ex-pat magazine called Eloquence, and the October issue magically appeared in our apartment the other day. In there is an article on the perfect burger in Seoul. I was hoping for something reminiscent of home last night and not covered in flame sauce, so we decided to try the number one burger in Seoul according to this article. Which happens to be at The Irish Wolfhound in Itaewon.

Disappointment. The burger was decent. It was a bacon cheeseburger, and it came with lettuce, tomato, onion and garlic mayonnaise. I am not a fan of mayonnaise, so I ask them to not add that. The cheese was processed Kraft singles and flavorless. Any time processed cheese slices that come individually wrapped in plastic are used, my estimation of the establishment goes down several notches. What's wrong with good old cheddar cheese? At least cheddar has some flavor. The hamburger patty was spiced, and was a touch overwhelming. I don't mind some spice, but this was a bit much, and might be due to the Korean penchant for hot peppers and the various sauces that can be derived from them.

The fish and chips were also underwhelming, particularly since they were recommended so highly in some of the various publications we've seen floating around. The fish was fresh, but the taste was mediocre. Nothing special was the final word.

The chips, or french fries if you're American, were ok. They were a bit soft in my opinion. I like them to have some brown on the edges occasionally.

And on to the baby margarita -- we called it this because of the baby beers from the Beachside restaurant in Jacksonville Beach. The beer in the photo is a full pint. The margarita was good, if a touch on the sour side.

Overall, we'll keep looking for burgers that we like. So far, I'd actually rate the JW Marriott room service burger over the one at The Irish Wolfhound.
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