Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving dinner

This was my Thanksgiving Day turkey dinner. It's a bit fuzzy because I've been taking photos without the flash because the flash tends to turn everything white. We had an office ex-pat Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel up the street. We had turkey, dressing and gravy from Popeye's, with an Asian style buffet that included sushi, smoked salmon, fried shrimp and fish, green salad, japchae (noodles), ham that didn't taste like ham, and a few other things.

It's the weirdest Thanksgiving turkey dinner I have ever had.

It was very nice to be surrounded by friends and colleagues from work. But what I missed the most were the good smells. I loved going to Mom's house for Thanksgiving, driving down the day of Thanksgiving, and walking into the house and smelling all the good smells. And being able to sneak some of the bread set aside for the dressing.
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Raw fish dinner

We had a raw fish dinner last Wednesday night at Noryangjin market.

1) Pick your fish. Below we have 1 red snapper and 1 yellowjack. The vendor pulls your selected fish out of the tank, puts it in the plastic bin and weighs it. You pay based on the weight of your fish.

2) Vendor then slices and dices your fish into bite sized pieces and delivers your fish to one of the restaurants off to the side of the market. The white is the red snapper and the red is the yellowjack, and we all agreed that the yellowjack was better.

3) After digging into the raw fish, served with wasabi and soy sauce, and side dishes of lettuce, sesame leaves, carrots, peppers, and garlic, additional things can be ordered. One method of eating the fish, instead of just dipping it into soy sauce and wasabi, is to wrap it up in a piece of lettuce with a piece of sesame leaf, add some fish/pepper sauce stuff, and maybe a piece of garlic.

These are the oysters we ordered. I tried an oyster for the first time, and have to admit that I am not sure what the appeal is of eating something that tastes like seawater.

These are the grilled shrimp we ordered. Quite yummy, but very messy. Note that the tablecloth is plastic. We just left the shells on the table.

4) After eating everything else, they bring to your table a pot of bubbling soup made from the other parts of your fish that didn't make it on your plate earlier. It has the fish, red paste, and some greens, plus some bean sprouts. It's quite spicy in my opinion.

My bowl of fish soup.

A delicious meal.
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Stroll Random Photos

On the streets and sidewalks of Seoul are all these metal markers. Turns out they indicate where utility lines are.

Today is Sunday, so lots of places are closed. This is one of the many random alleys out behind our apartment building, that on any other day would be thronged with people shopping. But today, it's pretty empty except for some of the street food vendors, which are like mini-restaurants parked in the middle of the sidewalk. They are complete with plastic walls and heaters.

There is another park near our apartment complete with various statues. This is a statue of Wolnam Lee Sang-Jae, who died a martyr. He apparently was quite active in the resistance of Japanese colonization.

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Not far from our place is Unhyeongung, a former Korean royal residence.

One of the entrance gates:

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Fall Foliage (5)

A bit hazy today. It was cloudy yesterday, but nice clear this morning, with a slight haze coming in later. As you can see, all the bright yellows are gone since the gingkos lost all their leaves all at once a few days ago.

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What's this?

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Homemade beef hot pot - Korean style

A few weeks ago I bought a Korean cookbook (in English, of course). This was my first attempt at making something out of it. Although this is a bit of a modification due to ingredients on hand. I was aiming for a beef hot pot type dish, similar to ones I have had at Korean restaurants. It turned out remarkably similar to what I've had, and we both really liked it.

Korean-style beef hot pot
1 package of beef bulgogi (thinly sliced beef)
1 package mushrooms
6 green onions

Season beef with a mixture of equal amounts soy sauce and sugar, 1-2 cloves garlic (crushed), several finely chopped green onions, a half teaspoon of sesame seeds, and about a half teaspoon of sesame oil. Let beef sit in seasoning mix in refrigerator.

Slice mushrooms, slice remaining green onions into 2-3 inch long pieces. Put beef, mushrooms and green onion in a large sauce pan. Add 1 cup beef broth and enough water to just cover (can use all water if no beef broth available). Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium. When it comes to a boil again, add a tablespoon or so of soy sauce. Stir, and serve with rice.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dessert at Amigos Restaurant

We had dinner at Amigos Mexican Restaurant the other night. It was just too darned cold to wander around deciding where to eat, so we headed straight for something we knew would be okay, and was close to the subway station.

This time, we had dessert. We ordered the apple empanadas and the brownie. One thing I've noticed here is that portions are more reasonably sized, so I actually have room for dessert even if I have finished everything on my dinner plate. I also like feeling comfortably full, not overfull like I often do if I try and eat all the food served on my plate in an American restaurant.

The desserts were okay. There was too much going on on each plate to really be able to say they were great. Along with the apple empanadas, there was ice cream with caramel sauce and colored sprinkles, and underneath the empanadas was a candied citrus rind, on top of the empanadas was what appears to have been a berry sauce, but had no flavor, and on the edge of the plate was cinnamon. There were just too many competing flavors that hid the apple. And I love apple desserts, and to have the apple overpowered by everything else was just disappointing.

Brownie dessert:

Apple empanadas:
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Evergreen - lunch

This is the chicken curry at Evergreen, an Indian restaurant in Itaewon. Instead of chunks of chicken, you get real chicken pieces, in this case, a drumstick and a thigh, with a small piece of white meat. The samosas were nice and spicy. And the garlic naan was good. The service here is very slow, and lunch can take a really long time. I need to check the place out for dinner or for the buffet and see if it takes just as long then.
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Gingko leaves

The ginkgo trees all lost their leaves in one single night. The temperature dropped precipitously and the weather turned bitter cold over night last Tuesday. The evening before it was windy, and the next morning as I headed to the bus stop, the sidewalks were carpeted with the gingko leaves. By the time I headed home in the evening, the street sweepers had swept all the leaves up.

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Fall Foliage (4)

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Patio -- dinner

A week ago we had dinner at Patio, an Italian restaurant in Itaewon. It was quite good. We went with the fixed price menus. I had the pasta, he had the steak. We both had a green salad, that came with some shrimp, followed by cream of asparagus soup (see photo), then the main course. Dessert was tiramisu.

Everything was quite tasty. The soup was excellent. We will undoubtedly go back at some point in the future.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

On my way to work...

The other morning I took a couple of photos from the pedestrian overpass that I take each morning from the bus stop to my office. The ginkgo trees are turning yellow and losing their leaves, and the view up the street of the trees has been amazing to watch. Each morning, the colors get just a bit more vivid.

This first photo is the one looking south towards the Han River (not visible). On the left side of the photo is a side street, which is the street the office is located on. The bus stop I get off at is on the right side of the photo, right about where the break between the ginkgo trees is.

I'm actually standing in the middle of the pedestrian overpass, looking out over the Cirque du Soleil Alegria billboard that's now on the overpass. As someone from Southern California, I am still amazed to see road signs, freeway signs, and billboards completely open and unprotected without barbed wire. They even leave the parts of the billboard sitting out on the pedestrian overpass while they're changing them. In Southern California, if they didn't magically disappear, they'd end up completely covered in graffiti in seconds.

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Korean bbq

Several of us went out for dinner the other night to a Korean bbq restaurant. We had our own little room, and had to take our shoes off outside in the hallway. There were little cushions at each seat.

On the table when we arrived were dishes with kimchi, tofu, pickled radish, a soy paste, and a green onion salad. Plates of meat were delivered, then placed on the grill in the middle of the table. There was also a plate of mushrooms and a bowl of garlic cloves that we added to the grill.

After the meat was cooked, you could either eat it wrapped with the lettuce leaves, with some of the soy paste, a piece of garlic, and some of the green onion salad. My personal favorite was lettuce wrapped around a piece of mushroom, a piece of meat, a piece of garlic, and a bit of the green onion salad.

Otherwise, you could quickly dip just an end of the meat in a small dish containing salt and pepper and eat it as is. Either way, it was very, very tasty. Along with all of this, we also had a bottle of soju. I don't particularly care for soju, but the point was made that it went very well with all the flavors on the table.
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Fall Foliage (2)

This if from last weekend (11/1 or 2).

Tapgol Park:
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008


If you are a U.S. citizen, please, go vote.

This is your opportunity to be heard.

If you're not registered to vote or you didn't bother, shame on you. Many people around the world are working to help make sure that people just like you have the right to vote, the right to express their opinion. The least you can do is actually exercise that right.

As for me, I'll be checking the news first thing tomorrow morning -- we'll still have a few hours to go before the polls close on the west coast after I get to work tomorrow morning. I mailed my ballot a couple of weeks ago, which, by the way, I actually received via email.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chef Meili's - dinner

Czech beer, real apple strudel, sausages, and home made sauerkraut -- must be Chef Meili's, an Austrian restaurant in Itaewon.

I've eaten here for lunch before and really liked it. Dinner is just as good. Unfortunately, we ate our dinners before recalling that I did have my camera with me. So no photos of the mixed grill with potatoes or the roast pork with sauerkraut this time. The mixed grill contained medallions of beef and pork, chicken breast, and a sausage, served on potatoes, with a small dish of mustard. Everything was excellent. I was a bit concerned when I ordered it because in the US, ordering any dish described as having beef, pork, chicken AND sausage would come out on a gigantic platter and I'd have enough food for over a week. But the portions are highly reasonable. And the next time we eat there, we will probably split a salad or appetizer first.

The roast pork was served over sauerkraut, and was quite good, apparently, seeing as how there wasn't anything left at the end of the meal. The observation was made that the sauerkraut was definitely home made, and tasted quite good.

The beverage menu had a fair amount of bottles of wine available, along with European beers and some schnapps. This is the Czech beer available.

And this, this is the absolutely delicious apple strudel. I was ready to order a second serving of this. It was served hot, with a dollop of whipped cream on the side.
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