Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shabu Shabu Lunch

Yesterday we went for lunch at a Shabu Shabu restaurant near Suseo station, exit #1. Shabu shabu is a style of meal where you get a plate of raw meat and vegetables and you put them in a heated bowl of broth in front of you to cook. This is popular in Japan, too, but it originated in China.

This is the place setting. When we sat down, we had kimchi (upper left), seaweed (middle), squid (right), with a bowl of dipping sauce which is like Japanese ponzu sauce, with a slice of lemon, chopped green onions, and some powdered red pepper.

This is the plate of raw vegetables. There were five types of mushrooms, a slice of pumpkin, a few dumplings, a bit of fungus, and various types of leafy vegetables, including cabbage. There was also a bit of a jelly like substance, but I don't remember what it was called, or what it was made out of.

This is the beef, which is very thinly sliced. You take one piece at a time, and put it in the boiling broth, and swish it around for a few minutes. It cooks very quickly. Then you dip it in the dipping sauce and enjoy.

This is the first batch of goodies put in the broth to cook.

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Time to power up the frog

It's that time of year again. When it's so dry your skin cracks. When you touch other people you practically electrocute them. When it's hard to breathe. That means it is time to power up the humidifier. This is my frog humidifier on my desk at work.

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Tis the season for clementines. These little beauties are like seedless tangerines. And they are addictive.

It only took us a day and a half to go through this whole bowl of clementines. And they're everywhere -- in the market, in the commissary, and in the back of trucks throughout town. We can get a bag of 10 small ones for less than a $1.00.

Did I mention I love these things?
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

What I usually come home to...

When I come home, I step off the elevator, and most evenings, I immediately start sniffing because something smells good.  If I'm really lucky, the smell just gets stronger the closer I get to our door.  Then, I open the door, and usually I see a bunch of foil covered containers on the dining room table.  I never know what I'm going to have for dinner, but I've not been disappointed yet.
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bangkok adventures

I realize I never did write up our adventures in Bangkok from back in October. So, I'll start doing that. It helps remind me of fun and good times in warmer climes, and to think of things I might want to do during the Husband's upcoming spring break. We're leaning towards going back to Hong Kong, but there are so many other places out in this part of the world that I'd like to see, such as Vietnam, Angkor Wat, Singapore, Phuket. But we'll see. Spring break is still a couple of months away.

The lime green drink above was our welcome drink.  It was sweet, cloyingly sweet.  So sweet it made my teeth hurt.  I have no idea what was in it.  But it was a tropical drink in a tropical place!  And very much enjoyed for that reason alone.

We arrived in Bangkok late in the evening, so we checked in, and discovered the hotel served food in the cafe on the ground floor.  So we had ourselves a little Thai food.

Chicken in a green curry sauce, with little Asian eggplants (the little round green balls):

Fried rice noodles with beef and kale:

I've been hunting ever since then for something similar to this fried rice noodle dish.  Buddha's Belly in Itaewon has something similar, with more vegetables.  And I've found some possible recipes in an Asian cookbook I have.  This dish is similar to pad thai, but without the peanuts.  And is now one of my all time favorite things to eat.  Along with Chinese dumplings.  And just about anything Mom makes.
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Lunch! Barbecue bulgogi and cold noodles

Today we went to a bulgogi barbecue restaurant that also serves cold noodles.  I couldn't possibly tell you the name, but it's down an alley near Exit #4 of the Euljiro-4 station. It was a lovely day for a walk, so we walked the 20 minutes or so over that way.  I'm still trying to try as many different Korean foods as I can with a good friend before she leaves Seoul on a new adventure.

At each place setting, there is a dish of the insides of leeks (the green stuff), with some red cabbage and onion (left) and a bowl of water kimchi with cabbage, radish, and green onion.

There was also the regular kimchi (top) and thinly sliced potato (bottom), plus the barbecue fixings.  You take a piece of lettuce, put cooked meat on top, then put some of the soybean paste mixed with pepper paste (small bowl on the left) on top.  If you're feeling really brave, you can add raw garlic (small bowl in the middle).  I opt for grilled garlic myself.

Bulgogi is very thinly sliced beef marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil.  Then, in this case, it's grilled with some mushrooms.  This is the before picture.  Because the meat is marinated so long, it no longer has that pink color raw beef usually has.

After grilling.

Along with our bulgogi, we also had Pyong-yang style noodles.  These are very thin buckwheat noodles (kind of like soba), in a slightly sour cold broth.  Vinegar and mustard were brought to the table to add to taste.  Also in the broth were bits of white kimchi (kimchi without the red pepper paste) and very thinly sliced bits of Asian pear.  The cold noodles are a northern Korean style food.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

soybean paste soup with mushrooms lunch

Yesterday, I had yet a different type of Korean food for lunch.

The side dishes: Spinach with sesame, dried squid, kimchi, potato, and radish (center).

The main dish is a bowl with rice topped with seaweed, with some sesame oil in the bottom of the bowl to facilitate the mixing of the food. The dish to the left contains two types of toppings, one was bean sprouts with leeks/green onions, and the other was a mix of green leafy vegetables. Put some of both in the bowl with the rice, and mix. Add pepper paste to taste. In other words, mine was still mostly green and white, and others had bowls of red with hints of green.

Miso paste soup with mushrooms. The broth can be added to the rice bowl above, if desired. In the soup were clams, mushrooms of several types, peppers, green onions, and red pepper powder.

Octopus in spicy red sauce, with some onion and sesame seeds. This can also be added to the rice bowl and mixed in as desired.

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Macau Adventures

On our last full day in Hong Kong, we took the ferry over to Macau.  Hong Kong was a former British colony/territory.  Macau was a former Portuguese territory.  And the difference is quite obvious.  First, the signs in Macau are in Portuguese and Chinese.  I found some of the names of the buildings to be entertaining, because they'd read, "Edificio del," followed by Chinese characters.  The style of the buildings in the old town area was also much different - it was like being in the old town area of Cartagena.

Macau is also where gambling is legal.  And the Vegas casinos have certainly made their mark.  We only stayed on the main part of Macau, we didn't go south to the smaller islands where the Venetian and some of the other casinos are located, so all observations are based on the main part of Macau.  There is an area that has a Wynn casino, and a few others clustered together.  And they all have that over-the-top look that also exists in Vegas.  Inside the Wynn, it looked much like the interior of the newer casinos in Vegas, including the high end shopping areas.  The only difference was the instructions on the machines were in Chinese.  Fortunately, the machines are the same the world over!

Lisboa Hotel and Casino.

Statue of Kun Lam on the south side of the island.  We walked from the ferry terminal along the south end towards Macau Tower, then up toward the old town area.

View along the main road along the southern coast area.

Macau Tower.  Apparently you can bungee jump from this building.

Plaza in the old town area. The streets are lined with shops just like any shopping area anywhere else in the world, including Baskin Robbins, McDonalds, Body Shop, etc.

Ruins of St. Paul's.

Old town area street.  The streets are very narrow, and there are balconies along most of them.  So when it started pouring rain, we were able to stay somewhat dry by walking along the buildings.

After wandering through old town, and once the rain began, we started working our way back to the casino area, where we had a great dim sum lunch at Red 8 in the Wynn Casino.  The Shanghainese style dumplings were great!  After that, I won a whole $2 HKD (about $0.25 USD) playing one of the slot machines.  Then it was back to the ferry terminal.  The trip from Hong Kong to Macau via ferry takes about an hour to cover 70 miles.  And if you're like me, and get a bit queasy on boats sometimes, that hour can feel like several hours.
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samgyetang lunch

A week ago, I had samgyetang for lunch, at a restaurant somewhat nearby. Unfortunately, I have no idea what the place is called, but I can at least find it again when my Seoul food guide leaves town in a month or so.

Samgyetang is chicken soup with ginseng root. The chicken (yes, a whole chicken) is stuffed with rice, ginseng root, and a few other things, such as a jujube (no, not the candy), a chestnut, a ginkgo nut, is in the bowl, filled with broth, with sesame seeds and sliced green onions scattered on top. Chickens here are normal size, meaning it fits in this bowl, which is really only about 6" or less across. If we buy a whole chicken in the Lotte Mart, and set it next to a whole chicken purchased at the commissary, the Korean chicken is about a quarter of the size of the American chicken. It's kind of eye-opening to see the difference between a normal chicken, and one that has been bred to have super-sized breasts.

A small bowl is provided that you pour salt in, then sprinkle some pepper on top. As you pull pieces of chicken off, you dip them in the salt before eating.

We also had a green onion or leek pancake. They place a layer of leeks down first, then pour the batter on top, and cook it in a skillet. There are usually small bits of octopus or squid mixed in. You take a piece, and dip it into a dish of soy sauce, then enjoy.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

By popular request...

I've received a few requests, almost demands, for photos of our apartment. And you know who you are.

We live in a serviced residence, which means furnished apartment with a cleaning service. The cleaning service occasionally leaves something to be desired. Their dish washing skills amount to pretty much rinsing and drying the dishes in the sink. And each cleaning lady puts dishes away where she thinks they should go (and each has her very own distinct opinion on this subject), so when we need something, we usually have to go search for it. And it isn't usually in a place where I'd think it should go.

This is our living room area. We have a strange semi-balcony area, with a sliding glass door about 2.5 feet in from the actual windows.

The other side of our living area, with the entertainment center. In front of the window is our clothes drying rack. We have an all in one clothes washer/dryer, that washes, but doesn't really dry, unless you only dry one item at a time. Hence, the rack. There's also a desk.

This is our galley kitchen, big enough for 1 person, and 1 person only. We have an oven and stove, and no really usable counter space at all. Behind me is the refrigerator, and a cabinet that holds the microwave and a couple of cupboards that hold food. And the dishes that the cleaning lady of the day thinks belong there.

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New Year's Eve/Christmas dinner

This past holiday season, we spent Christmas in Hong Kong, so we didn't have a fancy home cooked Christmas dinner. We saved it instead for New Year's Eve, when the husband returned from his adventures in Chinese transportation.

Mom sent me the usual holiday care package, which included a 1 lb package of Trader Joe's wild rice. It just isn't the holidays without wild rice. This is what an entire package looks like all cooked up. And yep, we ate all of it.

We also had pot roast with potatoes.

None of this is as good as Mom's planked salmon, or Mom's turkey with homemade gravy. But it was very delicious, especially for someone that had been eating hot noodles and experimenting with "shlf heating pork strip food" for the past week. I've been promised that the write up, complete with photos, will be ready for public consumption soon.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hong Kong Adventure, Day 3

On our 3rd day in Hong Kong, we were originally planning on going to Macau, but when we got to the ferry ticket counters, the next tickets sold were for 1 p.m. or later, which meant we wouldn't have much time available.  So we bought tickets for Sunday instead.  Then we headed up to Hollywood Road and the Mid-Levels Area, which has antique stores lining the street.

Typical street.

Another street, with a Thai food restaurant sign.

Man Mo Temple.  Inside are two areas, full of burning incense.  So much burning incense that they have huge exhaust fans running to keep the air flowing through.

After walking along Hollywood Road to the Mid Level Escalators, we took them up to Soho, and saw wine shops, wine bars, and cafes.  Then we headed back down and caught a tram out to Happy Valley.

Happy Valley Racecourse.  When there are no races, the park inside the Happy Valley Racecourse is open, so we walked around the race track.

Trams at the Happy Valley terminus.  When it was time to leave, you just go get on the first tram in line heading in the direction you want to go, and after the driver has had his smoke break, he gets back on and away you go.  It's quite like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, especially if you're sitting on the upper deck in the front.  But at $2HKG, you can't beat the price.

Shop cat in Wan Chai.

Signs seen from the pedestrian overpass from the Wan Chai MTR station to the convention center.

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