My boyfriend reminds me how snobby I am about food. I don't like American food, which he loves. He loves all food and my snobbishness annoys him. Either way, it's an important fact about me. I will always prefer to eat other-than-American cuisine and if possible I will choose Asian. But this is not a very hard and fast rule....
Tonight it was just me and my girl so we wanted to go somewhere that her brother does not like. We immediately thought anything Asian. He, in fact, LOVES American food. He is a Kansas boy, through and through whereas my girl would eat white sticky rice three times a day like her Mama if given the option.
I ordered the dolsat bi bim bap. It is so delicious. It comes out in a sizzling hot pot. The rice gets really crispy where it is touching the pot. Yes, that is a raw egg. There is some kimchi, shiitake, carrots, cucumber, zucchini and beef in there and you stir it all up with this spicy savory sauce. This dish is so healthy, filling and yummy. I just had to let you hear the sound of it sizzling when they bring it out.
The awesome thing about eating at a Korean restaurant is they give you this ice tea that they call corn tea. It's free. You can have it instead of or in addition to water. To me, it tastes like Japanese barley tea called mugicha so I'm not sure what's up with them calling it corn tea. It tastes kind of like earthy water. I love it but I'm not saying you will.
The other awesome thing is pan chan. If you like the small plates or tapas idea, you will freak about eating Korean. When you order dolsat bi bim bap they bring you out 6 little side dishes. Tonight was kind of weird because 3 of them were some form of kimchi and I really can't eat it. But I always love the tofu they bring out, whichever way they prepare it and any non-kimchi veggies are always wonderful.
The thing you see below on the left I had never had before and I was so excited to get this one. It was baked eggs. Now, I don't know if you've ever had baked eggs, but I don't think they are usually like this. In fact, this is more towards chawan - which is more of a steamed savory egg custard. This wasn't custardy. It was very light and airy but it was cooked in a broth - or baked in the pot it was sitting it. Ah, it was so amazing!
My baby had the kids beef. I love that this came as you see below. I mean, my daughter loves steak but I would never dare serve it to her mixed with a bunch of onions, a salad on the right and some unknown slimy something on the left. Still she picked up her chopsticks and went to town. I couldn't even get her to wait until I took a picture! She said she loves Korean food.
Ever since I lived in Japan I have been interested in Korea and frankly my interest just grows more and more over time. My cousin lived there long enough to get fluent and married a woman from there. I am fascinated by the similarities between Japanese and Korean language, food and perhaps culture although I don't know enough about Korean culture to really say that.
I have been hearing about the dangers of North Korea for 15 years and I decided tonight to ask our waiter his opinion on a few things.
I asked him if he was from Korea and he said yes. He grew up there until he was 17 and then he moved here with his family and has lived here for 7 years. I asked him if he would sit down and talk to me a little bit about his thoughts on North Korea.
I don't know if most people realize this but Korea has one name for it's own country: Korea. The people from South Korea look at the people from North Korea as the same as them. Granted, for fifty years now they haven't been able to hang out together. And this does matter. Their language is slightly different. North Koreans don't use any foreign loan words. They haven't had the outside influence. I'm certain their cultures are miles apart. But he said he views them as the same people.
South Koreans of this guy's generation have been raised to believe that their brothers in the North are poor and unfortunate and the victims of a terrible dictator. Unfortunately, it seems that their brothers have been raised to believe that South Koreans are the enemy.
He said that people of his generation hope for a united country. And that's just what I would have thought. It reminds me of East Germany and West Germany but I didn't ask him about that comparison. I asked him if it was like the northeast versus the midwest in the United States and he said no, not at all. They are at war.
I wonder why we never get involved over there. I'm sure there is a pretty good reason.
Anyway, I feel really lucky that I get to eat Korean food and talk to a kid from there and I guess I should call up my cousin and ask her what she thinks.