Friday, February 18, 2011

Hwasarang (fire love) Galbi

Next up (and last but definitely not least!), galbi!! This by far has to be my favorite galbi place in Korea yet: Hwasarang (fire love). It’s located in Yeongtong Park near the aforementioned Ciudad de Mexico at the base of the foot bridge right below Yuppie bar.

I would eat here once a week if I could, but I have very few people in my neighborhood with which to go out to dinner. I can occasionally bribe a friend from work to go with me after work, though. This place is more expensive than your mom & pop galbi places, but the quality of meat and side dishes more than make up for it. The price for one serving of meat can range from 12000 – 24000 won, but it is definitely worth the price: the meat is tender and very good quality. I typically order the beef since I’m not a big fan of pork, so I can’t attest to how good the pork is here. In addition to the typical lettuce and sesame leaves, you also get a kimchi jeon, some soup, salad, corn dish thing, and random little odds and ends. Depending on the season, you get fruit (typically apples) in that strange mayonnaise dressing that Koreans tend to be so fond of. I can’t express how much I love this place…mmmm, galbi…. All I really have to say about it is that it’s delicious (I’ve never used that word so much in my life until I moved to Korea – the land where everything is “delicious”).
Another good thing about this place is they don’t tend to hover over foreigners and watch you eat and try to cook your meat for you like they do at the smaller shops. A friend that used to live here and I tend to like our meat a little more well done and would have to shoo away the ajumma before she would try to take it off the grill and throw it away. For dinner, it’s better to get there before 7pm if you don’t want to have to wait for a table – it fills up pretty fast.

So If you’re looking for a good galbi place in the area, this is definitely the one to choose!

Cooking the meat. I was so intent on the food and talking with my friends that I almost forgot to take a few pictures.

Taj Indian Restaurant

Next up, we have an Indian restaurant that I had been wanting to try for a while and was recommended by a good friend: Taj. I finally got a friend from work to go out with me and give it a shot. There are a couple of different locations in the area, but I’m not sure exactly where (there’s one in Bundang, I think). This branch is located across from the post office in Yeongtong on the 2nd floor of a building. If you're in front of Yeongtong Kinex and KFC, walk down the same street toward the post office.

The atmosphere is cozy and quiet with soft lighting and statues placed along the wall. The staff dress in regional attire and speak Korean and English.

The menu consists of your typical selection of curries, daal, and naan that you can get here in Korea. As far as price goes, I’m not sure it’s worth it. Most non-Korean/Chinese/Japanese restaurants tend to be more expensive just simply due to everything needing to be imported; however, Taj is one of the more Indian restaurants that I’ve been to. A main dish (curry or daal) will run you about 15000 won - 18000 won and side of rice is 3000 won. My friend that I went with refused to let me pay (I did get to buy coffee after dinner at least), so I definitely owe him a nice dinner.
The food itself was delicious and good quality, but I have had places just as good at better prices. Two things that I have to try at any Indian restaurant are samosas (Indian dumplings basically) and paleek paneer (a spinach and cheese curry) – I pretty much judge a place on how well I like its samosas. The samosas here appear to be handmade and were a nice size.

The paleek paneer was also quite good with a nice amount of cheese curds – I really have no clue what kind of cheese is in paleek paneer, but I love it.

My friend got one of the daals – daal makhani maybe? He seemed to enjoy it well enough for his first time trying it.

Jungwoo trying to pose for a good picture (he didn't like the first one I took)

The garlic naan was also pretty good and not burnt, which is always a bonus. The chicken curries sounded good, but I tend to avoid chicken curry since I don’t like to break teeth on a random chicken bone: every Indian place I’ve been too tends to leave bits of bone in the chicken they use in chicken curry. So, even though I like them, I tend to not order them.

So, overall, the place was very nice – nice atmosphere and good food. If the prices were lower, I’d go here more often, but since they aren’t, I’ll continue to go to Chakraa by my work.

Ciudad de Mexico

Ciudad de Mexico – a “Mexican” place in Yeongtong that opened up last summer. It's located in Yeongtong Park at the base of the foot bridge on the NOW Bar side.

When I first saw this place, I was sooo excited: that didn't last long. I’d be surprised if any foreigners still go to this place – it’s not that good. Ok, the quesadillas aren’t that bad, but I could make that at home. You can eat in or get take out – I’ve only ever chosen take out (except for once) because the place is quite small. I haven’t been here in a very long time and doubt I'll go back anytime soon, so sorry, I don't have any pictures of the food. An order of tacos consist of basically 4 mini soft tacos with a choice of meat - they're about the size of what you might serve at a Super Bowl party as finger food. If I remember correctly, the meat choices are beef, salted chicken, and seasoned chicken that tastes like they just marinated it in Heinz Chili Sauce. As a side, you get baked beans instead of refried or black beans and a cup of sour cream. I haven’t tried too many things here and I doubt that I ever will. When I saw this place open, I got really excited and thought, “Yes! I won’t have to go to Seoul for Mexican food anymore!” But alas, a relationship with Ciudad de Mexico was not meant to be and I still have to go to On the Border in Sinchon, Taco Rico in Gangnam, or Tacos Amigos in Itaewon for my Mexican food fix.

So, yeah…I don’t recommend this place except for the novelty of it. The food isn’t that great and is more of a Korean take on Tex-Mex that falls short by miles. I love Korea, but they’re the only country I know of that can take good food and make it bad *sigh*.

Update Ciudad de Mexico has been closed for a while now, so don't bother looking for it. I can't say I'm too surprised, honestly, since the food wasn't that great.

Imsil Cheese Pizza

As noted earlier this week, icky weather and poopy internet connections have kept me from blogging lately – sorry! So, today I’ll be posting a couple of different places to make up for the absence.

First on the list is Imsil Cheese Pizza. This is a pizza chain that tends to be operated as kind of a mom & pop pizza shop.

Depending on the size, toppings, and crust selection, the price will range from about 9900 won – 14000 won. I tend to go for simple when I order pizza in Korea – pepperoni & black olive or just pepperoni. I just find it easier to order if I’m ordering delivery, and there are very rarely any surprise toppings making guest appearances (you know I’m talking about you, Mr. Corn!!). It’s not that I dislike corn on my pizza, I just like to have what I ordered, and only what I ordered, on my pizza.

Anyway, back to Imsil Cheese Pizza. The cheese crust pizza is only slightly more expensive that the regular crust and is quite good. They also put the toppings under the cheese so they don’t get burnt. When I was a kid back in Missouri, my sister would always ask Pizza Hut to put the pepperoni under the cheese so it wouldn’t get burnt in the pizza oven, and I’ve found over the years that this tends to work out better for most pizzas. Imsil Cheese also doesn’t overdo it on the sauce so you don’t have sauce dripping down your hand while trying to eat it. You do also get the pizza side item staple – the cup of sweet pickles and a little pack of hot sauce.

The little couple that runs the place is very friendly and the pizzas only take 10 to 15 minutes. They also offer delivery in the Yeongtong area. The store is very tiny and only has one small table for customers waiting on pizza. For a quick pick-up as take out on the way home or delivery, I definitely prefer this place over Pizza Hut. It's located kind of catty-cornered from Samsung Digital Plaza at one of the main intersections in Yeongtong right next to the 300 block of apartments. I'll be posting a map soon to make things easier to find!!

My favorite: pepperoni w/ cheese crust


Monday, February 14, 2011

Delay in Postings

Sorry for the delay in updates!! I have several ready to go - I just need to get them posted. Slow internet connection at home has prevented uploading of anything and snow and such has kept me in from exploring the neighborhood. I'll be posting a few new posts over the next couple of days, though!