Monday, July 4, 2011

내고향 왕만두 (Hometown King Mandu)

I haven't blogged about too much Korean food despite being in Korea...sorry 'bout that, heh. I just don't eat a lot of Korean food anymore. One Korean food that I do still enjoy, though, is mandu, a.k.a. dumplings. There are basically two types or mandu: kimchi and gogi (meat). You can also get them filled with red bean paste as more of a dessert bun.

This new bun place opened in Yeongtong located diagonally across the street from Homeplus' front entrance a few months ago and, according to a Korean friend of mine, is a quite famous mandu place. I know a few times that I've walked by, there has been a line down the block waiting to order some mandu. There are tons of mandu shops all over the place and such, but apparently this one is better? I dunno. You can spot mandu shops by looking for the round metal containers that hold the deliciousness in a steamy warmness.

Now, 왕 in Korean means "King," so the large dumplings are king dumplings. They are large enough to be a meal on their own and only cost 1000 won! And they come in this adorable bag.

But I really don't want to imagine my mandu with a cute little winky face that reminds me of Rocketslime.

Anywho, this is a king kimchi mandu:

The filling for kimchi mandu consists of kimchi (duh), clear noodle bits, and sometimes bits of pork, so if you're vegetarian, you still might have to avoid the kimchi mandu. King gogi (meat) mandu will be the same except more meat and no kimchi. I prefer kimchi mandu to gogi mandu. When you buy the king mandu, the outside is made more of a breading than a typical dumpling wrap. They are too big for that and would bust open all over your nice shiny suit if they were wrapped in the dumpling wrap. You can also get mini mandu (10 for 3500 won here) at the mandu places, too.

Now, the other dumpling you can get is the red bean bun (찐빵 - "steamed bun"). These massive bad boys also cost only 1000 won.

To give you an idea of how large these things are:

They are definitely big enough to share with a friend, but all I had was Bessie. Here kitty kitty...

She didn't want any :(

So, there ya have a mandu place. You can get mini-mandu at any number of Korean places, but you can only get KING MANDU!!! at the places that specifically sell mandu.



Next up is a typical Japanese chain in Korea: Misoya. This used to be one of my favorite places to eat when I was teaching at Avalon years ago since there was a branch located right across the street from the hakwon in Dong Suwon. You can find these just about everywhere (or a similar place) in Korea. There are two in the Yeongtong area: one next to Papa John’s (near 1 danji) when you enter Yeongtong (where Kyochon Chicken used to be :( *sad face*) and one located diagonally from Homeplus near Nilli’s.

One of the best things about Misoya is that it’s not expensive: most meals will run between 6000 and 9000 won and are filling. I can’t comment on the quality of the sushi since I don’t eat it, but I’ve heard it can be hit and miss from my friends. However, I have tried the California rolls – I just pretend the fish roe are sprinkles ^^ (Yay! Sprinkles!!) The pork cutlets sometimes seem a little undercooked, and I’ve had to ask them to cook it longer. Pork is one of those meats that I absolutely have to have cooked all the way. I don’t go here as often as I used to, so I don’t have pictures of a lot of the food, but I do have a few (poorly taken) menu shots.

In addition to sushi and pork cutlets (donkasu) they have udon and bulgogi dishes.
The dish that I’ve been getting the most lately is the mozzarella cheese and pork cutlet. This is basically a mozzarella stick with some pork in the middle.

Meals also come with a cabbage salad with a...weird dressing on it. It used to be a Thousand Islands type dressing, but now I don’t know what it is. You also get a cup of miso soup, a bowl of rice, radish kimchi (ggakdugi, I believe), a dipping sauce for the cutlet, and some corn slaw (basically corn, peas, and carrots in a mayo dressing).

The food, to me at least, seems alright as far as quality. I would imagine Misoya is the Japanese-food equivalent of McDonald’s, so I wouldn’t base my whole Korean-Japanese food experience on Misoya. For a quick dinner or lunch, it’s a decently priced place to stop in and grab a bite to eat.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nilli's Pasta & Pizza

I’ve had several posts waiting to go up…I’ve just been lazy.

So we’ll start off with Nilli’s Pasta & Pizza. This isn’t a bad place to get some pasta or pizza…as you might expect. When looking for this chain, look for “Pasta & Pizza” in large letters – it took me a year of eating here at the branch by Samsung before I realized that it actually had a name. A few months ago, to my delight, they opened a branch in Yeongtong across from Homeplus. If you’re leaving Homeplus via the front entrance, cross the road diagonally to the right and it will be on that block (on the road that runs in front of Homeplus).

The Yeongtong location hasn’t been too busy when I’ve went in for dinner or lunch, which is a good thing since they don’t have a whole lot of space inside.

The prices are pretty typical for an Italian place in Korea. Pasta dishes will typically be between 9000 won and 13000 won (add about 6000 won if you want to make it a portion for two peeps), while the pizzas will run between 12500 for a margherita to 15000 for a gorgonzola. Sodas will be the typical (approx.) 2000 won that you find at Korean restaurants; however, you can get a basket of garlic bread (2 pcs.) and a soda for 3500, I think.

Speaking of the garlic bread – this is probably my favorite thing at Nilli’s because…wait for it…it’s not sweet!! Yup, at least as far as I can tell, it’s not that sweet garlic bread that so many places try to pass off on you. Granted, it is possible that my taste buds have been ruined after 4 years of living in Korea, so you’ll have to let me know if it tastes sweet to any of you.

Nilli’s offers red sauce pasta and cream sauce pasta dishes. The only pasta that I’ve tried has been the cream sauce ones (and non-seafood). The cream sauce really doesn’t have any flavor – it’s just plain white sauce. Luckily, they do season the chicken and such that they put in the pasta, but other than that there isn’t a lot of flavor to the sauce itself.
The chicken and mushroom pasta:

The pizzas aren’t bad – I’ve tried several of them (margherita, rucola, gorgonzola, etc.). They’re good for sharing with a friend as an appetizer but not really as a meal by themselves if you’re hungry. The crust is super thin and so are the toppings.
Here’s the gorgonzola pizza, which is a sauceless pizza with bleu cheese crumbles and white cheese that comes with a honey and garlic dipping sauce.

Overall, I quite like Nilli’s since it’s not very busy most of the time and the garlic bread is good. There are a couple of other places in Yeongtong (like Basta Pasta) and a new one in the Yeongtong Park area (haven’t tried this one yet), but I think I prefer Nilli’s over Basta Pasta because they seem to not be as awkward around foreigners.