It was raining and miserable outside yet this didn’t stop a large group of people to line up in front of a food stall selling something fried called hotteok. The long line and rain didn’t deter us either, as we are leaving Korea tomorrow and this might very well be our last chance to try this apparently popular street food. Our wait was rewarded with a very cheap disc of fried dough filled with a hot gooey filling of black sugar and cinnamon. It was really good and tasted a bit like Dutch oliebollen, yet much tastier. Unfortunately we only bought one hotteok to share, because I wouldn’t have minded eating one by myself… But we needed to save space for all the other Korean snacks Jungwon wanted us to try later.
Next we went to the Teastory Museum for some traditional Korean tea. It’s more a tea house than a museum, but nice nonetheless. The tea was more expensive than a meal (which is still very affordable) and they’d run out of the cinnamon tea I selected, so I had to make due with some other black tea. They served it very nicely with beautiful cups and teapots and a not so beautiful but very useful electric kettle for continuous refills. Yasu and I had some version of black tea (luckily I had some sweetener with me, because I can’t drink tea completely black) and Jungwon had something that looked more like soup than tea. The tea came with free green tea rice cakes, that looked kind of like small pieces of Dutch frikandellen, but then green. They tasted just like rice cake flavored with green tea, not bad and a little chewy.
Back on the street we found another food stall, where we sat down to finally try Jungwon’s favorite, topogi, those sticky rice-cake cylinders with red spicy sauce we were supposed to have before the smell of garlic lured us into an Italian restaurant on Thursday night. And while we were at it, we tried another one of Jungwon’s favorite as well: sundae. Which is not ice cream in Korea, here it’s pig’s intestines stuffed with cellophane noodles, barley, and pork blood, doesn’t it sound delicious? Jungwon informed us that topogi and sundae are typical favorites for Korean ladies… It’s not that bad, but I can’t imagine ever favoring this over a hotteok.
After all our snacking, it was time to do some shopping for souvenirs at the Lotte Department Store. We needed a whole load of kimchi, a very popular Korean dish in Japan. I remember the first time I saw Jungwon eating the fermented spicy cabbage in Emory and not being able to imagine why she would want to eat that smelly stuff, now I love it! There was a lot of kimchi to chose from but luckily there was a very friendly lady who didn’t just help us pick the right kimchi, she even helped us sample the kimchi by placing it in our mouths for us. She must have thought we are really lazy tourists.
We’ve tried a lot of Korean food and snacks and so far my favorites are galbi, hotteok, korean seaweed named gim and old favorites japchae and kimchi. I’m going to miss Korean food.