Tag Archives: food

Chinese Food: Korean Style

If there is one food that is all over the world, it’s Chinese food. For most people, it’s not hard to believe that the food they eat at a Chinese buffet is not exactly what Chinese people eat every day at home, but what people don’t always realize is that Chinese food is not the same in every country. There were Chinese foods in Canada that I have never seen in the US and I have heard of differences in other countries as well.

However, nowhere (in my experience) is Chinese food as different as in Korea. I have heard that what is considered Chinese food in Korea comes from the northeast of China, but it is quite unique (except for fried rice: everywhere has fried rice). Here are the main dishes you see at Korean Chinese restaurants.

Jajangmyeon

Jajangmyeon (자장면): Jajangmyeon is kind of the go-to Korean Chinese food. It is noodles in a black soybean-based gravy. It doesn’t have a strong flavor, but it’s very good. There is also jajangbap, which is the same, but with rice instead of noodles.

 

jjambbong

Jjambbong (짬뽕): This is the other main Chinese food here. Jjambbong means something like “hodge podge” so it’s a mixture of many things. As you can see by the color, it is very spicy. Jjambbong consists of noodles and various types of seafood such as squid, mussels, sea cucumber, and if you get the expensive stuff, a lot more. It also has a lot of onions in it.

 

tangsooyook

Tangsooyook (탕수육): This is fried pork (or beef, if you want the really expensive stuff) served with a sweet and sour sauce. In some ways it is similar to sweet and sour pork in North America, although (in my opinion) it’s a ton better and also is a lot more expensive. A small serving is about $15 and a large is $20 or more. Of course, a small serving is enough for 2-3 people. This is one of those dishes that only comes in group sizes. Koreans almost always eat out together and so a lot of their food is geared towards groups (I have been turned away from restaurants for being alone, since they had nothing on the menu for only one person). This is one of my favorite Korean Chinese foods.

japchae

Japchae (잡채): This is the final mainstay of Korean Chinese food: japchae. This is perhaps a little more familiar looking. It is rice noodles mixed with meat and vegetables. It’s usually pretty mild, although some places make it really spicy.

Here’s what it looks like when you get it delivered:

chinese korean delivery

This is a meal that my wife and I ordered last November when we wanted to splurge. She got the fried rice and I got the jjambbong (lower right). The three-section dish in the lower center is a constant with Korean Chinese food: yellow pickled radishes (which are Korean, originally from Japan), black soybean paste, and raw onion pieces (not pictured, because my wife eats them immediately).

The tansooyook is in the middle, with a big bowl of its sauce. And as if that’s not enough food, they also threw in an order of mandoo, or dumplings, (upper right) for free. Because Korea is all about the free stuff.

They give you wooden chopsticks, but real spoons and real dishes. You eat and when you’re finished, you put them outside your door and the delivery boy comes and gets them later. I’m very glad this system works here, since using real dishes is so much nicer than styrofoam or paper.

I have grown very fond of Korean Chinese food but the problem is, that once I leave Korea, it will be very hard to find. It’s not Korean food, so you can’t find it in most Korean restaurants outside of Korea. And it’s not normal Chinese food, so Chinese restaurants don’t have any of it. There are restaurants in Korean districts, such as in New York or LA that have it, so I’ll have to make a trip to a city every now and then to get it. If you’re near a Korean district, I’d recommend seeking it out.


Money or Food: A Thought Exercise

Here is a thought exercise. Imagine you had no possible source of income but had food, basic shelter and basic clothes provided for you as you needed them. Nothing else is given to you though.

Now, imagine that you could refuse to eat a meal and you would get five dollars (or equivalent currency). You could do this anytime you liked, up to $15 a day if you didn’t eat at all.

Would you just take the food and live comfortably or would you sacrifice to save up money? If so, how much would you try to save and what would you buy with it?


Rice Pilaf Surprise

I went into my favorite restaurant and saw that there was a new item on the menu: Rice Pilaf Surprise. I’m not really a fan of rice pilaf normally, but the “surprise” part intrigued me. So I ordered it.

I was halfway through when I discovered a twenty-dollar bill buried in the rice. I’ll admit,  it was a surprise. Not that I was complaining—the pilaf cost $3.50. I didn’t eat the rest though. After all, money is dirty. What I did do was order another one.

In the next one, I found a five-dollar bill and a bunch of quarters. In the next, there was nothing but two Lincoln Logs and a Lego pirate figure, but in the next one was a gold necklace that had to be worth something.

“You’ve got quite an appetite today,” the waitress remarked, as I ordered my fifth Rice Pilaf Surprise. She pointedly ignored the pile of plates filled with untouched food.

“I sure do,” I said. “Three more Rice Pilaf Surprises, please.”

All in all, that night I got $37.15, a gold necklace, the Lincoln Logs and Lego pirate, three pieces of wire and an old cell phone. All I had to do was buy ten Rice Pilaf Surprises.

Since then I go back every day, usually ordering 10 to 12 at a time. For the last week, it’s been mostly dead rats, shreds of newspaper and some old car parts. Still, I’m not worried.

 I feel a hot streak coming on.


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