South Korean Culinary Adventures

Andrew and I spent the weekend in two beach towns, Sokcho and Gangneung. Sokcho has an impressive fish market where I tried my first squid sundae, which is rice and vegetables stuffed into a squid, diced and coated in an egg batter and fried. Super yummy. The market is really close to the bus terminal so it was our first stop.

The Sokcho fish market and squid sundae:

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After that we wandered the town, walked along the beach, sipped americanos from a beachside cafe and watched little kids in powerwheels and South Korean Army men zip around on minibikes. It is a beautiful town and I highly recommend a visit. For dinner we stopped at a “fresh raw fish restaurant,” Andrew ordered for the both of us and we were rewarded with a delicious and spicy seafood soup that reminded me of jambalaya as well as a cold dish with raw abalone. The latter was not my favorite, but it wasnt inedible, but it was icy cold, too sweet and the abalone crunched in my mouth with audible popping sounds. (My brother has difficulty sitting cross legged, which entertained me to no end as he struggled to get comfortable at the table)

On Sunday we took a bus to Gangneung, a larger town with an absolutely immense beach. We were wandering around the beach starving when we saw large tanks full of crabs and other delicious live crustaceans and decided to stop in. It was definitely the most expensive meal on the trip (about $30/person) but we each got an entire crab, clams, quail’s eggs, and the proprietor took the body of the crabs and made incredibly delicious seaweed fried rice with all the gooey insides. Seriously, it was amazing.

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South Korea <3 StarCraft

So much so that there is an entire television channel dedicated to providing South Koreans with round the clock coverage of professional gamers playing StarCraft, or League of Legends. (There is also a thrilling alternative on TV that airs people playing Go.)

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Jinbu, South Korea

My brother Andrew’s modest yet comfortable apartment in Jinbu has a decidedly utilitarian feel about it, but still offers all the comforts and amenities you would find in any American apartment. It is on the tenth floor of a rather hideous group of buildings, but enjoys a really great view of the town and surrounding mountainside.

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The town of Jinbu is located near 700 meters elevation, which the South Koreans have declared is the ideal elevation for air quality and good living. Throughout the town there are signs espousing the “Happy 700” mantra. The region is also the site for the 2018 Winter Olympics and there are about 100 signs in the small town reminding residents of that fact.

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Compulsory Asian Cat Picture #2

Yup, cats on leashes. Classic move, old Japanese lady.

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Shrines and Notable Architecture

These are a smattering of some of the beautiful structures that I have encountered thus far on my trip in Beijing, China; Tokyo, Japan; Sokcho, South Korea; and Gangneung, South Korea. They are mainly shots of shrines with a few examples of interesting modern architecture thrown in for good measure.

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Mimigaa

My wonderful Japanese friends, Ryo and Namie took my to a fantastic meal at an Osaka-style kushi katsu bar in Tokyo. The majority of the fare is delicious meat/seafood/veggies fried on sticks. However, they also ordered mimigaa. Basically, it is very thinly sliced pig’s ear that is pickled and served in a sesame sauce (think pig ear ceviche). The texture is chewy/crunchy as you would expect when munching down on cartilege. It was unique and strangely addicting.

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Tokyo Skyline

Divine Nature gave the fields, human art built the cities. 

Marcus Terentius Varro, De Re Rustica

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Okonomiyaki

Do it yourself savory pancakes. Delicious and hearty. Once cooked through sprinkle with fish flakes that dance atop the hot pancake then drizzle yummy Japanese style mayo on top.

Check out an entire site dedicated to the dish.

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Compulsory Asian Cat Picture #1

I unabashedly stole a moment from a homeless man as he cuddled up on a fickle orange cat.

While workers clean leaves from the fountain. (Stage right would show kids stretching out for what I can only assume is basic ninja training)

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Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan

Remember the scene in Akira where the rain comes down in sheets, the glittering streets reflect the multitudes of neon and phosphorescent lights of the buildings while red streaks race through the narrow winding streets as Japanese gangsters whiz by on futuristic motorcycles? That pretty much sums up my first impressions of Shinjuku. Soaking wet with nowhere in particular to go I was enthralled with the scene before me. Girls in obscenely tiny skirts and ridiculously high heels hold the arms of glam punk boys with impeccably styled Bowie-esque mullets, large black men beckon you into sketchy undefined bars and clubs and the clanging of pachinko parlours and arcades pours into the streets as groups of intoxicated business men stumble from bar to bar. It’s the kind of place people that begs for you to stay out drinking until dawn, it wants you to undress, fall down, and finally send you stumbling back home.

What I did capture was two girls falling drunk into the street in the early morning whilst their male friend attempted to get a cab secured. Glorious to watch after a full night’s sleep and a vending machine iced coffee.

Bitches be fallin’

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