Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Soy Crab & Sushi Bibimpap

This is for the most adventurous of you eaters out there. This right here is ganjang-gejang (간장게장)which is raw crab marinated in soy sauces. Nom, nom, nom.... oh right, I'm writing a review not thinking about food.

On Sunday I NEEDED to eat this so I went on a hunt for a place with my friend, trying to find a few places Naver had recommended. All of them had been torn down to make way for progress.  I found this one completely by chance after we tossed our plan aside to go hangout at Pyeongtaek Lake Park.

We ended up splitting the crab and then each having a bowl of sushi bibimpap which was really delightful.  The restaurant has huge sashimi meals as well, for those with groups of 4 or more, so it's a nice old fashioned place to grab a dinner. It's not cheap though. Expect to pay at least 20,000 per person without drinks.  Delicious though, and right near the lake so no problem at all for me.

The restaurant is older and run in the traditional style, but the menus do have simple, mostly accurate English translations. They also had both floor seating and tables with chairs. Parking was also very easy.

After we finished dinner we were able to take a beautiful walk, enjoying the lake, and grab some coffee. It's an amazing way to spend a day with a friend or an adventurous date. 

*** This listing and all other restaurants reviewed by South of Seoul can be found in the South of Seoul app which can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store. ***

Be The Light

Lately I've been thinking a lot about the fact most foreigners in this area come for a hot minute, feel overwhelmed with culture shock for 12 months, get angry about how everything isn't like home, and then are off too the thing.  Living here isn't life for most people, it's a marathon of experiences that leave them spinning right round, right round baby... and they don't realize that- despite their short stay- they leave a path of either destruction or grown in their wake.

Which brings me to this point where I want to share a few facts about living in the countryside in a foreign country:

1- It will NOT taste like home, Italy, Mexico, New York, etc.  It will not taste like these places because we are, in fact, in South Korea.  A country where the mass import of foreign goods is a new and developing thing, barely 3 years old.  I still remember when the only cheese you could by was knock off craft singles and the only bears were Cass or Hite.  I've only been here a little over 5 years.

2- We are in the countryside. Although many items are easy to access in Seoul, supply and demand still isn't in balance and distribution outside the city is unpredictable and costly.  It's been barely a year since authentic western restaurants have moved to the area and they are fighting to find the supplies they need to keep food consistent and quality high. They do an amazing job.

3- It's going to be expensive. If you want to save money, eat locally sourced Korean food. If you want foreign food you are going to have to pay out the nose (refer back to my comments on supply, demand, distribution.)  Things like guacamole are GOING to cost you. For me, I have no problem with this. I'm not military. I have no access to subsidized foreign food prices. Just the fact that it's possible to buy it here is like a miracle to me. They can take all my money.

4- Service is different here. It's not part of the culture to customize your order. It's not part of the culture to hover at your table trying to guess what you need next. Instead (in Korean restaurants), when you need something you call or wave the waitstaff over to your table. This means that all waitstaff new US Bases are having to learn an entirely new system of services while dealing with a language barrier. They are doing all of this for minimum wage.  So be kind, don't ask a ton of complicated questions, or rattle off long lists. Keep your order short, focused, and on message.

If you are not kind they will simply quite and find a less stressful job that doesn't include foreigners, who speak one language, being angry at them for not being perfect human beings who can read minds across cultures. Remember, if you are talking to someone and you speak no Korean and they speak some English - YOU are the person not putting in enough effort and not them.

5- Because people are not kind, finding staff for foreign restaurants is nearly impossible.  This means businesses are often short staffed or their hours will change based on this. Take a moment to understand that all the kitchen staff, waitstaff, owners, and customers are dealing with language barriers and cultural differences all day everyday. Instead of being angry at them for not providing the service YOU expect based on your cultural understanding of service, just sit back and think about all they have to deal with in a day and consider that they may be providing excellent service based on their cultural understanding, you just don't know how to interact within the new system.

6- Although you may live on a US military base, many of us do not. We have no access to base. We've never scene on base. We aren't even interested in being on base. We do not strive to be like base. Once you exit it's Korea. Sure, it's a unique place in Korea where a large percentage of the businesses are trying desperately to cater to a foreign clientele, but it's still South Korea. Understand that not everyone will speak perfect English, not everyone will have the time to deal with the fact you don't speak Korean. Be humble and know that you are a visitor in someone another's home.

7- The community needs your support and healthy participation in order to be the best that it can be, so don't just take - give. Since I'm not made of money, I can't afford to eat out all the time. This is why I blog and share information. It's so that I can make sure that when I'm not able to eat out, another person will be in that chair at that table instead of me so that next time I want to eat at a restaurant it's still there. I review them online, I blog about them, I tell my friends, I add them to websites so others can review them, share them, and blog about them. So PLEASE do the same for the ones you love, and leave the ones you hate out of it. Other people might love them and we want to give them that space.

This is not Seoul. This is not the US. This is the countryside where doing business is complicated, stressful, and an act of love. Owners are pushing themselves to their absolute limits to provide you with the very best the area has to give. Even I push myself to the limit making sure all the information is getting out there. I don't get paid.  This is a volunteer service for newbies and for businesses.  It's something I can do because my day job gives me some free time throughout the day, but I can't do it all alone.  So, please, for all of us that live here year in and year out. Be patient. Be kind. Be understanding. Be supportive. Review. Share. Be a light for all the other folks struggling to survive their year here and the businesses working their butts off to make it awesome here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Japanese Ramen

Leave your own review on Just: Click Here

Although I've been to Japan, I've never been there with any money (long story for another time). This means I've never had authentic Japanese ramen in Japan. Sure I've tried a few random places in Korea, but nothing really stood out until I found this place in Pyeongtaek. It was delicious. A place I would go out of my way to eat at for sure.

Now, I'm not telling you this is 100% authentic, because I don't know what that even tastes like, I'm just saying I loved eating here and it tastes way more delicious than other ramen I've had. The menu is simple and the shop is small.  It's the perfect place to grab lunch alone or with a friend, but not for large groups.

I finally have my go-to place near AK plaza! It's been a while since I'd found a place I was really excited about for lunch.

It's also very easy to find, right near Del Vino on the other side of the street.

Address: 경기도 평택시 평택동 289-3
Naver Map Link: