Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:56 PM
I will be in Seoul and also in Jeju in the south.
Of course I will try live octopus, silkworm larvae, cow intestines which haven't been cleaned, barbecue dog etc. etc. but more interested in delicious food than overcoming my gag reflex. My knowledge of Korean food is pretty limited to kimchi galbi etc.
Posted 15 June 2012 - 08:24 PM
But I imagine Jeju island hasn't changed so much. Where are you staying and for how long? How will you be getting around? Youíll be with a group, couple, alone?
Jeju holds a special place in our hearts. Remote, beautiful with its volcanic formations, black sand beaches, incredibly friendly locals and great food. Itís also called Honeymoon Island as it is a popular destination for mainland knot tiers. Try not to laugh at the custom made, bright, matching t-shirts couples proudly sport.
We stayed near the harbor in Seogwapi, a small town on the southern coast with a mix of locals and tourists (but not overrun). We were on quite a tight budget (as we roamed Asia for 6 months) and stayed in a dive hostel, the JeJu Hiking Inn. I wouldnít want or expect you to stay there. The location, however, is ideal. Close to local buses, town, beaches, attractions. There are several "higher end" hotels in the area.
Check out a park called Cheongyang. It has an amphitheater (we caught a childrenís recital by accident) and a serious waterfall which they light at night. Very pretty.
Near the docks, a strip of seafood restaurants and shops. Good vibe and lively area but geared to the tourists which isn't a bad thing since the tourists are predominantly Korean. Try the Abalone porridge they're famous for. Unfortunately there wasn't much actual abalone in our bowl but the briny flavors were there. I'm sure it had to do with our limited budget.
There was a place in town (sorry, no names on these places but worth hunting for) not far from the post office I believe and near a leather-deer skin outfitter a la Davy Crockett. (Theyíre really into this garb, no idea why) Very traditional, sparsley decorated, lots of wood with tatami tables against walls, regular tables in the middle. Seats maybe 70. No menu, you sit and it just starts coming. Lots of fish, pork, duck and endless banchan. Seek ďvery traditional-authenticĒ.
Jeju is also known for black pig which has a slightly gamier flavor. Youíll see bbq restaurants specializing in it. We didnít get to try it because it was pricey but I certainly would now.
A few of our favorite meals came from a local supermarket (the only big one they had at the time) where prepared foods like stuffed squid, blood sausage rolls, scallion pancakes and kimchi, were excellent. The hostel had a rooftop with a plastic table and chairs. There wasnít a better place to be. I would look to eat like this again.
A main attraction in the north the Mungung caves or lava tubes. (They claim the longest in the world). If youíre into long humid, dark and cold caves go. Didnít do much for us. The beaches, accessible by the local bus, where our preferred destination.
Another attraction (I was forced to endure) was the Teddy Bear museum. Itís bizarre. Iíll just say itís worth it just to observe how the Koreans react (go crazy) for these stuffed animals set behind glass in various scenarios.
If we could do it again we'd of traded more time for Jeju over Seoul but thats just us.
Iíll try to think of more. Youíre so lucky.
Posted 15 June 2012 - 09:58 PM
You can also try contacting Peter Green via eG. His wife is originally from Korea (but grew up in Canada), and they spend quite a bit of time there. He likes to eat. A lot. You might find some of his Korean travelogues on eG.
Posted 16 June 2012 - 09:08 AM
Posted 19 June 2012 - 03:31 PM
Korean cuisine provides by far my two favorite summer dishes in any category: bibim-naeng-myun, which is cold potato starch noodles in a very spicy sauce, and mool naeng myun, which is potato starch noodles in a cold beef broth seasoned with a little vinegar, usually served with some mustard, a piece of boiled beef, a hard boiled egg and some crunchy asian pear slices. I really think this latter dish belongs in the pantheon of outstanding world dishes like peking duck or...I don't know...it's just really wonderful on a hot summer day. As for the spicy one, try to learn the word for spicy in Korean (I can't remember now) because the restaurant people will try to warn you off it.