my korean coop list

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Since I'm planning to "fly the coop" in just under five weeks , I've begun composing a "coop list" (my version of a "bucket list") of things I want to do or try before then. (I may write a post later about why I'm leaving prematurely. Matthew is staying until the end of the year and may keep up this blog.)

So far the two I've accomplished have been food related. Both items are uniquely Korean, or at least uniquely Asian, food combinations you just won't find in the U.S., or at least I've never seen them there.

The first is 피자 돈까스 (pizza donkkaseu) a variation on tonkatsu (Japanese breaded, fried pork cutlet). Regular donkkaseu has been a comfort food favorite for most of my time in Korea. I wasn't so sure about the addition of pizza cheese (mozzarella) and (in one of the versions I tried) corn would make it better. It actually does. I had to order it a third time, just so I could take a picture. The first time, we ordered in and I was so hungry by the time the food came that I couldn't wait long enough to take a picture. The second time, I ended up with take-out (that's what happens when two moms with two toddlers and two babies try to dine out), so it was already cut into bite-size pieces. (Most Koreans apparently do not own knives and forks, so take-out is made to be eaten with the chopsticks and spoons that everyone is sure to have.) I think I'm done now, though. Consuming that much fat in one meal does not sit very well with my stomach.

Pizza donkkaseu (served with rice, room temperature corn, cherry tomatoes, and shredded cabbage with pink sauce (AKA ghetto 1000 Island; ketchup & mayonnaise):

A close up of the cheesy goodness inside. Another version is called 치즈 돈까스 (cheese donkkaseu) which has a slice of processed cheese (i.e. "American" cheese) either on top or inside. No thanks.

My second "I really have to try that before I leave Korea" food was a corn dog and one solid piece. I don't actually know what it's called. I always see them being served up at carts near the beach or stands at Mt. Seorak. At first, I thought it just looked weird. Another variation on the corn dog here includes dipping the finished product in chocolate and sprinkles. Seriously. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Why bother having two separate items when you could just have a complete meal on a stick? Y'know...minus any actual vegetables -- do fried potatoes really count? -- or fruit or...well, you get the idea. Health food this is not. (Note the concerned look on Rowan's face. Liam doesn't really want anything to do with it.)

The vendors prepare them ahead of time, then fry it again to freshen it up a bit, before drizzling ketchup over the concoction and serving. Liam almost...but not quite...took a bite. Again, it was actually pretty good, but I don't plan to eat it again because it's not exactly (how you say?) "good for me."

As for the rest of my list, the parts I haven't done yet...there's only one thing:
see a palace or something similarly historic and royal and stuff
I've wanted to do this for a long time. On our one-week, whirlwind tour of the peninsula (or at least the coastline) in July 2006, we went to 경복궁(Gyeongbokgung), but were foiled by torrential rain. 창덕궁 (Changdeokgung) is actually supposed to be more impressive, but can only be seen on a guided tour (3 per day according to Lonely Planet). We'll be in Seoul two weekends from now with my in-laws, so I'm hoping to tour one of those (or another, if anyone has a recommendation) then.

I've been told repeatedly that I should visit a 찜질방 (Jjimjilbang -- public bath house), but I'm just not interested. To say that I'm not into public nudity is an understatement. I waived my P.E. requirements in high school, not because of religious reasons as the waiver request said, but because I HATED showering in front of my classmates. I know that I should be over that now that I'm over thirty and have gone through pregnancy and birth twice, but the idea of old Korean ladies staring at me, and possibly poking and prodding my wobbly bits (a friend has a hilarious, but horrifying story of her jjimjilbang experience) does not excite me.

If anyone has suggestions of other things I should do/see while I'm here, I'd love to hear them. (Just as long as they don't involve public nudity.)


9 Responses to “my korean coop list”
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Those hot dogs on a stick with the fries attached are so weird!!! Koreans have taken all the worst things about Western cuisine. Ha ha.
K saw the picture of Liam almost eating that hot dog thing and got a big smile on his face. :)

Yeah, the healthier aspects of Western food haven't really transferred here. I eat things here that I almost NEVER eat at home: fried chicken, McDonalds, etc., just because it's familiar.

It's so cute how babies get excited looking at pictures of other babies/kids.

O.M.G that pizza donkatsu actually looks good!!!! luv it! luv it! "AKA ghetto 1000 island" I always wondered how they made it LOL I used to LOVE eating korean corndogs, but normal ones...the whole french fry thing must be new?

Hope you enjoy your last few weeks in Korea! ^_^ I totally had a list of "things to do" before I left Cali and moved to Texas, so hope you get to do all of yours!

the only thing I recommend? eating all the Korean watermelon you can while you're there! it's still the best I've ever had! hehe

p.s I refuse to go to any jjimjilbangs too...this brand new huge one just opened up in Dallas, it's 24/7...I refuse to go cause it's like a giant human petri dish just waiting to culture all kinds of micro organisms and bacteria! gross! =P

Oh man, 피자 돈까스! I really miss that. But what I found to be even better than 피자돈까스 was 고구마 돈까스.


Paul, do you like 고구마 in general? I'm not really a fan, so I don't know if I'd enjoy 고구마 돈까스. I do like the nice creamy sweet potato ring on "rich gold pizza" (too lazy to write it out in hangul at the moment).

Ian loved that french fry/corn dog combo.

I liked the jjimjilbang, but I don;t mind public nudity. If you go, go with other foreigners so you aren't the only one.

Have you done Dr. Fish pedicure? That might be fun for you. They have cafes where you go and stick your feet in a fish pool and the fish eat the dead skin while you sip a latte. It is very cheap. For extra cost, you can get your toenails painted afterwards. All the foreigners that I know who have done it said it was fun.

What about getting an oriental medicine health assessment? Or accupucture? It would be interesting to see what they say and maybe they could help your sinuses in a gentler way than what you recently experienced.

The Dr. Fish pedicure sounds really cool! I'll ask someone if there's anything like that in Sokcho. If not, I may have to do that while I'm in Seoul next weekend.

The oriental medicine health assessment would be interesting. The ND I go to in the U.S. uses vega testing, which is really cool. My husband and another friend have both done acupuncture here, but I'm a little skittish (understatement) about the needle aspect. I guess the acupuncturist gives this suction-cup massage after that's pretty nice, though.

They have Dr. Fish at Waterpia. It costs around 25,000won to get into waterpia and the Dr. Fish therapy is a few thousand won more. It takes a little getting used to, but tickles more than anything else. hae-su-pia, next to E-Mart, used to have Dr. Fish therapy but I don't know if they still do.

Have you done a temple stay? I did one with an English translator at NakSan Temple and mostly enjoyed it - I described it on my blog.

Thanks for the tip, Brian. I think we're going to Waterpia in a few weeks. Maybe my friend and I can do that while our husbands & toddlers play in the water...if the babies cooperate.

I haven't done a temple stay. Paul & Aubrey did, and really enjoyed it, as did some other ex-pat friends from our first sojourn here. I think that's something I should have done before having children, though.

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