Sunday, August 8, 2010

Korean Food

I realized that all this time I have been talking about my experiences in Korea I haven't taken much time to talk about the food I eat. I know I have mentioned several times that Koreans eat a lot, but I haven't talked about what. I'll start with my favorites.

The Seven Elevens here in Daejeon have an extremely delicious tuna kimbop that I absolutely love! Kimbop is stuffed with rice and various veggies and sometimes a meat or cheese (it comes in different meats including ham and beef, as I said my favorite is tuna) all wrapped up in seaweed. It is very yummy!!!!

There are many restaurants throughout the city that serve samgipsal. It is the Korean barbeque that I mentioned after I first got here. It is served with many delicious sides. The restaurants have a burner in the middle of the table where they put a small grill to cook the samgipsal. There is different types of samgipsal from thinly sliced bacon to a thicker beef. They place the meat on the grill, and you can add whatever sides to the flavor the meat. I like to put the gimchi and garlic on the grill. They also have a few different sauces that you can dip your cooked meat into before eating it. One is a red pepper paste sauce, one is more of an oily sauce, and then there's a vinegar based sauce. My favorite is the vinegar based sauce. Most Koreans like to eat the samgipsal with just a sauce. I prefer to put it in the lettuce leaves that they serve with the samgipsal. I stuff the leaf with the samgipsal, gimchi, garlic, and the vinegar sauce. It is very delicious this way. However, most Koreans don't like salad so they avoid lettuce...hahaha.

Another popular food here in Korea are "pancakes". These pancakes are made with a bisquick type mix with veggies and various meats added to it. The most popular I believe are the seafood ones. I have not eaten a lot of them, but I do like the octopus ones. They are really good, but I do think that it depends on the restaurant that makes them. I think that some of the pancakes I've tried didn't taste good not because of the type of pancake but because of the restaurant.

One of the most popular dishes and one of my favorites is galbi. There is different types of galbi. My favorite is tok galbi which is chicken. Once again, the restaurants have a burner in the middle of the table, but this time they put a large skillet type bowl with handles on the burner to cook the food. They bring the food uncooked on dishes and dump it all in the big bowl with some sauces. They come by the table to stir it. It is very delicious.

Another popular dish is dopoki. I didn't like it at first, but its growing on me. Dopoki is a really doughy noodle. It's served in dishes like galbi. It is also served by itself.

One of the most traditional dishes is bimibop. The best bimibop I had was at the Buddhist temple I went to on Buddha's Birthday. It was so yummy!!!! Bimibop is rice with sprouts and turnips and I think gimchi too. It's all mixed in together with a red pepper paste. Very yummy!

Perhaps the most popular dish here in Korea is ice cream! Koreans love their ice cream (and doughnuts but we won't talk about that). Every convenient store has a variety of ice creams for less than 1,000 won (which is $1). They even have milkshakes in a pack...its crazy! The most popular ice cream dish I would say is the pabingsu. It's shaved iced with little candy jellies and red beans. It is really good. It sounds disgusting, but its delicious.

There are many other Korean dishes that I haven't mentioned, and I'm not promising that I got every ingredient correct in the dishes that I mentioned. It is very difficult to know for sure exactly what I am eating since it is all in Korean. Most Korean meals are served with rice, gimchi, and soup. Every meal that I have eaten at school has been served with rice, gimchi, and soup. They served spaghetti one time with rice, gimchi, and soup (weird).

Alright, so now that everyone's mouths are watering with the deliciousness that I have shared with you...I will start with the details of my week! This week was very hot and most people are on vacation so the gym was pretty dead all week. However, we did have a visitor. A spider decided to join the class during jiu jitsu and even though I was screaming, no man in the room offered to kill it, and no one would let me kill it. I asked San Ha why no one was killing the spider, and she said that you cannot kill a spider at night time. If you kill a spider at night, you will have bad luck. Seriously?!?!

On Friday, I went out with Kwangjungnim, Song Won, and Mike for some samgipsal after my workout. It was pretty good. Song Won is quite possibly the coolest kid in Korea. He is always at the gym training, but he takes the time to goof off with me to make gym a little more fun. He's hilarious! He helps me with my Korean, and I try to help him with his English, but I think he's the better teacher.

On Saturday, I went to Korean class with Mell. After, we stopped by Jungangno Station for some shopping and some food. We had some dopoki and kimbop. After, I made a trip to Costco to pick up some yogurt and vitamins. Later, I met Mell again for a little snack and some talking. It was pretty relaxed.

Today, I made it to church again! Yay! I was so proud of myself; three weeks in a row! I've really been slacking lately! I met some of the new girls from SLP, and I saw one of the foreign guys that had checked out the gym. He works at Poly which is a very demanding school so he doesn't really have the time and energy to make it to Daejeon MMA. So he joined a gym closer to Munnyeon dong. We talked for a bit, and I talked for a bit with the girls from SLP. They are all pretty sweet! It was a really good Sunday. I even stayed for Bible study. I was kind of hesitant because the last time I went to Bible study, it was mostly men, and I didn't quite feel welcomed to the conversation. But I heard that more women were going to Bible study now so I decided to check it out. It was really good, and I was finally able to ask my question about "seeing God" like physically. They confirmed my original suspicion that it was in fact a cult. For those of you new to reading my ramblings, when I first arrived in Daejeon, I was greeted by a sweet woman who asked me if I was a Christian. When I told her I was, she asked me to go to dinner with her. I said sure thinking it would just be us two. However, a few other women joined and started talking about seeing God physically and asked me why I couldn't see God, and if I wanted to. I was really freaked out. I told them that I had to leave and rushed out. They had said that Koreans were deeply spiritual and that's why they could see God, but the pastor of the church I am attending told me that it was not true. After Bible study, the worship team asked me again to sing with them. I really want to, but I hate saying that I will do something when I cannot truly commit to it. Maybe that is what I need to do though so that I will be more motivated to wake up on Sunday mornings. I told them that I would think about it and let them know in a few weeks after I get back from camping because I am going to miss church again next Sunday to go camping with the gym.

This weekend was pretty chilled because I am trying to rest up for next weekend! I am super excited about going camping! I cannot wait! I am not sure who all is going, but I know that Douchi, San Ha, and Mell are going and that's good enough for me!


Alex Timberman said...

Do you think that the women who said they could physically see God....did not actually mean they could physically see God?

That must have been a weird encounter, but maybe there was some miscommunication. Well, I recently moved to Daejeon. It is to hot here!

Melanie Chastain said...

I thought they meant spiritually see God so I asked them if they meant in a dream or something, and they said no that He was actually in the room and they could physically see Him. It was super weird. I was freaked out!

So you just moved here? Where are you from? What brought you to Daejeon? It is pretty hot right now, but to me it gets super cold in the winter. I prefer the heat, but a lot of the Canadians I've talked to think it's too hot in the summer and not very cold in the winter. It's the end of summer now so it should be cooling off pretty soon.

Alex Timberman said...

Hey Melanie,

I was born in Daejeon, but grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. I recently got a job at Hannam University teaching business law,english, and economics so I will be staying here for a year or so.

Hey, you said something about a gym... I'm looking to find a good gym. How long have u been in Daejeon? Your spiritual talk with Korean friends was super weird. lol I would have stayed and talked with them to find out more about their experiences.

Melanie Chastain said...

Hahaha. It was crazy!

I actually go to a gym right by Hannam University. Its called Daejeon MMA. Its across the street from the Paris Baguette. They offer Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing. The people are amazing, and it is a lot of fun.

Alex Timberman said...

Wow - really? Well, I just got my apartment today by Hannam University. You will see me in the gym soon, because I am almost for sure I'm gonna sign up. I will look for it early next week. Looking forward to meeting you.

Melanie Chastain said...

Sweet! That's awesome! Let me know if you need help with anything. If you want to take a look, the gym's website is

Grá said...

Hi Melanie. I'm moving to Daejeon in 6 weeks and I'm trying to find a gym with decent powerlifting equipment. Could you tell me if your gym has a squat rack/bench press/barbells/pull up bar/kettelbells/imfree weights? cheers! :)

Melanie Chastain said...

Gra, I've been to two gyms in Daejeon and they are both fighting gyms. They do have weights and most of the equipment you mentioned. However, if you are looking more towards just weightlifting and cardio there are several gyms that offer that and they are cheaper. In fact,some of the districts have their own community center with cardio equipment and weights as well. You can join the community center gym for like $5. It's best if you check out the gyms in your area to see which one fits you the best. Do you know what area you will live in? I may be able to recommend a few to check out in the Dunsan Dong area. Even if you don't know now, when you get here, hit me up again and I will help you as much as I can. Good luck! I hope you have a really good experience here. The gym that I am currently at has all of the equipment, and there is a group fitness training that is unbelievable. It's $150 for three months which actually is not a bad price for gyms in this area. Let me know if you need help finding anything else.

Grá said...

thanks for that. I don't need cardio equipment - I basically just need dumbells up to 40kg,a squat rack, barbells+plates, and a bench press! But finding it extremely hard to find a gym that's not just full of weight machines! I have a training program with my coach here which I hope to keep following, so I don't really need group classes etc., I'm happy to work away on my own. Someone on a forum recommended this one today though: - looks pretty decent! I'll be living in Manyeondong - do you know if that's far from there?

Thanks! :)

Melanie Chastain said...

I've never been to the Wellness Center but I have seen it. I live in Mannyeondong as well as many other foreigners. The Wellness Center isn't too far from Mannyeon. If you get a bike, you can probably ride your bike there or take a bus.