Eating My Way Through Jeonju: Food Tour Part 1
Long time no see! Or not see, exactly, but...well...anyways. Sorry I didn't write for so long. I got my first bad cold of the season, and while it tried to knock me down, I got up again because, to quote Chumbawumba, "you're never gonna keep me down." I've been working on a longer post about my teaching style and serious stuff like that, but it's taking too long, so instead I'll take you on a food tour of Jeonju! Because who doesn't love food?
Jeonju is about 3 hours from Wonju by bus, but since I was traveling with a friend, I met her in Seoul on Friday night so we could leave together on Saturday morning. Her apartment is super tiny but really cute, and it certainly made me feel grateful for all the space I have to live in these days.
We caught the 8 AM bus out of Central City and napped for the first couple hours, if only to escape from the Most Depressing TV Program Ever. We were close to the front of the bus, which is usually a great location, because you can watch the TV that they always have going in front. I usually entertain myself by trying to guess the plots of random dramas without hearing the dialogue. This time, though, it was a curse, because for the entirety of the 3 hour bus ride they were showing a program about different places where volunteers go to help people in terrible situations. Causes included: starving children in Africa, homeless people in Seoul, and a little girl whose skin was so fragile even just water touching her felt like alcohol on an open wound. So yeah. That was wonderful to watch.
On the way, we stopped at a rest stop for a bit of leg-stretching and snacking. Korean rest stops are amazing, at least compared to what I've experienced in the states. There is real food, freshly cooked, and lots of different snacks to try. We only had 15 minutes, though, so Joon suggested we get some potatoes. Best. Decision. Ever.
|I'm drooling just looking at this picture.|
Maybe it was because I hadn't eaten any breakfast and was starving, but these potatoes were amazing. I nearly choked on one because I was eating too fast. It was really embarrassing. What's great about this snack, though, is its simplicity. It's just roasted potatoes with salt, but on a chilly November day it's perfect, and at only 2,500 won it's a steal. If you're ever at a rest stop in Korea and you need a snack, you should definitely try this.
As you can see, we chose the perfect time of year to visit. The leaves were all shades of red, orange and yellow, the air was cool and crisp even with the sun out, and all that delicious food was waiting for us to enjoy it.
There were long lines in front of just about every restaurant, so we chose based entirely on length of line. Luckily, we chose well.
|Dramatic angles make food more delicious.|
Tteokgalbi (I had to look this up) is made from short ribs (galbi) and pork. The meat is mixed together, then shaped into a sort of rectangle before being grilled over charcoal. You can either just eat it straight off the grill with a bit of salt, or dip it in some spicy sauce. If you have the patience you can even make a lettuce wrap with rice and kimchi. Much like the potato snack, I really enjoyed how simple this meal was.
Since no meal is complete without soup, we finished off with some nengmyeon, delicious cold noodles. I went for the spicy version, which sadly wasn't actually all that spicy. Still great though!
For dessert we planned to go to Manil Manil, a cafe famous for it's patbingsu. Sadly, they were out of red bean topping for the day, so we had to make a new choice.
The name of this cafe sounds like "choose me", so we did, and we were not disappointed. It's hard to see in the picture, but flavors ranged from the basics like strawberry and mango and chocolate all the way to grapefruit, blueberry yogurt, and wasabi, I panicked when I got to the front of the line and ordered the first thing I saw, which was strawberry. No regrets. There were slices of real strawberry embedded in the sorbet, and the flavor was just right. Not too sweet, very smooth, just...perfect.
|Just because it's winter doesn't mean I can't eat popsicles.|
While we enjoyed our dessert we waited in line at PNB, a famous bakery that's been in business since 1951. While they bake all sorts of things, they're most famous for their chocopies. I didn't know chocopies could be fancy, but I guess you learn something new every day. The line stretched a couple blocks down the street, and each person could only buy 5, for a whopping 8,000 won. After trying one, though, I can see why they're famous.
For one thing, they're pretty big-- bigger than your usual packaged chocopie. Nice rich chocolate, slightly crisp cake, classic marshmallow filling, and a bonus: strawberry cream! I managed to eat only half of one before I was full, but I could easily have shared it with two other people. The line maybe long, but I'd consider this delicious treat to be worth the wait.
|Finally, a museum that caters to my interests.|
After all that eating we decided we had to walk around a bit before exploding. All this food was located in the middle of a Hanok Village, which meant there were plenty of beautiful buildings and historical things to poke around in and look at. We also stumbled across some kind of performance, elementary school dancers and also some great drumming.
For dinner, Joon's friend recommended a less well known but delicious beef restaurant. Beef is pretty pricey in Korea, but hey, we were on vacation! What better time to splurge a little?
|What dreams are made of.|
All this for 35,000 won! NOT BAD, if I do say so myself. A selection of beef to grill, a mountain of side dishes, and some extra vegetable soup that our nice server gave us for free. Speaking of our server, she was the most adorable thing ever. The moment we sat down, this tiny middle-aged woman came over and, upon seeing me, started throwing out random bits of English that she knew. I may have been the first foreigner in the restaurant, based on her reaction. She even mentioned that her daughter studies English in some hagwon. Maybe trying to impress me? I don't know. It was pretty cute.
For dessert we got ice cream macaron sandwiches and then stopped for some bitter and very healthy-tasting tea; the perfect end to a long, delicious day. Stay tuned for day two, which includes famous patbingsu and a series of unfortunate bus events.