Asia Report #2 Photographic Evidence; Makin' It Great Wherever You Are!
Listmaker and I found ourselves in the town of Gyeong Ju, considered one of the ten greatest ancient cities or something like that according to the tour guides. It's about 4 hours south of Seoul on the eastern shore, and dotted with tons of historical treasures like a grotto and the Bulgoksa Temple. We were starving after the train ride, but there weren't too many options in the area since we were kind of cut off from the rest of the town as we were in a resort area by this lake. We decided to eat at the hotel and found a Korean restaurant that was jam-packed with only women, I am now realizing. Every regular table was taken up so they seated us at these elevated tables where you had to sit on the floor. Listmaker was not happy since he has the flexibility of a pretzel rod. They told us it would be at least 30 minutes before a table cleared up so this was our only option. Only not 3 minutes after sitting down, before we even ordered, a group of women got up and left. Then another group. In the next 5 minutes, there was a complete exodus and the entire restaurant cleared out. We got a table. Dan got some stone bowl bibimbop and I got neng myun, which is a cold buckwheat noodle dish that is very popular in the summer with Koreans. In fact, there was an article in the New York Times Dining section the other week that you should Google.
I thought our waitress was a robot. She was all too chipper. My inkling was compounded the next day when she was also the cashier at the in-hotel bakery stand where I bought some red bean buns. Maybe there was more than one of her?
Anyway, I tell this story to set up what we ate next. That evening, neither Dan nor I were in the mood for Korean. We each had a bottle of Hite beer at a coffee shop downtown before deciding on....PIZZA HUT! It may have been the best decision made that day. Don't get on my case for not trying local food. As I said, neither of us wanted Korean. We knew we would have plenty of Korean throughout the week.
Pizza Huts in Korea seem to be pushing the Cheese Bites pizza - I've also seen commercials for it in the states. As tempting as it looked, we thought the cheese filled dough rounds surrounding the pizza, which you then dip into a cheese sauce might be a little too much cheese.
We decided on a set menu that included a medium "Roast Beef" pizza, a pasta dish and two drinks. The roast beef pizza included bulgogi, assorted vegetables like mushrooms and onions and best of all, kimchi. I used to laugh at my parents when they'd pull out the kimchi to eat along with Dominoe's delivery or KFC take-out when I was younger. They were right - it does taste better with kimchi. For our pasta dish, we decided on a bulgogi and kimchi risotto. Again delicious. The spicy tang of kimchi was a perfect counterpart to the rich, cheesey rice. Also, our medium pizza was not much bigger than a personal pizza size you'd get in the states, which was perfectly fine with us.
Here's the green tea donut that Dan and I shared before boarding the train to Gyeong Ju. The counter person gave us two straws with our iced coffee (to which they added milk and liquid sugar). Incidentally, the last time I was in Asia - 8 years ago, I marveled at the fact that the coffee shops offered liquid sugar or simple syrup with their iced drinks. Eight years later and the US still hasn't figured it out.
This is the katsu that was the size of my face.