Sunday, June 26, 2011

김치 Hummus and coffee....

     I've been taking advantage of the rain, playing and wandering outside has left my body tired and joints aching. I don't get sad or lonely when it rains, but my joints ache up, they creak and I feel like I've aged several decades. I don't take pills or medications for any issues I have, I believe in the power of tea...(China, be prepared for me!) And although coffee isn't 'tea' when it comes to cramps and aching joints, coffee has always worked the best for me.
      Korea has gotten really trendy with tea and the concept of freshly dripped coffee now comes in single-fresh-air-sealed bags. I got a couple from some friends and took it for a test spin. (By the time I decided to test it out, I was crunched up in one achy pile, I can only kiss upon what arthritis must feel like.) The second I opened up my "drip coffee" the scent teased my nose and the aroma danced around my face...for a second I felt like I was Carlton Banks falling upon a Tom Jones classic at random (I've been watching loads of Fresh Prince....) goofy smiles.
pouring the water! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
let it drip...(photo taken by VeganBeats)
     Considering it was packaged 'drip coffee' it was pretty good. Each individually wrapped portion provided about two decent cups of coffee, and it was surprisingly bold and flavorful. It wasn't too acidic and I actually savored it. I wish it wasn't so heavily packaged though. I'll stick to my bags of beans and grind them myself..but if these happened to end up in my possession....

     After coffee sipping, my body craved some protein, so a hummus experiment was in the works. 김치 hummus!! With too much garlic to leave the house with! I wanted spice, fiber, flavor, and overwhelming with in my theory...김치 can only improve things...김치 chocolate is next to play around with (I don't like chocolate >.<#)

김치 Hummus (kimchi hummus)
What you need:
*can of garbonzo beans (or about two cups of soaked once dried garbanzos)
*1/2 cup of water (or 1/4 cup olive oil)
*1.5-2.5 T minced garlic (I love this....too much)
*1/2 tsp pepper~~ground fresh
*1/2-1 cup 김치 

What to do:
1. get your food processor...
2. throw everything in
3. press go...

1. cook the beans over medium heat with 2-3 T of water
2. while beans are cooking, chop the 김치  as small as you have the patience for (reserve some 김치 juice. 
3. once the beans are mushy enough to smash with a fork, remove from heat and add minced garlic, pepper, and water (or olive oil.) 
4. add the 김치 and mix all together. 
5. if not a creamy consistency, add more 김치 juice or water or oil. 

yum! (photo taken by VeganBeats)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Born to Run....

     Monsoon season officially started here in Korea, my mental claims and personal promises to get on my bike more...are now greater challenged. I've discovered though that *knock on wood* my knees and ankles are slowly healing and running is again possible!! I have been really worried that I couldn't polish off two miles, but I went for a four miler yesterday!! the rain! I personally adore this weather, the raining part. I think rain is life, it's a celebration of rejuvenation, rebirth, new beginnings, cleaning slates. There's a beauty that emerges, the scents, the freshness, the glossy coating over all things surrounding. I feel like a child, bursting with curiosity (I guess I'm a child all the time.) My body is excited, I have more energy and I want to run and run and run!
      It could also be because of this (so far) awesome book I've been reading. 'Born to Run' is written by Chris McDougall and it's the "barefoot running bible." It focuses more so on the love of life/running, the Tarahumara people. They can run for hundreds of miles, free of injury, pain, and they do so for the pure love of it. I admit, I have started running for reasons outside of love. I started because of this life goal I've got, because I've always wanted to be a distance runner, and because I love runner's bodies. A body of endurance, dedication, and talent. I think now though, that these bodies represent genuine joy of our carnal existence. Pushing out bodies to their limits, seeing what they can do, where they can take us. I remember as a child I would spend all day running outside. I felt free, giddy, electric. I felt so full of joy (endorphins) and in my head, I was one with my animal sisters and brothers. I felt a greater connection with nature, life in it's purest and most honest form. I didn't have to go inside, go to school; just run, play, adventure.
     This book, and the rain has me buzzing with motivation. Instead of running to burn calories, or because I missed my workout and "I have to," but because...I used to love it, and I've forgotten what it's been like to be a kid with it.
subtle silent beauty (photo taken by VeganBeats)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Durian Jam

     While wandering Itaewon (이태원) this past weekend I stumbled upon another foreign market, near Foreign Market!!
     This one is pretty simple to get to as well. Itaewon station, exit 4, walk straight, at the Dunkin Donuts take a right and walk up the hill, take the first left AFTER Foreign Food Market, it will be on your left after a rack of children's clothing. Maybe 100-150 meters from the corner!

Anyways...this is what I brought home with me!!
Durian jam...^^* (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     Durians are undeniabley a very acquired taste...smelling like corpses (imagine wet gym socks sitting in a sealed bag for a couple hours) and not very attractive, it's got a texture like custard. They're pricey as hell and I personally love them. I spent too much money in China Town (back home in Boston) on both durians and biziou (Chinese alcohol~ soju and this stuff....aiiii.) But this was a hell of a find and at 3,000W I can mentally fool myself that I've got the real thing. Take a whiff and enjoi!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thiendang Loving Hut

     A while ago, I met up for a relaxing dinner at a rather new Loving Hut, Thiendang. Loving Huts are all vegan joints, widespread throughout Asia and the states and this one offers Thai inspired dishes!
     Here are some poor quality photos of all the plates ordered...
Kia's sweet and spicy soy chicken~7,000W and fries~1,500W  (photo taken by VeganBeats)
Sean's curry catsu (soy steak)~ 6,900W (photo taken by VeganBeats)
my Tuscan salad~8,000W (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     My salad was HUGE! Way more than I expected and filled to the brim with all sorts of veggies. There were baby greens, sprouts, romaine, iceberg, tomato, olives, roasted herbed potatoes..etc.

Apologies for the poor photo quality.

Anyways...Thiendang now offers pho and a variety of Vegan ice-cream (all Turtle Mountain.) There is a small bakery filled with breads and pastries that the family makes. Like all Loving Huts, there is a small grocery section where you can stock up on veggie meats, organic teas, etc.

Here are directions:
Namseong Station line 7, go out exit 3 and walk straight for about 3-5 minutes, it will be on your right, right next to Elliot cafe.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Revisiting Hongdae...night and day~

     Last night, Saturday night, after Big Phony (I'll write about that later!) I wandered over to Hongdae. This makes it Hongdae two weekends in a row, after a MAJOR Hongdae break...and still, the end result is the same. Too much maekgoli and a massive headache in the morning...followed by the stomach swiveling dance that leaves you nauseous for hours.
     This morning wasn't awful, and somehow I woke up with only an hours sleep under me belt. Have you ever had water make waves inside your stomach? Inebriated me was smart, over 3 liters of water, and probably well over five pounds of water sitting in my gut, my head was fine...but my stomach, ugh my stomach. I started the morning with the hangover musts, shower, coffee, and sunlight. I know food would usually be on that list,, never on my list. Just coffee, black, bitter, acidic coffee.
     I thought I was taking my time, hell I had time to kill until I had to wander over to Hongdae again. I did everything slowly, made the effort to do everything mindfully, but everything took me less than an hour. It was 7:30 am, and I had five hours until I would be returning to the town that reeks of stale liquor and vomit.
     Going to Hongdae during the day is always a trip. I feel like a vampire forced into the sun when I'm there, my eyes stretch thin, there's a scent that punches me in the face, my skin hurts, my brain automatically starts to throb once I get there. Hongdae is so different when there's day involved. It's strange to see sober people there, and as disgusting as it sounds, and is, the scent of vomit is so prominent and overwhelming. I was meeting up with Hyunwoo Sun (of for an interview and on the way, I swear I could have played hopscotch on all the dried remains of food and alcohol particles. Hongdae for many (not just myself) is covered in a drunken haze, and is so connected to all night drinking and partying and sloppiness. During the day, when there's sunlight, and you can't hear 'Americano' pumping at every corner, it's more than foreign, it's bizarre and...even intimidating.
     The land is deserted territory. I find myself feeling challenged whenever I go to Hongdae, day or night. Either way, I feel like I cash in a lot of brain cells and up the idiocy. Even if I am sober, I find myself slurring, or feeling drunk. It's a social response attached to this town. This is why, for so long I have avoided this area. I know how I will feel, how I will wake up, and how stupid I feel after. I don't take part in anything dangerous, or credibly churlish, but I just feel dumber.
     Anyways, I found this picture from last night, and saw this no street stand today!
fruit, pineapple, watermelon, melons...this is MY kind of stall! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     My rant is over, today's interview was great, and we got to kick it at Bau House. A doggie cafe located in Hongdae (of course) with loads of puppies and dogs. I've gone here before and love chilling with the pups...but it's a bit difficult to concentrate. 
lovely! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
my sleepy neighbor (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     Sunday is rounding out to an end...more to come...keep an eye out!!!

Fermentation Celebration: quick overview

     Saturday began with groggy eyes, slow movements, and a major craving for some kombucha! Kombucha is this amazing drink (okay, an acquired taste for sure) that is vinegary, supposed to aid your digestive system and provide energy. It's got spice and is more like a live tea because of the active enzymes and microbes buzzing around in it. I used to live on this while living in Vermont. It is technically considered a non-alcoholic beverage, because it have less than a 0.5% alcohol level, but I swear, it gets me a bit buzzy!
     Getting closer to the broader picture and overall point, Saturday was the second Fermentation Celebration! This event is celebrating all things fermented and even local. Loads of beer, pickled items, and of course kombucha. The first Fermentaion celebration did so well that a second one was organized, entrance fees doubled (10,000W->20,000W) and the space increased(now divided in between two streets versus one!) The event started at 1 and came to a close around 5. I met up with friends, we wandered the event and I met some pretty passionate people! Restaurants gathered together providing locally brewed beers, local salsas, home-made maekgoli, vegetarian goat cheese. The entire event reminded me of the farmer's markets back in VT. Meeting the providers and producers, getting connected, hearing their genuine only want to support the community!
Here's a collection of shots I gathered!
fermented cilantro salsa from Phillies (photo taken by VeganBeats)
KOMBUCHA!!! from Le Vert (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     I met this community of brewers from 'Homebrew Korea' and they were awesome! These guys got into brewing because of the general lack of good beers in Korea, and organized a self-brewing community. These guys all brew at home, meet up discuss beer...super passionate and really into brewing! Updates to come!!
He makes IPA's!! ^^* (photo taken by VeganBeats)
  A popular restaurant (near Noksapyeoung) called Noxa provided a lot of fermented samples. Their own cheese, mild and spicey salsa, raw salad dressing, and a green smoothie! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
my beautiful friends waiting for beer! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
...and drinking it! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
great sport! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
pickled cherry tomatoes and apple wine! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
         The event was full of people, really community orientated and brought me home! I'm not into beer, honestly, but a good quality IPA, I can't deny! And the genuine excitement and passion all these people had for their creations, I couldn't help but want to support! Is this the new wave of Korea? Is this what may come next? 

This is only the beginning I feel in terms of food and products available, more local, more involved...maybe Vermont isn't so far away!

~~~This weekend already has so much going on, and wonderful things have been happening....concentrated posts to come ^^*!~

Friday, June 17, 2011

Food Processor fun^^*!~

     The point'n'shoot camera I have really does no justice for the presentation of my food, my adventures, or really anything!!! I'm in the position where I need to consider where my next pay check is going to...Vietnam, the Philippines, a new camera, or a new apartment...Officially living paycheck to paycheck and, hell I'm smiling! 이모 is amazing, biggest heart in the world and she surprised me with a food processor, a teeny one but, since then I've whipped up some yummy jazz!! (Most of it is in my freezer though!!)
vegan 만두!!! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     I'll admit...I wander the grocery stores and see what the sample ladies whip up. While at Kim's club (desperate search for guinea pig food) I saw a crowd swelling around the mushrooms. A little curious and easily preoccupied I discovered that the sample worker was handing out little mushroom 전, so...I grabbed a bunch and using the nifty processor of mine, sliced them up SUPER tiny, mixed a 1:1 ratio of water to my flour mixture (that's 1:1 whole wheat and unbleached flour, a a teeny bit of sweet potato flour) and added a small amount of sea's the result!
my mushroom 전 (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     I anticipate a super lazy morning...mmm recovery meal may be a lightly pan-fried 전.     >.<#

     There are a few things from the states I miss...I won't get too into it but nut-butters! Affordable quality nut butters. They have skippy, peter pan, corn-syrup marinated "peanut butter" here...I brought and bought lots of organic almonds and my school provides me with celery, let's put two and two together! 
organic almond butter!!! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     The best thing I made (and worst quality photo) was an organic mango and strawberry sorbet! I always add strawberry at the end because I like some of it to be a bit chunky! It keep the sorbet colder for longer! No sugar, no additives, just straight up fruit! I have a feeling my summer is going to be lovely!!
mango strawberry sorbet! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     I am more than thankful and excited about all the things I (hope) will be making!

I just had my first puer, and am going to snuggle up with my writing partners (^-^) and read my new book!!
I wish they had thumbs so they could have little mugs of puer with taken by VeganBeats

An exciting weekend awaits!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pain Au Fromage

     In the tiny streets surrounding my home, I keep stumbling into independent low key quaint little cafes and there has been one teasing my eye for a while. But every time I made the active effort to check it out, it's been closed. When the streets around me were empty, not one drunkard in site, it was open. I know given the name, 'Pain Au Fromage' (cheese bread) this doesn't seem up my alley (ㅎㅎㅎ) I don't like bread, don't eat cheese...why the hell would I want to check it out?!! The design, it's adorable. A GIANT decorated bagel hangs outside, it's in a basement, and there's breads littered everywhere...
the entrance (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     As you go down the stairs and enter the warm and cozy cafe, behind you are vintage yeast buckets, and decorative breads. I felt like I was in a museum, or my nana's house...if she ever made bread, I think her kitchen would resemble this doorway alone.    
bread doorway! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     The interior is creative, very themed and did I already say cute? There was an indoor fake tree adorned in teeny bagels! The seating was very natural, all wood, concrete, sure and confident...welcoming and loving. Like my papa! 
bagel tree! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     The owner was the only person inside, and he was more than kind and accepting of my general state of mind...anonymity. I wanted to be in this place free of speech, free of "buy this" pressure... I'm pretty sure he was in the same position too, bagging breads in silence, quiet yet approachable. He is the owner I believe and very humble. 
the owner..I think (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     There were a lot of touches put into this place to make it what it was. From the clean and warm wood used for the tables and counter, to the warm yellow lighting, and the carb themed favorites were the price holders...
G would be so happy! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     I got some ciabatta and an americano for a small sum. I think it cost me about 5,000W for both. The coffee was fresh, ice cold, and not bitter at all. One of the most soothing coffees I had! Maybe that's not the general purpose for coffee, but considering how much I drink, a little less obvious the caffeine is...probably better for this body of mine!
ciabatta and americano! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     I loved the ambiance here, the relaxation, the interior's inviting, comforting, and a place you can spend all day at in complete peace. I predict a lot of writing and coffee knocking to be going on here! 

It's a little hidden, but pretty simple to get to!

Seoul National Univeristy of Education Station (교대역) line 2/green line
Get out exit 14 and walk straight until you get to the GS gas station, take that right, then your first left. When you see the 711, take the right, directly across from it, walk up straight (a tiny bit of an incline) and look knee level on you right side...or look for a bagel hanging outside!!

Korean address:
서울시 서초구 서초동 1565-191충  
tel: 02-585-0450

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

KTOWN Cowboys

     KTOWN Cowboys is a web series written by Danny Cho (Korean American comedian) and involving a lot of talented people. The series hit it well with a LOT of people and they're in the process of trying to make a film, SUPPORT THEM!! This is straight from their kickstarter site:

Our Story:
Last year our team got together and created a web series called KTOWN COWBOYS.  We've developed a strong following and now we want to turn it into a feature film.  The web series follows a group of young Korean-Americans having one epic night in Koreatown Los Angeles.  We feel that we owe it to our fans to create a movie that is much more epic and entertaining than our web series.  To date we have over 1.2 million views combined on our web series.  
As of now we have locked down most of the money which will be used for the actual shooting of the film.  However, we would like to raise more money to properly market the film.  Our goal is to premiere the film at a film festival such as South by Southwest, and then go on a nationwide tour to screen the film at various cities and meet as many of our fans as possible.  The money we raise on Kickstarter will go toward all necessary materials and fees needed to market our film correctly.  This means printing out posters, merchandise, flyers, ad space, etc.
KTOWN COWBOYS THE MOVIE takes place a year before the web series.  One week before Jason's wedding, the boys get involved with the wrong people and have one week to make things right.
Even a dollar helps!  Support the KTOWN COWBOYS movement and in return we will be working our asses off to deliver a kick ass movie for you to enjoy!
Thank you so much!

Danny Cho will be preforming HERE in Itaewon this Friday at Roofers! It's his first time touring in Korea, check it out!!
Doors open at 9, he's on at 10!

**I have another 'musical pauses' blog in the of the artists (Big Phony) has a performance this Saturday at TAFS, 6-9pm...He is also involved in the KTOWN Cowboys project!

Also some more resto reviews coming your way!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

성북동묵밥(Seong-book dong muk bab)

     I've heard a lot of people (usually fellow Americans and state-siders) aren't fans of 묵(muk.) The biggest complaints are a general aversion to the texture. It's strange, clearly foreign and something to adjust to. It's made with acorn powder (도토리묵-dotori muk), buckwheat starch (메밀묵- memilmuk), sesame seeds (깨묵-kkaemuk),or mung bean starch (녹두묵- nokdumuk) and it resembles jell-o. Muk is rumored to be very healthy, by that it's simply low calorie. It doesn't have much flavor standing alone, so it is often seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, 김치, etc. I personally LOVE this stuff. I like the texture, it's firm, light, and fills you up. I always feel healthier after I eat it, and not weighed down.
     For me, anything with 묵 is the perfect summer meal. I've seen so many people throwing down 김치찌개 (kimchi jigae) and varieties of 라면 (ramyeon), and I've grown up with Korean meals, and spicy I can always do, but high temperature foods in the summer mess with my system.
     Using that wonderful book the tenant before me left in my place, I found a listing for a 묵 place, and after a long run...I was craving it. This is what my book says of 성북동묵밥(Seong-book dong muk bab):
     "You can taste the best well-being food make with Dotori (acorn) powder. Dotori based dishes, including Muk-bap (rice mixed with a type of jelly made from acorn powder), Dotori-muk Naengmyun (Dotori-muk served in chilled broth), Dotori Sujebi (soup containing acorn based dough flakes roughly torn by hand), Dotori Kimchi-jeon (kimchi pancakes made with acorn based batter) and Dotori Tukboki (broiled dish of sliced rice cake in hot pepper sauce) make your mouth water."
      After some wandering and getting a little lost (I swear, I navigate better when the sun sets) I located 성북동묵밥(Seong-book dong muk bab.)
entrance to 성북동묵밥(Seong-book dong muk bab) photo taken by VeganBeats
     I entered an empty restaurant, only the workers were there and if you don't speak Korean, get better at cherades. No one here speaks a bit, if any English, but not to worry. I don't think you can go wrong with anything here. The owners were super helpful and very patient! Granted I knew what I wanted and can get by well enough...hmmm maybe just know what you're hankering for, or visit this place with a friend. (Wow, I'm really selling it aren't I?)
interior...cute right! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     Looking at the menu, my stomach was I went for a bit more than I could chew. I order the 도토리김치전 (dotori kimchi jeon, dotori based kimchi pancake) and the 도토리국수 (dotori guksu, dotori in a light broth.) The broth they serve is made with a simple mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, and no fear vegans!
도토리김치전 (dotori kimchi jeon) and look at all there vegan 반찬!! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     Al the 반찬 (banchan) served was vegan also. The 김치 was delightfully spicy and had enough juice to keep the cabbage dripping, like I said, I like spicy. The cucumber and onion 김치 was slightly less spicy but had ground asian pear in is, to there was a thick kind-of sauce what just burst with a sweet and savory flavor. I added it to the 전. The shredded greens (purple and green cabbage, chives, carrots, and mountain greens) were seasoned in a light vinegar based marinade (my only issue was that the greens were a bit old and droopy.) The bok choy was seasoned with vinegar, sesame oil, and garlic, and the garlic chives and peanuts were boiled in a light soy sauce. It tasted as if they were using light sodium soy sauce here, my face wasn't cringing and nothing overwhelmed the foundation ingredient in any of these dishes. The 도토리김치전 was great. Crispy and cooked completely, and not dripping in any oil. Oil, it bother me, extremely so if there is a residue. I know you're using oil, but please, I don't want to be reminded!!
도토리국수 dotori guksu (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     The 도토리국수 (dotori guksu) was a good size portion, I could have fit my head in the bowl! There was a generous pile of cucumber, 김치, and 김 (gim, seasoned laver) on top of the thin long slices of 도토리묵. The broth was fresh, cool, refreshing and invigorating. There was a delicate balance of vinegary sweetness and saltiness, the 묵 balanced it out very well. Everything seemed well measured and again, very balanced. 
everything...(photo taken by VeganBeats)
     I was more than happy with this place. I actually tried to come back on Sunday (it's closed on Sundays...womp womp!) I loved how fresh and balanced everything tasted (except the saggy veggies) and was surprised with the portion size. I am sure to be back here again, I couldn't finish all of what I ordered. Next time I will bring friends, this place needs to be shared! 
     Great food, great service, good ambiance, peaceful...great muk!!

It is rather difficult to explain how to get here, but I'll give it a shot. 
Here's the information for the restaurant, (map it on google!)

1545-6 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul

line 2, green line, go to Seocho station, exit out of exit 2. 
Walk straight and pass four roads on your left will see Honda Motors on a corner, take the road on your left right before Honda. Walk for about 2 minutes, and 성북동묵밥(Seong-book dong muk bab) will be right in front of you, on your left side!

Here's the address in Korean:
성북동묵밥 서초직영점 
서울특별시 서초구 서초동 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

원조두부촌~Wonjo Tofu House

     I love how weeks fly by so quickly, but also wish they took their time...

Having one extra day for the weekend made such a difference. My feet were better planted on the ground...this one flew by so quickly that I can't distinctly recognize everything that I've been getting involved in. Besides the time at work, the dancing, singing, and loads of love that have been exploding from me for my kids, I've been floating through this week. I have been taking a lot of walks, to clear the mind and just get my  body moving.

     Floating through my home one day I found a book the tenant before me left here, 'Life in Seocho:World's BEST CITY! World HAPPIEST CITY!' and upon reading it I found that there was a tofu house pretty close to me (there's a muk place to, next place to wander over to!!)
     The Tofu House is called 'Wonju Tofu house' and is a "Traditional tofu restaurant. This restaurant makes its own sundubu (soft tofu) from native beans  using the traditional method of using Gamasot (traditional Korean pot used to make rice or soup), which makes its tofu savory and good for the body. It is also popular as a diet food as it is low in calories."
     I decided to wander over there and check this place out, the only Tofu House I go to is all the way in 구리 (Guri!) This place is literally a stone's throw away from my apartment and located very close to 교대역 (Seoul National University of Education station.) It is traditional seating, take your shoes off, sit on a mat, eat mindfully...I wish this was supported to a higher level in the states. I feel like rushing through meals, 'the gobble and go' is far more common.
     The interior was rustic and brought you to a state of being where you want to slow down. Aside from the aprons the staff was wearing, I felt like I was in country Korea, old-style, traditional, folk Korea. The walls were covered in 한글 and traditional paintings, the tables were shiny and lacquered and the cups for water, soju, maekgoli, etc were ceramic and quaint. Aesthetically, this restaurant was winning!
the interior, I felt like I was in a folk village!! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     Scanning the menu, there are a lot of affordable options, and vegan options! Considering its a tofu house, if there was nothing strictly veggie, there'd be an issue!! O_o# But, for you omnivores, check this place out too, lots of bbq, fish, squid...etc. There were two other parties in there while I was and they kept ordering more meat and seafood and raving about how tasty it was, I'll use them as your reference!
     Back to this blog~~the veggie options were their primarily tofu dishes, 비빔밥 (bibimbap), 전 (pancakes), 순두부 (soon dubu, ask them to omit the fish and meat, they will!), 두부김치 (dubu kimchi, fried tofu and warm kimchi...again ask for no meat and seafood, just to be safe!) and 비빔낭면(bibim nangmyeon, spicey mixed noodles.) Everything was affordable, from 5,000W (뱌뱜밥) all the was to 12,000W (두부김치.) Upon the staff's recommendation, I decided to go with the 들깨슴두부 (pronounced, dol-gae soom-dubu.) It was 8,000W and with my clarifications of just the 'what-I-don't consume' run-down, everything served was vegan!
the 들깨숨두부, and various 반찬: steamed bok choy, 김치 (kimchi), sweet soy peanuts and black soybeans, garlic steamed potatoes, rice, perilla leaves and salted turnip, and 야채전 (vegetable pancakes)  photo taken by VeganBeats
     The 들깨슴두부 was served steaming hot and bubbling. I love 들솥 (dolsot) the thick bowls that you make 찌개 in is such a work of art. It keeps things STILL cooking and endlessly hot, and when you lay a spoon in there, you can 'peel' away whatever it is cooking! The 두부 let out such a steamy lively sound when I tore my spoon around the dolsot, and released such a savory smell. I'm sure the dramatic steam made it that much more "hungry" sexy. ㅎㅎㅎ    
close up of the 들깨숨두부 (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     The 두부 was full of flavor, salt and pepper erupted from each spoonful, and because 두부 retains so much water, whenever I finished the broth, the wonderful 들솥 would cook it up more, causing more broth to appear. The 반찬 was a great match with the main dish also. Just enough balance between salty and sweet. 
     I have to admit, I've been slightly disappointed in terms of complete lay outs of meals here, there's always been a mix match or lack of planning. Too much sweet, too much salt, too much of something, or complete lack of flavor. The staff here I feel really thought  about which side dishes go best with each dish. My fellow eaters here had different plates of 반찬 served with their meals. 
     Overall, this place was really yummy. Inexpensive, vegan friendly, and the ambiance supports slow, mindful eating. I had a two hour long meal here, and enjoyed every flavor, the sizzling sounds, and the time passed by steadily. I was in my own world, and happened to be having a great meal. I felt healthier, energized, and more than pleased. I am sure to wander back here rather soon!
blurry picture of the taken by VeganBeats

원조두부촌~Wonjo Tofu House 
tel: 588-6766~5
서울 서초구 서초3동 1577-3 
How to get there:
교대역 (Seoul National University of Education Station) line 2, green circle line

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Start Buffet

     I took advantage of my free time and decided to take my books, writing materials, and ideas over to the all vegan buffet spot New Start. I've heard nothing but good things about it and was more than curious...but of course my camera's batteries died on instant so, apologies for the poor image quality.
     The spread is small but various, and concentrates more so on veggies versus meat imitation. I personally get kind of creeped out by veggie seeing broccoli, sprouts, loads of greens and definitely made me happier.
From top left and clockwise: 물김치 (water kimchi), lettuce, 김치 (kimchi), quesedillas, 두부 (tofu), pumpkin, 불고기 (soy bulgogi), broccoli, 고추장 beans, and cabbage rolls. (photo taken by VeganBeats) 
     My first plate was loaded up...really loaded up, and so was my second! I wanted to try everything! They had a lot of stuff. Seasoned tofu, vegan kimchi, pumpkin, gochujang sweet beans (??), cabbage rolls, kimbap, etc...small table, but lots to choose from...LOTS!
From top left clockwise: 불고기 (soy bulgogi), 김치 (kimchi), beets and cabbage, cabbage rolls, 김밥 (kimbap...with brown rice!!), apple salad, rice noodles and squash tomatoe sauce, 묵(muk/acorn jelly), 반찬 (banchan), and more 두부 (tofu) (photo taken by VeganBeats)
    My favorite was the cabbage rolls, they were small and very flavorful. Steamed cabbage leaves filled with a tofu and veggie mix, light, clean, and healthy! The broccoli was also great, it was steamed in a light miso sauce with mushrooms and onions.
~~I got loads of writing in, read a bunch and ate...more than I have in AGES~ took me about 3 hours...whatever!
     The price wasn't bad, 12,000W (50% off for people between 5 and 12 years old!) and considering there was so much to choose from..I left full, productive, and very tired.

New Start Info:
Open Sunday through Friday
Lunch~ 11:30-3pm
Dinner~ 5-8:30 pm

Food shop~ 9am-9pm

How to get there:
line 2, Seolleung station.
Exit out of gate 2 and walk about 50m past Burger king. On the left is an office supply store called 'Linko', turn left and when you see the Holly's on your left, look across the street, there's New Start~> go to the second floor!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Garak Market, family times, and the park bunny^^*!~

     A truly relaxing Sunday...when this day has been generally understood as the day of rest, I can't recall when I actually had a lazy fun Sunday. Lazy being an issue of semantics really. I allowed myself to sleep in, actually sleep in. Shut off as many stress points as possible and when I woke up I decided to hit up the subway for Garak market. A subway station and destination I've always wanted to explore!!
     The day was hott, and the market essentially empty when I got there. There were several vendors...and as the day went on, more people started wandering.
veggie stands (photo taken by VeganBeats)
I stumbled upon a warehouse FULL of watermelons! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
colorful veggies ^^* (photo taken by VeganBeats)
the roots, sweet potatoes, lotus root, sweet potatoe...(photo taken by VeganBeats)
     After the market, I trucked around my new purchases (man watermelons are HEAVY!) and went over to 송파 and visited my 이모!! Never took time to soak in the walk to her place....look at her entrance!
     We caught up on the past and ate watermelon and then decided to make 호떡(hoedoek) that flat fried pancake filled with cinnamon sugary street vendor for me, I got this jam down. I'll get the exact recipe soon...but here's the general process in picture terms!
flour, sweet pumpkin flour, and yeast (photo taken by VeganBeats)
add some warm water (photo taken by VeganBeats)
the filling! cinnamon, ground nuts, sugar (photo taken by VeganBeats)
Make some dumplings and fry up...flatten with that weird spatula in the top right (photo taken by VeganBeats)
Hello 호떡!! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
     After packaging these up, my 이모 her husband and I went over to Olympic park to enjoy the breeze, drink some coffee and soak in our surrounding. The sun was out, a light breeze filled in from the skies and it was cool. I could smell grass, here people laughing, children playing, and was just chilling when all of sudden!!!
this guy found me!! (photo taken by VeganBeats)
  Apparently, this little guy lives in the park...was very calm, super cute, and... well...animals only improve my day!! He looks like someone smeared some liquid liner on him!!
too cute ^^*!~ (photo taken by VeganBeats)

Considering this only covers Saturday.....