Edibles

Rolling in the Deep

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If I had to choose one of my favorite go-to dishes ever, it would undoubtedly be rolls. Yes, rolls, as in California rolls, and all of its variations. I’m not a big fast food lover and have a hard time digesting anything fried and/or dipped in MSG but anything and everything Asian (not the Oriental Chicken Salad type though) is welcome, and if it’s easy to eat (as in bite-size) and it’s got avocado in it, it’s a definite go.

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Strangely enough, I’ve been finding it hard to come across my favorite food here in Seoul, though it’s probably more “Asian” than McDonald’s… I’ve seen more than enough Micky D’s here than I ever had back in the States but rolls are amazingly hard to come by. So I had to ask the chef at Crazy Rolls by Askos why that is. And the answer was both surprising and somewhat expected: Koreans consider dining out as a “fancy” experience (unless you are eating by yourself at a local joint that serves a $5 soup) and to them, rolls are perceived as being not much different from Gimbap, which is a Korean version of sushi rolls without sushi, usually made with meat or fried tofu with various vegetables and wrapped with laver. And Gimbap is considered probably the cheapest and most common food belonging to the “Boonshik” category along with spicy rice cake and steamed dumplings which are known as snacking food for those who aren’t so well off, such as students. It’s sort of like a stigma for some, if you’d like to call it. Koreans generally tend to unnecessarily (and unhealthily) spend too much of their time worrying about how they are perceived by others, and that is reflected in the products they purchase, brands they wear, places they visit, and the type of food they eat.

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Hence, dining out is more than consuming food, it’s an experience and a special one at that. They want to be seen at a place that’s  considered “fancy” and “nice”, eating food that looks “expensive.” Of course, it would be perfect if you could have it all, eating good food at a nice place that’s also affordable. but how often do you come across such a place? Not often, and in Korea it gets even more tough outside of Seoul where all the action is at.

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I visit Songdo, Incheon every now and then. It’s a strategically planned, environmentally friendly city targeted towards “international” crowd built on man-made land that’s mind-blowingly awesome. You can get a glimpse of it in 2PM’s newest music video:

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In one of Songdo’s many areas, there is a relatively new business complex called “Canal Walk” which is being filled with trendy restaurants, cafes, and shops. Among them is Crazy Roll by Askos, which specializes in Japanese Fusion like you’ve never seen before. I’m from Southern California where Rolls are almost on the same level as hamburgers in terms of accessibility and price, but it’s rare that I get to see them looking this fancy, and… incredibly delicious.

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It’s not a large restaurant but it’s got everything from a bar to a private room.

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Some of the dishes the chefs showcased were nothing like the way I’ve known the “rolls,” ranging from salmon rolls (that looks like above),

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to  Soft crab miso pasta which disappeared within seconds literally because it was that awesome (this is a must try),

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With chefs who come with years of experience at highly regarded restaurants in Hotel Chosun and Bellagio in Las Vegas, you can be assured that you’d be not only getting what you pay for, but much more.

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California rolls with a twist. Also gone in seconds. Their wasabi sauce is a dream.

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Okonomiyaki, Crazy Roll style. Yes, it’s covered by a layer of egg which turns it into an omelette.

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When I thought we were finished, the chef offered udon to alleviate my sore throat… which had plenty of fresh mushrooms and kelp. Loved how it wasn’t salty, which is a problem I always have at other places. Perfect paired with rolls although we had none left by the time the warm Udon came along.

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Songdo isn’t much of a tourist spot nor is in close proximity to Seoul but definitely worth a visit if you are curious what Korea’s first “International City” looks like.

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And if you happen to be in the area, this is one place you do not want to miss. While Korean BBQ and noodles are awesome, rolls will always have a place in my heart and if you are like me, I can guarantee that you will love this place. (btw, above is another humble attempt of mine at DSLR photography. Thanks to Justin for the camera adjustment/setup which basically means all I did was to shoot, literally. Technically challenged much?)

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크래이지롤 바이 아스코스 (CRAZY ROLL BY ASKOS)

Incheon Yeonsoo-gu Songdo-dong 19-1 Canal Walk SUMMER 1F (202동 141호)

032-858-8859

 

Food for Thought


It’s hard to believe that there’s less than six months left of the year. My first official summer in Korea has been both eventful and a bit tough: lots of exciting projects yet this tropical rainforest weather is just something that will take a long time to get used to. I thought Hong Kong was bad, but wow, with heavy rain added to the equation, it makes even staying home difficult. I’m not complaining though because it does make me sweat a lot which results in loss of excess fat and stuff (or I would like to believe). Oh yeah, finally got my gym membership. Never did I imagine myself going to a gym here (because it’s ridiculously expensive compared to what I used to pay back in the States)  but I clearly had reached my limit to where it (aka lack of gym) was almost making me depressed. So awesome that I get Hot Yoga for free!!
Happened to be roaming around Garosugil the other day and came across this tiny Italian restaurant called Stephanie Cafe. Other than the fact that it was too pretty to eat (I mean, it is pink after all), definitely a great discovery, I thought, because the food was actually as good as it looked. Pasta was cooked to perfection and the beet cream sauce had a creative twist to the usual cream-based pasta. Will definitely be back.

Stephanie Cafe

551-11, Sinsadong, Gangnamgu


and… the usual. I can’t believe how often I eat this thing here in Seoul, but I can’t seem to find another perfect dessert to fight off summer heat. By the end of the summer, I probably would have tried every single shaved ice that exists in Seoul. This particular one is from a cafe called “마음은 콩밭” (Heart is at the Beanfield?) located in Buamdong, a quieter area of Seoul behind Gyeongbokgung Palace. It wasn’t as sweet as the other places (which I like), and especially loved that the beans were made in-house.

Ok, enough writing for the day, it’s getting hot in herrrrre! Chao~

Pizza in Seoul

…and no, that is not an oxymoron. Seoul is no longer how I remember it from back in the days; it’s full of great international cuisine and cool places to hang (many of them a lot cooler than the ones in the States, sorry friends. hehe). You can just about find anything you want whenever you want, and most of the time, in better quality and taste.

There are a few things that I get excited about. Besides shoes, food is definitely ranked top, especially when it comes unexpectedly. Thanks to a friend who knows just about everything Seoul, I had the pleasure of visiting a new pizzeria in Hong Dae that opened only a week ago.
With experienced chefs and fresh ingredients, great food was perhaps a given.
The grape salad was amazing especially with a huge chunk of ricotta cheese, which served as a perfect appetizer along with flat bread for us hungry beasts.

We had Margherita as well but this Mushroom Pizza completely blew my mind away. If you are not a big mushroom fan however, beware, it’s got a very, very (note that I wrote that twice) strong smell to it.
All in all, an excellent experience. Also helps that the owner was extremely polite and kind, kind enough to offer us a free dessert (well, only because of the friend who’s instantly earned a VVIP status but a nice gesture nonetheless).

Coyote Saloon Pizza & Bar
Mapogu Seo-gyo-dong 408-7 2nd flr

Fist Rice

 That’s what these are.



Best 묵 I’ve ever had (acorn jelly? That doesn’t sound very tasty but it’s actually quite good)

at Duru (두루) in Cheong Dam

Special thanks to my lovely unnis (female friends who are older than me) in Korea :)


snack time


Where I can be found these days. I had three of their walnut waffle in one seating just the other day. Their green tea gelato is a winner too.

It’s a Boy

A friend just had a baby boy over the weekend. To celebrate, picked up a dozen special edition cupcakes from Sprinkle’s, my absolute favorite cupcake bakery. They were obviously too cute to be eaten but next thing I know, they were already in my belly. Congrats to Kara & Roy on their beautiful little one! :)

By the way, currently in love with the Instagram App for iPhone. It does some amazing photography tricks, as you can see above.

Passion for Food

It’s been exactly a day since my return to the States yet I’m still on Korean time which means that my body’s finally fully awake after an 8-hour work day spent as a walking zombie.


After a missed bus and a flight, another almost-missed-flight, a nausea, a breakfast that tasted like rubber, and a six hour nap that was oh-so-uncomfortable, I’m finally back home but it still feels like a dream. I walked into the office this morning on zombie status only to be pleasantly greeted by my vandalized desk and piles of work. Not sure how I got through the day but I’m here sitting in my room, which must be a good thing. By the way, the Airport Limousine Bus operated by Korean Air is beyond awesome except for the fact that we almost missed our flight because of the driver who didn’t even bother to wait for us… but the bus itself is extremely luxurious and comfortable, complete with a flat screen TV, free bottled water, leather (perhaps faux-leather not that it matters anyway) seats with legroom reminiscent of first class airline seats.

Met up with lovely ladies I met in Korea who are hotshot career women in their respective field. The fancy restaurant/bakery where we had dinner was called Passion5 located in Itaewon that served everything from a lavender-colored latte to crab pasta (see below) and flamboyant desserts. I especially enjoyed the Doria and the pasta, and of course the sweets which are always my favorite!

Was dressed casually due to the crappy super humid weather and the long train rides but at least I was comfortable! My first time trying out these sheepskin boots better known as “Uggs” though they are really from a different brand. They were provided to me as a sample so I will be doing a thorough review soon but for now, I do like that they are warm, comfortable, and a bit more shapely than the Uggs.

Wearing: Oliver Peoples Deacon Glasses, Vintage Bally Bag, Red sweater dress coming soon to my Shop, Tomimito Thin Black Leggings, a random black zipper halter top I found in my suitcase, and Fryderyk Dite Polonaises in Gray

 

Busan

I was in utter shock when we arrived in Busan because it was nothing like how I remembered it. With skyscrapers and department stores occupying the area, it was far from what I had in mind, but at the same time, I found myself excited and proud to be born in a country that is experiencing so much development and transformation.

Korean style sashimi at the Gwang Ahn Ri Beach in Busan: Freshly caught flounder is dipped in a special sauce then wrapped in a lettuce and sesame leaf along with a fresh garlic and green pepper. What you see above is actually a special type called “Seggoshi” which includes bones, making it extra chewy and savory.

A spicy stew is made with the fish bone after all the meat has been removed for the sashimi plate to be eaten with rice at the end of the meal.

Typical type of drinks you see on sashimi tables. My favorite is Chilsung Cider which tastes so much better than Seven up or Sprite. hehe

at Dong Baek Island by the ocean where the Nurimaru APEC House is located. I actually had a hard time understanding why it was such a big deal that a mere meeting room would be turned into a popular tourist spot but the more I read about it, I realize that it really was a huge step forward for Korea to be included in the list of countries hosting such an internationally significant meeting.

Cheong Dam Dong


After grabbing a homestyle Korean lunch in Yeok Sam Dong, we headed to a lounge called T6 in Cheong Dam Dong where Foreus Collection was having a sample show.

Besides the ladies who were excited to finally get their hands on the premium American brands that they were only able to meet online previously, a few of the familiar faces showed up including the actresses Shin Hye Hwang, Yeh Ryun Cha, and makeup artist, Kyung Min Lee whom I mistakenly called Cheong, Sam Mul. Oops.

Corso Como, which is like a hybrid of Museum of Modern Art in New York and Barneys Co-op. This is the type of place that naturally facilitates innovation and creativity. Totally cool.

At Boon the Shop which was located across the street from the lounge where the sample show was being held. I hear it’s a popular shop among the upper class in the neighborhood as it carries top designer brands from Europe and such including Emilio Pucci and Christian Louboutin.

didn’t get to do many outfit shots that day as we were moving around so much. eek.

On me: Black Studded Blouse from Korea, Joe’s Jeans, H&M Brown Leather Belt, Nixon Watch, YSL Ring, and Prada Ankle Boots

 

Love at First Bite







You are probably saying, “Wait.. didn’t she wear this in the previous post?”
Yes, you are correct, but only partially. I have a different jacket and shoes on, which makes a whole world of difference. Trust me, you can transform an entire outfit by just switching up outerwear and/or shoes. Give it a try! :)



I go through phases when it comes to food. When I discover something I really like, I will eat it until I literally get sick of it. I’ve been recently into Lebanese food and this is my absolute favorite brunch place: Zait & Zaatar, which we accidentally came across on Christmas when everything else was closed. My friends and I frequent the Starbucks located in the same mall which happened to be closed that fateful morning. When everyone suggested otherwise, the hubby and I stuck around and grabbed a handful of freshly baked Lebanese bread. We were kindly offered a sample when we humbly admitted that we were newbies, which I thought was a great gesture. See, I’m all about customer service! If you know service, you know business! Anyhow, I was sold at first bite. It was warm and soft on the outside, juicy and flavorful on the inside without being excessively salty or spicy. Cheese is my favorite! At $1 a piece, you are in for a treat, one that will make you come back over and over again, that is! You bet we will be back soon.

Oh, how I love exploring the wonderful world of exotic cuisine.

Veda Jacket
J Brand Houlihan in Vintage Black