Chinese Food in Seoul

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Apart from good old Itaewon, finding real Chinese food in the suburbs of Seoul can be quite difficult. Just as the Americans have lemon chicken and chop suey (which many native Chinese are unfamiliar with), so too do the Koreans have their own interpretations of Chinese food, to which they adhere with admirable and puzzling tenacity.

Someone once asked Chen Jing “Well if you don’t eat jjajjangmyeon in China, what else is there to eat?”

Apart from good old Itaewon, finding real Chinese food in the suburbs of Seoul can be quite difficult. Just as the Americans have lemon chicken and chop suey (which many native Chinese are unfamiliar with), so too do the Koreans have their own interpretations of Chinese food, to which they adhere with admirable and puzzling tenacity.

Someone once asked Chen Jing “Well if you don’t eat jjajjangmyeon in China, what else is there to eat?”

Every so often though, you can find a hole-in-the-wall type place that serves something refreshingly different. One small place we found near Nakseongdae station (come out of exit 4, turn left at the petrol station, then turn right and walk straight for a while), serves fairly authentic Chinese hot-pot, known as shabu-shabu in Korean. The word shabu-shabu is onomatopoeia, it’s supposed to be the sound that the meat makes when you swish it around in the soup. I listened carefully while swishing, but could not detect the slightest hint of a ‘shabu-shabu’ type sound emanate from the broth.

While English speakers would say that dogs go ‘woof woof’, Koreans say that dogs go ‘mung mung!’

The soup on the left was a seolleong-tang-esque type affair, while the soup on the right reminded me suspiciously of jjambong. Still, it was much better than most Korean Chinese restaurants here. The price was around US$30 for two people and quite good, although there was enough food for three people.

The only other place that I’ve found outside of Itaewon has been our old favourite in Suwon with the eccentric owners. Because we’re down at the greenhouse a lot these days, Chen Jing and I have eaten here a few times. In the photo is Snow Beer, which is cheaper and not as popular as its cousin, Tsingtao Beer.

And for good reason.

Last week we tried wet noodles, which consisted of thickened chicken soup, cabbage, noodles and chicken. Quite simple and not too bad. What I liked most though, was the chilli oil on top, which I used to eat quite a lot back home.

When we head to Hong Kong next month, I think I’ll be eating around six meals a day.



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