Monday, March 28, 2011

Hello Kitty Cafe

 I met up with a friend for coffee in Hongdae.  What better place than a coffee shop dedicated to the legend...Hello Kitty:)  Although Hello Kitty is techically Japanese, she is still very popular in Korea.

It's the sort of shop where you turn the corner and BOOM, can't miss it!
 It was next to a cat cafe - which is a cafe with cats walking around that you can pet.  If I  A) wasn't allergic or B) didn't think cats were disgusting maybe I would have tried my coffee with cat hair flying around...blah!  It was also next to the "FUCKFAKE" store...which I'm not entirely sure what that's all about.
 Since pink is my favorite color, I loved the decor!  Even the chairs were themed.
 ...and the tables
 ...and the wallpaper


 ...even in our coffee
 You didn't think the bathroom wouldn't be decorated, did you? 


 Inside the stall it said, "Welcome to Wonderland!"
 So...I thought these girl's glasses were ridiculous because they didn't even have lenses...I appeared to be taking a photo of the framed art.








It was a nice afternoon out with a great friend.  I guess she'd have to be a great friend for me to drag her to this cafe;)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Norebang!

Norebang!  Everyone in Korea goes to Norebang - foreigners and Koreans, alike.  Remember bang means room, as noted in several other posts on bangs.  Nore means, singing...  So a norebang is a private karaoke room and a lot of fun.  The best time for going to the norebang, in my opinion, is after a few cocktails.  I am a terrible singer, as everyone already knows, so a little liquid encouragemnt goes a long way.

The computer graphics on the screen are usually hilarious and are in no way related to the song.

The list of songs is enormous and there are plenty to chose from in English.  They've got everything from Beyonce to Kenny Rogers to Celin Dion.  I have my usual songs I pick:  La Bamba, Basketcase (Green Day), Bohemian Rhapsody, etc.  Someone else always choses Britney Spears and Spice Girls - no matter who I go with - it always happens.  Below is the book of song options.
Again...I find this photo has nothing to do with anarchy.
I went with my coworkers once.  They were the best!!  Norebangs are also equipped with tambourines!

Sometimes norebang turns into a dance party!
 ...We even know a few Korean dances and songs!
 And there is usally a few of these!
 And the best, is when the night ends here after norebang.  Singing builds up an appetite for pancakes and egg McMuffins!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What day is it again?

Last month, a friend and fellow blogger asked me if South Koreans celebrate Valentine's Day.  Her guess was yes.  And she was right.  But Koreans don't just celebrate Valentine's Day.  There are three holidays on the 14th to celebrate relationships.

Valentine's Day, February 14th, is celebrated much like home.  The only exception being that the girl gives a gift to the guy and the guy does not return the favor until March 14th, White Day.  On White Day the guy gives the girl a gift which is supposed to be more significant than the gift the girl gave on Valentine's Day.  So...image store's displays for Valentine's Day staying up for extra long and getting extra big for White Day.  A few days prior to White Day and Valentine's Day, the convenience stores are full of huge displays.  They are not cheap either.  Some of these items are almost $100!
Then comes Black Day.  Black Day is April 14.  If you did not give or receive a gift for the prior two holidays, this day is for you!  This day is made to celebrate singlehood.  Many single Koreans are caught eating jajangmyeon - noodles with black bean sauce.  Ja jang myeon are Chinese noodles and when eating them you are supposed to mourn the fact that you are single. 

I've also heard of random other love-related days on the 14th from Koreans.  Supposedly Rose Day (I think May 14) among other obscure days are sometimes celebrated.  It's obviously not important enough for me to figure out all these holidays.  The big days are V-Day, White Day, and Black Day.  By the way, don't give Hallmark and Hershey's this idea!  I'd like to keep the commercial holidays at home limited to no more than there are now.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Korean Food: Gogi Buffet

I tried a gogi "meat" buffet about a week ago in my neighborhood.  For only 9,900 won (about $9.50) you can get all-you-can-eat Korean-style meat.

There are three big buffet tables.  The first table is full of various raw meat that you bring to your table and cook right at the table.  We ate mostly pork and beef but they also had some chicken and squid.

The next table is full of Korean sides like:  rice, red pepper paste, sprouts, kimchi, lettuce, etc.

The last table was full of other sides like:  french fries, egg rolls, fried dumplings, kimbap, etc...



 Cooking various meats with various marinades. 
 Fried Food!!


The buffet was more of a hole-in-the-wall type restaurant full of college students.  It was good and definatly worth my 만 원 - M-ah-n won - 10,000 won.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Korean Food: The Kimbap Place

When I was home, I was asked more questions about Korean food than anything else.  So, here begins a series of Korean food posts beginning with the most important:  what you can find at "the kimbap place."

Kimbap places are everywhere.  You can get cheap, delicious food pretty quickly.  MY kimbap place, near my house, is the BEST!  The ladies are great, they are always happy to see me:)  I often skip out on school lunches to head over to the kimbap place for lunch.  Kimbap places specialize in kimbap, but have a variety of other food as well.  Although there are many more foods you can get at the Kimbap place, this is what I order.

비빔밥 Bi Bim Bap ... meaning mix-it rice.
There are many variations of bi bim bap.  This is a simple one.  It is basically rice, vegetables, and sometimes meat with a fried egg on top.  As you can see in the background, you get your usual set of sidedishes...including 김치  kimchi.
Then you add lots of red pepper sauce and mix it, mix it, mix it...  Mmmm...makes me hungry! 
 오므라이스 Omurice. 
One of my favorites.  It's basically like an omelett with a fried rice mixture in the middle.  The fried rice mixture usually includes ham and vegetables.  Some places put ketchup on the top...I don't like that.  My kimbap place puts this special sauce on top that I love!
라면 Ramyeon...ok, yes Ramen.
Ramen is really popular in Korea.  You can find lots of teenagers slurping down cups of ramen in the back of the convenience store.  The ramen here comes in many flavors and is usually pretty spicy.  It's my favorite thing to eat when my sinuses are hurting...just like my dad and his Chinese mustard!

In a restaurant, it usually includes some meat and for sure egg.
김밥  Kimbap.  The specialty.
You can get all types of kimbap.  At home you might call it a sushi roll, modeled after Japan.  In Japan this may come with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.  But no need in Korea, it's tasty enough all by itself.  I prefer the 참치 김밥 Chamchi (Tuna) Kimbap (as pictured below).  It includes tuna, crab, cucumber, carrot, pickled beet, ham, and egg all wrapped in rice and seaweed.  You can get kimchi in many other ways including:  cheese, kimchi, or plain with ham.  Kimbap literally means seaweed (kim) and rice (bap).
 만두국수 Mandu Guk Su
Meaning dumplings in noodle soup.  This one also comes with 떡 ddeok (small rice cakes).  I used to hate ddeok but now I'm getting used to it.  The rice is compacted so much to make these rice cakes I have to be careful when I eat them.  If I eat too many, a half-hour later I feel my stomache expanding.  I can only eat it in small portions.  But mandu (dumplings) are sooo delicious.
 돈가스 Donkas-uh
Pork Cutlet smothered in sauce with rice and side dishes.  There are many types of donkas, even with cheese in the middle.
Well...looks like these are the types of foods I get at the Kimbap place.  I get a few more items but I don't have any photos at the moment.  You can get all of these items between $1.50 and $4.50. 

I will update with more Korean Food in the future.  If you live in an area that may have a Korean Restaurant, I encourage you to try it out.  I had never had Korean food before coming to Korea and I was pleasantly surprised.  I love Korean food.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

I Love Bangs!

Recently, I've been going to several different bangs (방) - pronounced b-ah-ng.  A 방 is a "room."  I went to a DVD Bang with a friend to watch a Korean movie called, 아저찌 (Ajusshi).  Ajusshi means "mister" is Korean; however, the title of the movie in English is:  "The Man from Nowhere."  I totally recommend Netflixing it.  It's a great movie.  I think you'd be surprised by how great Korean films are. 

DVD Bangs are typically used for couples.  We usually get a few weird looks when we rent one.  If you look at the couch, it sort of resembles a bed.  It costs about $10/movie. 
 For a friend's goodbye party, we rented two room at a Multi Bang.  A Multi Bang puts all the bangs together:  karoake, wii, dvd, and pc.  We had karaoke in one room and wii in the other.  It was a ton of fun.
 The Multi Bang was called, Pinnochio.
 It had free drinks and snacks!!
 ...even popcorn!
 We could chose any game we wanted right on the screen.
 The guys were hilarious...there was no holding back in the norebang room!
 What better than to end the night with an ice cream cake!
I love the whole idea of a "bang."  I would love to take all Korea's ideas and start my own business.  Like a Dr. Fish/Norebang/Wii Bang/DVD Bang/etc business.  But laws and restrictions back home work much differently!