Visit to Korea 2017 

Oh boy, where do I even begin? 

We get to visit Korea (yes, South Korea) only once every 2-3 years. I’m from Busan, the second largest city in Korea. This time, we were there for my sister’s wedding so we stayed around Busan the whole time. Seoul is fun but I think I’ve come to like Busan more. I definitely enjoyed every single moment, every bite. 

Well, right after we got off the airplane, we went to Geoje Island for a family trip. We lucked out with this beautiful resort, Hiclass Geoje
Playing in the pool means HANGRY people!
There’s nothing like stuffing your face with BBQ meat and soju on a vacay!
On our way back from Geoje Island, we dropped by this restaurant for some FRESH seafood. In addition to sashimi, they also give you so many side dishes, aka banchan. The things in the above picture are: sea pineapple (sea squirt), conch, “live” octopus in sesame oil and sea cucumbers. They sound kinda horrifying but aren’t that bad😉 

So, now, I’m just gonna list all the things we ate in Korea😂 

Dwaejigukbap: pork and rice in pork-base broth. Busan is well-known for having awesome DJGB!
Guksu: Korean style noodle soup. It’s quite easy to make it at home but I have a go-to place in Busan. Never disappoints. 

Fruit cakes are a thing in Korea I’d say. Cakes are so pretty that I sometimes don’t even wanna eat them😂 Do they taste as good as they look? Heck yeah. 
앙꼬절편, some super famous rice cake! In Korea, things change very fast. There are a few VERY trendy items whenever I visit Korea. This time, at least in Busan, this thin rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste was a hit!
Mommy’s hangover soup! This dried pollock soup, aka bugeoguk (‘guk’ means soup), is the ultimate remedy for bad hangovers. My mom loves to add ground black pepper at the end. 

Kimchi pancake and makgeolli! The salty, crispy kimchi pancake goes perfectly well with the sweet rice (alcoholic) beverage. It’s pretty easy to get korean style pancakes in the States now. I definitely recommend you order one of these next time you are at a Korean restaurant. 

Handmade dumplings. You easily run into these big batches at any market places. 

Speaking of markets, I just LOVE walking around them and looking at all these delicious snacks, sauces, etc. 

Tempura style snacks: battered and deep-dried. Everything tastes great when fried!

Tteokbokki, rice cake and fish cake in spicy gochujang (red chili paste)! If you dip that deep-fried stuffed pepper in the red sauce and have a big bite, I guarantee you that there will be a party in your mouth. One of my favorite street food dishes!

Korean beef BBQ….! We went to this butcher’s/restaurant, where you pick your own meat. You take what you have picked upstairs and they give you this tableside grill along with a variety of side dishes. Locally grown Korean beef just melts in your mouth. 

Duck BBQ! No marinating, no seasoning. Just some fresh duck meat and lots of garlic!
Bar food aka anju. One great thing about drinking in Korea is that you keep eating while drinking. Your bar food selections are amazing too. This seafood noodle soup was perfect with our sake! Also, you can drink pretty much all day/night in Korea. A great place for party animals. 

Just another typical breakfast scene at my parents’. You get a bowl of rice and several side dishes. I think I ate so many veggies even without trying. I already miss her food😭

Sashimi bibimbap and gukbap (‘bap’ means rice). We went to this old, quaint village by called Huinyeoul Cultural Village by the ocean. Right before we walked around the hilly alleys, we went to this restaurant and had an amazing lunch. Not too heavy or light. Fresh fish and lots of vegetables. 

Then, more street food! Hotteok is like a mini pancake filled with brown sugar and nuts. My brother-in-law’s favorite snack it is. Dakgangjeong is Korean fried chicken covered in spicy sauce. They are usually in a bite size so it’s easy to eat them while exploring busy streets of Korea. 

S. O. J. U! This liquor is found everywhere in Korea. Super cheap. Each city has its own so it’s another fun to try different kinds.

Rice gelato! Yes, I said rice. Centum City is a huge mall located near Haeundae beach. There, I found this mysterious flavor and I fell in love right away. The combination of tiramisu and rice flavor was oddly satisfying!

Cakes, cakes and cakes! Too pretty. 

All-you-can-eat korean buffet! You pay $25 and just go to town. Amazinglicious!

Mom’s bulgogi lunch! 

My aunt’s scrumptious gimbap…! This is one of the things that I definitely miss a lot. I don’t know what she does to it but we all love her rolls. Very addicting!

Lastly, meals served on Korean Air! In-flight meals are usually awful but I actually do enjoy eating what Korean Air serves. On the way to Korea, the lunch was bibimbap with seaweed soup. On our way back, it was rice served with doenjang (korean miso, if you will) and veggies. 

Our trip to Korea this time was a bit too crazy between the wedding and some personal issues. I am not complexly confident that I ate everything I wanted to. However, it’s always so much fun to go out there and spoil myself with endless eating and drinking. What’s surprising is that I somehow lose weight despite all of that..! I guess it’s the lifestyle. 

I did have a great time in Korea, but it’s good to be back home with my kitties. So, Korea, till next time!

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Convivial D.C. 

Going out for ethnic food in Northern Virginia is always awesome: super delicious and quite affordable. However, we all have one of those days we wanna treat ourselves in a fancier setting. That was last night. 

We went out to Convivial in DC to celebrate my birthday and my father-in-law’s retirement. You may not wanna walk in there in your shorts and flipflops but it is pretty laid back there. All the servers were wearing jeans! 

First, and our favorite dish: Arctic Char Lox. Rye crisp, horseradish & caraway coleslaw, “everything” aioli. What a brilliant twist to a great food concept! It actually tastes better than it looks (and yes, that’s possible!). 

Zucchini Roulade. Tomato, goat cheese, sumac, pine nuts. Good thing I took a quick snap of this beautiful dish because there is no pretty way to cut this roulade😂 The pleasant, subtle goat cheese flavor in this cold dish was just perfect. 

Bouillabaisse. Blue catfish, clam, mussel, prawn, crab, squid, daurade, octopus. I know it can be quite intimidating if you are not used to certain seafood items in that broth. However, I think everyone should try this. The broth had this super creamy texture and the fresh seafood was perfectly cooked. Say no to overcooked, chewy squid! 

Grilled Daurade. Sautéed squid, celeriac mousseline. Daurade (European sea bream) may not sound quite familiar to you. I think a lot of Asian countries use this fish too. I know that it’s considered a very expensive kind in Korea😉 Absolutely delicious! 

And, of course, desserts! No meal is complete without desserts!

They serve French-American food in smaller portions like tapas. It’s perfect for me because I love to try many different dishes! And more importantly, EVERY SINGLE THING WAS JUST FANTABULOUS! It almost reminded me of Rose’s Luxury in a way- small delicious dishes to share with everyone. 

Their service is top-notch too. A new set of silverware is provided in a timely manner for every course. Serving spoons/forks are set aside as well in case you need them to share food. 

Even though it’s in a busy part of DC, you are not on top of each other like other well-known, hot restaurants in the city. I wouldn’t say that it’s serene but you can have a normal conversation with people in your party without other people running into you every 5 minutes. 
This weekend, we definitely well treated ourselves. Now, I’m ready for some baseball! 

Food scene in October in Southern Maryland!

When that Indian summer weather hits NOVA, it’s time to head down to Southern Maryland! Now that I’ve lived in the area for about 5 years, I do have favorite events to attend. Here are two fun food-related events in Southern Maryland that you can take your loved ones to.

<U.S. Oyster Festival / National Oyster Shucking Championships>

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  • When: 3rd weekend of October (Saturday: 10am-6pm / Sunday: 11am-6pm)
  • Where: St. Mary’s County Fair (42455 Fairgrounds Rd, Leonardtown, MD 20650)
  • Admission: $7/person (kids under 12 are free), food is pay as you eat
  • Website: http://usoysterfest.com/

I was introduced to this awesome oyster festival thanks to a couple of friends last year. This year, they celebrated their 50th anniversary! Everything you can think of (when it comes to oysters) is there: raw oysters, fried oysters, grilled oysters, steamed oysters, oyster po’boys, oyster tacos, oyster stew… You name it. A dozen of raw oysters were $18, FYI.

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There is a barn where the oyster cook-off takes place. Sit there and watch the chefs show off their skills. You may get lucky enough to sample their final products if the timing’s right. I got to taste the oyster Benedict and this amazinglicious soup at the end!

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When you see the King Oyster greeting people, you know it’s time for the oyster shucking championship rounds!

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Go get those freshly-made mini donuts with extra strawberry icing on the side and watch the experts compete! By the way, it truly IS a national championship. The winner of this national round complete in the international oyster shucking championship!

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You don’t do oysters or you are scared of eating raw food? Don’t worry. They have other food options including  the stuffed ham sandwich or fried Oreos!

The bottomless soda guy is amazing too! You get a mug and you can fill it all day long.

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Mark it on your calendar for 2017 and drive down to Southern Maryland with the whole family!

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<Harvest Taste of Solomons>

  • When: 11am-4pm on a Saturday in October (This year, it was on October 22, 2016.)
  • Where: Solomons Island
  • Admission: no admission; $4 ticket gets you a food or drink sample at a participating restaurant
  • Website: they need one!

My father-in-law came down from Upstate New York to visit us and we needed a last-minute entertainment option. I googled local food festivals for the weekend and ta-da! This small yet fun food festival popped up. We drove back down to Southern Maryland.

As you can see in the map, most restaurants are gathered in the southern part of the island. You can park the car in the parking lot there and hit the restaurants one by one. We didn’t buy any tickets in advance but paid as we went.

KakaoTalk_20161030_174644131.jpgCrabby tater tots topped with crab dip at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

kakaotalk_20161030_174645355“Half & half” soup: Maryland crab soup + cream of crab in a bowl at the Lighthouse Restaurant & Dock Bar

KakaoTalk_20161030_174649348.jpgSmoked spare ribs at Grill Sergeant

kakaotalk_20161030_174650688Oyster Rockefeller at the Charles Street Brasserie

KakaoTalk_20161030_174651913.jpgBacon wrapped dates at the Charles Street Brasserie

kakaotalk_20161030_174653241Seafood platter at Captain Smith’s

Some of the drinks looked delish too! Wished I was more of a drinker. Oh well, I get to drive drunk people back home.

So, if you are itching for some delicious day trip in October, head down south and go to town! Happy Fall! Happy Halloween!

Summer Vacay 2016 – NY/VT/RI

I was away for a week and just got back home..! This vacation was, of course, amazinglicious as usual! LOTS OF FOOD every single day. 

It started with awesome BBQ at the annual family picnic in upstate NY. People bring not only sausages and burgers but also homemade desserts too. It’s one of the events that I most look forward to every year!
Then, there are meals prepared by Jo, who is better than any other chef!l that I know!😁👍 Her homemade food is out of this world. Pretty much everything is made from scratch! Don’t know how she does it every time. Her buckwheat crepes were a bit hit this year! 
During the visit to NY, we took a day trip to Burlington, VT. YES, when in Vermont, do what everyone else does: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Too bad that we didn’t have time for the factory tour. Oh well, next time.  
After we left NY, we went to Rhode Island. Real vacation started there! Seafood, seafood and more seafood!❤️
Among all the great food options, these 3 particular spots were my personal favorites. 

1. Matunuck Oyster Bar, South Kingstown, RI – Great location, awesome service and delicious lobster rolls!

2. Wharf Pub & Restaurant, Newport, RI – Super friendly staff, GREAT food and fun drinks! This was by far the best restaurant (food and atmosphere wise) in Newport. Sit at the bar and make some friends!

3. Del’s Lemonade – THE. FROZEN. LEMONADE. OMG. We went to Block Island for another day trip. After biking for a couple of hours, the frozen lemonade just hit the spot. Refreshing, yet not too sweet, the lemonade even had bits of lemon in it! Gonna miss this one a lot I think. 

Yes, the trip was so much fun and delish! However, I can’t deny that I’m so glad to be back home snuggling with my kitties! 

Summer is almost over but it isn’t yet! Time for some more fun back in NOVA/DC! Happy summer☀️☀️☀️

P. S. When in Newport, don’t forget to check out the Bit Players at the Firehouse Theater! Great improv comedy shows on Fridays and Saturdays! Many of the people in the audience seemed to be locals. Apparently, Newport locals hate the construction of Broadway, which is a street a little off the main drag. It’s where things are happening these days! 

No flour, no meat, no root veggies… What?

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I’m about to enjoy the last bit of my gluten free brownie! Why am I eating gluten free stuff all of a sudden?

I hurt my back in October and went to see an oriental medicine doctor. After some sessions of acupuncture, he figured out my body type – “Metal Yang”! According to him, there are 8 types of body, each of which has certain foods that are recommended. I was given this RIDICULOUS list of what to eat and what not to eat.

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No meat, no root vegetables, no wheat flour, no red pepper flakes, no apples, no pears, no coffee… Basically, there are a lot more things that I am not supposed to eat than what I can eat. As a food/meat lover, this list seemed almost impossible to follow but I thought I would give it a try and, hey, I made it for 4 weeks! Cold turkey!

It’s been very hard for me, though. I still cooked for the fam: for example, delicious bibimbap and bulgogi.

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We did go out to eat a lot too.

20131117-173107.jpg I was tempted quite a few times, but I managed to follow the rules for the last 4 weeks. The duck at Peking Gormet Inn in Falls Church was the toughest one to resist but I did it!

I’m not allergic to anything as far as I know so I never had to be one of those people who are like “I’ll have the salad but no nuts or bacon please. Can I have this light dressing instead of that dressing? Also, none of this please but can I have some of that on the side?” I’d never even been on the gluten free aisle until recently either. And I gotta say that I’ve learned some new things from this experience. There are other good sources of protein such as beans, tofu and certain seafood. Some gluten free snacks are surprisingly delicious. 😉 Some special food needs can be met these days in a quite satisfying way.

However, I’m ending this special diet as of today! The stress and the sense of hunger I can’t stand anymore! 🙂 In general, I eat pretty healthy. There might be certain things that are “bad” for my body type but if I stress so much over not being able to eat what I really want to eat, it’s probably bad for me anyway. I’m so excited to go back to being a meat lover 🙂 I’m ready for some juicy burgers and fries! YOLO!

Happy 4th! Happy tummy!

How was your 4th? Mine was full of yummy food!! Homemade sausages were the best! Reuben brats, cheddar brats and italian – precooked in beer bath and grilled. “Cooler” corn. Eastern shore shrimp and clam boil. S’more. “Mountain pies”. And yes, that all happened in a day! Special thanks to the Boscos 🙂 Their food is money! 😉

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[Restaurant Review] Rosemarino d’Italia – Alexandria, VA

Rosemarino d’Italia
1905 Mount Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22301
(703) 299-8906

This restaurant opened up literally two weeks ago. It wasn’t even on foursquare so I had to add it to check in! I get so excited when I see a new restaurant opening in the neighborhood. So, I went to check it out on its opening day 🙂

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Home-made pasta! YES! I can’t say much about anything else yet because i went there only once and there aren’t even reliable reviews yet. But their pasta was cooked perfect with a lot of seafood – YUM! I’m a marinara sauce person 99% of the time but the linguini with white wine and garlic was fantabulous! 20130331-164158.jpg Best part? Their home-made tiramisu! You don’t even know that you even put it in your mouth. It just melts away 😉 I am definitely interested in going back to try their chicken piccata, which is supposedly really good as well! Loving my neighborhood ❤

Happy Easter!

Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival

I just went to Chesapeake Crab & Beer Festival this weekend. I know that I wrote a review on a crabhouse very recently but I have to do this because it’s not just about eating crabs! It was a family gathering so we got their package deal, which cost us about $85 apiece after  taxes and fees(?). It sounds a bit pricy but this is ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT-CRABS & ALL-YOU-CAN-DRINK-BEER AND WINE for 4 hours so after all it was not a bad deal. With the weather being perfect and family around, I couldn’t have asked for anything better than this for this price. For future reference, they give you an option of just purchasing a beer-only-package for $39 (plus taxes and fees) dollars as well. If you don’t like seafood, it’s okay too. They have individual vendors that sell hot dogs, burgers, fried dough and other things on the venue.

They had two sessions for this event: 11am-3pm / 5pm-9pm. Of course, we went for the second option. All you can drink alcohol means that we are drinking!! They had pretty decent beer options but the lines were really long. Some people were just drinking while standing in line (SMART!!). Once you get in, they give you a plastic mug. That’s your booze vessel for the night. And after you pass that point, there are a few crab stations, where they give you 6 crabs+corn on the cob+coleslaw at a time. You can always go back for more. I think we each ended up getting two trays (at least). Even though there were lots of tables, people were still looking for a spot all evening so be there early. Getting there earlier also means that you will sit at a clean table.

In terms of the quality of food, it was GOOD. The crabs were fresh and not smothered in Old Bay. I wouldn’t say that it was mind-blowing. When it comes to the best deal (quality and price) in town so far, I am gonna say Maine Ave. Fishmarket’s got the best deal. As you can see in the picture above, the crabs were not that big. I would say they were small-medium sized mostly. They were delicious. though.

Also, although they do keep brining in new buschels of crabs constantly, you might end up getting the very last bits of the whole batch, which means that the crabs might not be that hot. So look around the other crab stations to see if they just brought new ones from the steamer and go there. There aren’t any servers who help you with drinks and food there either so be prepared to serve yourself. They have paper towels there but, as you know, YOU WANT TO CLEAN THE HECK OUT YOUR HANDS after crabbing. Wet naps I brought came in handy BIG TIME, FYI. Oh, don’t forget to get those sweet watermelons that they give you on the side for free! After you eat all these crabs, your lips burn! The watermelons tasted sweeter than ever!

 

After the battle was over, we were all happy campers. 🙂 Then, real drinking starts. Of course, people getting drunk means that the place might get a little crazy: beer overflowing on the ground, people getting loud………. and the bathroom (O.M.G.) but it’s all good. By the time this is all happening, no one is sober! 😉

National Harbor, MD is a really small area but it was just perfect this kind of weekend. There was music playing by the pier and there were fireworks around 9:30 as well. We went to Bobby McKey’s for some drinks and entertainment for a bit. What a complete day!

It’s an annual event so don’t miss this fun event if you are in town next year!

[Restaurant Review] Cantler’s Riverside Inn – Annapolis, MD

▣ Location: 458 Forest Beach Rd., Annapolis, MD 21401

▣ Tel: 410-757-1311

▣ Seafood, Crabhouse

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of August 5, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

▷▶▷▶▷▶WARNING◁◀◁◀◁◀

If you don’t like to WAIT to be seated and/or if you are a clean freak, don’t go to this restaurant!

Quintessential Maryland experience! If you had one day in MD, what would you do? Go get blue crabs! Cover the table with some paper and get messy in lots of old bay!

For that reason, there are quite a few “crabhouses” in MD. Some are decent, and some are terrible. I’ve been to several and THIS IS IT! It is legit!

Cantler’s Riverside Inn. As I warned up there, expect LOTS OF waiting. We got there around 5:30. It took 30 minutes just to get a parking spot and got seated at about 7:10. Was it worth the wait in the heat? YES!

While waiting for a parking spot, one of you can actually get out and walk to the restaurant and put your name in the waiting list to somewhat shorten the “process”. They give you a little beeper so you can stare at it for the next 1.5 hours till it buzzes. 😉 Actually, it wasn’t that bad. As you can see in the picture, they are right by the river with the pier. People actually dock their boats and hang out there until they get a table too. You see the guys measuring crabs and separate them right there too. I totally wish we would’ve brought some old bread to feed the ducks. Time would have gone by faster. Who knows. Maybe take your scrabble board. 🙂

Once you get a table, the server asks, “Paper for crabs?” And your answer is “NOW!” It differs day to day but this weekend they had medium/large/x-large crabs. They have other seafood dishes as well but blue crabs are the way to go. Crabs are not served with any sides FYI. We got a dozen medium crabs, hushpuppies, corn on the cob, and onion rings (they are very, very delicious and I don’t even like them usually). The crabs are served with vinegar, butter, and extra old bay on the side but honestly the crabs are so fresh that you don’t even need anything else! I’ve been to Maine Ave. Fishmarket in D.C. for steamed crabs as well but the medium-sized crabs at this restaurant were VERY BIG! I think 10 crabs would have been enough with the sides that we ordered and they totally let you do that as well – 1 or 10. Even if you don’t know what to do with those steamed creatures, no worries. Servers are just down-to-earth and show you how to get that nice, juicy meat out of the shell very kindly!

Cantler’s is in a very remote, residential neighborhood so don’t let your hubby or bf get too cocky and go “I got this. I know where I’m going” because he doesn’t! Turn your GPS on and find this hidden gem for great crab feast!

[Restaurant Review] Sushi Naru – Alexandria, VA

▣ Location: 540 John Carlyle St., Alexandria, VA 22314

▣ Tel: 703-535-5540

▣ Sushi / Roll / Asian Cuisine

▣ Yelp Rating: ★★★★☆ (as of July 25, 2012) – Click stars for more info!

 

I work in Alexandria, VA. Even though I work right off King Street, which is full of great restaurant options, I try not to go too far because I have so much S*** to do every day!!!

Me and my girls today decided to go back to this sushi restaurant nearby AGAIN because we all loved it so much last week. Sushi Naru!

I’ve never been there for dinner but according to one of the attorneys in my office, this place has some amazing tofu salad. Anyway, we get their lunch buffet.

Not only do they have fantabulous sushi/roll options, but they also have a “hot food” section – bulgogi, lomein, fried tofu, mussels, dumplings, and heavenly miso soup! Miss F (not gonna mention her full name) had never had miso soup in her life until this afternoon. She fell in love with it, had two full bowls of it and she still couldn’t stop talking about it. That’s how darn good it was! Another good thing about this place is that you can accommodate lots of different needs – meat lovers, seafood lovers, and even vegetarians!

They are very hospitable and quick to serve you. It gets quite hectic during their lunch buffet hours, but that’s a good sign. And one thing about this place is that it doesn’t feel cheap. I am sad to say this but some Asian all-you-can-eat places could be kinda (or sometimes REALLY) crappy. However, it actually feels nice to sit there and enjoy your meal at Sushi Naru. My girls were all about their lamps, whether they could be from IKEA or Crate and Barrel.

I might go there for dinner to see what it’s like some time soon!

Next time you are near King Street, come check this place out. You might catch me with my coworkers talking about very important stuff like “where did you get those cute earrings?” 😉