As time goes on, I find myself getting more and more food cravings. While I enjoy trying new things (relatively) there are still a few things that I literally cannot live without. I find myself thinking about these food items more and more, and even googling pictures of them in my spare time. Basically it’s as if I am addicted to crack cocaine and I’m trying to get clean while in prison. In other words, it’s not easy.
America is a unique place, in that it is truly a melting pot. The best part of this melting pot is the fact that holy guacamole, you get authentic cuisines from every continent. Not so in Korea.
Here is a short, and very brief, list of foods that I dearly miss from the states.
There is no particular reason why I have listed Chipotle first, but this is a very deserving entry. I used to eat Chipotle two to three times a week while in college. A burrito bowl, like the one pictured, is basically the food pyramid set in front of you in one serving. It’s perfect! You have your grains, vegetables, protein, everything! The downside is with each bowl of goodness comes 1,500 calories at 150% of your daily sodium intake all in one meal. But at the same time, it’s literally amazing.
By this point you probably think I’m really, really fat. I must say that I do like donuts on occasion, as in at least once a week. They DO have donuts in Korea, in the form of Dunkin Donuts. (Yes, US chains DO exist in Korea, such as Costco) The problem with US chains in Korea is there is just something “not quite right” about them. I think I mentioned that in a previous blog entry. Regardless, in Korea Dunkin Donuts is a better place for a breakfast burrito than it is for donuts, and you usually can’t tell if they are fresh or not. Why? The reason is simple- at night you can walk by a Dunkin Donuts, which is closed, only to see all the shelves filled with donuts. It really brings new light to “Fresh Daily.” Regardless, I really, really miss a good donut.
I love sushi. My girlfriend and I eat sushi at least once, sometimes twice, a week. I’m American so I enjoy unique rolls that pretty much can’t be found in Japan because let’s face it- they were created in the states for picky Americans who don’t like raw fish. Regardless, I also love raw fish, sashimi, and udon.
Now it is practically impossible to find sushi around here. You must be thinking, “but Warren! You are so close to the ocean! WHY IS THERE NO SUSHI??????!!!!!!! LOOK HARDER!” And I will reply with “oh but of course, I am next to the ocean! But alas, none to be found!” There are several reasons for this.
First: There is a bit of animosity between Japan and Korea. Yes, I know it’s hard for you to hear me saying that seeing as how I’m super white and I’m talking about eastern Asia. However, I speak the truth in this instance. Due to Japanese rule over Korea and the multiple points in history where Korean women were used as sex slaves in Japan, Korean’s don’t really like Japanese food. Maybe it’s the raw fish….
Second: I have no idea how to read NaverMaps. NaverMaps is the equivalent of Google Maps, but it’s all in Korean. It’s extremely helpful for finding places to eat- NOT.
Now there are a few sushi places in Korea but it’s treated as a really expensive cuisine, so it ends up being upwards of $75 per person. No thanks, I’ll wait until my crack addiction becomes unbearable before I pay that much.
Not everyone loves pho, but I certainly do. I know I said we have sushi a lot, but we have pho even more. To put it lightly, I’m on a first name basis with Benny Nguyen, the owner of the Vietnamese restaurant I frequent. Even though he calls everyone his VIP, I know that in Benny’s heart I am his true VIP.
Now there is something you must understand about pho. Small Vietnamese women work tirelessly to prepare this dish, and believe me it takes hours. A good pho broth takes upwards of 10 hours to prepare, sometimes more. These same Vietnamese women have perfected a way to lace the pho with opiates which in turn cause you to have an extreme addiction over the course of a few visits. Out of any food, I miss pho the most. I even tried making it myself over the weekend and I failed miserably. I was missing the opiates. Better luck next time, I guess.
While yes I am in Asia, sadly no there are no pho restaurants near me. I’m used to living around the corner from not just one, but twelve vietnamese restaurants; alas, there is no pho here. I did however see one when I was in Gangnam a few weeks ago but they wanted $25 for two people for two small bowls of pho. That’s highway robbery in my book seeing as how it’s $5.50 at Benny’s place. If I get desperate enough I’ll head out there and pay the $4 train ride and the $25 for pho.
5. Steak – Any Kind
I want a fat steak. Simple as that.
Meat, especially cow, is expensive in Korea because it’s imported from Australia. The only thing you need to know about Australia is that it’s expensive. That is all.
6. Hole in the wall Chinese food
This is a place called Chos, which is a poor excuse for chinese food found near where I grew up. I’ve had this since I was born. It’s filled with MSG, but the good kind. I always have it when I go home to visit, and I definitely miss it.
7. In n Out
This should really be number 1. None of this is in order of greatest to least, but this is the number one, can’t live without, food STAPLE. It doesn’t matter if you’re in college, elementary school, geriatric, or a hoidy toidy business person- you cannot live without In n Out. To all you people out there who have never had it, I pity you. I really do. The In n Out recipe came to the founder, Harry Snyder, in a dream from an angel. True story.
This WILL be the first thing I eat when I get back to the states.
8. Did I mention In n Out yet?
In n Out is so awesome it deserves TWO pictures and TWO posts. That’s all.
9. Mexican food (Specifically Tacos)
People who don’t live in California simply don’t understand that we have the best Mexican food in the US. It’s a fact. Not only is it good, but it’s authentic. Tacos are amazing, they simply make the world go round. They are beneficial too- they cure you if you’re constipated! Simply eat some tacos and within about an hour you’ll be cured, guaranteed 😀
It should be a no brainer why this doesn’t exist in Korea. Shoot, I’m not sure I have even seen anyone of Mexican decent in Korea…
Yardhouse is an awesome restaurant that serves multiple functions. First: great place to take your date. Second: Great place to take your friends. Third: Great place to take your family. Fourth: Many, many taps.
Best part? Reasonable prices. I honestly love this place. And their chicken strips? TO DIE FOR.
Anyway, that should make it painfully obvious that I miss a lot of food from the states. This is a great time to discover new foods in Korea but I definitely wish I could find certain elements from home here.