Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My first time eating 약초밥

About once a month, I find myself eating something in Korea that I've never tried before. Today was a real feast: 약초밥 or herb rice. I headed out for dinner with my school near Bukhan mountain, sat on the floor of the restaurant, and the waiter asked '성별 어떡해 됐어요?' This loosely translates to what is the gender ratio of our group. I was immediately intrigued and asked my co-workers why this was important. Apparently, the herbs in the rice were prepared differently for men and women. If I'm horny tonight, I guess I'll know why... 
The dinner started out with some great side dishes: water kimchi, fried yam (마) and ddeok (rice cake) salad. Nyum nyum nyum. 

Being a hungry and growing boy, I devoured as much as I could without looking like the pig at the table. Well, I probably did look like the pig at the table, but luckily I can play the foreigner card. Next up was TONS of 반찬 (side dishes). These dishes were re-filled when empty and particularly well seasoned.
Greens with kimchi
Raddish kimchi
Potatoes and eggplants with sauce
More 반찬, tofu, and soybean soup
Smoked pork for protein
Chicken salad with cabbage, pickled vegetables, and some grass-like herb
 Next came our rice. The female version of the herb rice is the picture on top, and I have to say it definitely looked tastier and had a better aroma. Mine was fine though.

Like a lot of Korean meals, 약초밥 is enjoyed by just picking at the various side dishes and eating it with rice. It was definitely a balanced way to eat and an adventure with each bite. Although this would make a great vegetarian meal, we also ordered some tteokgalbi, which was good, but overshadowed a bit by the amazing sides.

Once we were all getting to the point of being uncomfortably full, we ate our 누룽지. When you eat rice in a hot-pot, you can add boiling water to the pot to get all the grains that stick to the pot. The taste is a little burnt, but I imagine it adds a bit of nostalgia to the meal. And it ensures you are completely full.

Ah, company meals. Awkward, but always delicious and good for my wallet. 

Empty dishes and big smiles ^^

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