Eating your Way Through Korea when you’re Busy
All too often we fall into routines where after a busy day at work the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time thinking about what to eat. It’s the biggest heartbreak for foodies to succumb to the quick kimbap or ramen after a long day. It’s certainly no way to live especially since there are so many marvelously delicious things to try in Korea. One thing is for sure, if you’re too busy to eat, your priorities are not right! It’s time to set things straight and figure out how to manage your time properly. Eating is a many wondrous thing and sustenance is exactly what you need to conquer your expat life to it’s fullest.
The one thing that keeps foreigners from eating as well as they could, is the overwhelming number of choices out there. For those who don’t have a lot of time, it’s easy to look for the familiar because it takes the least amount of thought. Often times this is a personal limitation that ends up being like a blinder to the plethora of delectable options that are available. When that happens, it seems like there aren’t many choices and meals can start to seem boring.
For those who are adventurous however, you could try something different every night for the next three months straight and still not eat everything. It’s actually difficult to count the variety of Korean soups, stews, porridges, noodles, rice, rolls, meats, seafood, pancakes and dumplings. When you’re not in the mood for Korean, there’s also chicken, pizza, burgers, pastas and other cuisines that have become more and more popular in recent years.
There are also many options for healthy meal delivery services for those counting calories or have other dietary restrictions. Whether your looking for prepared meals or meal kits, having a good lunch and dinner routine is easy. There’s also detox juicing for those really looking to be healthy and love cold pressed fruit and vegetable juices. You can have all these choices without ever leaving the comforts of your office or home.
For those who love to cook, simple recipes are in great abundance in Korea. A quick visit to the local grocery store like E-Mart or Home plus may feel intimidating at first, but we recommend trying new things. You’re in Korea after all and part of the joy of exploring new cultures and understanding the country is learning about what people eat locally. If divergent tastes are not to your liking, that’s okay because that’s the best thing about cooking. You can make things anyway you like. To save time, we recommend ordering your groceries online or through a bilingual virtual personal assistant service like Wonderful. Depending on where you live and how early in the day you make your order, groceries can be delivered same day. Placing an order can be as easy as typing up a short grocery list and expecting it to be in front of your door when you get home.
If you’re working so much that time is an issue, you probably really do need to pamper yourself more often. The restaurant experience should be one that enriches your life and reminds you why food is life. Modern Korean cuisine is full of chefs rediscovering traditions, recipes and reinventing the food scene. From foraging menus to multi-course tastings in spaces that range from the cozy to luxurious, one whiff of a slow simmered dish that took hours to prepare can easily whisk you away from any difficult day you might have had.
A few recommendations from Eater as recommended and reviewed by food writer and photographer Matty Kim, here’s just a few places to consider trying. Even if you feel you can only do this once a week, get a few friends together and pick a great place. (To save time thinking about where to go and making reservations, Wonderful can help make this easy too.)
Doore Yoo - Michelin-starred chef Tony Yoo found a new home in the heart of Bukchon Hanok Village, a neighborhood filled with traditional Korean houses. In a calming Hanok setting, Yoo combines temple cuisine — a vegetable-centered cuisine that originated in Korea’s Buddhist temples — and traditional Korean dishes to create an elegant modern Korean cuisine of his own. There’s a chaejip (foraging) menu using ingredients found across Korea available if requested a couple days in advance.
Balwoo Gongyang - Thanks to the episode of Chef's Table that features the cooking of Zen Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan, the whole world now knows the beauty of temple cuisine. But it was restaurant Balwoo Gongyang that introduced temple cuisine to the public in 2009 — its name is even a term for the traditional cuisine. The food here strictly adheres to vegan Buddhist principles: Not only does the diet exclude all meat and seafood, but it also bans spices such as garlic, chives, and onion. But that does not mean that the food is bland. Using temple-made jang, a fermented sauce, and fresh organic produce, Balwoo Gongyang serves delicate and flavorful food. It does not sell alcohol, but guests are allowed to bring their own bottles during dinner service, with corkage.
Zerocomplex - Chef Choonghoo Lee spent years in Paris as a sous chef under Iñaki Aizpitarte and returned to Seoul to open this neobistro in the heart of the city’s French village. In a minimalistic space surrounded by stainless steel, Lee presents some of the most creative and beautiful dishes in Korea, such as mackerel with rose and fennel and squid with paprika, zucchini, cucumber, and marigold. Through a partnership with a local farmer, Lee selects and grows produce that you can't easily find at markets in Korea. With the addition of French sommelier Clement Thomassin, Zerocomplex boasts an impeccable wine service with a comprehensive natural wine program.
Toc Toc - Chef Dan Kim is known for his passion for showcasing the best produce available at any given moment. Toc Toc’s a la carte menu is superb, but to enjoy Kim's creations to the fullest extent, make a reservation for his exuberant eight-course tasting menu known as Tocnomy. Thanks to his ingredient-forward dishes that transcends borders — such as smoked local sturgeon served with caviar or a kelp and truffle pasta — Toc Toc was named One to Watch at the 2016 Asia’s Best Restaurants award ceremony. Curious which ingredients are hot right now? Toc Toc is the place to be.
For a longer list and more of Matty’s restaurant reviews, click here.
Eating well can be tricky sometimes,Wonderful can help! Getting out there to enjoy the best Korea has to offer is easy with our virtual personal assistant services always at your finger tips. We give you access to Korea like a local, just send us a message to get started. www.gowonderfully.com