Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jonny and his Dumplings

Jonny Dumpling

Just round the corner from Itaewon station is the place to go if you are in the neighbourhood and looking for chinese dumplings.

Jonny Dumpling

With only six choices on the menu and all of them dumplings, there's no room to be fussy. Just pick them boiled, steamed, souped or fried and get ready for some tasty doughy treats.

Jonny Dumpling

As with many restaurants, Jonny Dumpling's prices have increased, but you can still get a big plate of dumplings for 5,000-6,000 won. I went for the semi-fried shrimp and pork option.

Jonny Dumpling

After a few minutes wait I was presented with a plate of beautiful half-moon fellows, golden crisp on one side and soft and doughy on the other. Be warned though, these tasty packages may look harmless, but bite into them too quickly and you may find your mouth being invaded by boiling hot juices. Delicious, but ever so slightly dangerous. Take your time with these dumplings, treat them respectfully and you'll be safe.

Jonny Dumpling

Unlike the terrible dumplings you can find at the local kimbap hovel, these ones contain juicy pieces of shrimp and well seasoned meat. The thin layer of dough gives more than enough chew and crunch without leaving you with too much dump and not enough ling. Great as a light lunch or a big snack, these simple dumplings are comfort food Chinese style.

Jonny Dumpling

Jonny Dumpling is located just a few doors down from Chef Meili on the small road behind, Gecko's/Steff Hotdog/Baskin Robbins. Contact them on 02 790 8830.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Spanish Sun at Noksapyeong

Mi Madre

Just round the corner from the main street of Itaewon is the incredibly tiny, yet incredibly tasty Mi Madre. This small Spanish bistro makes up for lack of space with delicious rustic food.

Mi Madre

Catalonian cuisine comes cheap at Mi Madre with their weekday lunch set priced at a very reasonable 9,500 won: Chicken and seafood paella, plus a dish of tapas and a coffee. 

Mi Madre
Paella Mixta (Chicken and Seafood Paella) 14,000 won (9,500 won at lunch time).

On recent visits there we've ordered a number of different dishes and due to various companions' diet restrictions we have been cheeky and asked for removals and substitutions. Paella without the chicken? No problem! Paella without the chicken and the seafood? Also no problem. Mi Madre were very accomodating with our requests and the service is always warm and friendly.

And now some tapas!

Mi Madre
Berenjenas con miel (Fried eggplant with honey) 6,500 won.

Mi Madre
Patatas Bravas (Deep fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce) 8,000 won.

Mi Madre
Tortilla Espanola (Potato and onion omelette) 5,000 (or part of lunch set).

Ordering a la carte gets a little pricey at Mi Madre, with each tapas ranging from 5,000-10,000 won on average. However the addition of one or two of these little beauties to your meal is worth the extra expense. The fried eggplant with honey sounds like an unusual combination, but it works well, sweet meeting savoury in a crunchy, sloppy, gloopy, glorious mess. The fried potatoes are not too spicy and still hold their own under the rich tomato sauce. The omelette is cooked to perfection and came with our lunch sets.

Onto the main courses!

Mi Madre
Patatas Con Carne (Meat and potato stew) 9,500 won.

Mi Madre
Arroz Negro (Paella cooked in squid ink) 14,000 won

Mi Madre
Vegetable Paella (Made on request) 9,500 won.

The meat and potato stew is filled with big chunks of tender beef and tastes of home. Warming comfort food for those needing a bit of stewy love in their life. However, the stars of the show are the paellas. Whether you choose the chicken and seafood or the squid ink paella (or even the cheeky veggie paella) you are onto a winner. Perfectly cooked saffron/ink coloured rice giving you a taste of Spain. Far superior to the other paella offered in Itaewon (At La Plancha), this is the reason to visit Mi Madre.

Mi Madre


Mi Madre

Crema Catalan is the only dessert on offer here and to be honest it was the one dish that slightly disappointed. The custard was delicious, but the caramelized sugar was still very sticky, it lacked the crackling crunch that a good creme brulee  or crema catalan should have.

Mi Madre

Visit Mi Madre for a taste of real Spanish food at half the price of other Itaewon restaurants. To get there take the subway to Noksapyeong station and head down towards Haebangchon. Mi Madre is on the right hand side of the main road just past Italonia and Thunderburger. If you hit the tiny Buddha's Belly cafe, you have gone too far. Contact them on 02 790 7875.

Mi Madre

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

대추 Cookies

대추 Cookies

On my last day of freedom before being consigned to the depths of Incheon for the weekend,  I decided to bake something comforting to warm the cockles of my heart... Cookies!

Out of chocolate chips and in need of inspiration, I popped down the local supermarket and spied some dried 대추 (Red date or jujube). Perfect for fusion cookie experimentation!

I used an adaptation of the cookie recipe on the bbc h2g2:

113 grams of butter
127 grams of light brown sugar
1 organic egg (Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall needs Korean support)
226 grams of sifted flour (the green one with pictures of cookies on the front)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
100 grams of dried red dates (de-pipped and roughly chopped)

Mix the butter and sugar well, add the egg, sifted flour and baking powder and combine all together to form a lovely squidgy dough. Add the chopped dates and use your hands to distribute them evenly through the mixture. Break off lumps of dough, flatten them and place on a greased baking tray. Pop them into a pre-heated oven at 170-180 degrees and leave for ten to fifteen minutes. I left mine a little too long and they got a bit too brown on the  bottom, but a little creative work with a sharp knife got rid of the very brown bits....

대추 Cookies

The dried dates soften in the baking process and are beautifully sweet little red jewels in these simple cookies. The recipe suggests you can make fifteen cookies with those quantities, but why not try six giant 대추 cookies for extra large satisfaction...

JoongAng Daily and its Quality Tables

Oh JoongAng Daily, you spoil us with your twelve pages of exciting news (More than two of which are filled with advertising. This morning is no different with an exciting article titled: "Is the world ready for Korean cuisine?" An interesting question indeed, as is the report, in which we discover that lots of foreigners love Kimchi and that 49.2%  of people surveyed said that their number one reason to visit Korea was to "taste Korean food". 

There is more though, the best thing about the whole article is the wonderful table that accompanies it:


"Number of Korean restaurants located abroad (The number excludes Korean restaurants owned by overseas Koreans)"

What? If overseas Koreans don't own these restaurants then who does? Domestic Koreans? Non-Koreans? Who owns these 6,990 restaurants? The Korea Food Service Information board has done a cracking job in making this table clear and useful for all who chance to read it!

So how many Korean restaurants owned by overseas Koreans are there? Will we ever know? 

On a brighter note, Andrew Salmon wrote a much better article titled "Globalize Korean Cuisine not Korean Food Exports" for the Chosun Ilbo a couple of weeks ago.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

North Korea to Capture Moon by 2015

Good tidings for the People's Democratic Republic of North Korea: by 2015 the moon will be ours and the American flags that desecrate its sacred surface will be removed. News to gladden the hearts of every citizen as we enter the year of the ox.

Thanks Onion News Network for keeping us up to date!

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Paul Ajosshi, quite possibly the only British, bearded, thespian blogger in Korea to bring you a snow based, hand carved, lunar new year's greeting.

Happy Year of the Ox! 

I'm feeling very mooved by the whole thing...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hello Mr. Monkey!

I first arrived in Korea in 2000 and on the occasions I travelled out of Seoul I would often be stared at by wide-eyed children who were amazed by my large and relatively hirsute appearance. For the most part the little tykes were genuinely curious and well behaved, excited at meeting a foreigner for the first time. They would mostly shout out simple greetings or comment on my beard, however one time (in Cheonju as far as I remember) one child shouted out to me "Hello Mr. Monkey!"

A curious thing to shout at a stranger; if I had to compare myself to any mammal it would probably be a bear or a wooly mammoth. If I restricted myself to primate comparisons, then I suppose a gorilla or orangutan would do, but to be honest, monkey is not an adequate mammalian comparison to make. I was bemused, confused, befuddled and amused by this tot's taunt, I asked my friends why a child would say that to me and they told me a story of a German pop group called Arabesque and their success with a certain song in the early 1980s. I finally found that song on youtube this week and now all the pieces of the puzzle are complete, the cultural reference is understood, even though the kid was twenty years too late....

So for your viewing pleasure, straight from the Song Festival in Korea 1981:

Skip the adverts and start at 2.20 if you just want to hear the song.

For the record, I am still so fast and funky and am regularly paid to be a clown. Damn, that little kid was right.....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Curry in 김해 (Gimhae)

Curry in Gimhae

Wandering round the streets of Gimhae last weekend, I stumbled upon a spicy little diamond in the rough. Namaste is one of the best Indian restaurants I have been to in a long time and well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

Curry in Gimhae
(Plain rice, mutton curry, makhani dal and plain naan)

Curry in Gimhae

On the third floor above a Brenntano clothing store and up a rather dodgy looking staircase, lies the rather modest looking Namaste restaurant. With posters of the himalayas resting under cracked glass table tops, this place is not about looks.

Curry in Gimhae

The menu reflects the simple surroundings with curries starting at 4,000 won for a plain dal and peaking at 14,000 won for a beef masala. Most curries on the menu are in the 6-8,000 won range and a whole tandoori chicken will only set you back 13,000 won (Menu available here and here).

Curry in Gimhae
(Mutton curry, makhani dal, pakora, plain rice, vegetable curry, garlic naan and plain naan)

Curry in Gimhae
(Mutton curry)

We ate at the restaurant on two different occasions sampling a number of the dishes. At 6,500 won the mutton curry is a fantastic bargain. Beautifully spiced, with much more meat than pricier Indian restaurants in Seoul, this dish offers deep flavours and succulent sheep. The makhani dal at 6,000 won is much lighter fare, but a perfect accompaniment to one of the stronger curries. The naan are crisp and chewy and very reasonable at only 1,300-1,500 won.

Curry in Gimhae
(Jira rice)

Plain rice is available for 1,000 won or you can choose the slightly more expensive Jira rice (Fried rice) for 2,000 won.

Curry in Gimhae
(Chicken tikka masala)

Curry in Gimhae
(Potato and onion pakora)

Namaste is one of the best foreign restaurants I have been to in Korea and with a meal of curry, rice and naan coming in at under 10,000 won, also one of the cheapest. Curry in Gimhae doesn't get better than this.

Curry in Gimhae
Namaste specializes in Indian and Nepali cuisine. To contact them call: 055 327 4892.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Copyright Infringement Tuesday (김해 Edition)

It's Friday night, it's late, you are stranded in 김해 (Gimhae) and you have a desperate urge to munch on some juicy fried chicken. Where are you going to go? Who will serve you a plate of the crispy, crunchy, feathery goodness that you need so much?

Look no further my friends, for this little blue fellow will satisfy all your chicken related needs:

Smoper Fried Chicken

"Smoper" has got your back and he and his friends want to serve you the finest fried, roasted and stewed chickens in the south of Korea.

Smoper Fried Chicken

This tiny chicken outlet in the backstreets of Gimhae means no harm and its cutesy portrayal of "Smoper" the fried chicken mascot should be admired. However "Smoper" does seem a little familiar.... His hat may be yellow and his features a little distorted, but he does remind me of a figure from my childhood. Is "Smoper" Papa Smurf's long lost cousin? Is Peyo rolling in his grave?

Smoper Fried Chicken

Searching for "스모프" on google I found the parent website for this intriguing chicken franchise. So it seems that this rather blatant copyright infringement is not isolated, but that there are in fact a fair number of "Smopers" selling their wares across the country. Better not let the Smurfs know.... Turns out they call themselves "Smupers" (스머프) in Korean.

Disclaimer - Paul Ajosshi has never tasted "Smoper" chicken and so cannot vouch for quality, quantity or fair treatment of any chicken eaten at one of these franchises. Consume at your own risk....

Shadow Thief in Gimhae

Just got back from our tour of "Shadow Thief" to 김해 (Gimhae/Kimhae), where the Gimhae Arts and Sports Center (GASC) treated us royally. They always produce special banners and pamphlets for our shows and their theatre is welcoming, warm and the audiences are always fun to perform to.... Yay for Gimhae!

Shadow Thief in Gimhae

Shadow Thief in Gimhae

I'm the one with the horns....

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Best Damn Tofu in Daejeon!

If you find yourself at a loose end down in 둔산동 (Dunsan-dong) in 대전 (Daejeon) and are in the mood for some tasty tofu treats then head on down to 갑동골 흑 수제비 (Gapdonggol Heuk Sujebi) - home of 흑 두부 (Black tofu).

Black Tofu Restaurant

This paradise of soybean pleasure is only a five minute walk from Galleria-Time World, just cross over to 전자랜드 (Chunja Land Electronics Market) and head down the side street another fifty metres until you see the comforting sight of this beautiful little restaurant.

Once inside it looks like any other little restaurant you might find in the city, but the menu on the side of the wall hints at the exciting dishes that await your dining desires:


Black dumpling soup, black dough flake soup, black dumplings, black bean curd pancakes, black tofu, black silken tofu soup, spicy black tofu and seafood, black dumpling stew, black tofu stew, kimchi stew, fermented soybean stew, black tofu and steamed pork, and black soy bean noodles. Quite a list of options and over the past couple of years, each time I've come back to Daejeon, I have tried quite a few...

Black Soybean Curd Pancakes

First up the crowd pleaser - 흑비지전 (Black bean curd pancakes), these crunchy little fellows are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face. The black bean curd is shaped into robust patties that are crispy on the edges and satisfyingly moist in the middle. The chillies on the top add a little bit of a kick, but the pancakes are not too spicy and will leave you craving for more.

Black Tofu Dumplings

Next up the comforting option - 흑만두 (Black dumplings), solid and hearty dumplings that fill you up and keep you warm in the winter. These are well made, well seasoned and a simple option for anyone avoiding spice. For those with a slightly more adventurous spirit and a more robust palate then 흑만두전골 (Black dumpling stew) may be the choice for you:

Dumpling Stew

This fiery pot of dumplings, cabbage, seafood and spice is perfect for sharing with friends and for warming your cockles when Daejeon's streets are frozen over.


For those with iron taste buds then the next step up is - 흑두부 두루치기 (spicy black tofu and seafod), succulent slices of black tofu, squid and a mountain of bean sprouts are soaked in a feiry ocean of chilli sauce. If you are craving something mouth-burningly delicious then this is the dish for you. Not for the faint hearted, this volcanic tofu mountain will sate your spicy needs.

Black Tofu and Steamed Pork

And saving the best for last - 흑두부보쌈 (Black tofu and steamed pork), slices of pig and black tofu wrapped in kimchi or lettuce... Heaven. Don't listen to what vegetarians may tell you, pork and tofu go together like no other combination on earth. Add some mature kimchi into the mix and you have a heavenly mouthful of Korean cuisine.

Beautiful Bossam

Black tofu may sound like an oddity, but after a visit to this restaurant you'll be craving it again and again.

For more information see the proprietor's business card below:



Most definitely the best damn tofu in Daejeon!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Adventures of Bob the Sea Kitten

This is Bob the transvestite "sea kitten". Bob loves skiing, fine wine and long walks on the beach. According to Peta, we shouldn't be eating Bob and his kind.
The campaign's slogan is "Nobody wants to eat a sea kitten", but I'm sorry Bob, you're just too tasty to give up.....

Check out Peta's insane sea kitten stories (including a handy ingredient list for kitten souffle).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sunrise on Banpo Bridge


Up early this morning, I decided to see the sunrise over the Han River by 반포대교 (Banpo Bridge).







Beautiful, but very, very cold...


Wrapped up ajosshi...





Ice along the waterfront.


And a shadow self-portrait.

More photos here.