Monday, March 29, 2010

Home Made Spring Rolls and Some Noodle Goodness

Wandering round Itaewon last week, I was on my way towards Haebangcheon and feeling hungry. A little place called Le Saigon caught my eye and I snuck in for a quick bite to eat.

Le Saigon

This tiny restaurant has a very simple menu serving the usual dishes you would expect from a Vietnamese place plus an interesting baguette sandwich option. I wasn't feeling too adventurous so I opted for the Fried Spring Rolls at 3,000 won and the Vermicelli With Charbroiled Pork for 7,000 won.

Le Saigon

The spring rolls were a real surprise, handmade large parcels of shrimpy noodley goodness. They were fresh, tasty and more than worth the small price.

Le Saigon

The vermicelli came next; fresh vegetables, well cooked pork and a tangy sauce made for a perfect combination. Again, the portion was very generous for the price and it felt like a lot of love and care had gone into the dish. Simple yet delicious grub and far better than any of the chain Pho restaurants dotted around Seoul.

Le Saigon

If you fancy some reasonably priced Vietnamese food then head on down to Noksapyeong station and make your way towards Namsan tunnel number three. Le Saigon is on the right hand side past Italonia, the second hand book shop and Mi Madre. If you reach Buddha's Belly then you've gone a few metres too far. You can call them on 02 790 0336.

Anyone Out There With B- Blood?

I found this in my inbox after lunch and thought it was worth spreading the word around. Brian has already posted something and it seems like Jennifer Teacher is already doing her bit...

Dear friends,
I am writing this note with the hope that anyone living in Korea with a blood type of B rh negative (B-) would be willing to help a 19 year old boy who has recently been diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. I went to visit him in the hospital today, and now have specific information about him.
His name is YooWoon Jeon and he just graduated from high school in February. He has been sick since last October, but was just diagnosed last week. He will require 5-6 chemotherapy treatments, every three weeks. After each treatment he requires 6 doses of platelet, a part of human blood. The problem is, his blood type (B-), is not at all common in Korea. B+ is quite common, but B- is not. If a B- person gets B+blood, it can create problems. Platelet has a storage life of only one week, so its not easy to ship it from other countries.

There are 100's of thousands of expats in Korea, teachers, business people, engineers, etc... B- occurs much more reqularly in foreign populations than in Korea. That is why I am reaching out to you! Korea has given me so much, and I often wonder how I can return at least a little bit of it. This is one way. I happen to have B- so I went to the hospital today, and am scheduled to give the platelet on Monday. I will just lie down and while I watch a movie or chill out, my blood will be pumped into a machine that will take out the platelet and put the rest of my blood back into my body. The pain is about the same amount as getting a needle.

YooWoon just graduated from high school, and his dream is to go to Yonsei University. Instead, he is in the Yonsei Severence Hospital. If we can all come together, we can help him get back on his feet and he can get back to studying!

Please ask your friends to pass this info around.

His father is called Jay John in English, his Korean name is Jeon Jeong woo ( 전정우). His father works for the Korean branch of Cray Valley, a chemical company. His English is very good, so you wouldn't have to worry about communication issues.

He can be contacted at:

If you have any additional questions, feel free to call me directly, 010-6801-0731.

Thanks so much for your time and please spread the word.

For your information:


Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymphocytes of the immune system and presents as a solid tumor of lymphoid cells. It is treatable with chemotherapy, and in some cases radiotherapy and/or bone marrow transplantation, and can be curable, depending on the histology, type, and stage of the disease (

Platelet Donation

During a platelet donation, a small portion of your blood (less than one pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you. After the donation you can resume your normal activities, avoiding heavy lifting or strenuous exercise that day.


Hopefully word will get around and this poor boy can receive the blood he needs.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Abbey Road?

Beatles Golden Hits

Sunday morning and I'm sorting through this week's photos... Found this Beatles album cover in Hongdae, seems like Abbey Road gained an extra title in Korea...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tree Planting Galore For Arbor Day

UDATE: Things have slightly changed! Head to the event page for more details on where to meet.

Arbor day will shortly be upon us and for those of you free on March 27th there's an interesting event that you may want to join. The Korea Federation for Environmental Movement is hosting an event at Inwang Mountain and all are welcome.

See the digital pamphlet below for more information.

Ravishing Risotto

Porcini and Prawn Risotto

Passion 5 may be popular for incredible croissants, crispy baguettes and marvelous meat pies, but if you head upstairs you can sample a few more tasty treats. The Porcini Mushroom and Prawn Risotto is a little pricey at 17,000 won, but you are rewarded with a heaped pile of creamy deliciousness. The extra bonus of raw ham on top is worth shelling out the cash for...

Passion 5 is a very short walk from exit 3 of Hangangjin station, just head back towards Itaewon and look for the big black building with a bizarre selection of lips and flowers on it's side. You can call them on 02 2071 9505.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Violent Ecstasy

Pina Bausch

Tonight I used my hard earned won to wrangle myself the cheapest of seats at the LG Arts Center for a performance of two of Pina Bausch's masterpieces.

The first, Café Müller, was first performed in 1978 and is based on Bausch's "childhood memories of watching mysterious adult relationships in her father's cafe." The second was Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring), a dark and dirty ensemble piece that was first performed in 1975.

Café Müller felt like ghosts passing in the night as the tables and chairs of the café clattered to the floor and separated lovers lost and found each other. The haunting image of a woman silently treading over her lover's face after the two of them had repeatedly thrown each other against the wall in an almost orgasmic act of violence is still strong in my mind. Fifty minutes long, this piece is melancholic and mysterious as they patrons of the café mix and mingle, interchanging relationships.

Le Sacre du Printemps, only thirty five minutes in length, was utterly mesmerizing and very disturbing. Over thirty dancers on a peat covered stage; dirty, sweating and ready for something to happen. Men and women flirting and fighting together in an animalistic ritualized dance. As Stravinsky's music rose and fell, the feeling of menace on stage became stronger and as it moved closer to it's climax the sense of dread and unease built into something almost unbearable.

I don't go out of my way to watch contemporary dance, but this was well worth the ticket price and is a must for any fan of physical theatre. If you have enough cash then snap up one of the last remaining tickets and treat yourself to an evening of violent ecstasies.

Pina Bausch

ZenKimchi's March Madness

Things have already gotten underway over at ZenKimchi for the Korean food battle of the year. Pitting some of Korea's best loved foods against each other in a battle to the death, it's time to find out whether Kimchi can conquer Bulgogi or if Andong Braised Chicken will crush the hopes of the humble Grilled Fish.

If you haven't already, get yourself over there and vote for your favourite. If Spam Soup wins over the best hangover cure in the world then I'm going to be very sad...

Crimes Against Food?

Pork Cutlet Pizza

There are some things in the world that are taboo: certain behaviours, actions, thoughts or ideals that society shuns and dares not speak of. Today I saw something which goes beyond the boundaries of a normal ethical society; today I saw something that chilled my blood and sent shivers down my spine; today I saw the pork cutlet pizza.

Pork Cutlet Pizza

At Pizza DONS, where the salad bar is always full and the soft drinks always have unlimited refills, is where I saw this crime against cuisine.

At first look these black shelves seem to be stocked with rather generously sized pizzas, but if we take a closer look we find something much more sinister...

Pork Cutlet Pizza

Behold the "Salmon fresh garden", delicious slices of salmon tossed gently with fresh cherry tomatoes, lettuce and spinach leaves, served on a bed of what can only be described as cheese and tomato sauce topped deep fried pork...

Pork Cutlet Pizza

Then we have the "Seafood deluxe", only the tastiest prawns, mushrooms and peppers are bathed in a white mayonnaise like substance and then arranged artfully on a bed of cheese and tomato sauce topped deep fried pork.

Pork Cutlet Pizza

On a lower shelf we are confronted with the "Hawwaiian fruits" which has the well recognized combination of mustardcress, pineapple, bacon, almond slices and cherry tomatoes; once again decorated with a lattice work of white gloop and served (and I can't quite believe I'm writing this) on a bed of cheese and tomato sauce topped deep fried pork...

I love deep fried pork. I love nothing more than tucking into some delicate slices of deep fried pork tenderloin accompanied with a light miso broth and a bowl of fluffy white rice. I love the crispy chewy nuggets of fatty porcine goodness that tickle my tastebuds and send me to deep fried nirvana, but a pork cutlet pizza is taking things a step too far. The Full English Breakfast is referred to as a heart attack on a plate by some, but the meals served at Pizza DONS seem more like a slight case of angina, followed by a heart attack, a myocardial rupture and then a slow and painful death.

Pork Cutlet Pizza

I'm not sure why anyone would choose to eat there, but I'd love to hear from you if you have. Is there appeal to the deep fried pork cutlet pizza? Am I alone in thinking this to be a crime against food and a possible health risk? Has anyone eaten there and survived to tell the tale?

Take care dear readers and beware the siren call of the pork cutlet pizza...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Secret Chocolate Pear Cake Shots

Chocolate Pear Cake

Nestled amidst the mysterious alleyways of Hongdae is a cafe, a green fronted cafe that is always full. This cafe sells cake - chocolate cake; no other kind of cakes, only chocolate.

I went to this cafe, I chose the chocolate pear cake... not your asian pear cake, but your western pear cake. Real western pears (서양배)!

They may have been tinned, but they were real pears nonetheless. It was sublime. Dark rich chocolate and sweet pears make for a heavenly combination and its one that I've never found in Korea until today. The chef trained at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and the cakes served in this little cafe are of a standard I have never seen in Korea before.

Chocolate Pear Cake

The aforementioned chocolate pear cake once again pictured here, accompanied by a glass of apple juice topped with a scoop of apple granita.

I'll be going back, with my bigger, better camera and I'll get more pictures, details, prices and directions; but for the moment just comfort yourself with the knowledge that somewhere in the backstreets of Hongdae is a cafe to suit chocolate and pear lovers alike...

Second Saturday Ajosshi

This Saturday I'll be guest hosting the 2S2 meet up in Seoul. We'll be meeting at Twosome Place cafe just near Anguk station and then will do all sorts of interesting things. Highlights include Louise Bourgeoise's latest exhibition, the possibility of chunky dwenjang chigae or chinese grilled lamb and a trip to the theatre to see Sadari Movement Laboratory's English subtitled production of Chekov's The Cherry Orchard...

Head over here for all the details.

2.00 at Twosome Place at Exit 1 of Anguk Station. Join us for art, coffee, food, theatre and a chance to spot the bearded Ajosshi in public...

UPDATE: Here's the facebook event link.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Springter Wonderland

Springter Wonderland

It's Spring, it's snowing, here are photos...

Springter Wonderland

Springter Wonderland

Springter Wonderland

Springter Wonderland

It won't last long, but I'm still enjoying Winter's last hurrah against the coming of the Spring.

Chocopie Madness...

Over at Seoul Eats Dan has gone a little crazy and invented the Chocopie Slam...

You'll need a cup of coffee, a chocopie and a crazed look in your eye. Try it for yourself at your own risk...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Birthday Blowout

Birthday Blowout

Today was the 75th birthday of my lovely mother-in-law, sushi and cake were shared in abundance...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kim Yuna Takes The Cake

Kim Yuna Takes The Cake

Seems like the folks at Life Is Just A Cup Of Cake have taken Yuna's gold medal win to heart and created a special cup cake to commemorate her triumphs. I would say she looks good enough to eat, but I think she's made of cardboard...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Popolarita And Its Inventive and Beautiful Menu

Popolarita in Sorea Village

Strolling round the French quarter of Seoul this afternoon I came across a delightful little "French, Italian Ristorante & Cafe" called Popolarita. While I didn't have time to partake of their lunchtime treats I did enjoy perusing their menu boards...

Popolarita in Sorea Village

I quite like the sound of an "appetiger", dangerous yet delicious.

Popolarita in Sorea Village

Is it Gallic or Garlic bread I wonder... after all we are in the French part of town...

Popolarita in Sorea Village

Oh Popolarita you spoil us with your "meat-fresh burger" and "coated potato", though your overlarge king prawn wrap-roll does scare me somewhat.

Popolarita in Sorea Village

Unfortunately option B sounds like a rather challenging brunch set. I'm not sure how seafood omelet, maple syrup and banana fit together and I don't think I'm brave enough to find out...

If any of you, my dear readers, are courageous enough to take the Popolarita brunch challenge please let me know how you get on.

Tasty Temptations At Vinestock


I've been hearing a lot about Vinestock over the past few months, mostly from Dan over at Seoul Eats, and I finally decided to take a trip down to Banpo-dong to search out this tiny gem of a store.

It took me a little while to find the anonymous looking building that holds Vinestock and I was a little worried about what to expect, but once there I was greeted with such warmth and kindness by the owners that I felt in very safe and very knowledgeable hands.


This relatively small shop is a treasure trove of oils, coffee, pastas, preserves and wines; containing some of the finest food and drink you can find on the peninsula. The prices are high, but the products are of a better quality than you'll find in other wine boutiques, delis and department stores in Seoul.


I was treated to a tasting of some of the olive oils Vinestock have on offer and was blown away by the beautiful flavours that the Terre Bormane range have to offer. The Riviera Ligure Extra Virgin Olive Oil D.O.P. is perhaps the best (and one of the rarest with only 6,000 bottles produced every year) I have ever tasted, but at 54,500 won for half a litre it is a large investment for an impoverished thespian. I shall be saving my pennies to purchase my own...


Instead I splashed out on a jar of Galateo and Friends Ligurian pesto for 31,300 won. All natural and tasting sublime, this pricey little jar will become the main feature of some simple suppers this spring.


Onto the wine! Starting at 36,500 won and rising up to 900,000 won I was slightly intimidated by this superior selection. However, Thomas Scheidt (the resident wine expert) was on hand to calm my fears and talk me through their cellar.


We talked about food and wine pairings and after taking his advice I settled on one of the more economically priced bottles. Le Fruit Defendu (coming in at 36,500 won) is excellent with Korean dishes, especially grilled intestines, according to Thomas. I'll be trying it next week, so I'll have to put my thinking cap on as to what to serve it with...


To my surprise along with my two purchases the owners threw in a free wine glass, a slightly damaged bag of pasta (there was a tiny hole in the bag) and a wine pourer. I spent a delightful thirty minutes with them and will definitely be coming back once I've saved up some cash.


Vinestock may not be for the cash strapped amongst us, but is well worth the visit if you love food and wine and are willing to pay a little extra to get top quality. They also run wine tastings every other Saturday or so offering selections of wine along with homemade food. Join their group on Facebook for all the latest news and events listings. To get there head down to Sorae Village (close to the Gangnam Express Bus Terminal) and take the side street opposite Paris Croissant. Take the first right and Vinestock is on the fourth floor of the building on the corner above Kitchen Flo. You can find a Korean map here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Other Favourite Magician

Apologies... Two posts in one day about non-Korea related magic may be anathema to you, but I'm on a roll so please indulge me.

Back when I was an impoverished student living in London I dreamt of going to see "Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants", but he always played to a sold out house and I never got a chance to witness his skills in the flesh. I've bought a number of his books, searched out his television appearances, sat through David Mamet's films for a glimpse of his corpulent excellence, but await the day I can sit in close proximity to this marvelous performer.

If anyone would care to buy me a copy of "Cards As Weapons" or "Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women" I'll be forever in your debt, but until you do this video of his show on Youtube will have to suffice.

Here it is for anybody who fancies an online audience with Mr. Jay and his 52 friends (Part 5 is notable for his watermelon attack and Part 6 has a gorgeous rendition of the cups and balls trick):

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

My New Favourite Magician

This has nothing to do with Korea, but I was absolutely mesmerized by this video:

Lennart Green is hands down one of the best close up card magicians I've seen and this half hour presentation at TED is well worth a watch. There's even Korean subtitles available for those inclined...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ajosshi Update

With only twelve posts logged so far in 2010 I've been a little lax when it comes to blogging. Apologies to anyone who has been offended, disappointed or downright disgusted by my lackadaisical attitude; please smack me on the bot-bot and I promise to do better from here on in.

Last night saw the end to our season of "Strange Soup" (where I had the pleasure of playing a green alien kleptomaniac twin) and the closing to a quite hectic and productive chapter of my life. In the last six months I've lost 16 kilograms (but gained 1 back), got a couple of exciting translation proposals, finally sorted out an F2 visa, eaten raw fish marinated in makgeolli, perfected my rib making skills, read far too many Russian fantasy horror novels, been slapped in the face twice daily, eaten extraordinary amounts of fake poo and have been made workshop director for an exciting new project at our theatre. Now it's time for all sorts of even more interesting things to happen, including getting up off my bottom and spending more time on this blog.

So dear reader, hopefully over the coming weeks you'll see an increase in dazzling death defying detailed deliveries of dastardly devised documents. Be careful, there may be alliteration involved...

BONUS FAKE POO RECIPE: Take three large spoonfuls of 미숫가루 (a powder made from mixed grains), one large teaspoon of hot chocolate powder and mix thoroughly. Add hot water, little by little, constantly stirring with a chopstick until you get your desired consistency. For added fun dress up as a green alien twin and smear the poo all over your fellow twin's face whilst singing about how sweet it is... Repeat twice a day in front of a large audience...

Hey, diddly-dee, an actor's life for me!

Me and My Doppelganger

Paul Ajosshi pictured with "Paul Ajosshi Finger Puppet" provided by costume designer extraordinaire 이종행. Available in all poor quality toy shops now...

An Open Letter...

Dear Delightful Canadians Who I Passed On The Street This Morning,

Congratulations! You won! Who knew it would go this way? What an exciting time for us all and what a way to finish up a very special Winter Olympics. 3-2 in a nail biting finish, Crosby pulled out all the stops and Canada ends up with 14 Gold medals. I know the emotional rollercoaster you're on; I felt the same way when Vanessa Redgrave received a fellowship from BAFTA last weekend. It's a big day and everyone is entitled to celebrate in their own way.

As I trotted down the road from my house in Itaewon towards Hannam-dong I spotted several of your compatriots smiling and filled with joy, it made me feel good to see them in such a celebratory mood. My heart warms when others are happy, it puts a spring in my step and a song in my soul. Seeing them made the day seem brighter despite the mixture of snow, rain and blasting wind that surround us. I felt at peace with the world, I felt a brotherhood with Canada, I felt pretty bloody good... and then I saw you.

Everyone likes a drink (except for those who don't) and I can often be spotted quaffing a beer or two when a big international sporting event comes on the box. It's good to mix alcohol with triumph, our fermented ecstasy takes us to a frothy nirvana where our worries disappear and we feel truly part of the team we support. Beer plus sports equals happy... in most cases.

9.30 in the morning on the main street of Itaewon is where I saw the five of you, in between the Rocky Mountain Tavern and the Fire Station. Most of you were very drunk, some of you wore Canadian hockey shirts and one of you was violent. No one got hurt (at least not when I passed by), but shop shutters were slammed into and noises were made. I think there may have been a few sweary words, but my delicate ears chose to block those out.

I expect that kind of behaviour at 2.00 in the morning on Hooker Hill, not at 9.30 in the morning on a busy street. Spirits may have been high, but your behaviour sank mine into despair.

I passed more of your fellow countrymen as I walked on and they were exemplary in their attitude and activities. I've met Canadians in the past, Roboseyo, for example, is a true gentleman and a genuinely nice bloke. In fact all the Canadians I've met until now have been lovely and friendly and a pleasure to know. You on the other hand, I wouldn't touch you with a barge pole.

Ask A Korean wrote a wonderful post recently about "How not to be an arrogant American". Substitute the word "Canadian" for "American" and it should guide you pretty well as to how to behave in polite society. In the words of 'Ask a Frenchman': "You represent your country, whether you like it or not." Your actions this morning encourage groups like this, help spawn articles like this and generally make you look like this.

Congratulations again on the gold medal and I hope I never see you again.

Lots of love,

Paul Ajosshi