AKA Spicy Chicken Stir Fry with a Cheese Moat :D :D

Because obviously when you make a spicy chicken and vegetable stir fry you think “wouldn’t this be better with a crap load of cheese”. Right? Maybe it’s just me. #everythingisbetterwithcheese

Anyway this exists. And it was great. I’m gonna walk you through it.

We ordered chicken galbi for three people. They fire up the burner on the table and bring out a giant pan filled with chicken in gochujang, potatoes, rice cakes, various vegetables, and a exorbitant amount of shredded cheese. We stare at it, unsure if we are supposed to start stirring.

Waiters come over and start stirring our pan every once and a while. We relax as we realize that they will do everything for us, haha. Nibble some banchan.

Look at the amount of cheese they gave us and wonder if we’ve made a terrible mistake.

When the food is mostly cooked they pour the cheese into the cheese moat.

Stir stir. Melt melt. Bubble bubble.

Is it ready yet??

It’s ready!!! Dig in.

Grab bits of chicken and/or veg and scoop up some cheese and shovel it all into your mouth. Yummmm.

Finish the stir fry and ask for one serving of rice. Waiter comes over and scrapes out the extra bits of food and cheese, then adds rice to the pan.

He does some elaborate scraping and stirring for a few minutes.

And smoothing.

Aww. “For Family” the waiter says.

Take selfies with your Japanese table buddies!

Roll home.

Another day, more Seoul-searching. Sunny, but coooooold.

At a design plaza/museum. We went hard in the gift shop, everything was so cool/cute.

That whole long building is a shopping mall!!! And it went off equally far in the opposite direction! There were so many malls omg. The shopping in Seoul was crazy, but we couldn’t really buy much clothes because we are too fat in Korea. We did have to get snowpants and mine are size XXL and they’re almost too small. :((( Maybe there is a whole mall for people that are Big & Tall but we didn’t look for it tbh.

We went to a Trick Eye Museum that was… weird. You could download an app and then when you pointed the camera at the different scenes it added stuff, aka augmented reality.

You could also go into an ice museum with a slide, and get your face printed onto a latte.

It would have been fine for $5 like the kimchi museum but unfortunately it was $15. I don’t really recommend it.

Oppa Gangnam Style!

We also checked out Insadong, Lotte World, many super hipster cafes that Jinnie recommended, underground malls, Hongdae, a lemur cafe (but left immediately because there was a kangaroo in a tiny cage and it made us all very sad), and many many other things. The entire trip we were either exploring, watching Olympics, stuffing our faces, or eating. LOL. I walked average 20k steps a day. Not bad.

OK so apparently Rosemarie is like an expert of Korean food, and she had a food bucket list a mile long. Since she had less time in Korea than us we let her make all the food decisions while we were together. She did a great job serving as Minister For Food.

Here are a few things that we loved:

BBQ was obviously a must-eat. We found this place in Hongdae that was All You Can Eat for like $12. We cooked up all sorts of vegetables and meats and wrapped them in lettuce and dipped in the salty oil and the peanutty sauce. Yum. We all liked the marinated beef the most, nice and tender with a good sauce.

A very good selection of banchan. Peanuts, fish, anchovies, eggs, mushrooms, pickled veggies, kimchi. Banchan comes free and unlimited with every meal, but usually we only got 3-4 things, not 8!

We stayed in Myeongdong, which was a very busy shopping area (especially beauty shops!) with tons of restaurants and street vendors. There was always lots to see and do and eat in Myeongdong and it was very central for transit too. A+ Would Myeongdong again.

Those were subway station doughnuts and they were amazing. Very crispy with vanilla custard, sweet potato, and red bean fillings. Scott walked 1 hr each way to go back for more doughnuts later in the week.

Raw beef bibimbap in stone pot. The pot was flipping hot so when you stir it around (after adding heaps of gochujang of course) it cooks the beef a bit, and the rice on the bottom gets crunchy. We ate variations of this a lot, which is good since it’s full of vegetables and relatively healthy.

This was another of Rosemarie’s must-eats… Korean seafood pancake. It brought back memories of when our parents took us to a Korean restaurant in NYC in approximately 2002 and we got traumatized by the still-moving seafood stew and acted like brats and wouldn’t eat anything except for the plain bits of the Korean pancake on the side. Thankfully we have become more adventurous eaters since then, and enjoyed the whole pancake this time.

She also made us try a mango mountain (one of those giganto desserts with shaved ice and all sorts of toppings like mango and cheesecake and ice cream), which Scott and I liked but Rose didn’t (she said it didn’t have good texture and was too cold). And she introduced us to one of those bbq places with a cheese moat (yes you read that right, and yes that is getting its own blog post coming up next) which was obviously amazing.

Then she had to go back to work in Japan. :( Sister time over. But oh man we love travelling with Rosemarie. Our collaborations of research and interests always end up being so much fun. Next time Japan? Or Vietnam?

Rosemarie on the blog here to report about our day watching slopestyle!

In January, Katrina messaged me and said “we could totally go watch an Olympic event while you are in Seoul!” I hadn’t even thought of that option so I was pretty stoked to go see an event (and also that Kat would do all the organizing).

We looked at all the tickets and decided that we would go see the qualification round of Men’s snowboard slopestyle. It was the easiest logistically, not tooooo tooo expensive, and seemed pretty exciting. #YOLO

To get to the event location, we took the first subway from our hotel and then literally ran to catch the first train. The train was about 1.5 hours long, which is about 2/3 the width of South Korea. We were so excited when we got to the Pyeongchang train station, and then immediately realized that there was nothing around the train station at all (hmm how will we occupy ourselves for 3 hours). So, we hopped on to the shuttle to the event venue.

Luckily, there was a cafe right across from the ski hill that we could hang out in for a bit and eat breakfast. The owner/manager of the cafe was SO HAPPY that his cafe was full.

When the event was about ready to start, we entered in the venue, got swagged up and headed up to the stands. From our seats, we could see the bottom 3 jumps and we could watch the rest on a screen.

We knew nothing about slopestyle. Hehe. The athletes did a ton of different jumps. My favourites were:

“pop-tart off the kiwa”
“melon grab cab 1440 off the wu-tang”
“fakie backie switch to frontside fakie chicken salad”

It was very exciting and super fun that there were 4 Canadians in the event. It was cold, for sure, but I think it was colder on other days of the games.

We were also able to watch moguls training happening at the same time. From our seats, we could see the moguls and aerials course.

There were two CBC reporters at the event who took a bunch of photos of us. Katrina made it in a gif! I was interviewed for a Valentines Day segment, but didn’t make it in the final cut.

Getting back to Seoul was easy. We even had our own private shuttle (where did everyone go?)

We are pretty much slopestyle experts now. Also, I am Mark McMorris’ #1 fan.

PS Scott dropped his flag while cheering and claimed the area under the bleachers as Canadian territory.

Is this not the best looking airplane meal you have ever seen? I mean, bibimbap with plenty of vegetables, Kit Kat, Canada Dry, a lil’ tube of lip balm gochujang?? Amazing.

Scott and I had one day in Seoul before Rosemarie arrived. She’s been getting plenty of nakey spa time in Japan so we decided that was a good activity for us to do before she got there. We went to Dragon Hill Spa, thanks to Leslie’s informative blog post about jjimjilbangs. The weirdest part was having to strip naked in the change room, then walk past the (fully dressed) ladies selling eggs at the snack counter and head down the stairs to the floor with the pools. Once I got to that area I was fine, but I felt really weird walking around nude when people were still arriving in their winter coats.

Anyway they have separate bath areas for men and women so Scott and I each went for a soak and met up for lunch later in the spa restaurant. I liked the medium temperature pools the most, and the herbal pools and the cold pool with the ultra strong jets. The full body jet pool was broken which was a shame because I think it would have been my favourite. I got a body scrub, which was odd, but my skin felt so nice and soft afterwards, and Scott got a massage.

Spa lunch. We had kimchi stew and cold noodles with pollack. The noodles were soooo long you have to chop them up with scissors so you don’t choke, and the fish was super chewy because it is repeatedly frozen and dried (like 20 times!!) until all the cells explode. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had known why the fish was so chewy before I ate it.

We also tried out the dry saunas in the common area. Some of them were SO FREAKING HOT and you had to crawl through a tiny door to get in, haha.

Rosemarie arrives!! We apply Korean sheet masks and trade gifts (Tina hoodie and Tim Tams for her, kawaiiiiiii treats for us).

The next day we went to approximately 900 different places around Seoul thanks to Jinnie and Leslie’s and many other people’s AWESOME recommendations. I’ll just post a few highlights.

Temple… ✔. Missed the changing of the guard and regretted not renting hanboks, rah.

Rooster, horse and tiger.

Good job Scott even getting the eyes right. :D A brief stop at the National Folk Museum.

Woohoo, second chance hanboks!! The Kimchi Museum had some that you could try on, so of course we took advantage and wore them the whole time at the museum. :)

Different types of kimchi. It was a decent museum, especially for only $5. We learned about the fermenting process, different types of kimchi, recipes, and even got to try a few samples.

Me and Ross at the poop fun centre (???)(didn’t actually pay to go in), Me and Mr. Donothing (my new spirit animal), Scott and his drinking buddy being #basic.

A really good lunch down a random alleyway. Spicy ramen tteokbokki (rice cakes) and gimbap (Korean version of sushi).

This is the only thing we saw on the whole trip about North Korea. Scott’s dad wanted a North Korean Olympic Team t-shirt but we couldn’t find anything like that at all! I suppose it’s not a joking matter.

At S Namsan Tower. Check out all those love locks!

Guess Rosemarie didn’t like it. :’)))

We didn’t go up the actual tower because the views from the top of the hill were already pretty great. Seoul is huge!! Check out that apartment density near the river!! This is the South view.

We stayed until sunset so we could see the twinkling city. North view!

We also did a brief tour of the printer and toner district of Seoul, a little shopping, ate BBQ, and let Rose win a game of Seven Wonders ;). BIG DAY!!

 

We swung by Sydney on the way to Korea to visit Jess, Rae and Felix, Ben Folds, and Reynold’s dessert bar, all in one day.

Always nice to catch up with Rae. And we finally got to meet Felix, who is very close in age to Cassia’s boy. I forced them to meet us at Koi Dessert Bar, even though Rae doesn’t really like sweet things, hahaha.

Strawberry Pillow – almond sable, strawberry lychee mousse, strawberry jelly, lychee slices

Mango Yuzu – almond sable, mango mousse, yuzu curd

Peach – white peach mousse with sudachi fruit

They were all nice, although all very similar, since they were all fruity and soft. Forgot to take a picture of the insides, oops. The mango yuzu one was Scott and my favourite. I chose the peach one purely because it REALLY looked like a peach. Ended up being my least favourite. Next time I will try something chocolatey I think. Reynold is currently doing a pop-up in Melbourne so maybe it will happen soon actually.

The Ben Folds concert was at the Sydney Opera House, which I was very excited about. How iconic! Jess came too but we apparently took no pictures of ourselves, doh.

The concert was AWESOME. I wasn’t sure about our seats because although we were in the front row, we were directly behind him so I thought we might ONLY get to see the back of his head. But he waved back at me when he first came in (we’re pretty much BFFs now) and turned around slightly when he was chatting (LOTS of chatting!), and we got to see his crazy hands and crazy feet really close which was neat. So many forearm keyboard bashings!!!

The first half was just a normal set, including some old favourites like Annie Waits (which we happily did the claps), and songs that I had never heard before like Phone In A Pool. He told lots of stories and jokes. When he started playing You Don’t Know Me I turned to Scott and said “this is a DUET, how is this going to work??” but then the audience just did all the Regina Spektor parts and it was great!!

Then he started transitioned to drums and Tim Minchin literally RAN on stage. Everyone went nuts!

They played One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces together while everyone was cheering and singing along. So fun. Tim is also a master pianist.

Then for the second half we were supposed to write our requests on pieces of paper and all together throw them on stage. FUN! I requested Dr. Yang which actually hit the piano and landed near his feet, but he didn’t pick it up. :( Anyway he would pick up an airplane and play it no matter what (unless it was something he already played, or something he didn’t know), ten times. So awesome.

There were some pretty standard requests, like The Luckiest, Lullaby, and Emaline, although some were a bit more obscure and he couldn’t remember the words so he had to improvise some parts haha. Lots of Ben Folds Five songs. My favourite was Underground because it’s a four part harmony and we all had to get real involved.

On his way out. Although he even came back to play an encore, which apparently is rare for this tour! So we got to hear Army too before having to leave.

All in all, 10/10 concert experience. Would Ben Folds again in a heartbeat.