Monday, July 23, 2012

역전! 야매요리

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently started reading 신과합께, a webtoon hosted on Naver, as a way of studying Korean. 신과함께 can be a pretty meaty read sometimes, especially vocabulary-wise, so I started probing Husband for other webtoons that I might find interesting.

He had two recommendations, 이말년씨리즈 and 역전! 야매요리.

I read a few episodes of 이말년씨리즈. It's really funny, but has a lot of text, so that takes me just as much time to read per episode as 신과함께. However, I'm really enjoying 역전! 야매요리... a lot.

Sorry this picture is so small!

For starters, it combines two of my great loves, comics and food. Every episode is not only super funny but also teaches you a recipe. Really the benefits for me are tri-fold: entertainment, recipes, studying Korean!

This is a slightly easier read than 신과함께 maybe because I already know a lot of cooking and food vocabulary. The sometimes difficult part is that there are variations/irregularities in spelling and slang that I can't find in a dictionary and have to either guess at or ask Husband for help. Most of the time, luckily, I can figure these out from context.

The author/illustrator 정다정(Jeong Da-jeong) is a real talent for being so young (born in 1991). Both her writing and cartooning is weird (in the best way), offbeat, and hilarious. Several times I have laughed out loud while reading this webtoon.

I have no idea how to translate the title, so let me know if you have any ideas...

Husband said 역전 has a similar meaning to "Fighting!" and that 야매 means something along the lines of "fake" "pretend." Of course, 요리 is cooking. Granted he was busy doing something else at the time I asked him, so these might not have been his best translations. In any case, check out this webtoon and enjoy reading/cooking in Korean!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

바토스 어번 타코스 (Vatos Urban Tacos)

Husband and I recently finished up our travels in America (New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas) and are now working our way through Central and into South America. Though I'm not documenting our trip on this blog--mostly because I don't have the stamina to keep up with blogging everything we do--I still want to blog in my own half-committing way, so I'm trying to stick to the original concept, all things Korean.

Well, as you can expect, that's getting harder to do. My posts may be sporadic, but they are nonetheless still filled with love.

We're currently in Mexico where I've been doing a whole lot of temple/ruin visiting, lying in the sun, and of course, my favorite--eating! While gorging myself on delicious Mexican delights, I have not been thinking "This would be great with some kimchi!" though that does remind me...

Mexican food + kimchi = delicious

If you want proof, and you live in Korea, do yourself a favor and visit Vatos Urban Tacos in Itaewon. This place is just a short scamper down the road from The Wolfhound. My friend Stephanie took me there for my birthday, and I went there two or there more times in the 3 weeks after that before I left Korea. It's that good.

My favorite thing on the menu is the Kimchi Carnitas Fries (10 000 won). I don't mean to exaggerate, but these are life changing! I wake up in the middle of the night just wanting to eat them again. French fries covered in cheese, meat, and kimchi, plus some kind of delicious sauce, sour cream, and onions. The menu says great for sharing, but I recommend eating a whole plate to yourself if you're gross like me.

They also have delicious tacos (6-7000 won) and quesadillas (8-10 000 won), both fusion and more traditional. Drinks range from the classic margarita to the delicious makgeolita (12-15 000 won) made with, you guessed it, makgeoli!

The deets:
Vatos Urban Tacos
2F 66-8, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Korea
서울특별시 용산구 이태원동 66-8 2층

It gets pretty busy on the weekends, so I recommend making a reservation. Nothing is worse than spending your day dreaming about those delicious kimchi fries and then having all your hopes and dreams dashed when you realize you forgot to make a reservation.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

사랑하는 김치 (Beloved Kimchi)

On our first date, Husband asked me if liked kimchi. My response was, "Oh yea, my favorite is hot kimchi!" He looked a little puzzled. "You know," I explained, "when you eat samgyeopsal and you put the kimchi on the grill. That's delicious." Then he just laughed.

When we left Korea, Mother-in-Law insisted that I pack two huge bags of kimchi in my suitcase. When I opened the suitcase, after about 2-3 days due to some flight issues, ALL of my clothes stank of kimchi! I was so mad. I hated that kimchi. I never wanted to smell kimchi again.

*Note* The kimchi and I eventually got over our differences and shared many delicious meals together.

Now I've tried many kinds of kimchi, but I'd have to say "hot kimchi" still ranks at top. I know the general opinion on kimchi among foreigners goes either way. Some love it; others hate it. I'm not here to preach about the life changing qualities of kimchi, but I have been told that it prevents cancer, and that it's one of the reasons Korea was not affected as adversely by the SARS outbreak a few years back.

After too much excess in Vegas (drinking, gambling, junk food, cigarette smoke everywhere), what I really wanted was a bowl of kimchi jiggae. I don't know why, but I always magically feel healthier after I eat it. I wanted that jiggae so bad that I paid $13 USD for a bowl of kimchi jiggae in Las Vegas. It pains me to write that. That's almost triple the price of what I pay at a restaurant in Korea! But I have to say, I was really satisfied after that jiggae.

To sum up, I'll leave you with my favorite view on the subject. I once asked Husband if kimchi was his favorite food, and he responded, "No, kimchi is like air."

범죄와의 전쟁 (Nameless Gangster)

I've been wanting to write about this movie for while... mostly because I've been wanting to watch this movie for a while.범죄와의 전쟁 (Nameless Gangster) came out in Korea in February 2012, but I couldn't find a cinema that was playing the film with English subtitles. Then, last month while staying at a youth hostel in Winnipeg, Husband and I met a university student from Korea who was travelling through Canada for the summer. Not only was she kind enough to give us a whole bag of 김, she also gave us a bunch of Korean movies, including 범죄와의 전쟁. Alas, her copy of the film was also without subtitles.

Well, I'd been periodically searching online for a subtitle file, but had found nothing. Husband and a friend got to talking about Korean movies, and 범죄와의 전쟁 instantly came to mind, so I searched again for a subtitle and finally found one!

I love police/gangster movies, particularly Asian ones. My university years were filled with Hong Kong police movies, and only recently have a starting watching some Korean gangster films. Well, 범죄와의 전쟁 did not disappoint.

The cast is pretty amazing. 최민식 (Choi Min Shik) of Old Boy fame plays a corrupt Busan customs agent who gets into relations with the mob after having to take the fall for his department's acceptance of bribes. Choi balances gangster coolness and tragic pity. His partner in crime is played by 하정우 (Ha Jung Woo) who is a total badass. To round out the cast is 곽도원 (Kwak Do Won), who plays the prosecutor determined to take down Choi as part of the president's "war on crime." Kwak plays the straight-laced prosecutor perfectly, and his first scene in the movie is one of my favorites.

The plot is good, but due to several time changes throughout the film, it can get a little confusing. It took me two viewings to really get it. I don't want to give to much away, so I'll just say that like a good gangster film should, it has action, emotion, violence, and betrayal.

As a bonus, here are my top 5 Asian police/gangster movies:

Police Story (Jackie Chan)
A Better Tomorrow (Chow Yun Fat)
Hard Boiled (Chow Yun Fat)
Infernal Affairs (Tony Leung)
Kill Zone (Donne Yen)

What's your favorite gangster movie (Asian or not)?