220 Shinpyong-dong, Gyeongju City North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea
Okay, now we’re finally getting to the literal ‘meat of the matter’ from my trip to Korea this past summer. One of the key locations on our hit list was this Korean barbecue joint recommended by many Seoulites to us. Kangsanhanwoo was situated in its own large building at the intersection of some major roads in this resort town, with its brightly lit signage there was no trouble in finding it. A huge parking lot directly in front provided ample spaces as well, as we made our way in after nine pm and a long day of sightseeing…
While most of the diners were already fully engaged in their meals and were Koreans by and large, we did spot a few tables of foreigners so its appears this is on the international food lovers’ radar when one comes to this popular tourist location of Korea. To aid everyone coming in, there is a large display case of various types and cuts of beef, much like a butcher shop, immediately as you come inside. I’m sure there is a lot of pointing and gesturing to get what one wants when language is an issue. All part of the joys of international travel I say. With the hot temperatures and the air conditioners running full blast, there was a huge barrier of condensation on the glass, which the two fellows behind the counter would wipe across with a hand-held windshield wiper like tool (similar to those you see at gasoline stands) to give you some visibility.
Autumn’s chill has arrived. That for me means indulging in a lot more soups and stews both at home and when I dine out. If I have to give up the warmer summer weather for something, this isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Seolleongtang is a Korean ox bone-based soup that is simply decorated with other ingredients such as green onions and thin slices of beef brisket. Its something I enjoy when I want to change things up and go for something that isn’t spicy when out for Korean cuisine. I might have mentioned this in a past post, but I’d recommend this for any Korean food neophyte, as the milk-like colored and cloudy/creamy broth is fairly tame but packed with flavor when cooked right. For those that may feel it doesn’t haven enough substance, here’s a thing I do: jump the accompanying bowl of steamed white rice right into the soup.
3924 N Mississippi Ave
Portland’s dining scene is incredibly diverse. Thai food, in particular, is very good in this city. Pok Pok is renowned for its Issan/Northeastern Thai cuisine….and along Sandy Rd are a number of small family run Thai restaurants (along with a good smattering of Vietnamese and Cambodian). And over in the quickly gentrifying Mississippi District is Mee Sen – a restaurant run by a young crew of Thais that is serving uncompromising Thai food.
Those are indeed deep fried grasshoppers – a common drinking snack in Thailand. Mee Sen serves this delicacy perhaps as a gimmick to differentiate themselves from the rest of the field. The food served here is a good survey of Thai cuisine but definitely leans towards Bangkok style southern Thai. However, noticeably absent from the menu are the all-too common Tom Yum soups, and the red/green/yellow curries found at most typical North American Thai restaurants. Instead you are presented with a menu of curries, salads and soups that are more representative of the cuisine. The flavours and spice levels are authentic – all the food I have had here had the right pungency and heat.
2355 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA
Whenever I am in a city with great pizza, I make sure to eat as much of it as I can while I am there. San Francisco has a great pizza scene and I managed to eat at Pizzeria Delfina and A16 on this trip. (I note that Foodosophy member almatonne recently covered Pizzeria Delfina here.)
The pizza here is a thing of beauty – leopard-spotted from the intense heat of their wood fired oven. I had the baby octopus and clam pizza tonight. The crust was near perfect (though not quite as perfect as the crust at Pizzeria Delfina) and the toppings were well seasoned and well balanced.
120 NE Russell St
Recently, I had the pleasure of spending some quality eating time in Portland. I have been to this city many times before as I have relatives who live there. I often go down to visit, but my eating is usually limited to one or two restaurants. This visit was different…I was on a mission to survey one of the most exciting cities in the continent to eat.
Toro Bravo has been on my list for a long time. It is the kind of restaurant that I wish we had here in Vancouver. It has an farm-to-table ethos that is coupled with approachability and accessibility…a combination that is non-existent here in Vancouver. It was devoid of the typical pretensions and other baggage that I am used to experiencing at similar restaurants in my home city. It really felt like a neighbourhood restaurant – full of families with their children dining on communal tables.
4140 Meridian Street
I love to eat at ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurants. These little joints plug away making tasty food oblivious to the ongoing debates about culinary authenticity and ethnicity. This insulation from such gastronomic banter is what makes good holes-in-the-wall so endearing and finding them such a satisfying experience. One such place is the humble La Gloria – part restaurant and part grocery store – located just south of the 49th parallel in Bellingham WA.
It is no secret that Vancouver has dearth of decent Mexican food. It is an issue of demographics and immigration patterns, of course. We just do not have the population of Mexican immigrants to support many authentic Mexican restaurants. La Gloria serves some of the tastiest and most authentic Mexican food within a day’s drive of Vancouver.
Now that we’re rolling into the fall season and coming back from various journeys over the summer, I thought it would be a good time to do another one of these consolidated posts and provide an update on previously visited places again as a refresher. The links throughout will lead you to original posts and/or commentary on follow up visits. If in doubt if you’ve viewed them all, please do a search on the main page for all your queries…
Previous editions of multi-restaurant/monthly recaps: 1, 2, 3, 4