So Portland is done and it is time for Seoul again. It is just after summer and pre-autumn here which means that it is rainy season. And Koreans have a special tradition when it rains: they like to drink makgeolli (막걸리) and eat Korean style pancakes called jeon (전).
You might notice this tradition is not dissimilar to when it is hot: drink. When it is cold: drink. When you are doing sports: drink. When you at a social event: drink. In fact the only time I’ve realised that Koreans don’t really drink is at concerts. Last week at the PSY concert in Gangnam people were mystified that I was going to get beer halfway through it. Also, rather cutely, when I was making my way back through the crowd they kept pointing towards the one other white person in a concert of 30,000 people as they presumed we were a couple.
However, the real difference is that when it is rainy you have to drink and eat starchy things to offset the prominence of seup or humidity which is one of the Six Atmospheric Influences in Korean traditional medicine. As I’ve previously blogged about makgeolli is effectively a rice beer and jeon is assorted meats or vegetables with flour batter which is then pan fried. So they both have plenty of starch.
We were taken by some friends to my favourite kind of Korean restaurant in Sinsa-dong. This means it has been around for years, decor is irrelevant and it is basic. You are far more likely to have a good meal at such places than new restaurants or ones which have fancy interiors. The specialty at this restaurant is their makgeolli and jeon but also the galbi jim (갈비찜) which are steamed beef short ribs with lots of spice and garlic.
The galbi jim at this place are incredible. As soon as you start eating you dive for the napkins to try and mop the sweat from your brow and start gobbling the makgeolli and pancakes in a war against the spice. You’ll lose but you’ll lose happy. The jeon are also some of the best I’ve hat. Fat happy oysters fried into the pancakes and delicious minced pork ones.
I’m afraid I can’t tell you how much the meal costs as in a serious effort against the humidity I went and tried to drink the entirety of a nearby makgeolli bar’s supplies and undid myself. I suspect it is very cheap though. You should go.
- Name – Dong-in Dong / 대구동인동찜갈비
- Address – 511-5 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul / 서울 강남구 신사동 511-5
- Price – a hangover