Tag Archives: cocktails

20 amazing things you must eat in South Korea

Sizzling barbecue, fresh seafood, refreshing desserts, and cuisine from around the world: Seoul has it all. There are so many delicious things to taste in South Korea’s capital city, it’s a good idea to make a list. From the most obvious choices (Korean barbecue!!) to some more obscure dining options, here are 20 things you absolutely must try:

1. Everything at a buffet

Loaded up with beef ribs, kimbap, spicy broccoli, salad, kimchi, japchae, pajeon, bulgogi and more. SCREAMfmLondon

A buffet is a good place to start! These restaurants are easy to find in Seoul and will allow you to pile your plate high with anything that appeals to you.

2. Pork belly at Korean barbecue

Korean barbecue on the grill. SCREAMfmLondon

Thick, fatty slices of pork belly meat are called 삼겹살 (samgyeopsal) in Korean, and this is the best meal you will eat. Each restaurant has a different style of seasoning and side dishes, so it’s not even boring to order this all day every day.

3. Street food

A Korean take on Japanese takoyaki in Myeongdong. SCREAMfmLondon

Seoul street food is incredible and inexpensive. In tourist-friendly areas like Myeongdong and Hongdae, the options are endless. You can find more traditional street foods (like fried chicken and egg bread), sweet desserts (like towering ice cream cones), foreign favorites (like water cakes and takoyaki) and everything in between. You can even buy street cocktails!

4. Kimchi and tuna on rice

Tuna flavored with kimchi and dried seaweed served with rice. SCREAMfmLondon

This is a quick, cheap meal you’ll find in a lot of small Korean restaurants. It’s called 김치 참치 덥밥 (kimchi tuna deopbap). It’s flavorful kimchi and meaty tuna and mixed with plain rice. Filling and delicious.

5. Green tea fondue

Green tea fondue with a side of green tea and strawberry drinks. SCREAMfmLondon

Osulloc makes and distributes the most famous green tea in Korea. In addition to an Osulloc Museum on Jeju Island, the brand has many tea houses and cafés throughout Korea. I definitely recommend the green tea fondue, which comes with strawberries, cookies and rice cakes for dipping, as well as a little candle to keep it warm.

6. Basil-infused ramen

Basil pesto-infused ramen at Ittengo. SCREAMfmLondon

This is a follow-up to my post about the best Japanese ramen in Seoul. At Ittengo in Hapjeong, the basil pesto-infused ramen is worth waiting in the line that wraps around the block. Dubbed Midori Kame (green turtle), this signature ramen is super rich and possesses a distinctive flavor.

7. Korean-style lunchbox

Korean school lunch featuring quail eggs, pickled cucumber kimchi and spicy soup. SCREAMfmLondon

In Korea, lunchboxes are referred to as dosirak (도시락). There are many different styles and infinite options for fillings, but they all usually consist of some rice, kimchi and several side dishes. You can find these at schools, in convenience stores and at restaurants around Korea.

8. Fish-shaped pastry

Bungeobang filled with raspberry and cream cheese. SCREAMfmLondon

One famous Korean street food item is bungeobang (붕어빵), a fish-shaped pastry. Traditionally, these are filled with red bean paste, but they can be found with any number of sweet or savory fillings.

9. Moksal at Korean barbecue

Different meats sizzling on the grill. SCREAMfmLondon

No, we’re not finished with Korean barbecue. Next on your list to try is moksal (목살), which is marbled pork chop or neck meat. Less fatty than samgyeopsal, this meat has a completely different and more hearty flavor.

10. Rolled ice cream

Rolled ice cream in Hongdae. SCREAMfmLondon

Ice cream comes in many styles on the streets of Seoul. Rolled ice cream is one trend that originated overseas and became popular among Korean street food vendors. Ice cream is combined with different ingredients like cookies and candies before being rolled up and served to customers.

11. Singaporean laksa

Laksa served at the Yummy Kampong Singaporean restaurant in Yeonnam-dong. SCREAMfmLondon

Laksa is a spicy noodle soup popular in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Similar to curry, the broth is made with thick, spicy coconut milk and filled with noodles, seafood and vegetables. This interesting dish can be found in Seoul’s multicultural neighborhoods.

12. Curry

Yellow curry with rice served in Seoul. SCREAMfmLondon

In Seoul, one of the most popular commonly-eaten foreign foods is curry. From Indian to Japanese-style curry, this dish can be ordered many different ways in many different restaurants.

13. Waffle

Waffle on a stick filled with cream cheese and chocolate syrup. SCREAMfmLondon

Waffles are another Korean street food not to be missed. Nothing beats a piping hot, freshly-made waffle drizzled with your choice of delectable toppings: whipped cream, cream cheese, chocolate sauce, apples and cinnamon, etc.

14. Buffet at a Korean wedding

The amazing selection of foods at a wedding buffet in South Korea. SCREAMfmLondon

Not to be confused with a regular buffet, a Korean wedding buffet is an event all to itself. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a Korean wedding, you’ll find that the ceremony is kept short and sweet before the guests are directed to an impressive buffet complete with all the Korean foods, Western foods, desserts and drinks you can imagine.

15. Fried rice

Bokkeumbap at a Korean barbecue restaurant. SCREAMfmLondon

Some Korean barbecue restaurants offer you the option of making bokkeumbap (볶음밥) or fried rice toward the end of your meal. Rice mixed with kimchi and other vegetables is added to the leftover meat on your grill, topped with dried seaweed and cooked until it’s a lovely shade of golden brown.

16. Tiramisu

Tiramisu in Hapjeong. SCREAMfmLondon

I don’t know why, but tiramisu recently became incredibly popular in Seoul. Trendy tiramisu shops popped up everywhere overnight, and now you can buy these delicious desserts in a wide variety of flavors on almost any street.

17. Udon

Udon noodle soup at a Korean restaurant. SCREAMfmLondon

Steamy soups are always a good choice on cold Korean nights, and I’ve recently grown pretty fond of Japanese udon noddle soup. The thick, chewy noodles give it a more filling feel, and the distinctive flavor of the broth is addicting.

18. Fried chicken

Fried chicken with a coating of sweet oats. SCREAMfmLondon

Korean fried chicken is definitely unique and tastes amazing. It’s lighter and crispier than Western-style fried chicken, and Korean restaurants are known to serve up some interesting flavors.

19. Bingsu at the sheep café

Adorable sheep bingsu! SCREAMfmLondon

You can kill two birds with one stone here: visit one of Seoul’s most famous themed cafés and taste some of the most delicious bingsu in town. Outside of the Thanks Nature Café is a pen with real sheep you can meet. Inside, the restaurant serves super adorable and very tasty sheep-shaped banana ice cream treats. You can’t go wrong!

20. Brunch

Brunch at One Bite Café in Hongdae. SCREAMfmLondon

Seoul is a very late-night city, so there’s not much going on in the early hours of the morning (unless you’re just heading from the club to grab some hangover soup, which is acceptable). Therefore, brunch is the perfect way to get a good start at midday. With all the cute, trendy cafés to choose from, there should be no trouble finding a great spot for brunch.

Guide to: Viking Nature Resort on Koh Phi Phi

20151228_133855

The Viking Nature Resort on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. SCREAMfmLondon

I drank a piña colada. I rocked gently in a hammock, enjoying the late-night sea breeze. I dug my toes into the sand and gawked at a school of striped fish swimming between rocks. I watched crabs scuttling out of the waves. I slept on a bamboo bed in a chic treehouse-style resort. I only inhaled a little bit of salt water. It was the perfect tropical getaway thanks to the Viking Nature Resort on Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.

The Phi Phi Islands are located to the west of the Thai mainland just before you reach the large, well-known island of Phuket. Koh Phi Phi Don is the most famous and most populated, although Koh Phi Phi Leh has also gained notoriety (the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach” was filmed there, and everyone you meet will mention this a million times).

To get there, I took a ferry ride from Phuket that entertained us with “Mr. Bean” reruns for the entire three-hour journey. The ferry makes a few stops on the Phi Phi Islands, but I got off at Tonsai Bay, where Viking Nature Resort had a longtail boat waiting for me.

20151228_132251

Look at the color of that water! SCREAMfmLondon

We jetted off across the most gorgeous, turquoise water I’ve ever seen. After spending so many years seeing unappetizing mustard-colored foam wash up on Venice Beach, I didn’t realize the ocean could still be this beautiful. The water at Koh Phi Phi Don is clear and calm, surrounded by huge limestone cliffs covered in thick greenery.

Slowly, the Viking Nature Resort materialized out of the foliage. It’s also beautiful: there is a rustic wooden swing out front, and someone was getting a massage underneath some palm fronds. No sooner had I hopped off the boat into the perfectly temperate water than I had a jar of sweet tea placed in my hand. While I waited for my room, I sampled the sweet and sour fried fish (delicious!) and cocktails (delicious!) from the onsite restaurant. I splashed around in the water on the secluded beach out front and wondered how I’d gotten lucky enough to experience this.

20151228_133822

I never want to leave this beach. SCREAMfmLondon

Finally, I was led to my room. I stayed in Makmai 3C, one of two upstairs rooms in the luxurious Makmai villa. The room is a brisk walk from the lobby and restaurant that involves steep inclines, dirt paths, dodging tree roots and a formidable flight of stairs up to the actual treehouse — but the payoff is incredible!

20151228_153045

This is the life. SCREAMfmLondon

There is a large wooden balcony equipped with a personal hammock, several sets of bamboo tables and chairs, and a fabulous view of the ocean through the trees. The interior was equally impressive: rustic wood and bamboo furniture, high ceilings, a beaded shell curtain in the doorway, a spacious bed, a shower that I wish I had known produced salt water before I stuck my entire face into it.

20151228_152930

My room: Makmai 3C at the Viking Nature Resort on Koh Phi Phi. SCREAMfmLondon

The room came with complementary breakfast and great service from all members of the staff. One night’s stay in the Makmai room was 2,800 THB, which is roughly $77. Pretty wildly expensive by Thailand’s standards, but an incredible deal for the lavish experience.

I could have spent weeks basking in the luxury of the Viking Nature Resort, and I hope I’ll get the chance to go back.

20151229_112956

Breakfast on the beach on Koh Phi Phi. SCREAMfmLondon

Food: Cielito Restaurant in Santa Barbara

Vanilla bean cheesecake. SCREAMfmLondon

Aside from Los Angeles being cool in itself, there are a million cool places accessible for a weekend getaway. I headed up to Santa Barbara for a few days to do what I do best: shopping, eating delicious things and going to museums while everybody else is at the beach.

IMG_20140906_174911_163

Blackberry margarita. SCREAMfmLondon

One of our favorite dining spots turned out to be the Cielito Restaurant.

Cielito was awesome. It’s set back from State Street in a little courtyard with a little fountain full of little turtles. Very atmospheric. The vibe is super relaxing, the food is super flavorful, and the entire staff is super attractive. Nice work, Cielito.

I started with the blackberry margarita ($13), which is Peligroso Blanco Tequila, Leopold’s Rocky Mountain Blackberry liqueur and fresh lime juice with dashes of agave syrup. Fabulous! We also ordered some chips with salsa and guacamole to kick things off, which isn’t really necessary, but guacamole is always a good idea.

The pork belly quesadilla ($12) was delicious — just the right amount of spiciness and a beautiful presentation. It is served in four pieces on top of guacamole and filled with pork, cheeses, shaved cabbage, pickled onion and salsa. Although it’s a small plate, it’s quite filling, and every bite is filled with the perfect combination of flavors.

Also tasted the Huarache de Hongos ($15), which was also amazing. It’s a flatbread topped with mushrooms, oaxacan black beans, cheeses, salsa, white truffle oil and avocado. The taste of the truffle oil and mushrooms is strong and rich, and the creamy cheeses and avocado just make it completely delectable.

For dessert, we tried everything. (Not a hyperbole.)

IMG_20140906_180423_454

Pork belly quesadilla. SCREAMfmLondon

I loved the vanilla bean cheesecake ($9) with hazelnut crust that was smothered in fresh strawberries. It’s a small portion, but that makes it easier to try all of the desserts on the menu and still be able to leave the restaurant without exploding.

The chocolate caramel semifreddo ($10) is frozen chocolate mousse with salted peanut brittle ice cream in the center, and it tastes just like a fancy Snickers ice cream.

Also, be sure to ask about the signature dessert specials because our favorite dessert of the night was the caramel apple empanada with ice cream on top.

Altogether, Cielito will provide a sweet dining experience for your beachfront vacation. I ate pretty much everything there was to eat, and I would do it again.

Excellent meal; would dine again. And I was serious about the good-looking waitstaff, too. Sup.

Jeff Goldblum at the Rockwell Table & Stage

Another great picture: Jeff Goldblum performs with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at the Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz. SCREAMfmLondon

Sometimes, I wonder why I would ever want to leave LA. Such a night was when I made it out to the Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz to see Jeff Goldblum play jazz with the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra over cocktails. Only in Hollywood, folks.

More-or-less every Wednesday at 9 p.m., Jeff and his band perform a low-key concert at the Rockwell with Jeff simultaneously on piano and holding court with the audience, singing and shooting the breeze about movies.

On the night I attended, the band played standards like “Bye Bye Blackbird” and invited up a few guest performers, including a fantastic female vocalist who sang “It Had to Be You” with them.

In between songs, Jeff tools around on the piano and engages in conversation with the audience. Which is super awkward. I cannot emphasize enough how apparent the generation gap was here. I’m going to have to assume that the majority of the audience came out because they remember “Jurassic Park” fondly from their childhoods, because they were not familiar with the songs and struggled to keep up with Jeff’s references to classic movies. There was some sort of degrees-of-separation game going on, but the connection was not being made between Jeff’s contributions of films like “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and the audience shouting “Shia LaBeouf! ‘Harry Potter’!” Like I said: awkward for all of us.

If you want to attend, you can order tickets ahead of time, and you’ll get a guaranteed seat. Regular seats are $20, and VIP seats are $25 if you want to be all up in Jeff Goldblum’s face. Or, you can just swing by and hope there’s an open chair. This is what I did — and I scored one of the last stools available at the bar, which was a perfect spot from which to eat and watch the show. It was fate.

At the Rockwell, the cocktails all have fabulous names: The Rejected Suitor, for example, is made with honey scotch, blackberries, fresh mint and Cointreau. I ordered “Jim Got Down on His Knees” because that’s a great fucking name for a cocktail, and it sounded delicious: rosé, grape vodka and St. Germaine Elderflower. It was delicious, by the way, and all of the craft cocktails cost $12.

After watching plates of aromatic food pass by for a while, I decided I couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to order something of my own. I went with one of the wood stone flatbreads ($15) — the forest mushroom, which is topped with wild mushrooms, white sauce and truffle oil. It was perfect.

The entire event is a classy, classic Hollywood experience, and I highly recommend it.

Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra at the Rockwell Table & Stage
1714 N. Vermont Ave.
9 p.m. Wednesday
Entry is free; reserved tickets range from $20-25
For more information, visit www.rockwell-la.com.