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#FeelthePhil – Philippines Festival in Seoul!


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Korea. The Philippines. Festivals. Three of my favorite things. Taking a quick look at ‘Tastes Seoul Good‘ on YouTube will show just how much of my life revolves around these three things.

Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to hear about the ‘Feel the Phil‘ festival in Seoul, South Korea. This 3-day weekend was held Friday October 25 – Sunday October 27th in the Shinchon area. The festival featured various cultural events, as well as plenty of food and beverages. Most surprisingly – the food was FREE! I was pretty (pleasantly) surprised to see the Philippines Tourism Board offering such an event totally free of charge to the public!

#Feelthephil Festival was held to commemorate 70 years of the Korea-Philippines diplomatic relationship. Furthermore, the Philippines are a huge tourist destination for Koreans (even more these days as an increasing number of Koreans are actively avoiding traveling to nearby Japan). A recent trip to Boracay proved to me just how many Koreans are choosing to make the Philippines their travel destination of choice.

I attended the festival with Tasha (from Travelandtash on YouTube). Together, we set out to experience a variety of cultural events, sample Filipino foods, and enjoy some great San Miguel beer.

One of the great things was checking out start-ups from the Philippines that are hoping to make it big in the Korean market. We were able to meet and chat with various vendors as they explained their product.

Filipino Products

I was personally really impressed with Pik-a-Pikel – a company from Quezon City. They are selling a variety of pickled fruits that are imported into Korea. I tried a variety of pickled guava and papaya. My personal favorite though was the spicy mango version. The mangos were crisp, fresh tasting, and a slight spicy aftertaste. This apparently goes quite well with Korean BBQ.

pik-a-pikel

We then checked out a small booth selling pilinuts. Personally, I had never heard of a pilinut. I was told that it is a rare nut that grows in the Philippines. The fruit is washed, and the seed is dried. The nut was described to taste like a cross between an almond and macadamia nut.

Wrapsody and Y-Nut! Pili Nuts is selling a variety of flavors including honey and salt and pepper. I was a huge fan of the spicy flavor! I definitely bought a bag, and was surprised to see that they were being sold for only 5000 KRW.

The flavor of the nut was light and buttery. I would say it was like a softer macadamia. I later tried it with Korean BBQ and a bottle of soju – and it was a great match. Hopefully the product will launch in Korea in the future!

We were also greeted by a vendor cooking and serving banana cue. This is a saba banana that is dipped in boiling hot sugar. The banana is then skewered, and served hot. The result is a delicious sweet treat that hits the spot. The saba banana isn’t overly sweet, so it goes perfect with the caramelized sugar.

This is a popular street food in the Philippines, and one that I will definitely check out again!

Sisig

One of the highlights of the festival was checking out the complimentary sisig offered by Hapunan – a Filipino restaurant in Seoul. While I am familiar with sisig – Tasha wasn’t aware of the ingredients.

sisig from hapunan in seoul

Sisig can come in many different forms and variations. Today’s dish would consist of pork face meat, chicken liver, and (what I assume to be) mayonnaise. It was topped with chicharon and peppers.

The flavors were strong, and the consistency was creamy. For those not familiar, it might sound strange to try something made from pig face – but the result is an amazing dish full of flavor that you simply must try.

The sisig was served with fresh Shanghai Lumpia – a kind of spring roll. This is a dish I would gladly order up again! It also went especially well with an ice cold San Miguel beer!

Lechon

One of the last things we ate – and perhaps the most popular at the festival- was lechon. Lechon is a whole roasted pig. The outside is cripsy while the inside is moist and juicy.

This dish is so good that Anthony Bourdain said it was the best pork he had ever eaten – and I might have to agree!

Unfortunately, at this festival, the lechon was served with a sweet Thai chili sauce, rather than spicy vinegar like I have eaten it in the Philippines. I thought the flavor of the sauce took away the flavor of the lechon.

Regardless, it was still pretty tasty, and something that I miss when I’m not in the Philippines.

Activities

There were also plenty of activities and photo-ops to be enjoyed at the festival.

The 3D photo zone was especially cool. Festival goers were able to pose in front of a backdrop of different cities in the Philippines, and then use a variety of props to make it look like they were actually there.

If that wasn’t enough – you could win free flight tickets by posting the photo on Instagram! I tried my best with this shot – as if I were in Boracay!

I thought the mermaid costume was especially fun! Pretty sure I deserved that free airline ticket – but, alas, no dice.

A jeepney in Seoul?!

We were even able to make our own halo halo! The last time I had halo-halo was in a small shop in Boracay. I missed this shaved ice dessert! I was happy to be able to try it at the festival, even though I believe it was missing a few key ingredients!

Conclusion

Overall – I thought this festival was really well done. I visited on Saturday, and found it to not be too crowded. Perhaps it could have been marketed more?

I was also shocked to see so many things being offered for free (I may have had a few too many free San Miguels!).

However – one of the best parts was meeting so many people at the festival. As always, Filipinos were polite, kind, and welcoming. Being a YouTuber while traveling in the Philippines is a unique experience. Being able to do it at a Filipino festival in Korea is just as fun.

Overall – this was one of the best festivals I have been to in a long time. I had a great time, and I hope something like this will take place again in 2020!

Tastes Seoul Good & TravelandTash enjoy a beverage at the ‘Feel the Phil’ event in Seoul.

Watch the entire experience here!

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food reviews, Korea, Korea restaurant reviews, New, Seoul Restaurant Reviews

Korean foods I can’t live without


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Living in Korea, I have access to some of the most amazing cuisine in the world. While Korean food is starting to gain popularity around the world, there are still so many dishes that the average person might not be aware of.

Today we’ll look at a few Korean foods that I couldn’t live without.

Namdaemun Market, Seoul
Fresh dumplings (mandu / 만두) being steamed in Namdaemun Market, Seoul.

BBQ

Ask anyone what is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Korean food, and there’s a good chance they’ll say Korean BBQ. BBQ comes in countless varieties. From pork to beef to chicken, the options are endless. You also get to customize your meal with a variety of sauces, vegetables, and toppings.

If this doesn’t make you hungry, I don’t know what will!

Perhaps the most popular variety of BBQ is grilled pork belly, called samgyepsal. This cut of pork isn’t necessarily the healthiest, as it’s basically a big slap of uncured bacon. However, grilling it at the table and wrapping it in a lettuce leaf is one of the delights of living in Korea.

Korean BBQ goes ridiculously well with alcohol. A nice cold beer, or a shot of soju is the perfect pairing. Another joy of Korean BBQ is the communal feeling as everyone in the group helps cook the meal at the table, and can enjoy the meal as a family of sorts.

Kimchi

Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all Korean foods. This pickled cabbage dish is a staple at any Korean meal. While Kimchi has a long history, it is now known as a spicy side dish with plenty of pro-biotics and other things that are healthy for your body. Michelle Obama even promoted this health food!

Fresh, homemade kimchi! One of my all-time favorite foods.

While the smell and taste of kimchi can be a bit intimidating to the first timer, it is well worth trying. It is as versatile as it is healthy. It can be eaten cold, fried, stewed, or more. It can be added to a ton of different dishes as an ingredient. Basically, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t eat kimchi in some way or form.

If you’re unable to find kimchi at a local grocer, you’re in luck! It’s an easy (and forgiving) recipe that you can customize to your liking. Check out this video to see an easy way to make kimchi at home.

Ramen

When you think of ramen, do you think of cheap, tasteless instant noodles packed full of sodium and MSG? Do you consider this a food you ate in college, and wouldn’t touch as an adult?

Well, Korea has taken what we think of ramen and turned it into a true treat. Ramen(라면) can be found in dozens of flavors. New flavors are continually released. The most common, shin ramyeon, is spicy, and enjoyed by Koreans in a cup, or by cooking on the stove.

So much ramen, so little time.

What sets Korean ramen apart is how they cook it. Packs can include 3 or 4 different sets of flavorings and toppings. It’s normal to add other toppings as well, such as egg, cheese, green onion, or fish cake. The sky is the limit when it comes to customizing your bowl of ramen.

I have eaten Korean ramen in convenience stores, unstaffed restaurants, and even in Business class of Korea’s major airline Asiana Airlines. While the dish might sound simple, it is something that I always keep in my cupboard.

Check out this unstaffed Korean ramen shop in Seoul! Everything is self-serve AND unlimited! Eat all the ramen you want!

Want the perfect recipe for Korean ramen? Check out this video! Chef Roy Choi has perfected the recipe, and luckily, it’s easy to re-create! What’s the secret ingredient? Watch to find out!

Jokbal (Korean pig feet)

Right off the bat, you might be thinking “Pig’s feet? That’s nasty! Ain’t nobody got time for that!” And you’d be…wrong. Jokbal (족발) is an amazing pork dish. It’s less of the actual feet, and more of the leg.

Pork trotters are boiled in a variety of herbs and spices. They are sliced, and served with various toppings. I like to make a lettuce wrap with some spicy sauce and raw garlic. The meat is unbelievably soft and moist. It is also full of collagen (which is reportedly good for your skin).

This is another dish that pairs well with beer and/or soju. Don’t be put off by the name. If you’re visiting Korea, you’ll definitely want to check this dish out. Put away any preconceptions you might have, as any pork-loving person (such as myself) will surely enjoy this meal.

However, if you simply can’t get past the idea of eating pig’s feet, then try bossam. This is a similar dish, but made with boiled pork belly. At many restaurants, you can get a combination of both of these dishes. Bossam is a little fattier (it’s the cut of meat that’s used for grilled samgaepsal) but equally delicious.

Don Katsu

This is definitely a foreigner-friendly dish. Thin slices of pork are battered and deep-fried, served with a sauce (ketchup and Worcestershire sauce usually). It can be stuffed with cheese or sweet potato. You can even get deathly spicy versions of this dish!

This dish has Japanese origins, but Koreans are putting their own spin on the dish. This can be found in various restaurants, including the ubiquitous Kimbap Chunguk. This is a dish that many new expats become very-well acquainted with as it is an easy way to introduce yourself to Korean food.

While one serving of donkassu (the romanization is up for debate) is often enough, I enjoy checking out some of the places offering free refills. You can sit and enjoy all the deep fried pork you heart desires.

Ddeokbokki

No trip to Korea would be complete without trying ddeokbokki. This is a food that is loved by every generation in Korea. Rice cakes are stir-fried in a spicy sauce, bubbling away with fish cakes and boiled eggs.

This food can often be found being sold on the street, and is especially delicious on a chilly evening. For those of you who might not enjoy spicy foods, don’t worry! You can often find this in different varities, including a soy sauce base, or even a cream base!

There’s nothing like standing outside a busy street food vendor enjoying a plate of spicy, chewy rice cakes. The sauce is especially delicious, and you can dip various fried foods in it.

Ddeokbokki Town in Sindang Dong is a great place to try this dish. A street is lined with sellers selling the dish. Best of all, you can cook it right at the table! Feel free to customize the taste by adding various ingredients including cheese or fried dumplings!

In general, food in Korea is an interesting journey. Depending on your taste, you’ll find things you love, and things you despise. There are certain foods I can’t live without, and others I hope to never try again. But the only way to find out is to try them! Let your taste buds lead you on a culinary adventure the next time you’re in Korea!

What Korean foods can you not live without? Comment below! Watch my video on this by clicking here!

food reviews, Korea, Korea restaurant reviews, New, Seoul Restaurant Reviews

Yankee’s Burger in Apgujeong is serving up American style burgers in Seoul


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Korea does Korean food well. That’s a given. However, when it comes to Western food, they often miss the mark. While I spend most of my days enjoying various traditional Korean foods, I occasionally need a little taste of home.

Living in Seoul, it seems like I don’t need to go far to find a fast food restaurant. Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC, Subway and Pizza Hut can all be easily found here (though I’d most definitely welcome a Wendy’s). Korea’s own burger restaurant, Lotteria, can be hit or miss. My first impression of the restaurant, years ago, was that it was bordering on being inedible. However, they have continually been upgrading their menu, and I find myself enjoying it much more.

But sometimes I crave a nice juicy, hand-pressed burger. I have been disappointed so many times by places that slather on way too much sauce, use odd condiments, or cook the burger until it resembles a dry hockey puck.

yankees burger

Today, we are checking out ‘Yankee’s Burger’ (양키스 버거). The restaurant has various locations throughout Seoul. For this video, we visited the Apgujeong Rodeo Street location.

First impressions

The restaurant is quite small, with limited seating. There is a nice large window with stools, which is perfect for getting a little sunshine on a nice summer’s day. The interior is very hipsterish, and the staff is young. Rap music plays in the background, which seems to fit the vibe of the restaurant well.

I observed a couple utilize valet parking before entering the restaurant. However, since I took public transportation, I don’t know much about this. But it might be an option for anyone looking to drive there.

The Menu

Yankee's Burger menu

The menu is pretty simple. It has burgers, pizza, drinks, and a few other appetizers. The beer menu looked nice with domestic beer on tap, and various foreign beers being sold in bottles. I absolutely had to have a Sam Adam’s to start my meal.

In all, we tested three different hamburgers, the chili cheese fries, a Meatholic pizza, and two beers.

See my full review and find out more about the menu by watching this video!:

The Food

We started our meal with three different burgers. Each burger had a unique flavor profile. Each burger came on a toasted bun served with various toppings, and side of jalapeno peppers.

The Rodeo Burger came topped with fresh vegetables, as well as mac and cheese. This was the ultimate comfort food. The mac and cheese combined with the hamburger was a true treat. This is hangover food at its finest.

Rodeo Burger at Yankee's Burger
The Rodeo Burger comes topped with mac and cheese!

The Mullae burger came topped with mushrooms, truffle oil, and a slice of salami. While the Rodeo Burger might appeal the my inner child, the Mullae Burger appeals to my desire to be fancy.

Try the chili cheese fries, for sure!

The chili cheese burger comes topped with…well, chili and cheese! While this burger was nice, I would recommend just getting the chili cheese french fries, and pairing it with one of the other burgers.

Finally, we ordered up one of their 13 inch pizzas. We went with the Meatholic which came topped with pulled pork, taco meat, and arugula. Getting a pizza at a burger place might lead you to think it would be subpar, but I was pleasantly surprised. Dipping it in the tomato sauce adds a whole other level of flavor. As someone who loves dipping sauces, I was a happy camper with this sauce. I would be sure to order up an extra portion so I could slather on that sauce nice and thick.

The Verdict

After trying the Rodeo Burger, the Mullae Burger, and the chilli cheese burger, I was stuffed! All of the burgers were hot, juicy, and served on a delicious bun.

Yankee's Burger in Apgujeong, Seoul, South Korea
L to R: Mullae Burger, Rodeo Burger, Chili Cheese Bacon burger

If I were to come back and had to choose just one burger to eat, I would probably go with the Mullae burger. The saltiness of the thin slice of salami, mixed with the cool mayonnaise and truffle oil set this burger apart. Combine it with a side of chili cheese fries and an ice cold beer, and you have a great meal that won’t break the bank.

The Mullae Burger is topped with fresh veggies, mushrooms, truffle oil, and salami.

I would definitely also come back for the pizza! While this place is known as a burger joint, I would argue that they might even do pizza better than their own signature dish! The dipping sauce was the perfect topping.

Meatholic pizza at Yankee's Burger in Seoul

In Conclusion

Yankee’s Burger is a small restaurant, but they are serving big flavors. Is it the best hamburger in Korea? You’ll have to be the judge of that. I would certainly put it toward the top of the list. Be sure to check them out the next time you’re in the Apgujeong area!

Address: 662-14 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

⭐⭐⭐⭐

food reviews, Korea, Korea restaurant reviews, New, Seoul Restaurant Reviews

San nakji: the weird and dangerous food of South Korea


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When you think of Korean food, you probably think of delicious BBQ, fresh seafood, or even spicy fried chicken. After living in Korea for a decade, I still find myself finding new and unique foods that I have yet to try. Take a trip to a new region of Korea, and you’ll open up a new world of culinary delights.

While I am the #1 fan of samgaepsal (Korean grilled pork belly), and could live off of fried chicken, I am also open to trying new and unusual foods. Let’s take a look at one of the weirdest, wildest, and most dangerous foods of South Korea.

San Nakji (산낙지)

San nakji is a very unique experience. Most people who travel to South Korea add this dish to their bucket list of food items to eat while on the peninsula. This is one dish that is definitely not for vegans or fans of PETA.

San nakji is literally ‘live octopus‘. The dish (if we can call it that) can be served two different ways. One is to take a small species of octopus out of a tank, chop it up into tiny pieces, and serve it with sesame oil and other optional garnishes. When the dish is served, diners will find the remnants of the octopus still wriggling around the plate. Diners should chew quick and vigorously .

One way of eating sannakji is by wrapping a live octopus around a stick, dipping it in sesame oil, and eating it in one bite.

The other way to eat san nakji is to take the octopus straight from it’s watery home, wrap it around a wooden chopstick, dip it in sesame oil – and eat it in one bite. This is an extreme way to eat a living animal, and is only for the brave. Diners must chew with extreme care, as deaths have occurred when the octopus isn’t chewed enough, and it sticks to the throat of the diner, effectively killing them.

This is one Korean food you’ll want to eat at your own risk! Check out this video to see just how a live octopus is eaten whole!

San nakji can be found in many restaurants around the country. Prices vary, but expect the damage to be roughly 10,000 – 25,000 Korean Won. Going to one of the many seafood markets (such as Noryangjin Fish Market) will ensure you’re able to get the freshest octopus possible.

Noryangjin Fish Market, as seen from above

Sannakji goes well with an ice cold beer (or a bottle of soju). If you’re visiting South Korea, you should definitely check it out (unless you are concerned with the welfare of octopuses – in which case you might want to skip this particular food!)

Would you eat a live octopus? Tell me in the comment section!

food reviews, Korea restaurant reviews, Seoul Restaurant Reviews

Kim’s Taco in Gangnam – worth the hype?


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Having lived in Korea for a decade, I have been to my fair share of Mexican restaurants. I remember being so happy when Taco Bell opened its doors in Itaewon, as it finally meant reliable TexMex food. I could always count on them to deliver tasty, greasy, yet semi-affordable tacos and burritos.

 

Fast forward a few years later, and I was invited to check out a new restaurant in Gangnam, Seoul. The restaurant is called Kim’s Taco, and is owned by some Korean Americans from Los Angeles who decided to bring LA style Mexican foods to Seoul.

Check out my full review on YouTube-

I arrived at the restaurant at 4 PM on a Saturday. They had just re-opened after taking a short afternoon break. The restaurant immediately filled up, and the kitchen had to go into overdrive to meet the demands of the patrons. Luckily, I was able to secure a seat on their small patio outside.

kims taco featured.jpg
Look at this feast! If the weather is nice, definitely try to sit outside!

We started the meal with a signature cocktail – the Cantaritos. This large cocktail combines classic Korean soju with Jarritos – a Mexican soda made with cane sugar. The result was something that tasted like a light margarita. Was refreshing, but also packed a nice alcohol punch!

The serving was for 2, however I may have consumed it all by myself. Ooops! Cost: 15000 KRW (can also be made with tequila)

Next up we were able to sample a variety of tacos, quesadillas, as well as their french fries.

I quite enjoyed all the food that I tasted. Portions were quite large, and the price was very reasonable. I personally really enjoyed the fish tacos. The fish was light and flakey, and was battered using Cass beer.

The fish tacos (upper right) were some of my favorites! The french fries were also pretty spectacular.

What makes Kim’s Taco unique is the fact that they hand press the tortillas throughout the day. This, combined with their other fresh ingredients, makes for an experience similar to what I would have in the USA.

The restaurant mainly serves tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and tostada bowls. Each item can be served with either chicken, beef, or pork.

Beef tacos and pork tacos on fresh flour tortillas, topped with diced onion and fresh cilantro. Yum!
L: Cantaritos cocktail R: Asada Fries
These two things go together very well! Bring a friend and share!

If you wish to check out Kim’s Taco – I would recommend going early, as the shop is small, and seating is limited. Also, plan to check out their cocktails! I would also advise bringing a group of people, if possible, and ordering family style. This way, you’re able to try as many different foods as possible!

 

Kim’s Taco is located between Gangnam Station and Yeoksam Station.

**Although we were invited to the restaurant in exchange for a review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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food reviews, Korea restaurant reviews, New, Seoul Restaurant Reviews

Korea’s craziest treat: introducing the Churro Dog!


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Korea is home to some amazing treats – and some of them are quite unique!

Recently, we tried out the newest invention hitting the streets: the churros dog (츄로 도그)! This unique street food is a hot dog on a stick, wrapped with fresh churro batter, deep fried, then covered in cinnamon, sugar, ketchup, and mustard!

Watch our review here:

If you want to try this unique treat, you’ll have to check out the seller’s Instagram account. For this video, I headed to Jamsil in Seoul. The price of the churro dog costs 3500 KRW.

churro dog in seoul
Churro Dog and truck in Jamsil, Seoul (잠실 츄로 도그)

If you are visiting South Korea, you’ll have an almost endless amount of street foods to try out. However, this one is one of the most unique foods you can try, and is perfect for Instagram!

츄로 도그
The churro dog is delicious! Try it out today!