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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, New, Seoul Restaurant Reviews

합정 미야비: Seoul’s most unique sushi?


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Watch the full review here!

Seeing as Korea is a peninsula, it isn’t difficult to find fresh seafood. Raw fish can be found at restaurants all over the country, as well as in large fish markets, small outdoor markets, grocery stores, and even convenience stores.

For this video, I traveled to the Hapjeong District of Seoul. This neighborhood has a hip vibe to it, and it well known for couples as it makes for a great date evening.

합정 미야비 -Hapjeong Miyavi is located on the second floor.

Visiting ‘Miyavi’ (합정 미야비) was a great experience. The restaurant is small, and located on the second floor. The restaurant only has a few tables, while the counter can seat six patrons. You’ll get a first-row seat to the sushi chef in action.

Speaking of the sushi chef, Choi InHo (최인호) has a decade working at one of the finest hotels in the country. Watching him meticulously slice the raw fish proves his knowledge, passion, and creativity for delivering a memorable product.

While the ambiance of the restaurant exudes a romantic feeling, the random pop music playing in the background seems out of place (hello, Justin Bieber!). If I had to change one thing about the experience – this would be it. Businesses in Asia love to blast up-beat music, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. However, it was super random.

We started our meal with a dish I had never heard of. Raw flatfish (광어) is plated on a sauce made from vegetables and truffle. More truffle is grated on top of the fish. It is then fused with oak smoke.

While this may sound like a gimmick, the result was actually the highlight of the meal. The fish was soft and tender. Faint traces of the oak could be picked up. The sauce was rich. I could have left after this, and been satisfied.

What followed next was an assortment of 13 different types of raw seafood. I was most familiar with the raw tuna and salmon. After eating raw tuna on dozens of occasions – I can confidently say this was like none other. It was the best bite of raw fish I have ever eaten. It melted in my mouth with a flavor unlike any other tuna I have tried.

13 different varieties of raw seafood, served with a dollop of wasabi.

The other 12 pieces of sashimi on the plate, while amazing, just could never live up to that tuna. This is one piece of fish you don’t want to kill with going overboard with the soy sauce and wasabi! Please us it sparingly!

Moving on, we tried the potato/cheese/fish egg concoction. This was topped with a slab of butter. It seemed like a true dichotomy from all the raw fish we had just eaten. However, it was so tasty! The outside was like a deep fried mashed potato, while the inside was gooey and melted cheese. This is the type of food you need a beer to companion it with!

We also tried their beef hot pot, as well as the sorbet. These were both impressive as well!

Overall, 합정 미야비 is serving up some great food at reasonable prices. There are other izakayas and restaurants serving up fish with lower prices, but the quality is on a totally different level.

If nothing else, I would stop by for the truffle flatfish ceviche, as it is worth going out of your way for!

Restaurant information:

Address: 31-7 World cup-ro 3-gil, Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Phone: 02-336-5572

New, Philippines travel series

Trying Jollibee in Boracay, Philippines


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For me, one of the biggest joys when traveling is trying the local food. I mean, obviously. That’s why I started this blog, right?

However, as much as I love street food, night markets, and local hole in the wall restaurants, I also enjoy the occasional trip to the fast food restaurants.

My first time at Jollibee! Taken at store 998, located in Boracay, Philippines.

Jollibee in the Philippines isn’t just a fast food joint. It’s a tradition. It’s a meeting point. It’s a place that brings up childhood memories. It’s got a cult following. Simply put, it’s a place that I had to check out when I was in the Philippines.

The Philippines is home to thousands of Jollibee restaurants. However, they can also be found in various places around the world (except in Korea. Hey, Jollibee – can we get a restaurant in Seoul, please? Thanks). For Filipino workers overseas, Jollibee is worth waiting in line for, as it is a little taste of home.

Jollibee is most well known for two things: its fried chicken (called Chickenjoy), and its spaghetti. When’s the last time you had spaghetti at a fast food restaurant?

Boracay Jollibee menu

For my first visit ever to Jollibee, I tried: chickenjoy (spicy, of course), Jolly spaghetti, palabok, french fries, the Amazing Aloha Yumburger,pineapple juice, as well as the halo halo twirl. In total, this massive feast of food cost 510 PHP (roughly $10 USD)

Since it was my first time, I wanted to try as much as I could. I’m glad I did, as there was a wide array of flavors. It is hard to say which of these was my favorite, as they were all so different. The burger was pretty amazing. The fried chicken was fantastic. It is meant to be dipped in the brown gravy, and it is…10/10 yummy!

Jolly spaghetti, chicken joy, french fries, palabok, and Amazing Aloha Yumburger

Luckily for you, I have an in-depth review of this meal (I should tell you now that they were sold out of the Jolly hot dog, as well as the peach mango pie). Rather than see a bunch of words on a screen with a few photos, why not watch this video? Enjoy!

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New, Philippines travel series

Trying ALL the Filipino beers and liquors!


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Well – this was an interesting video to shoot!

While on vacation in Boracay, Philippines, I decided to check out the local beer. Now, when I travel, one of the first things I research is the street food. But after I arrive, I want to try the local beer. South East Asia has some pretty tasty (and affordable) beers.

Luckily, the Philippines is home to quite a few beers. Furthermore, they are the #1 consumer of gin IN. THE. WORLD! Gin in the Philippines is dirt cheap (a large bottle can be found for 50 PHP, roughly $1 USD).

So on one rainy evening, I set off to the local Budget Mart in D-Mall in Boracay, and decided to try as many beers and liquors as I could. I didn’t realize just how many options there would be! I soon realized that I would not be able to sample all of the gins, as there were just too many!

I knew filming this taste test would mean getting a bit tipsy (DISCLAIMER – I urge you to please drink responsibly, and at your own risk.) So…I needed something to nibble on. I stopped by Jollibee for a bit of chickenjoy. If you’re not familiar, chickenjoy is the name of Jollibee’s (a large Filipino fast food chain) fried chicken. This would be my first time to try Jollibee’s chicken, and I was in for a real treat!

Once I arrived back in the hotel, the daunting task of reviewing these Filipino alcohols began. In total, I was to try four local beers, and three liquors (one gin, two rums).

I started with the beer. I tried San Miguel Apple, San Miguel Light, San Miguel Pilsen, and Red Horse. I would say my favorite was definitely San Miguel Pilsen. This beer is affordable, tasty, not too light, and comes in at 5% alcohol. As far as beers in South East Asia go, I would put San Miguel Pilsen toward the top as far as taste and value go.

Moving onto the liquor, I tried three different items: Ginebra S Miguel gin, Zabana rum, and Tanduay dark rum. All three of these were incredibly cheap, and quite strong. I found that on their own, they are pretty bad. However, by mixing them with lime and/or pineapple juice, they’re not bad. The rums, in particular, had a nice flavor. Tanduay recommends mixing rum with lime juice and sugar. I can see how this would be a great Filipino cocktail.

To see my entire review of Filipino beer and liquor, be sure to check out my YouTube video!

Watch the video for the complete Filipino alcohol review!

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New, Philippines travel series

Eating tamilok (AKA – woodworm) in the Philippines


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Are you brave enough to try tamilok?
Check out my full experience by watching this YouTube video!

People travel for different reasons. Personally, I travel for food! Sure, great beaches, cheap beer, and nice climates are great – but I allow my stomach to decide where I go to.

So when I recently found myself in Kalibo in the Philippines, I knew I simply had to try tamilok. Tamilok, also called a woodworm or a shipworm, live in dead trees in the mangroves.

There are a few places in the Philippines where you can harvest tamilok, and then eat them. One of the places just happened to be at the Bakhawan Ecopark in Kalibo.

Entrance to Bakhawan Eco Park in Kalibo, Philippines.

After taking a quick tricycle ride from my hotel (Cess Summer Boutique Hotel) to the Bakhawan Eco-Park, I was greeted by a lovely staff member. I paid the entrance fee of 120 PHP, and then set off to enjoy the park.

The park is one of SouthEast Asia’s largest restored mangrove areas. Visitors can enjoy a 1 KM walk through the mangroves. At the end, they’ll be met with a lovely view of the sea. The walk is peaceful, and not too difficult.

Cross over this bridge in Bakhawan Eco Park.

The highlight though was the tamilok. What is tamilok? Well, believe it or not – it’s not actually a worm at all. While it is called a woodworm or ship worm, it’s actually a mollusk – similar to a clam or an oyster.

To see the harvesting of the tamilok, you’ll need to pay 300 PHP. A piece of wood is presented, and a worker starts to harvest the tamilok by chopping at the wood with a large axe.

After the tamilok are harvested, they are cleaned. The ‘mouth’ and intestines are removed, and they are rinsed several times. Salt and vinegar are added to the creatures, and then they are eaten raw.

I was a bit hesitant, but decided to try it out. The taste? Surprisingly – not bad! They were a bit chewy, and tasted like an oyster. More than anything, it tasted like the vinegar they were marinating in.

Overall, it was a really fun experience. I would recommend stopping by Kalibo the next time you are in the area, and visiting Bakhawan Eco Park. Definitely try the tamilok. It’s an experience you won’t forget!

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more!

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New, Philippines travel series

Halo Halo – A unique Filipino dessert (topped with ice cream and CORN!)


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Recently, I was in Boracay, Philippines for a little vacation. I was able to try a lot of great foods. However, one evening I decided it was time to try a local dessert. The one that I kept being recommended was called ‘HALO HALO’… So I set off to experience my very first Filipino halo halo!

They say you never forget your first time! Pretty sure I’ll never forget the first taste of halo halo!

Halo halo is a unique dessert. To put it simply, it is shaved ice with a variety of toppings. This is nothing new. Koreans eat ‘bingsu’. Americans eat snow cones. Shaved ice isn’t revolutionary.

What sets halo halo apart is the sheer amount of ingredients. Each place serves it a little differently, so no two halo halos will ever be the same. My halo halo included shaved ice, vanilla ice cream, red beans, CORN, corn flakes, ube paste, coconut, and a variety of different cubes with a jelly-like texture.

Watch my entire experience here!

While the recipe for halo halo might change, it seems that the shaved ice, condensed milk, red beans, and ube are staples.

Halo halo is refreshing, yet also quite complex. It is also a visually stunning dessert.

The key to eating halo halo is in the name. It literally translates to ‘mix, mix’. While the tower of ingredients might look pretty, you’ll want to take the time to mix everything up and eat all the ingredients together.

I found that the more ingredients I had in each bite, the better the dessert tasted. Each ingredient seemed to play a role. The ice cream and condensed milk gave sweetness. The jellies added texture. The cornflakes gave a bit of crunch. The corn added a bit of saltiness. Everything combined to make a symphony of deliciousness in my mouth.

Give it a nice mix! Be sure to grab a little of everything when you taste it!

Overall, halo halo is a great dessert. It is very sweet, though. So I believe these might be good for sharing. The price is quite affordable, though some upscale places to sell luxury versions of the dessert.

No trip to the Philippines would be complete without trying halo halo!

Have you tried halo halo? Tell me in the comments below!

Watch more of my Philippines travel series (2019) here!

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New, Philippines travel series

Kalibo Public Market is amazing!


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See below for our Kalibo Public Market vlog!

The Philippines has over 7000 islands. While I wish I had the time to explore each of those islands, I just don’t. However, I recently had the chance to head to the city of Kalibo, located on the Aklan province.

Kalibo is a small town, most well known for its airport. The Kalibo International Airport serves as one of two major hubs to the tropical island of Boracay. Many visitors fly into Kalibo, and then jet off on the two hour ride to Boracay.

Kalibo Tricycle
The ‘tricycle’ is the main mode of transportation in Kalibo. They are cheap, and interesting to ride in. Who knows, you might even find the Hello Kitty tricycle!

During this trip, I decided to stay in Kalibo and explore a bit. And I am glad I did!

The hotel I stayed at, Cess Summer Boutique Hotel, was great! Not only was it affordable, it was very close to the airport (5 minutes), and was walkable to the market, as well as other places for shopping and eating. The hotel had fast Wi-Fi, was clean, and had a great breakfast! I would definitely stay there again when I am in Kalibo!

Cess Summer Boutique Hotel in Kalibo, Philippines. 

Transportation and SIM cards were easy to set up. I had booked both (as well as my transfer to Boracay) using an app called ‘Klook’. This made things super simple, and was cheaper than booking on-site. Klook is one of the apps I always use when traveling. Save $5 on your first activity by using this link!

One of the highlights of Kalibo was the Kalibo Public Market. This large local market is home to a variety of meat, produce, and food vendors. There were plenty of street food vendors as well. 

The people were lovely. I had a great time walking through the market and chatting with people who were happy to see a foreigner visiting their local market.

kalibopm
Locals at the Kalibo Public Market were all smiles as I walked around.

On Sundays, this market is even bigger as it is surrounded by people selling clothing and other small items, similar to a flea market. It is open until 12 noon. However, I wasn’t very interested in that section, as there was nothing that I would purchase there.

As I was walking around, I was able to to try all kinds of local foods, including lumpia, fresh mango, pandan juice, and more. Everything was quite affordable, and delicious! Even though this is a public market, things seemed to be very clean and hygenic.

kalibo2
So much good food! Walking through the market, I wanted to try everything!

kalibo1

I especially enjoyed the ‘nuggets’ that were being sold outside the market. These were small pieces of chicken that were deep fried. I dipped the skewered chicken nuggets into a spicy vinegar sauce. They were delicious!

kalibo nuggets
These tents selling nuggets were scattered around outside the market. Each skewer was being sold for only 5 PHP. Be sure to dip them in the vinegar sauce (no double dipping, please!)

Overall, it was a great day. I could have spent all day walking around and trying different foods.

I would highly recommend checking the Kalibo Public Market out, if you’re in the area!

Be sure to see my entire experience in the vlog!

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