One evening Rod and I went out to dinner with Dr Baik and friend Kim Chang, to a Korean buffet restaurant in the Gwanak-gu area of SW Seoul (not too far from SNU). It’s an enormous place, with tables set out in separate sections around a central food station.
The decorations are lovely—flowers and bushes in large brown pots; a small pool with stones and green water plants; large brown jars like kimchi jars; jar lids hanging on the wall telling the story of rice, of soybean paste and red pepper paste; a great display of teas etc. Two of the lids that I noted were:
Gochujang is a savory, spicy fermented Korean hot pepper paste, with chilis, glutinous rice and fermented soy beans.
Doenjang is a fermented soybean paste.
The name of the restaurant is Jayeonbyeolkok, which translates into something roughly like “Natural Harmony, Natural Melody”. It’s based on a poem associated with a traditional poet and artist (1786-1856), whose picture we saw on the wall. I believe his name was Kim Jong-hui, and he was one of the most famous calligraphers of his time, penning a number of Zen poems. (If I have the name wrong, I welcome corrections).
It’s quite a place, and very popular. Dr Baik told us that local people like to come here. It’s always amazing to us how people anywhere in the world generally like the concept of a buffet (=lots of food).
There was a vast selection of foods, from salads, to noodles, to rice dishes, to kimchi, to cooked meats, many kinds of cooked vegetables, fruit, icecream, to name a few. We filled plates from the buffet, but we also had beef slices (beef from Australia), enoki mushrooms and garlic slices cooked on a hot stone that was brought to our table. Delicious!
No alcohol is served except a Korean sweet red wild strawberry wine—we tried it, and it has an interesting, rather syrupy taste.
Another great meal in Korea, and for us a new experience to try this style of Korean buffet.