I’ve had some interesting experiences eating out while abroad, but none as much fun as what went on in South Korea recently. Imagine three guys (the other two being John and Paul) roaming the streets unable to read, speak or even comprehend Korean and it was a recipe for a good time whichever way you spun it. Our story of eating in Korea isn’t a nightmare food story though, oh no we ate like kings and laughed so hard it hurt.
The adventure into Korean food started with a good old Korean BBQ at a local restaurant not far from our first hotel. Navigating the I speak English you speak Korean barrier we sat and basically watched as the staff did all the work. The staff ordered for us, cooked for us and even deciphered Paul’s chicken dance moves to notion that we wanted to eat chicken (we think anyway). We ate well and were rather pleased with what had been accomplished until the bowl of liquid arrived.
It was clear with a bit of seaweed floating around in the bottom and had you seen our faces and known just how much we like a laugh the next words uttered might not have seemed so weird. Do we drink it or wash our hands in it? Some ten minutes or more passed as we sniffed, laughed and eventually tasted it (taste didn’t suggest it was so good for eating either) before we silently pushed the bowls aside, finishing our beers and departing hoping we didn’t look like complete fools on our first night in South Korea.
The second incident we’ll call it happened the following night. On the hunt to try local food as much as possible we found ourselves in a form of noodle bar. The directions on the wall might have been useful for some but we aimed for the menu and picked the meal that looked good, Bibim Naengmyong. It looked good and after a long day we were keen to eat a good hot noodle dish…
Turns out the noodles are served cold and are more of a summer dish we were later informed. We battled on and attempted to eat the noodles, umm well chew the noodles, ok maybe slurp the slippery bastards that seemed to be made of an invisible string substance that stopped them from being chewed.
Seriously these are like the superman of noodles and resisted all attempts to be eaten. The first challenge was to hold just a couple noodles and then chew them without either laughing, choking as u couldn’t chew them or wonder if the serving guy standing not a meter away was laughing hilariously in his head.
At some point we noticed scissors on the table and thought could these be for the noodles… no they couldn’t be, who uses scissors to eat their food. It was clear what we were doing was wrong but what if the scissors were like the soup/wash your hands liquid? Would we be laughed at for cutting our noodles or were they really there to save you the 30min+ of struggle with just chop sticks.
Eventually hunger got the better of me and after a quick motion to the guy behind the counter we learnt that you were in fact supposed to use the scissors to cut our superman noodles. It still felt wrong and Paul tried to resist as long as possible but when your fighting your noodles as well as the chilli burning sensation from the dish nobody can hold out forever.
It wasn’t all a great big adventure eating in Korea, we did find some amazing bar snacks that we named Hula Hoops because well what else would you call these delicious bar snacks that look like hula hoops.
Eating out abroad is always a joy but it’s never been that much fun in any of the countries I’ve visited so far. So it got me thinking if three guys can get into this much hilarity eating out then surely you guys as readers have some funny stories of your own that I’d love you to share in the comments below. It’s for our mutual enjoyment I promise.
Hilarious! Pretty clever asking the staff to order for you. I usually just look at what other customers are ordering and then point to it. Sounds so odd to have to cut noodles with a scissors though.
Is it pretty affordable eating out?
Oh mate we didn’t let them order by choice, the menu looked like a notepad with items written on one side (no pictures) and you choose the quantity and cost. It didn’t help that we were the only ones in the restaurant at the time either. The couple of boys waiting tables were just sitting there bored out of their minds lol.
Food was really cheap there and I think from memory we paid about £10-15 all up between 3 of us for the first meal and that included beers etc.
Superman of noodles. The best description ever. Thumbs up.
Juno we sat there for so long failing terribly trying to eat them. There is no other name better suited I dont think 🙂
I laughed out loud reading this one. I eased myself into Korean cuisine, I think. I didn’t dare tackle the cold noodles until my third tour of duty :-p
Hope you also managed to try some of the more edible delights such as ddeok galbi, bulgogi, kimchi jjigae, and seomgyeopsal while you were there.
Hi Chris, Some of the best travel experiences are food related! The egg and noodle dish looks surprisingly tasty. Was it good?
I have added the link to The Travel Bloggers Guide to South Korea I’m developing. I hope you don’t mind? Kind regards, Si
Can’t wait to try hula hoops and try our best at conquering the superman of noodles.. and eat and laugh ’til it hurts in S. Korea when we visit next year! Lol. Thanks for making me hungry.
Korean food. I really like going out trying new food to satisfy my taste buds. The pictures really look good. I bet they taste as delicious as I see them here. Next stop for me is Japanese cuisine.
OMG, I love Korean BBQ, and the rest of the dishes look pretty tasty as well. Curious what other aspects of Korean culture you enjoyed? We’ve been invited to meet with reps from Korea’s Board of Tourism next week, but it’s not really a destination we’ve considered before. How highly would you recommend it?
LOL, oh man I totally know what you’re talking about with these noodles. This is not a 15 minute meal 😛 When I was first in Korea many years ago, there was a news story about a guy who choked during a game show on a glutinous rice ball. If you go back to Korea again I have a few suggestions…Pul Dalk (literally translated as fire chicken) is the kind of food you dare somebody to try.
My very first eating out experience in Korea was mul naengmyeon… (similar to your noodles but in a watery soup). Luckily I had someone to interpret for me! But yeah, eating out here is always an adventure 🙂
I LOVE Korean food, spicy goodness with kimchi, you can’t do much better than that. Interesting your first dish looks like pho.