These are the pictures from our trip Friday night to the barbecue place across the street.
Because we were so poor for two weeks, we had almost zero red meat and the first thing I wanted to do when we got paid was have barbecue, because all it is is slabs of uncooked pork, chopped and laid out on a grill in the middle of your table.
[caption id="attachment_157" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="a version of the korean barbecue table"][/caption]
This is a version -- a pretty cool one, actually -- of a barbecue table. In this one, it's a metal table top placed on top of, like, a burn barrel/oil drum? Sorry the picture is so dark, it makes it hard to tell what's going on. You can see the hole in the middle of the table with the grill on either side because this one's grill is in pieces, which is also cool. It's in four pieces of cast iron (something you never find here in cookware), but only the middle two are over the fire underneath, the outside two are over metal underneath and used only to keep things warm.
The box on the table is the sort of box you find at every single restaurant, no matter what kind. It has these long, metal -- almost sundae -- spoons and flat, metal chopsticks which are quite a trick to get used to. I'm still dropping mine all the time because they're flat and slippery, though my hands have gotten a lot stronger again.
[caption id="attachment_158" align="alignleft" width="225" caption="our table"][/caption]
This is our table, complete with all food and appetizers. Here you can also see the copper fan that pulls down from the ceiling to suck the hot air up.
The cool thing about BBQ is that all you have to do is go in and know how to say what kind of meat you want. So, we went in and said, "dwegee", which is, "pork", and then look all that food. That's what we ended up with because they just bring you everything. You automatically get, probably, five to seven side dishes/appetizers.
And they just keep coming. Every time you think you're done and your table can't even fit anymore, they'll bring out something else and make it fit.
And we took pictures of all those things! So, lucky you. Haha.
[caption id="attachment_160" align="alignright" width="300" caption="lettuce leaves for making tiny wraps"][/caption]
You will notice, in some cases, there is not a lot of food left. That is because we were starving and forgot to take the pictures until it was mostly gone. Sorry! Don't think the Koreans are skimpy with food, we're just gluttonous!
You don't have plates or any dishware to yourself at a barbecue restaurant, you just eat straight off the grill with your chopsticks and you're supposed to put the pork into the lettuce leaf like a wrap and eat it. You can add any of the sides to it, too (we don't know if that's kosher, but it's fun!), so it's like a game of combining and tasting. It is soooo good.
[caption id="attachment_161" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="red kimchi"][/caption]
Here you have the red kimchi.
Sour, incredibly spicy, tastes almost identical to sauerkraut, but a ton spicier. I try to take a bite or two every time we go out (you get it as a free appetizer at almost every single restaurant), just because I want to get used to it. But, so far, it's not my super favorite. It's an acquired taste.
The guys from Ben's work, Bryan and Aaron, like to grill it and eat it in their lettuce wraps.
Sorry some of the pictures are blurry! We are not generally amazing photographers.
[caption id="attachment_162" align="alignright" width="300" caption="white kimchi"][/caption]
This is white kimchi.
Again, just like sauerkraut, but waaay less spicy. If you get up close you can see a little red pepper, but I think maybe they use white pepper too? Hard to say.
It's not bad. I like sauerkraut on things, I think I'll just need to adjust to eating it plain.
I do like the white kimchi a little better because it's not so spicy.
[caption id="attachment_164" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="red bean paste sauce -- YUM."][/caption]
This is our FAVORITE.
We think, from talking to Bryan, that it's a sauce made from fermented red beans. It tastes like that is probably true.
Whatever though, it is AWESOME. So, so good.
As you may notice... it is all gone.
Now you know why.
[caption id="attachment_165" align="alignright" width="300" caption="onion green salad"][/caption]
Ben's not so keen on this salad (it's pretty durn spicy), but I like it pretty well.
All it is.. is onion greens. For a while, I thought it was just green onions, but I'm sure now that it's just the greens from fully developed onions. It tastes a little milder than green onions.
There's a sort of sweet and sour -- again, incredibly spicy -- sauce over the top. It tastes sort of like... maybe Catalina dressing? Only spicy and a little more sour.
It's good if you like onions. It's the only real oniony thing I'll a significant amount of.
[caption id="attachment_166" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="more onions!"][/caption]
This is a pretty common way to see onions done -- around our dong (neighborhood) at least. I have to confess I didn't try them, not being a super huge fan of raw, marinated onions. But I think they're just marinated in some sort of garlic? Maybe some oil? Ben said they were good, just very strong.
[caption id="attachment_167" align="alignright" width="300" caption="green... flat things?"][/caption]
This, we did not try.
No, we are probably not adventurous enough.
But, keep in mind, that whatever this is -- I'm pretty convinced it's these weird, long, turnip things we see at the market -- it comes in many colors and we are done trying it.
It came green this time. We hadn't seen green before. So, it was probably vinegary? Most things are. But we're not sure.
It was a very lovely shade of green, however.
[caption id="attachment_168" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="perhaps some seaweed"][/caption]
Again, we did not try it (we sound like truly bad travelers!), it's just... that once you try barbecue side dishes once, you come to realize that they'll probably all be heavily salted, and either very vinegary, or very spicy, or both.
So, you get a little done, and a little more choosy.
This is probably seaweed. Which doesn't taste bad, I'm sure. We were just hungry, focused on pork, and weren't feeling as adventurous.
[caption id="attachment_169" align="alignright" width="300" caption="garlic sesame oil"][/caption]
Another dipping sauce.
This is probably sesame oil, infused with garlic.
It is incredibly delicious. You can dip your meat in here (or the red bean -- or both) before wrapping it in lettuce. It's seriously awesome.
[caption id="attachment_170" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="jalapenos?"][/caption]
This super cute little dish used to have garlic in it along side these green peppers, but one of the most delicious-est things to do with your barbecue, is grill the garlic and put it in with your pork as a wrap. Some sesame oil, some red bean. It's good.
So, it's just the green peppers, which looked like spicy, green peppers. And after all the other spice, these were another that we didn't try.
[caption id="attachment_171" align="alignright" width="300" caption="sort of a meso soup"][/caption]
This soup reminded us both of meso.
Those chunks are tofu and the broth tastes a lot like the meso soup you'd get with sushi or something. Salty, not quite as fermented-ish, but good.
Ben loved it. And it was good, not my super favorite, but he ate a bunch of it.
[caption id="attachment_172" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="custard"][/caption]
This was a very bland, unsalted, un-anything-ed custard.
It was also pretty watery.
But it seemed like the lady brought it out for us especially (probably not, it's just hard to tell), so we tried to make a point of trying it. Definitely not bad at all, just boring.
Our dong is really tiny and we are two of four foreigners living in it (the other two being Bryan and Aaron -- neither of whom really ever go out). We may be the only four caucasian people living on this side of town, period. It's a little hard to tell. But people are usually either really nice or really not nice, right off the bat. And part of being really nice can sometimes mean bringing you special food. Which is often scary. But you eat it anyway. Because at least someone is being nice.
And that is the Korean Barbecue experience.
Sorry it was so long! I don't like long posts, I know they can get boring. But there are just so many THINGS.
You should all come visit us and we'll take you for barbecue! It's our favorite.