Left Coast burger~ a review

When I heard we would be dining at a burger joint, I had my doubts. I mean a burger is a burger, right?

With an ideally convenient location and a great menu, Left Coast Burger in Itaewon can count me as a fan.

Location;
Itaewon Station (line 6) Exit 4. Turn left. Walk about 100 metres. The restaurant is on the 2nd floor.

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Ambiance: It looks like you need to be a cool kid to get a job here. Even the chefs looked uber cool. They all speak perfect English and it’s quite a relaxed feeling in the restaurant.

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This was when we arrived but by the time we were leaving, the place was packed.

If I could add one negative thing it would be the music. It was so loud that we had to raise our voices to hear each other.

Food: The menu has something for everyone. It’s not just regular burgers, you can get.mini combinations and lots of sides, salads, a veggie option, quite a variety.

The size of the portion is a little on the small side. Usually, I can’t finish an entire burger in a restaurant but I wiped the plate here. The burger was the perfect size for me but for those with a larger appetite, I fear they might be left wanting more.

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Price: Side dishes were 5 or 6,000won with the mains being 11,000won upwards. I thought the pricing was fair for the portions you got so definitely no complaints.

Staff: They know their stuff. They were super helpful in explaining the menu, made recommendations and were attentive. Almost too attentive. We were a group and the staff might as well have joined us for there was barely a second when they weren’t topping up the water or clearing the dishes. Personally, I would have preferred a little space but they were still great.

Bathrooms: The great door sign was enough;

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The bathroom was large, clean, had plenty of tissue and soap and I had no complaints.

Overall opinion: I will definitely eat here again. It’s a clean, well run restaurant. The food is great, the atmosphere is relaxed, it’s reasonably priced AND it’s in Itaewon.

7/10.

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How to make Galbi Onion sauce.

When I go for Galbi, I eat the onions in the sauce by the bucket load. For so long, I’ve wanted to know how to make the sauce but I could never get it right. I’ve finally got it down so I decided to share it here.

 

What you need;

1. Soy Sauce

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2. Apple Vinegar

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3. Onions. (You know what they look like.)

The quantity to use depends on you. I pour more vinager than soy sauce but I don’t use an exact measurement.

Simply mix the two together until you find the taste you like, add the onions and enjoy!

 

 

Korea- The cost of an average month

I have some friends that intend to move here later in the year. We’ve been skyping regularly and I’ve been filling them with stories from the Land of Morning Calm. One of the things they inquired about was the cost of living. The following is an example of what I spend in the average month. For the most part, I’ve over estimated to be on the safe side. This is for one person living in a two room apartment.

Petrol– 50,000 (full tank) x 2- 100,000won Could be more if I drive to Seoul.

Phone– 69,000 (unlimited calls and data) + 10,000 (cost of phone)

Utilities– 9,000 (electricity) 88,000 (gas) (Winter costs) Based on one person in the apartment.

Travel– T Money card. 10,000 per week. Usually head to Seoul every weekend. 40,000

Food– Grocery shopping once a week. Average- 50,000won

Eating out– Wintertime, I eat out about once a week. If I go for Galbi or some meal with others, the cost is usually 10,000. If we eat single meals, the cost varies. Average 13,500won.  For this example, we’ll say I eat shared meals once a week for the month.

Going out– If you’re drinking and staying out, the average Saturday night will cost you about 100,000. Everyone is different though so this cost is variable. For this example, we’ll consider 2 nights out in the month.

Misc- Clothes, accessories. 150,000 won a month. Cinema tickets for a regular movie will cost 9,000won. Popcorn and coke usually cost 7,500won. A cup of Americano in a regular coffee shop is about 2,500won.

Total– 906,000won.

If you consider the average wage for an English teacher to be about 2.2 million before taxes, you could still come out with 2 million. This still leaves you the opportunity to save half of what you make and still live very comfortably every month.

Costs are variable on the season also- I do a lot less in winter but others go skiing and snowboarding etc. In summer, electricity costs are higher because of air conditioning.

Summer and Winter I take a vacation which are additional costs.

My car insurance is an annual cost. Last year it was about 670,000won for fully comprehensive and the installation of a black box.

My friend Evan, after reading the initial draft of this blog had the following to say about his experience here;

It’s definitely possible to get by comfortably for far less if a person’s goal is to save more money. I pay 5,000 KRW a month pre-paid for phone service, using a Galaxy S2 that cost me 80,000 KRW. Text all I want. No data, but I use wifi at home or at various businesses I’ve found.

No car means no petrol, car payment, insurance, maintenance, etc. Subways and buses are cheap enough.

I will have managed to save over 20 million krw in 14 months, making around 2.1 million a month. That’s after having to pay for my own flight over (hagwon screwed me there), unexpected moving fees, etc. Pretty good considering.

My first year, however, I didn’t save quite as much. I ate out more frequently. The bars added up, too. I still did okay, even without watching my money closely that year.

If you have any comments, leave them below!

 

Irish Girl in a Korean supermarket- Part 2

What’s worse than one Irish girl in a Korean supermarket? TWO Irish girls in a Korean supermarket.  Since most foods are pretty familiar to me now, I thought I’d walk around with Clare, who arrived a few months ago.  I tried to focus on the normal foods so people would be reassured that they weren’t going to starve if they came here.  So here’s what we came up with;

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Yellow Melons; Although they’re called Yellow Melons in English, I had never seen them a day in my life before coming to Korea.  They’re super popular in summer and surprisingly enough, they are also quite delicious. 

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Boiled Lotus Root Slices; Here’s one I just learned last night.  Honestly, I’ve been eating these things at school for ages and never knew what they were.  Until last night of course.  Thankfully, my English is pretty good so I simply read the name.  What do they taste like? I wouldn’t know.  Although I eat them, they look kind of dangerous so I mix them in with rice and other food stuffs.  Are they healthy? Well they haven’t made me a Ninja yet so they can’t be that great. 

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Ho duk; I really don’t know what to call these in English.  I think it’s sweet pancakes (although a Korean can correct me if that’s not accurate). They are super delicious. Pancake mix with cinnamon in the middle. Great in the cold weather and if you buy them from a stand they are only 1,000won or less.  They also come with Green Tea mix as well as the regular mix.  And you don’t need an oven to make them, only a frying pan.  Win win. This packet was on sale also so for less than 2,000won I’m going to have some delicious Ho Duk.

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Kimbap component; This is the radish that goes into Kimbap.  If you’re making a million kimbap, buy a packet of these and your sorted.  Some people are actually brave enough to eat this by itself but personally I prefer mine mixed with all the other stuff in Kimbap. 

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Another Kimbap component; I could have called it Seasoned Burdock but chose not to because I didn’t know what it was called until I took the picture.  Again, it goes in Kimbap. I’ve never seen it eaten on its own (or maybe I have but didn’t connect the dots).

 

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Dairy Items; Just to prove that things here are super normal, I took a picture of the dairy section.  You can find yoghurt and all kinds of drinks and the like.

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Snack Foods; The first one is like a Honey Pancake.  Unlike the one before, you buy these ones already made and it’s not cinnamon on the inside.  The picture on the right are sugary balls of flour mix.  It’s really hard to describe. 

 

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Tea; The top one is Honey Citron Tea which is like Marmalade but you add water and drink it.  The bottom one is Honey Chinese Quince Tea.  Quince is a type of pear, same deal here, add water and drink it.  I’m sure its good for Vitamin C and all but there’s a lot of sugar in it so don’t go mad drinking it. 

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The fish; This was definitely the highlight of the trip.  We were walking around the frozen foods and stumbled across these fish tied together.  Many questions came to mind, 1. Why? 2. How would you get this home if you didn’t have a car? 3. How would you go about cooking this? 4. Who buys this? 5. Why? 6. Where would you keep this when you get home? We must have looked like we were in distress because  the very friendly lady came over and we asked how you would cook/eat this.  She gave us this look, as if we were stupid and said “oh you just cook it”. Excellent, thanks, that really clears it up for us.  Any Korean reading this might be able to answer the question. 

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Octopus and Squid; This is exactly what it says on the tin.  Octopus and squid, in a regular packet and in a form where you don’t need directions on how to cook it. 

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Mandu; Mandu are dumplings in English.  Possibly one of my favourite foods in Korea.  And you can cook and eat them in loads of different ways.  You can boil them, fry them or eat them in a soup.  They come in pork flavour and Kimchi flavour.  Super handy and super easy to cook. 

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If you’re looking for toothpaste, look no further.  You can find Bamboo Salt, Tiger Herb, Forest fresh and all kinds of other equally attractive toothpaste flavours. 

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We finally made it to the sweet aisle.  As Clare pointed out, they really love My Chews in Korea (picture on the left).  But they also have loads of other random sweets  and crisps.  No Taytos and no salt and vinegar flavour but shrimp, pizza, original and all other kinds of random flavours. 

Our best find on the sweet aisle was………

 

I can’t find the words……..

 

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Having a supermarket adventure is hungry work so we took a well deserved rest and had some food with the other cool kids who were also hanging out in Home Plus,

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Huge thanks to Clare Gaffney for coming along on the supermarket adventure.  As ever, leave your comments below.

An Irish girl in a Korean supermarket- Part 1

I will never forget the  first time I went to the supermarket in Korea. I  walked around aimlessly because I didn’t recognise half the foods. There I was, all the way from Tipperary standing in a supermarket in Paju looking like I walked in from another dimension! I think I came back out after an hour with a bunch of bananas, some apples and a carton of milk.  In 3 years, things have changed so I decided to write a blog on the things I didn’t recognise when I first arrived in Korea. 

For anyone who reads this from outside Korea and actually knows what they all are, well done. Remember I came from Ireland where these types of food don’t exist (or do but not in my part of Tipperary).

The reason this is part 1 is because I looked like a seriously random individual walking around the supermarket taking pictures of items and not actually buying them!  When I feel it safe to return, I’ll take more pictures. 

Lets start with 유부. You can read the English on the packet, Fried Soybean Curd. Its delicious with thick noodles, 우동, and you find it a lot on soups and the like. At the time I didn’t know that so I spent quite a while standing there thinking of creative ways to eat such a random food.  Thank goodness these packets have pictures otherwise I might still be there!

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Moving swiftly forward to my favourite aisle;

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About 80% of this aisle is dedicated to tuna or 참치 in Korean.  I love this aisle because how many different variations of tuna can there be? Quite a lot is the answer. In fairness there are other things on the shelf, but still a lot of tuna.  The rest is Spam, and other tinned fish and meat. Here’s a picture of Spam which is so great, it deserves a picture of its ownimage

Hhhhmmmmm…….disgusting. Or delicious depending on you. But what is Spam?? Lots of Americans are already familiar with Spam but until September 2009 I had never heard of it. For those who are currently sailing the same boat I was, Spam  is “chopped pork shoulder meat with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder and sodium nitrite as a preservative”  For Lunar New Year, Spam came in amazing beautifully decorated boxes.  Nothing says “I love you” like a great big box of Spam. In case you still don’t understand how brilliant Spam is, watch this youtube video;  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

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These white things are 떡 and you can tell my reading skills are amazingly brilliant. They come in different shapes but they’re the same thing.  These are actually deceiving delicious and can be eaten lots of different ways.  They are usually used to make 떡볶이 which looks like;

                                                       

Ddeokbokki comes in a variety of spiciness and of course if we get it at school it’s the “not at all spicy” version.  Ddeokbokki is great street food and nothing warms you up on a night out in winter like Ddeokboki!

 The only milk I drank in Ireland came from a cow and with a complete stretch of the imagination, a goat.  So imagine my surprise when I walk in to the supermarket and find an entire shelf dedicated to Soybean milk!   It’s super popular here and I constantly have people offering me cartons of it. It’s got a “special” taste and after a while it’s not that bad.  And probably really healthy. 

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Whenever I go back to Ireland, I like to eat food prepared by Mammy Browne.  When I saw these dressings, I  heard my mother’s voice going; “You’d want to be an awful eejit to put Kiwi dressing on your lettuce”  So imagine the  astonishment as I stood looking at the Kiwi, strawberry, peach and other randomly flavoured dressings.  I’ve actually tasted them since and they’re not so bad( a little delicious if I’m being honest) if you don’t think  about how weird it is.  For 2,380won you can’t go too far wrong……..

 

Sauces

 

Quail Eggs

No school lunch is complete without a few Quail eggs.  Quail eggs are three or four times more nutritious that regular chicken eggs.  We eat them all the time here.  Personally, I don’t see much of a difference in taste but that’s just me. 

At this stage you’re probably asking yourself why I didn’t recognise the foods when the labels are in English.  I took these at a large supermarket which I didn’t know existed until about 6 months into my contract.  The one I usually go to is a totally Korean supermarket with none of these fancy English labels. 

Red Pepper Paste

Red Pepper Paste, a staple in the Korean diet.  This is used as a base in a lot of foods here.  The most common uses are in Ddeokbokki and bibimbap.  I know that now but at the time I was thinking why anyone would need such a disgusting looking food in such a large quantity. 

One last item, Mangosteens.  If it wasn’t apples or oranges, I hadn’t heard of them before I came to Korea.  And I still hadn’t heard of mangosteens until I went to Thailand in  December 2011 (Don’t judge me!).  These are the most delicious fruit I’ve ever discovered.  They taste better bought from a street vendor in Thailand but when all goes to all the ones in the supermarket here will do. 

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That’s about it for part 1. Tune in soon for an Irish girl in a Korean supermarket, part 2!