Can we take some time to discuss Korean food?!
My years in Arizona exposed me to many new things. One of my favorite new things was Asian cuisine. I can’t remember how, but Sister Cynthia (my mom), found this random Asian market in Mesa called “Lee Lees”. I loved that place. They carried a truly “international” array of goods. I was introduced to many new fruits, snacks, and other bits. However, I tried very few. I tried many snacks and all the junk food but never really got into the “food” food. I didn’t really take a bite. I just nibbled around the edges.
Then last year, things changed. I found a new Asian market in Tempe called Mekong Supermarket. Bruh! This place was sugoi (awesome)! My first agenda was to make ramen for Naruto’s birthday. After that it was to make curry. Then to make kimchi. And it continued evolving with each new discovery. Thus far, I’d been to one Korean barbecue. However, outside of kimchi, I was still a novice when it came to Korean food.
Until my 29th birthday when my sissy, Crissy, took me to Joong Boo Market in Chicago. Twas the best bday meal. Ever. I had Tteokbokki. It changed my world. The gochujang was just the right level of spicy, I was sweating and sniffling but it was worth every bite. The rice cakes were left to marinate in the sweet red chilli sauce and you could taste that awesomeness with every bite. That day I wore a white shirt and regretted it immediately after this meal. My white shirt was changed instantly into a white shirt with red polka dots. But I regret nothing. I would do it again.
Since being in Japan, I have been on the hunt for Korean food. I’m still excited to try their famous fried chicken. A place called Bibim was suggested for a meal and I readily agreed.
Next to the entrance was a display case full of the Japanese “fake food” showing you what was on the menu. It was a very moderny, poshy eatery where hipsters go to feel at home. The true test was whether the food was “dewishous” or not. (Sometimes I speak “engrish” and I hope you aren’t offended. Its hilarious to me. Possible post on engrish clothing soon.)
I ordered the only thing that I was familiar with. Tteokbokki! I was expecting the same awesomeness that I’d experienced in Chicago. Meh. It was good but not as good as Joong Boo.
I ordered a side of kimchi squid because why not. I’d never tried squid and there is no time like the present to expand your food index. Gotta catch em all, right? More like, you gotta try them all to decide what you really enjoy and what you merely endure. That squid was the show stealer! The sea food hot pot was meh. Correction. The tteokbokki was meh. The broth was flavorful and delicious.
It was tiny. Supa small. Like chiisai, chiisai, muy pequeno. I ordered only these two items because I didn’t know what size portion to expect. There is a fine line that you have to walk in Himeji where portions are concerned. (I won’t speak for all of Japan but in my experience the portions are huge.) I feel like you have to be starving to eat out at restaurants here. Its rude to leave food on the plate but most places look at you cray when you ask for a to go box. Whats a gaijin to do?!
I ended up ordering a small bowl of rice and the meal was complete. I plan to go back and just eat the kimichi squid with rice. I did a bit of research and found that you can buy dried squid and kimchi squid in grocery stores. I’ve purchased both.
Here’s a picture of a half eaten container of kimchi squid. I would have inserted a picture of the bag of dried squid as well but the bags never last long enough. The other day, when I couldn’t find the squid, I was forced to ask a worker to help. I constructed a super simple sentence in Japanese. “Saki ika (dried squid) no arimasu ta ka?” And the dude totally understood me. I felt like a bawse!
If you know any Korean spots in Himeji, please share them with me. I would love you forever and for always.