Gogi Surprise….Ju Myeon Gogi in Hanyang

I had the most pleasant surprise yesterday.  I walked into a restaurant I’ve never been to because my regular meat buckets were crowded.   We ordered one of the three  sets on the menu.

And out come the sides.  And wait  a second that’s sundubu not doenjang jiggae.  Hmm that’s different.  And wow it’s delicious!   One of  the best sundubu’s I had had.  And wow the kimchi is very good.  The side dishes were really some of the best I’ve had in a long while.


Then the meat came out and it was delicious and flavorful.   It was really amazing.   It had just enough meatiness to be right and wasn’t stringy or tough at all.  Samgyupsal is one of those things that’s very  hard to excel at but this place was pretty remarkable.

The prices on all of this were very reasonable.  With two pints of beer and some soju it only ran 23,000. Ju Myun Gogi is just a few blocks walk outside of exit 6 of Wangsimni station.

Craftworks: Possibly the best beer in Seoul

Korean beer, hate it or kind of tolerate it.  So I’ve been going to more and more foreign bars looking for a great glass of beer.

Having been to a lot of the bars in Itaewon I had my favorites.

Then I had a book club meetup at Craftworks. Craftworks is a microbrewery just two blocks from Noksapyeong station. It’s a little bit hidden, I walked past it the first time I was looking for it.   It’s a small hole in the wall.

Once you walk in the atmosphere is great.  It’s non-smoking inside and a smoking allowed porch.    It always has seemed pretty friendly, even later in the evening it always has a very jovial atmosphere compared to the bars up the road in Itaewon proper.  The wait staff carries i-devices to take your order.

The food is teriffic.  I’ve had several things on the menu.   Pancakes for brunch.   Soup for lunch, burgers and steak for dinner.  Everything has been delicious.  The pancakes were big and light and were served with maple syrup.

The chili is excellent.  It’s a good soupy style chili served in a big bowl with bread and cheese.   The dinner is amazing.  The burger is very flavorful and meaty.   You can order it with a wide selection of cheese and bacon.  The steak is nicely marinated and comes with a good salad.

But the real star of this place is the beer.   I especially love their Namsan pillsner(pictured at top)   and the Moon Bear Ipa.  They really taste amazing.   The pillsner is my favorite and tastes smooth just like you would want in a pillsner.   Their menu and a word on their desserts after the break. Read more of this post

Restaurant Review: Trevia Pizza

Pizza tends to come in three kinds here in Korea.  You’ve got  your foreign chains and those are alright.  You’ve got your Korean chains and I’m less thrilled with those.

Lately however I’ve noticed more and more small pizza parlors popping up near Itaewon and Noksapyeong.   Today I’m going to talk about Trevia Pizza which is a nice little parlor not far from Noksapyeong Station.

Walking in the restaurant it’s nicely lit and decorated and there were plenty of comfortable places to sit down.   The atmosphere was really nice.

I’m sure you’d rather hear about the pizza and it was quite delicious.  I got a small bulgogi pizza for around 6,000 won.  The toppings seemed especially fresh, and the mushrooms were especially chewy.  The sauce seemed very good although it was a bit sparse.   A special note for my friend Sally, the sauce didn’t appear to have a single chunk in it.

I had my pizza with a cola as for me nothing goes as well with a pizza as a coca-cola but they had a modest selection of bottled beers there.  I’m sure they could do better but if you’re looking for a place to drink I’m sure you can find somewhere in Korea to accomodate you.

‘Liberty’: The American Revolution review

I really enjoy American history.  I recently watched an old documentary mini-series.  ‘Liberty’: The American Revolution, was a 1997.  PBS made this six-hour part history of the Revolution beginning with the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 till the end of the revolution.   It’s available on Google Video, if you just search for the title.

One of the things that  was really great about the way this series told the story was they took personal writings of people who were involved and had actors read  them in character.  It’s a really enjoyable way to relate primary source information.

I also liked that it  gave the British position a lot of air time.  British soldiers and generals almost as much time as patriot sources.   It’s a different  take than I’ve usually seen.

Why are cameras so hard to buy?

So, I kind of would like to learn more about photography and take some better pictures.   I’d like to get a DSLR and trade up from the ipod I use more often than not.

But man it’s daunting.  Every time I try to figure out what it is I should get I get so much information thrown at me .

It really is a lot of work just to figure out what I should be using to take my pictures with.  There’s a lot of terminolgy which has terminology even in the definitions.   I feel like this must be how it sounds when I talk about games and call them something like a single-screen platformer.

I know I’ve got some photographer friends.  If someone could recommend a site to get this stuff cleared up in my head it would be rad.


So, I recieved a bunch of gift certificates to Shinsegae for teacher’s day.  And rather than doing the sensibile thing and spending it on things I would spend money on anyways, I used it as seed money on a Macbook.

I mainly got it as a machine to carry around with me and use here there and everywhere.   I’m seriously considering getting a wifi contract to go with it so I’ll have internet wherever I go.

My initial impressions are really, really good.

The Build quality on this thing is so much better than the PC’s  I’ve had in the past.  It’s really a great feeling machine.    The first bit of software that I’m really liking is iphoto.  I love the Faces feature, I lost so much time to tagging all the faces in my photo album.

Also  it’s great that there really isn’t anything that I want to do that I’m going to be missing windows for.  I guess that’s mostly because I’m more of a console gamer these days but whatever.   Some stuff though, like using two fingers to right click takes a bit of a rethink.

Portal 2 Single player review

Portal 2 is the sequel to the Orange Box throw-in Portal.  A game which surprised the entire world and blew some people’s minds.

I thought it was a very clever puzzle game that had a last level that really hinted at much bigger things. It hinted at using a portal gun in a more traditional gamey environment.

But then Portal 2 starts and you’re back inside Aperture’s testing facility.  And you’ve got to go get a Portal gun and start solving puzzles.   And for a while the game feels completely like more of the same.

Then you go to some other places and always stay there a bit too long.  You’re always given not enough new story material to really satisfy.

The new puzzle mechanics are creative and at time they’re really satisfying.  However the game seldom thrills.   It’s more of a smug look how smart I am feeling which frankly is a pale imitation to the bathe me in dopamine stuff that’s pretty normal for video games nowadays.   If using your logical brain while you play videogames is something that appeals to you greatly then your experience may be better than the very good experience I had with Portal.

In the end the only thing that’s wrong with Portal is the beginning feels very much like the same of a game we all played to death.   White tile buildings now with some vegtation in the halls with simple puzzles.  After they introduce new mechanics like like light-beam bridges, gels and gravity lifts the game takes off.

Finally, it tells a very well contained story.  It doesn’t feel like it’s out there to set up a sequel which  isn’t something I can normally say about games anymore.

Also due to the PSN outage I can only talk about the game’s single player component.

Hopefully now Valve can just get on with making Half-Life.    In the end I’d give this game a B+ but so much of that is because I don’t feel rewarded when I solve a puzzle like I do when I shoot someone in the face.  Which I admit, could mean something is wrong with me.

Cooking and the things I can’t live without

In the past year I’ve found myself making more food from home.   One of the most invaluable tools for this, being a Westerner living in Korea, is a Costco card.  Also knowing  where to find Red Door and the Foreign food market in Itaewon are very helpful.

Bread, man cannot live on bread alone.  Especially not the tasteless kind of white bread that is all most Koreans appear to have ever known.   I really love the whole wheat bread I get from Costco as a base.   I recently discovered a small bakery in Noksapyeong that has some pretty delicious rye.   What I really like about these is how much they fill out a sandwich, or even just toast which I have most days with breakfast.

Rice–Now this I have no problem finding in the Korean supermarkets of course.  One thing that I’ve noticed is that it really makes a world of difference to get good rice that isn’t the same old same old kind of rice that I get everywhere.  Some brown rice, basmati or Jasmine is definitely worth paying the extra penny on since after any length of time in Korea y0u’ll start to get tired of the stock white rice.

Cheese–This one took me a while to realize how much I missed it but cheeeses make for so many interesting things you can do with a lot of the same foods.   If you’re tired of the same old thing, just put some cheeses into it and it’ll taste a lot better.    Noodles and rice are especially improved by the addition of cheeses.

Chocolate–Now it’s true I can get what I need here at a convenient store, even a grocery store.  But my chocolate of choice are found in the variety packs at Costco 20+ candybars of different flavors.  Maybe one or two of them aren’t my favorite but it’s nice to just always have something sweet at home.

Ground Beef–I think beef is the easiest to put in a mix with other things.   I get a bunch of ground beef fairly regularly and it makes good hamburgers and mixes with rice or noodles. Last year I didn’t cook for myself enough to buy meat but since Poly Hours are longer I’ve found that cooking something up sometimes is a real joy, and I’m ready to do other things more quickly than when I was going out  al the time.

Beer–Not Korean beer.   I just can’t stand the taste of Cass, Max and Hite.  I do however like some of the stock foreign beers.  Heineken, Asashi, and Hoegaarden will all do well enough.  I’ve really developed a taste for Gerrman beers available at my local Homeplus.  Recently I’ve even found a few good microbreweries not that far from where I live.   These guys have some really spectacular beer, at least by Korean standards.

How to watch TV in Korea

Okay, so I haven’t blogged in a really, really long time.  Consider this post zero in my blog.

It’ll now be less about cultural exchange and more about whatever’s interesting me at the time.

So since I’ve been over here I’ve actually developed a taste for television that I had let grow dormant in the states.  Maybe there’s something bad to be said about letting international travel teach me to be a different kind of couch potato.  A topic for another time.

When I say I like to watch tv, I don’t mean watching television programs on my computer while I’m hunched over an uncomfortable chair.  That just won’t do.

First up get a comfortable chair or a couch.  Secondly get a big screen tv.  If you’re going to be here two years or more spending some of your first paycheck money on getting a good screen to watch it on and a place to sit down is money well spent.

Then you can hook up your computer either directly to your tv or network it through some kind of box.  Assuming you have an HDMI out plugging it into your tv should be pretty trivial.     I push my tv to my Playstation 3 and watch from there.

From here it’s easy to end up with a TV setup that’s better than the cable you had at home.  Just download what you want to watch and bam all the shows you want none of the commercials.

As for what I watch, it’s mostly just HBO

Game of Thrones–I love the books so needless to say this is awesome.

Boardwalk Empire–The first season of this period crime drama was really amazing.

Mythbusters–They blow shit up.

True Blood–Can’t wait for season four to start of this show, as usual they dropped the bomb at the end of season three.

Mad Men–Parts of this show make me kind of uncomfortable but in a good way.