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The Best Grub

This week, for the Friday5, Pogo asks:

5 outstanding places to eat – where & why?

Well, now, this is slightly different from the last food-based F5 question, in that it asks where are the five best places to eat, period. I’m going to limit the answer to places I have eaten in the last year, and which are within normal travel distance for me in a given week…

These days, I have to say my favorite place to eat out is a little speciality place near Jeonbuk University. Often I meet Lime at the front gate of the University, and we walk the short distance up the street to The Dalk Doritang Place. It beats me what the place is actually called, but the broth is thick and spicy, the potato pieces are big, and the ladies there know us well enough to ask, “The usual?” when we walk in.

But of course, when we’re downtown, there’s a Little Japanese Place that can’t be beat. The food isn’t too expensive, and the chobap—especially the tofu chobap, which is a tofu shell stuffed with mildly flavoured rice—is to die for.

I also know a wonderful Beg Ban (side-dish) speciality shop downtown. Actually, I think their speciality is something else but when you order Beg Ban (which literally means “100 side-dishes”, meaning “many side dishes”) these ladies load the table with all kinds of wonderful stuff, including a wonderful soup and one whole fried fish for each person at the table. And they usually bring a different type of fish for each person, no less. That place is just great.

Another mainstay for me is the chain Shinpo Woori Mandu, which is kind of like Korean-style fast food, but not in the hamburger sense. It’s a Korean chain, and their speciality is dumplings, but you can get all kinds of stuff. I really like their kimchi dumplings, but I have to admit that my personal addiction is to their Be-Bim Mandu (“Dumpling-Mix” plate) which comes with this spicy noodle-salad mix and eight fried dumplings. You don’t really have to mix the dumplings but you do mix the salad with the red spicy sauce and jjolmyeon noodles. It’s a good side dish with soup if you’re not eating alone, or can serve as a snack for two, as well. (If you’re crazy, you can also eat one plate alone for a meal… but I get the feeling it’s unusual to so do.) Now, the dumplings aren’t prepared in exactly the same way in every shop; nor is the dipping sauce. The best one I know of in Jeonju is near the Jeonju Cinema, and not the one near Primus Cinema. An alright alternative is over near the DVD-rental place past Poongnyun Bakery, near the bus stop. And yes, this really is how we give directions in Jeonju.

Finally, and I have to say this with my deepest conviction, my home is a good place to eat. Ever since I’ve arrived in Korea, I’ve been cooking more and more at home… I mean, how else can I have what passes for Indian or Thai food? Jeonju only just recently got a Thai restaurant, and aside from the excessively overpriced (though still an occasional treat) Outback Steak House, most attempts at non-Korean Food have been limited to junk food like pizza and burgers, or dismal failures at replicating foreign cuisines which I myself can best. Some of my Korean cooking is getting really pretty good, too, though I need to work on it some more.

I have a couple of runners up for this category. During the school year, I often eat at the Professors’ Cafeteria on campus, where the food is 100% good about 75% of the time, and at least 50% good 100% of the time. (Except they always run out of the best stuff, and they never do anything good with squid.)

Another choice place to eat is at my friend John’s, should you be so lucky as to be invited to his place for dinner. He’s got an over now, over in Kyeongju, and he’s become a regular kitchen ajumma. He’s making all kinds of food, and everything I ate while staying with him was justr incredible.

Finally, just after the end of camp, Myoung Jae, John, and Patrick showed me a little German Beer and Sausage Place that apparently has a couple of locations in Jeonju; they have fresh and decent beer—I can’t recall if it’s locally brewed, or German, but it was very different and quite nice—and lightly broiled sausage. I can’t say the eating is amazing, but it was a pleasant change and quite out of the ordinary, and the beer was quite nice.

If you want to know what other Friday Fivers are eating, check out the list of participants in the right sidebar.

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