Monday, March 14, 2011

K is for Korea: A city of Seoul

Seoul, South Korea

So, this week has sucked. Not only is it finals week, but I am as sick as a dog... literally, my dog can't breath and neither can I. That being said, this post will be shorter than usual, but I still have a recipe and a restaurant review.

Okay, so everything I knew about Korea (South Korea that is) I learned by three different outlets.

First, my childhood friend Angela Quach ( better known as Angie the CW star!). Besides getting in whole bunch of trouble growing up, she introduced me to bulgogi (which I made this week) and seaweed. Fast forward a few and enter The Ohio State University. They walk in packs, with their trendy outfits, and Prada bags, and no I am not referring to sorority girls, but to our large Korean student population. As a freshman I lived in a dorm that housed many of the international students and I got to know one of them pretty well. His name was Sunjoon. He was an RA, and during my late night shifts as an OA he would teach me some Korean, and tell me I looked like Shakira (lies, but I enjoyed the compliment). He would then serenade me to Shakira songs and try to speak Spanish to me. Finally, there is my dear friend Erika Peck. She introduced me to Korean pop music and this ridiculously, awesome Korean soap opera that I spent my entire summer watching, Fullhouse (Nothing like the one with the Olsen twins). 

Okay here is the quick 411 on Korean food. Korean food shares many similarities with other Asian cuisine, such the use of stir frying and the importance of rice...however the food is way spicier and it includes many uncooked pickled vegetables. The most popular pickled dish, and also the nation's national dish, is kimchi (pronounced kim-chee), a spicy condiment of fermented cabbage and radish with chilies. Kimichi is one of many different side dishes that compose Hanjoungshik, a full Korean meal. Hanjoungshik includes grilled fish, steamed short ribs, another meat, kimchi, soup, rice and an array of vegetables. Like most Asian countries, rice is a staple dish in their diet. Korean farmers grown enough rice to meet their country's need, and an abundance of vegetables, such as mu, white radish, and cabbage. Korea's geographical location is also ideal for seafood consumption. Fish and seaweed play a leading role in Korean's diet. Lastly, mind your manners when you eat Korean food! Etiquette is not to be taken lightly. Dining etiquette can be traced back to confucian philosophies of the Joseon and includes a long list of things you should and should not to do. Example one must wait to be told where to sit, and you have to wait until the eldest person eats until you can start to eat. If I were an old Korean person, I would be the one that would make everyone wait a really long time just to annoy people :)

seaweed salad is better than it looks
So this week I took my little sister Elizabeth out with me to eat Korean food. She was weary to try it, but of course, I pushed her to try something new! Located in a strip mall , near an abandon Lazarus, and then down a narrow alley is Restaurant Silla. We also didn't make it just because it was hidden. As I entered through giant black doors I was transported to Seoul. The restaurant was dimly lit, but ornately decorated, with a kareoke stage located to the far left. Oh, and we were the only non-Asian people there, which is always a good sign, because then you know the place is authentic. The menu was written thick, and written in both Korean and English, but the minimal English proved that their menu catered to their Korean cliental. To start I orded the seaweed salad, which I get anywhere I can because I am absolutely obsessed. My sister ordered the bulgogi, as recomended by me, served with rice in a chafing burner. I, seeking something new, got the dol sot bibim bap, which is steamed rice, vegetables, crunchy noodle, beef, and a fried egg served in a sizzling hot pot. Our meals were accompanied with an array of sides dishes, most of them being WAY too spicy for me to consume. Before I even had a chance to pick up my chopsticks one of the workers asked me if I knew how to eat my food. In my head I thought "of course I do, I put it in my mouth", but intrigued and confused, I said "no", and then she proceeded to mix all my food together. I felt like a 7-year-old Korean child, but I was very grateful that the staff cared enough to make sure I enjoyed my food. The food and staff was amazing, and my sister had anew appreciation for Korean food. Look at me, changing people's palates, one tongue at a time.

our feast

Restaurant Silla does not have a website, so if you ever want to try the food for yourself, which you should, here is the info:
Restaurant Silla
1802 W.Henderson Road
*Located near the Marc's, and remember to walk down the little alley! 


I wanted to recreate the first time I experienced Korean food, but healthier (only because I am sick). This week I made bulgogi wrapped in red leaf lettuce leaves and brown short grain rice. The first time I had bulgogi it was consumed with iceberg lettuce and white short grain rice. I hate iceberg lettuce, I think it taste like crunchy water, which I find not normal. As for the brown rice, well I found it on accident, and really only bought it because it was cheaper than the white short grain rice. The meal was sweet and savory, playful, and ideal for a quick, healthy, lunch.

serves 2

  • 1/2 lb flank steak
  • 1/3 cup green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce*
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil*
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced 
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 cup of short-grain rice, cooked (I used brown, but white works perfectly)*
  • A head of red leaf lettuce, leaves separated 
*If you can, I would recommend buying these ingredients from an Asian grocer because it will be a heck-of-a lot cheaper 


  1. Cook rice according to package.
  2. Cut steak into short, 1/2-inch wide, strips.
  3. Combine the steak with 1/4 cup of green onions, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic.
  4. Heat oil in skillet (or wok if you are cool and own on) and stir-fry until the meat is brown.
  5. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and the remainder of the green onions.
  6. Spoon the rice and steak mixture on the lettuce leaf, wrap and enjoy!


  1. Steph,
    Even in your not- so- well state, you still managed to pull this off. I am impressed:-)

  2. I enjoyed see how you can be grateful about almost everything,people,food,places.That says so much about you.I am still waiting for my turn for you to change my palate, I better say my tongue.I hope you feel better.Good job

  3. Only you would say that if you were an Korean Elder, you would make everyone wait a long time to eat!!! I don't know why that made me laugh aloud!!! Anywho, the post was wonderful (as always). I hope that you are feeling better!