Safely back in Hong Kong since Wednesday evening, I am happy to post Part 2 of BBITES abroad before returning to HK food.
On the 15th of January I was flown out to Seoul, Korea, for the first time, to represent Singapore (my mum is a Cantonese Singaporean) in the Asia Model Festival Awards 2012 New Face Contest.
My only experience with Korean food before this, was in Los Angeles last summer at a Korean BBQ Restaurant. I have to mention that, according to my Korean-American buddy who took me there, Korean cuisine in the USA has evolved into a strain of its own: leading some restaurants in Korea to offer “LA style” BBQ. Wow, talk about cross-pollination!
Anyway, the point is, this was a chance for me to try the original Korean BBQ that is famed, and loved across the globe. However, before I even reached Korean soil, I was pleasantly surprised by another signature Korean dish: Bibimbap.
When dinner was served aboard my nighttime Asiana Airlines flight, I was given a choice between a Chinese style chicken rice and the Korean option. Of course I wanted to try something new, and I didn’t regret it. I was confronted with a container of plain white rice, a plate of assorted vegetables and beef as well as separately packaged condiments.
There was cute and thoughtful instructions accompanying the tray of food, although, let’s face it: I would have figured it out anyway 😉 The result was refreshing in both its combination of warm and cold (the rice, warm; the added ingredients, cold) and the variety of textures (I especially liked the crunchy vegetables).
The remaining meals on my 4 day trip in Korea were spent either at the hotel breakfast buffet, backstage at the AMFA 2012 rehearsals or out with the different nations’ models and managers groups at Korean BBQ joints.
Never have I truly stopped to enjoy animal fat until this trip! I usually cut away the fat from pieces of meat because the taste bothers me. But, the quality of meat and style of preparation in Korea made it so irresistible! I have a new interest (and faith) in those blubbery bits that I have been avoiding 🙂
Our one free morning (the morning after the New Face contest), I was able to do a bit of shopping in town with some fellow models and two local Korean students/translators who were working the AMFA event with us.
If this were a fashion/beauty blog I would have a lot to say about the amazing shopping experience we had, but as this is Bakker’s Bites – I will refrain my raptures to a short stop at Cofioca. According to our friendly hosts, Cofioca is a very famous shop selling bubble milk tea and other beverages.
The time I spent sipping and nibbling my delicious bubble tea was made more interesting by observing the hundreds of signatures and dozens of signed posters all over the wall. Clearly I am not the first, or the last to enjoy a drink at Cofioca, as many Korean celebrities have beat me to it.
On our last night, I was treated to something I’d never tried, or even heard of before: makkoli (Korean rice wine). It’s got a light, milky taste and – to my shock – bubbles! I am very fond of anything with bubbles (fizzy water, champagne, fizzy apple juice and so on…) so this was especially a hit for me.
Soju, the country’s most famous alcoholic beverage export, had a taste too similar to vodka to for my liking, but for the sake of celebrating our last night in Korea, I didn’t hesitate to share toasts with the other New Face delegations dining with us (Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam).
The next two months will be exciting for BBITES, although I can’t spill the beans yet! You’ll just have to tune in 😛