Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Demitasse, Ilsan

Janghang-Dong Ilsan-Dong Gu Goyang-Si Gyeonggi-Do 867
Western Dom 2nd Floor

Telephone: 031.931.5733

데미타 스
경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 867 웨스턴돔 2 층

In keeping with yesterday's post about patbingsu, here's another version of it. If yesterday's was the simple version, today's is the complex version, bedecked with all manners of decoration and difficult to spoon up without spilling all over the place.

Starting from the bottom, there's shaved ice topped with sweetened condensed milk, fruit (kiwi, watermelon, pineapple, grapes), cereal (frosted cornflakes), red beans, rice cakes, strawberry ice cream, and a cherry on top. Whew.

We actually went to Demitasse for lunch. And for lunch, we had a strange combination of foods.
Oh, sure, the salad on the left is healthy, but it was sopping with dressing. This is a weird Korean version of an American breakfast. For some reason, it includes French fries and an enormous pile of whipped cream (seriously, that whipped cream is out of control). Okay, I admit- those waffles were delectable. I don't generally like pancakes and waffles, but these were so good! Crisp on the outside with just a little layer of soft chewiness in the middle. Yummy. Sausages were not good, as per usual here in Korea.
Sandwich. The bread was delicious. Pretty decent sandwich, especially for Korea, where they put weird stuff inside at times. I don't want jam in my ham and cheese sandwich, thank you very much. This one would have been great with just a little more lettuce and either no onions or cooked onions, the raw onions had quite the bite.
And it all comes back around to the patbingsu. Yummy. They lit a little oil lamp for us, even though it was the middle of the day.

By the way, all the photos I've been posting lately have been from my iPhone. It's really amazing how great the quality of the camera on phones has gotten.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Beat the Heat

It's disgustingly humid here in Korea lately. As a Californian who has never known anything other than hot, dry summers that are blessedly cool in the shade, this humidity thing still throws me for a big loop. Stepping into the shade makes no difference? What's that about?

One of the very few redeeming things during this wretched weather is patbingsu (팥빙수), which is shaved iced that traditionally has red beans (pat, really pronounced 'paht,' (팥) means 'red bean' in Korean). It's now served with all kinds of nonsense on top, including but not limited to ice cream, fruit, candy, cereal, sweetened condensed milk, fruit, chocolate, and on and on.

This is a rather traditional version, with just red beans and rice cakes on top. The twist here is that the shaved ice is shaved frozen milk (or maybe milky water or watery milk?) so the ice itself is creamy and sweet.
The little cafe had adorable little plants adorning the tables. I love the wee bitty bubbles trying to sprout! The container it's growing in is quite small, about the size of a medium coffee cup.
Sorry about the silly face, but it's the only photo I had of this delicious ... smoothie? It's basically a pureed persimmon. It really tastes like a soft, half-frozen persimmon that's been thrown into a blender. Even with the big boba straws, this stuff is hard to drink (I ended up using my patbingsu spoon- if you look closely at my spoon, you'll see there's a face on it!).

I love the firm type of persimmon (which Wikipedia informs me is called Jiro) with a passion and don't really love the soft ones (Hachiya), but blended and slightly icy, it's really good. My new favorite way to have soft persimmon.

The air conditioner in my apartment is on the fritz, so I haven't been sleeping well. Summers in Korea equal random bouts of rain (hot, steamy rain), which mean drastic changes in barometric pressure, which in turn means that I'm not sleeping well. Air conditioning, though bad for the environment and all that, is the only way to trick my body into thinking the changes in pressure don't mean anything, but with my unit basically blowing hot air into my apartment, I'm in a half-dead state of semi-drowsiness for about sixteen hours a day lately.

Still debating what to do, but for now, am planning on enjoying what I can. Had a pretty good weekend, despite the weather! I'll post the photos ... someday. (Both of my iPhones and my MacBook are almost out of memory-- iPad is still hanging on, but I need to do some serious photo organization and clean-up!)


Friday, July 27, 2012

Pros and Cons

I have been pondering long and hard lately about where I want to live. 

There is a wildly swaying pendulum that goes from the desire to stay and fight to the overwhelming urge to flee. 

There are pros and cons, as with every other argument that's ever been made.

To me, L.A. and my parents are sanctuary. They are safety and comfort and unconditional love. 

Here in Korea, I have found a part of myself that I never knew existed. I am still finding out new things about myself, about my culture, and those discoveries are fun.

California will always hold a large portion of my heart, my soul, because I spent my formative years there. I will always remember those places, those people, those events. 

Korea is where I started, where my parents were born and raised. 

Is there a right decision, a wrong decision? I'd like to think that there isn't a wrong decision, just a choice that I make and live with and change if or when the time comes. 

Still, it's difficult. Knowing that my choice will impact not just myself but also my family and friends. What to do...


Friday, July 20, 2012


Despite things I've read about Skype, CineSync, GChat, and so on and so forth, I find that FaceTime is the most reliable form of video communication between foreign countries. In my experience, anyway.

Still a tough week, but it's Friday, thankfully. I'm so very ready for the weekend. Sleep! And maybe "The Dark Knight Rises"!


Monday, July 16, 2012


Today, I miss home. For the last few (rough) days, I've been thinking about and missing my old life, my original life.

I miss carne asada nachos. I miss Mexican food in all its incarnations right now, the craving's terrible. I miss proper margaritas on the rocks with salt around the rim of the glass. I miss real limes, those tiny little green bombs of lip-puckering sourness. I miss corn tortillas (and I never even really liked corn tortillas!), especially in enchilada form.

I miss my old company. I miss the people, the system, the ease with which I could navigate my workdays.

Most of all, I miss my family and my friends. People make the place.

Korea is going to be missed once I leave, too. In the last few difficult days, I have realized how much some of these people mean to me. They have rallied 'round and really made me feel loved, feel accepted, feel absolutely adored.

Why did I always think that life was going to be easy when I hit thirty? I guess it just means I still (STILL!) have a lot to learn. Dangit.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

(Eating) Night Out #2

Variation on a theme. Whereas I posted before about having intestines and then having fried chicken, last night, we opted to start with intestines (hey, don't fix it if it ain't broke!) and then going to an izakaya. As mentioned before, Koreans always need to eat when they drink. There are bars here that are like American bars, with bartenders and barstools and such, but there's not many. Koreans don't mingle with strangers, after all- they prefer sitting at a table with the people they know, drinking and eating the night away.

We went to a different intestines place because my favorite place was, sadly, closed yesterday. The owner apparently got married and went on his honeymoon. The restaurant's supposed to be open starting today, so I'm sure we'll be back soon.
After a round of intestines and soju, we traipsed off to an izakaya. This one, in fact. This place gets really busy on weekends, to the point that we've been unable to get tables here in the past, but since yesterday was a Wednesday, we managed to get in, get a table, and get more food with our booze.
We're not talking paltry little bar snacks in Korea, oh, no. We're talking soups, stews, braises, stir-fries, barbecue, and anything else you can think of. The udon here is quite good- actually, everything I've had here is quite good except the tako wasabi, and that's just because I don't like raw octopus and I really don't like wasabi.
Next up was Wing of Fish (지느러미), still one of my go-to bars here in this city. I just love the ambience and though the drinks aren't really special, they're decent. Their snacks are, of course, of the fattening and "why are we still eating??" type.
The last few times I've been to this place, I've ordered the mango vodka sunrise. Their variation on a tequila sunrise, served in a modified Absolut bottle. Cute idea, no? The drink is massive, which justifies the price on these suckers.
It looks like a slushie! A delicious, delicious slushie. The vodka sunrise is really much sweeter than I normally like in my drinks, but I still oddly love it. It's also so filling that one drink is enough. I can't generally fit anything else in my stomach by this point.
Look how Korean I've become.... I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.

I suppose as long as I don't start to sound Korean when I'm speaking in English, it's all good.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Love Affair

I'm having a torrid love affair.

I need a fix at least once a day.

It's ... not hot ... actually, it's cold. Because my love affair is with iced coffee.

Hello, lover. You look gorgeous. All cold and icy with those little playful bubbles. Yummy.

Korea's going through a drip coffee phase lately (I lay at least part of the blame on 커피프린스1호점 (The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince), a 2007 Korean drama that was hugely (HUGELY) popular and featured coffee) with artisanal, boutique-y coffeeshops sprouting up all over the place.
There are large chains, of course (Starbucks, Coffee Bean, Pascucci, Caffe Bene, etc.), but there are more and more places that specialize in drip coffee. These shops tend to be a little pricier and the coffee tends to take a little longer, but they're generally quieter than those mega-shops and have a nicer environment.
This is one of the local shops in my area, featuring coffee from single sources (Kenyan coffee is one of my favorites here). That lady back there makes all the coffee, including roasting the beans (before customers arrive, of course).
The shop is quite cute, too. Maybe they serve wine at night? I've only been during the day. It's cute regardless, and they have barista classes here. Apparently, it's called Ilsan Barista Academy (website's only in Korean, sorry).
Look at that. Those cookies are made on site as well, and are quite good. Yeah, it's just coffee and cookies, but the ambience and the soothing design really let me catch my breath when I'm having a bad day or give me a little respite when I need to get away from some of the little monsters at work.

All That Coffee
Shop: Crystal Building #106 (behind Homeplus) JangHang-Dong 756-3 Ilsan Dong-Gu Goyang-Si Gyeonggi-Do
Academy: McDonald's Building, Third Floor, JangHang-Dong 770-2 Ilsan Dong-Gu Goyang-Si Gyeonggi-Do

Telephone: 031.907.5748

정발산역 3호선
본점: 경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 756-3번지 크리스탈빌딩 106호 (홈플러스 뒷편).
아카데미: 경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 770-2번지 (맥도날드 3층).


Girly Nails

Because I'm a girl.


Monday, July 09, 2012

Duck, Duck ... Duck!

It's been a tough couple of weeks.

I'm homesick for my family and friends, and I've been having moments of feeling very out of place and awkward here. I don't know why-- is it Korea? Is it work? Is it me?-- but the random pauses of loneliness are surprising and not at all welcome.

Then-- BOOM! Things are as they should be. I am my normal smiley, happy self again.

Is this what senility feels like??

Anyways. Onward with my food posts!

A few weeks ago, two of the girls and I went to Anygol (애니골), an area in Ilsan that's a little bit slower paced and a little more spread out than the bigger shopping and eating areas. There's one street (alley?) that consists of faux traditional Korean buildings that house duck restaurants.

Korea has a lot of streets like this, that are themed- wedding shops, shoe shops, musical instrument shops, and everything in between- Koreans like to group all like things together. Makes it easier to bargain shop, I suppose?
Being a lovely summer afternoon, we decided to have a leisurely dinner at one of the duck restaurants, which is quite famous, if I'm not mistaken, called Canaan Duck (가나안덕). Because eating duck is ... a religious experience...? Whatever the story behind the name of the place, we had a good time and a lot of duck.
Duck! I've never seen duck served like this in LA. I feel like perhaps this is a Korean thing- raw duck, chop it up, throw it on a grill, cook the crap out of it.

There were three of us and one duck was plenty. These aren't huge ducks, but the skin is very fatty and what with all the sides, we didn't need to order more fowl.
I don't drink beer because I think it tastes gross, but I loved this beer glass. It's a diagram of how much soju and how much beer to pour into the glass, and what the percentage of alcohol is for each of the different measurements. And yes, this is a typical beer glass in Korea- they also have those big stein-sized glass mugs, but usually at fried chicken places and hofs, not at restaurants.
We all had on baseball caps because no one bothered to put on makeup. I'm turning so Korean, aren't I, concerned about makeup and such?? We didn't really eat or drink much this day-- I think it's because this was when it was just starting to get hot here, and the humidity really puts a damper on any desire to eat or drink until stuffed.
Aw, look at the happy, makeup-less Korean girls. This was actually taken while we were waiting for a table to open up, as the duck restaurants in this area have a very brisk business. Tons of people were loitering around- see the little arcade behind us? Kids were running around and playing on see-saws and other swings, adults were sitting around panting in the heat, and we were acting like idiots and taking photos of everything.

I drove for the first time in Korea yesterday!

We (the three girls in the photo above) went to watch a movie (YeonGaSi, 연가시) last night, so I took one of the company cars from one of the guys, who happened to be in the same shopping area as I was yesterday afternoon. We met for coffee and I took the car and the girls and off we went.

Driving in Ilsan isn't nearly as daunting as driving in Seoul, I would think. If (when?) I know my plans and I decide to stay in Korea for a year or more, I would seriously consider buying a car. Too bad I have no idea where I'll be in six months!


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Cafe Lemon Table, Ilsan

Cafe Lemon Table
Janghang-Dong Ilsan-Dong-Gu Goyang-Si Gyeonggi-Do 868
Western Dom B #221

Telephone: 031.902.2305

경기도 고양시 일산동구 장항동 868번지 웨스턴돔B동 221호

All week:
11:00 am - 11:00 pm

Cafe Lemon Table is a funny place because it says up front, with a sign near the door, that the food will take twenty minutes to prepare.

Koreans are not a patient breed of people- they expect to walk into a restaurant, peruse the menu for all of sixty seconds, place their order in the following twenty seconds, and have their food piping hot and on the table within five minutes. And that's the way it is in most Korean establishments, as Korean food can be prepped ahead of time to be very quickly served.

Lemon Table is not a Korean place. Their food takes a little while (though not twenty whole minutes) to get to the customers. But it's pretty good, and their bread makes it worth the wait.

The bread is fattening and served with honey. The honey comes in a little dish with a face on it. That face is the face I make when I think of how much butter must be in their bread, which practically oozes with fat. Delicious, delicious fat. Mmmmm.
That's a normal pasta (note how much sauce there is- Koreans really love to over-sauce their pasta. I like very little sauce, because I prefer the noodles, so eating pasta has been tough here at times) and pizza that you're supposed to eat with a fork or spoon. Why? Because the pizza is so gloopy, so full of melted (fake) cheese, so overly topped that the crust cannot handle the weight of its load.

Lemon Table isn't extraordinary, not by any means. But the ambience is nice, the restaurant is clean and well-decorated, their service is good (service in Korea surpasses American service, in general) and when I'm in the mood for (fake) cheese, I think of this place.

Again, I don't have pizza or pasta all that frequently in Korea, but when I want it, I do have it. Sometimes a girl just needs some (fake) cheese to make herself feel better or to celebrate some small something!

My brain's not working well enough for a clever segue, so here's my abrupt change of topic:

Last night, I went with two girlfriends to watch "The Cabin in the Woods." That movie was TERRIFYING at moments and HILARIOUS in adjacent moments.

I've been watching thriller, suspense, and horror movies lately, which confuses me because I've never really liked them. I watched "Faces in the Crowd" a couple weeks ago, which scared me (I'm a wimp!) and wasn't that good.

I watched "The Shining" over the weekend for the first time (Jack Nicholson ... holy crap!) which I had to keep muting. (When I watch scary movies, I'd rather see it than hear it, so I tend to put my fingers in my ears and try to block out the screams and the suspenseful music.)

What is it about Korea that's got me changing so much? Is it adaptation or is it conformation?

At least the long working hours haven't changed...? It's one aspect of my personality that won't be changing, at least not until I move to Italy or France or some other like-minded laissez-faire society.

More food posts soon!