Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bar Trip Series: How to Eat and Drink Like a Korean in Seoul

Umbrella selfie while walking along the Cheoggyecheon river

In our 4 days in Korea, our group's focus was mainly to seek out the best versions of all the Korean food we are so lucky to enjoy in LA's Koreatown and try all the most exotic/disgusting/weird foods served there too. Oh yea, and to drink soju and Hite/OB beer with every meal (yes, even breakfast) like locals and what we've seen in movies!

That said, we didn't do much, if any, sightseeing aside from walking along the Cheonggyecheon river (very cute and recommended!) Here's a recap of some of our adventures in Seoul (pronounced suh-ool), Korea. Enjoy!

Streetside Drinking and Eating in Itaewon (and how Koreans hang out in "rounds")
We practiced taking a lot of group selfies during our trip
Itaewon is a district in Seoul mostly known for its ex-pat population. What I saw of it was mostly gritty alleys full of random eateries where you are sitting in the street while cars and motorcycles drive by behind you. There were also a good number of "trans" bars, which some members of the group mistook for "trance" (the music) bars -- there was also a Trance Trans Bar, which confused us the most!

We visited Itaewon on our first night in Seoul, after having dinner at a restaurant near our AirBnb. Each roadside eatery seemed to specialize in certain dishes. At the first one pictured above, we ordered a mixed plate of veggies and other things fried in a batter similar to the typical seafood pancake we order at Korean restaurants in the US. Order a few liters of Hite, bottles of soju and add in a game, and you have a great first stop during a night out!

At our third stop of the night, we went to a place that specialized in braised pork feet. I've been having a Chinese version of this dish since I was a kid because it's one of my mom's favorite dishes, but for those unaccustomed it may seem a bit odd. The pig's feet is cut into slices, full of delicious pork fat and you use lettuce along with scallion, sesame oil, and picked veggies (similar to kimchi) to wrap the meat up and eat it.
Braised pigs feet in Itaewon

Hanging Out in "Rounds"

As you may have noticed from our visit to Itaewon, we visited THREE different establishments for food/drink in one night! This is typical of how Koreans tend to hang out in "rounds." Usually there is dinner, then a bar, then a karaoke place (noraebang) -- each of these rounds involve ordering lots of soju and beer. Or on a more chill night, perhaps dinner and then dessert at a cafe (the cafes in Korea are BEAUTIFUL!). Traditionally, Koreans also switched off paying for the different rounds, although more modern/international Koreans split the bill and pay for their meals individually. This hanging out in "rounds" generally leads to lots of (over)eating and perhaps (over)drinking as well!

Streetside Eateries: Pojangmachas (and Korean drinking etiquette)
Typical scene from a Korean TV drama or movie -- men gathered at a pojangmacha, sitting on cheap stools and eating anju (drinking foods) and drinking soju on a folding table

In almost every Korean drama or movie, there's always a scene when the male protagonist drowns his sorrows with bottles of soju while sitting alone in a pojangmacha. Our friend Jonathan had only one request during our visit to Korea: that we eat and drink in a pojangmacha just like in those Korean movies and TV dramas.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bar Trip Series: Hawaii, Asia, SoCal, and New Zealand

When I tell people that I went on a "bar trip," some know exactly what I'm talking while others are utterly confused. Is it a trip taken to study for the bar, away from distractions (yes, some people actually do this...)? Is it a graduation trip? If it's a graduation trip, how come it's taken in August or September?

A bar trip is usually a trip that recent law grads take after studying for and taking the bar exam in the summer right after graduation (it's a terribly anticlimactic feeling to graduate and then immediately start a grueling 2-month study schedule for a test taken in a convention center with thousands of anxious people). Having a bar trip planned after the exam was the light at the end of the tunnel for me.

Of course, being the eager person I am when it comes to traveling, I have decided to make the most of my 4 months off before work starts December 1st to take 2 international bar trips, and one long roadtrip to visit friends in Southern California. I also took advantage of some great credit card offers to pay for most of my plane tickets to Asia too, saving over $1,000!

I'll be doing a series of posts about my trips and include hopefully helpful information to anyone planning to venture to these parts! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions or things you'd like me to include too.

Bar Trip 1.0 - Hawaii and Asia
Stop 1: Maui Island, Hawaii
Stop 2: Honolulu, Oahu Island, Hawaii
Stop 3: Seoul and Busan, South Korea
Stop 4: Taipei, Taiwan
Stop 5: Bali, Indonesia

Bar Trip 2.0 - 10-day Southern California Roadtrip

Bar Trip 3.0 - New Zealand
I'll be headed over there in in mid-November, just in time for their spring!
Auckland, Queenstown, Franz Josef Glacier, Hokitika, Christchurch, Bay of Islands

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Go West! Cross-country Roadtrip

Apologies for the hiatus! I have finally finished my first year of law school and my boyfriend just graduated from Duke Law on Saturday. The very next day, we set off on a one week cross-country drive from North Carolina to California. Taking a Southern route, we plan to stop in Atlanta, New Orleans, Austin, El Paso, and a few other places in between. So far, we've seen where they filmed parts of Forrest Gump, MLKs birthplace, and the gothic style capitol building of Baton Rouge! Follow our trip live from our tumblr (http://jjxcountry.tumblr.com) and I'll post more when I am back in LA!

Friday, February 24, 2012

This Little Piggy Went to the (LA Flower) Market

Hello everyone!  I want to first apologize for my 6+ month hiatus.  As some of you know, I started law school last Fall and the first semester was as crazy and hectic as everyone warned.  Now that I know I can tackle the challenges of law school (at least I did for one semester), I think I am ready to re-dedicate myself to blogging again!  I realized that updating this blog really helped me seek out adventures and great things about where I lived.  Just to let you all know though, my experiences in LA will be very different than those in NY -- not only because they are such different places, but also because I will be experiencing them from a different perspective -- that of a graduate student with a limited budget!  I think I will be doing much less fine dining, more home cooking, and hopefully more outdoorsy adventures in sunny Southern California.  Thanks for reading and I hope you will all enjoy!

Today is also a special day because it is my roommate Michelle's and my friend Jenn's birthdays!  In celebration of the day, I decided to visit the Los Angeles flower district in Downtown LA.  I first learned about the area from Valentine's Day the movie when Ashton Kutcher goes to the LA Flower Market to buy wholesale flowers for his flower shop.

I learned all the basics from Yelpers:
  • This is a wholesale flower shop, meaning no one to help you arrange flowers or choose arrangements
  • $2 entrance fee
  • Wear a sweater b/c it's like walking in a huge refrigerator
  • Walk around the entire market first, then go back to where you saw flowers you liked the most
  • There are actually two different places you can go on opposite sides of the street -- the Los Angeles Flower MARKET or the Los Angeles Flower DISTRICT.  I went to the MARKET, but there are more Yelp! reviews for the DISTRICT.  
Anyway, the experience was fun although a little daunting.  I don't know much about flowers so it was fun to see all the different kinds (photos below).  One area also specialized in tropical flowers and had all kinds of things I didn't know existed.  Prices are all posted, so I don't think you have to worry about getting ripped off because you're a newbie or anything.  But like I said above, you don't get any help, so just grab the ones you like, bring them to the respective booth/counter and pay for them.  They will wrap them up in newspapers and make sure they won't get ruined in transportation and that's about it!

I ended up with 2 bunches of spider mums, 1 huge bunch of hybrid purple lillies, and 1 huge bunch of tall stiff greens for only $22 -- enough for a bouquet for Michelle AND Jenn!  I will definitely be coming back here soon =)  

Enjoy the photos and check it out for yourself!  I've repeated the info and a map at the end of this post.

These flowers were as tall as me!  Guess that may not be THAT tall...

This woman makes arrangements out of moss vases and cactus plants.  You only have to water them once a month.  Great Mother's Day gift if you're interested!

They look like pineapples... are they pineapples??

Look it's a mini one!

The Los Angeles Flower Market
Yelp Reviews

  • This is a wholesale flower shop, meaning no one to help you arrange flowers or choose arrangements
  • $2 entrance fee
  • Wear a sweater b/c it's like walking in a huge refrigerator
  • Walk around the entire market first, then go back to where you saw flowers you liked the most
  • There are actually two different places you can go on opposite sides of the street -- the Los Angeles Flower MARKET or the Los Angeles Flower DISTRICT.  I went to the MARKET, but there are more Yelp! reviews for the DISTRICT.  Same concept at each I believe ($2 fee, etc.)

View The Original Los Angeles Flower Market in a larger map

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Euro Trip: Spain, So Far

The last week has been a whirlwind adventure! So far, traveled through Barcelona, San Sebastian (w/ day trip to beautiful Biarritz) and I am currently in Madrid.

Internet and wi-fi have been unreliable and I'm doing my best with just my handy iPad 2 and zaggmate Logitech keyboard (love it btw!). Here is my attempt to upload some photos. I will do more detailed posts on each city later when I get back to the States. In the meantime though, please enjoy these photos!

One of Gaudi's famous apartments on Passieg de Gracias

Pintxos y mas pintxos! Pintxos (pronounced pinches) are little snacks at bars you can find all over Spain.

At La Sagrada Familia -- famous cathedral designed by Gaudi that is still a work in progress

Walking Las Ramblas -- big lively pedestrian street with lots of vendors selling random stuff! Even cute bunnies and chipmunks!

Delicious fruit shakes at the Boqueria market on Las Ramblas

Baby octopus sautéed in garlic, lemon, etc. at a stand in the Boqueria market. SO delicious! Although halfway through, my friend start getting grossed out thinking of eating baby octopus haha

My FAVORITE food in Spain -- Fried eggs over fries with spicy/mayo sauce!

Gaudi's Parc Guell

Beautiful La Concha beach in San Sebastian

I LOVED San Sebastian's old streets and beautiful buildings!

Eating potato stones at Mugaritz (San Pellegrino's #5 restaurant in the world)

Day trip to Biarritz, France -- one of the most beautiful beaches i've ever seen!

Chocolate con churros in Madrid -- they say it's an after clubbing food but I had it for breakfast. It was aiiight, maybe it's like Chicken and Rice where you need to be in the right state of mind (or intoxication) to really enjoy it haha

That's all for now! Heading to Italy tomorrow so more updates to come =)

Friday, July 01, 2011

NYC: My Last Days (Living Here)

Today is my last day in NYC! I am ending work today and also getting on a plane to Spain and Italy for vacation. After that, I'll be back in New York to pick up some things (and for a very important person's birthday) before moving to Los Angeles.

Things have been quite crazy lately -- moving out of my apt, setting up temporary housing with a very good friend who let me use her room, meeting up with friends for last dinners/drinks and also wrapping things up for work.

That said, I don't have much time to blog about it all! But here are some photos though of what we've been up to =)

Mini Hamptons Getaway
It was freezing! And started to rain... =(
Ordering WAY too much food (this pizza + 3 HUGE pastas) -- we were used to Manhattan prices / portions!
Janice's 25th Birthday Celebration
For Janice's birthday, she planned a scavenger hunt in Central Park with Watson's Adventures. Fun times!!! Her team won of course... my team came in 3rd =) Out of 3 teams =P

Last Minute Tickets to Yankees Game in Legends Dugout Suites
Most amazing baseball game ever -- all you can eat cruise style buffet, free foods at the stands, our own entrance, etc. So this is how the rich watch baseball =P All thanks to Fiona's boss for last minute tickets!

 Buffet style dining before the game + wall of UNLIMITED candy!
 No zoom required =P Fiona got a ball too!
Thanks Fiona!
Date Night w/ Janice at Taureau
Janice and I went to Taureau in the East Village and had a fondue meal for the first time! It was a last minute thing and we didn't even know it was fondue until right before (thought it was just French food haha). The owners are the same as La Sirene. It was BYOB so we called a wine shop they recommended who delivered wine to our table =) Highly recommended!

Then we went out all night and ended up leaving Korea Town as the sun was rising!

SideBAR w/ Betsey Johnson
My friend Phyllis invited me to a Betsey Johnson work event and I met Betsey herself! Afterwards, we went to Korea Town with a Ktown vet who took us to Pocha 32 for some soldier food (budaechijae).
 She is one wild lady!
Dinner at Mono+Mono and Cienfuegos
Lastly, last night I had a little dinner w/ some friends before I flew out, eating my favorite food -- Korean fried chicken! Also dropped by an East Village bar called Cienfuegos, which my coworker Gregor described as "walking into Cuba". None of us have ever been, but it sure did feel like it!

 Loved the details
We got little tea cups to share our rum punch bowl!

That's it for now! Stay posted for my pics from Europe =) 

ALL over New York!

View Last Days in New York in a larger map