Extra! Korea

May 11, 2009

Warm apple tart with real vanilla ice cream? Mmm …

Filed under: food — extrakorea @ 11:13 am

It seems that there is a place, Gateaux et M’amie, located in Seoul, Hongdae to be exact, where you can get warm apple tart with real vanilla ice cream.

The tarte tatin (6,500 won, $5.20), or upside-down apple tart, is served with homemade vanilla ice cream. The layers of the warm, puffy pastry were crisp, and the aroma of the caramelized apples on top of the tart was irresistible.

The ice cream actually tastes like real vanilla – you can even see the flecks of vanilla bean inside. The vanilla is a wonderful compliment to the crispy texture of the pastry and the fruity sweetness of the caramelized apple. It can be eaten alone, but the portion was so small that I wanted several more scoops.

Except for the part about the small portions, it sounds like a place that I will just have to hunt down the next time in that area.

May 8, 2009

Is Korea finally becoming vegetarian-friendly?

Filed under: food, health — extrakorea @ 1:56 pm

I’m not vegetarian, and not likely to become one anytime soon, but I know people who are, and they can have a hard time in Korea. Restaurants are sometimes not very accommodating, and serving ajummas * will sometimes tell them, “You should eat meat. It’s good for you.” Also, I swear that ham must be considered a vegetable in Korea. I would order “ya-chae kimbap,” or vegetable kimbab, and it would have ham in it. I’d order “salad-uh kimbap,” or salad kimbab, and it would have ham in it. But maybe things are finally starting to change.

Sizzling steaks made with soy beans and vegetable protein, Jjambbong made with vegetable spices infusion instead of chicken gravy, Bulgogi made from wheat protein processed with nuts …

These are foods that can scarcely be imagined without meat, yet meatless versions filled the table at a vegetarian restaurant in Insa-dong, downtown Seoul, last weekend during a regular Sunday lunch gathering of the Korea Vegetarian Union.

There’s still a way to go, however.

Korean society, however, is not so warm toward vegetarians yet, says Lee.

“In the United States or Europe, no one minds when I say I’m a vegetarian. Most of the restaurants even have vegetarian dishes prepared for me. But here, people look at me like I’m an alien when I say that I’m a vegetarian, not that they even ask. They are like, ‘Why do you live like that?'” said Lee [Won-bok, president of the union].


* “Ajumma” means “auntie” but can be used to refer to any married middle-aged woman with children.

May 2, 2009

Another good reason to drink milk

Filed under: food, health — extrakorea @ 2:46 pm

You already knew that milk is a good source of calcium, among other nutrients. Now there’s some evidence that drinking it with a meal can help you keep from gaining weight.

Drinking milk while eating helps one lose weight because milk helps to decrease the glycemic index (GI), an indicator of the rate and quantity of sugar that comes into blood.

[ snip ]

According to a report released by Japan’s National Institute of Public Health, the GI of boiled rice with dried seaweed was 94, but when a glass of milk is added, with total calories unchanged, the index decreased by approximately 37 percent to 59.

Similar results occurred when reducing the intake of white bread by 20 percent and drinking 100 ml of milk instead. However, excessive milk consumption is not recommended either because milk contains fat. Kang Jae-heon, a family medicine doctor at Inje University Seoul Paik Hospital, recommends drinking low-fat milk if one drinks milk regularly.


For the longest time, it was impossible to get low-fat milk in Korea, but nowadays, you can easily purchase it at large supermarket chains like Home Plus and E-mart. Even one (though only one) of my neighborhood convenience stores carries it.

Salt in the Korean diet

Filed under: food, health — extrakorea @ 2:35 pm

The Chosun Ilbo has an article, similar to this one that I posted about before, describing how Korean staples like kimchi are high in salt.

Excessive intake of salt is a determining cause for Korea’s top three killer diseases — cancer, stroke and heart disease. According to a report on public health in 2005, Koreans consume a daily average of 13 g of salt, almost three times more than the 5 g recommended by the World Health Organization.

[ snip ]

Excessive salt consumption has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiac trouble, stroke, kidney trouble, gastric cancer, osteoporosis and even obesity.

[ snip ]

The problem is that Koreans take in half the salt they consume from their staple diet, whereas Westerners get most salt from processed food. According to a report by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) in 2006, the main sources of natrium for Koreans were kimchi (25 percent), traditional seasoning sauces (22 percent) and salt (20 percent).

[ snip ]

According to the KFDA report, a bowl of noodles contains 7.3 g of salt, already way more than the recommended 5 g. A bowl of instant noodle or ramyeon has 5.3 g, a bowl of cold noodles 4.5 g, kimchi 2.5 g per 100 g and a bowl of soy bean paste stew 2.4 g. In comparison, a slice of pizza contains 3.3 g and a hamburger 2.3 g.

April 15, 2009

The Return of Mad-Cow Beef

Filed under: food, politics — extrakorea @ 8:01 am

American beef suspected of being unsafe is back in the news.

About 13 tons of American beef were falsely sold as Australian products five years ago in defiance of a disposal order issued after a case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was reported in the United States.

[ snip ]

In December 2003, when cows suspected of having the disease were found in the U.S. and Seon’s company was ordered to dispose of all American beef, he allegedly destroyed seven tons and falsely reported to the company that he had destroyed the entire 29 tons in the store.

Among the remaining 22 tons, Seon delivered 12.7 tons to discount stores and department stores between August and December 2004. The two fabricated expiration dates of the products and labeled them as “Australian beef,” raking in 280 million won in revenue. The products sold out.


As frustrating as it was to watch the Mad Cow Madness incite violent protests that caused 3.75 trillion won of damage (about 3.75 million dollars, before the current economic turbulence), I have to say that what these guys did was wrong, and that they do deserve to be punished.


Via the Marmot’s Hole, we learn that South Korea is, once again, the third-largest market of U.S. beef.

April 4, 2009

Some Korean food has too much salt

Filed under: food, health — extrakorea @ 10:00 am

Contrary to popular belief, Koreans will sometimes admit that their cuisine isn’t perfect health food.

Koreans ‘Eating too Much Salt’

A test of ordinary Korean menus at restaurants suggests that Koreans’ intake of sodium is reaching dangerous levels.

The fact is nothing new, as a survey for 2005 released by the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs showed an average Korean adult ate as much as 5,200 mg of sodium a day, almost three times the World Health Organization’s recommended level of 2,000 mg. But still it sounds a warning bell as most people today eat in restaurants since they spend much of their time at work or at school.

Sodium is an essential nutritional ingredient, but excessive intake can cause diseases such as high blood pressure and edema. Prof. Kim Soon-bae at Seoul Asan Medical Center said, “When you have heart disease, kidney trouble, or liver disease, you could get worse if you take too much sodium, including experiencing higher blood pressure, abdominal dropsy, or renal failure.”


So which Korean foods have a lot of salt? High on the list are ramyeon noodles and kimchi. It’s also been known, though not commonly acknowledged, that kimchi partially accounts for Korea’s high rate of stomach cancer.
(sources one, two, three, four, five, and six)

March 27, 2009

Macaroni Market; will it satisfy those cravings for mac’n’cheese?

Filed under: expatriates, food — extrakorea @ 3:43 am

As an expatriate who sometimes has cravings for macaroni and cheese, I find myself intrigued by a restaurant called Macaroni Market.

For me, the idea of mac ‘n’ cheese is inseparable from the image of Kraft’s $3 blue box.

So imagine my surprise when I first encountered Macaroni Market. Divided into a cafe, club and restaurant, this place doesn’t serve up your mama’s mac.

[ snip ]

But if privacy is your prime concern – hint hint to the couple making out at the table next to mine at a recent visit to another establishment – then a meal at Macaroni Market makes for a good time. Soft jazz makes the low lighting all the more cozy, and the service here is among the best that I’ve found in Korea.

The restaurant side doesn’t exactly have a wide range of entrees, but they’re awfully fancy, generally priced between 19,000 won and 49,000 won. Choices include the fish of the day, first-grade Korean sirloin (49,000 won) and the Italian-style slow-roasted pork belly (23,000 won).

I want.

Macaroni Market may be a misnomer, but having a meal here would hardly be a mistake.

Macaroni Market

English: On menu

Tel: (02) 749-9181

Address: Hannam Bldg., 2nd floor, 737-50 Hannam 1-dong, Yongsan District, Seoul

Subway: Itaewon Station, line No. 6, exit 2

Parking: Valet

Hours: For restaurant: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m. Tues. to Sun.; For cafe: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Tues. to Sat., till 11 p.m. Sun.

Dress: Smart

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