February 11, 2011 2:24 AM
Posted by Jei D. Marcade
This past weekend, I traveled south with some friends to Jeonju, ancestral home of my clan, and Iksan, modern-day home of some really neat pubs. One of our camerados succumbed to a terrible plague and had to stay behind to fight the good fight, but he acted as a sort of guiding star for most of this trip, writing up detailed notes and suggestions from his sickbed.
The day (of the Fri- variety) started early, with Nick and I taking the Saemaul KTX Jeonju-ward, while a third, also somewhat sickly Kammerudo valiantly forged a trail to meet us.
We took a taxi to Jeonbuk University, from whence we began our quest to encounter all things both Jeonju and Awesome. Our extremely genial driver addressed us as Mr. Canada and Miss U.S.A, though he inexplicably alternated between the latter and Gongju (Princess) while talking to me, and was determined to convince me that my destiny lay in teaching university-level English in Korea forever. He also listed Canadians as his #1 preferred international fare, while Americans ranked at lowly #7.
Click through for a massive photo post. (Slow connections beware!)
Here's the thing about being anosmic: I don't really enjoy food to the extent that most olfies can. Everything is pretty much pared down to varying degrees of the same six tastes, so aroma, flavor, and even general quality are pretty much lost on me. Nick, on the other hand, worked as a chef at a high end restaurant, and knows his food. He also really likes eating it (though where he manages to put it all is a mystery to me), which is how we wound up going to three restaurants before Kammerud even arrived. And then we went to more.
To walk off some of our feast, we took a stroll through Deokjin Park, though alas, the lake was still too frozen to ride the duck boats.
We dropped off our gear at a somewhat seedy, but pretty reasonably priced and spacious yeogwan before heading off to what is probably the coolest restaurant I've been to in Korea:
We got the dakdoritang, which I have on good authority as being phenomenal. Even I enjoyed it, despite my general tendency to avoid anything with even a hint of spiciness. I am, as I write this update, suffering from a hankering for it now.
Of course we had to order some makgeolli.
Simultaneously ordered some Daeipsul (대잎술), a traditional folk wine made from bamboo leaves, rice, and herbs, much to the alarm of those around us. You must understand: it was this time around four o'clock in the afternoon.
Then we took a taxi to the local Hanok Village, though sadly, the main area was closed by the time we arrived. So we wandered around the neighborhood for a bit.
|Some folks making walnut cakes (호두과자).|
We made a pit stop at a nearby cafe. This place was pretty crowded, so we wound up taking our tea outside.
We settled down for a dinner (supper?) of Jeonju's famous bibimbap. It was pretty tasty, but also super spicy -- it actually managed at one point to reduce me to tears. (Keep in mind that I never do well with spicy foods; you'll probably fare better.) I left almost half in my bowl, partly because I was still full from the day's epic fooding, and partly because I just couldn't handle the heat.
The following photos were all taken at Cozy Bom Bom, aka possibly the cutest cafe in Jeonju, the staff of which appeared to be obsessed with cats and robots and thus probably the perfect hangout place for everyone I know, ever. I went a little shutter crazy; it had that kind of effect. Also worth noting is that when we first entered, Nick and Kammerud were the only male patrons there.
|There were wee figures glued to every table.|
Unpictured is our return venture to the daktoritang place to go through the rest of their alcohol menu, as well the two games of pool we played in the pocket ball place one floor down from our room, as well as many attempts on my part to win the affection of the owners' old English sheepdog + pomeranian.
The next day, we crawled forth from our yeogwan and slouched toward a pancake shop we'd seen the day prior. Tragically, it was closed. And so, weeping, we moseyed onward to an Imsil Cheese pizza place, where the dough is made of rice, and had elevensies. For lunch we had some dolsotbap (돌솥밥), or "stone pot food."
Then wandered about town in an epic quest for the gaeksa, which turned out to be so disappointing after a day-and-a-half's worth of buildup in our own imaginations as to not warrant any photographs at all.
The menu had a locking mechanism:
AND THEN WE WENT HOME HAPPILY EVER AFTER AMEN.
Whew--kudos if you made it this far!