Today we took a blast in the past and went to the area of my mum’s old university; Ewha Womans University. The Idae Area is one of the most busiest and popular areas in front of Korean universities, which are already jam-packed with stores waiting to profit from fashionable university students willing to splurge.
There are tons of little stores here that cater to the hip and trendy (I feel silly even using this term!) female university students. They have everything from cute stationery to cheap clothes and tons of street food.
But the one thing I was really looking forward to was eating Tteokbokki (떡볶이). We went to a restaurant called Original 분식 (or bunsik, which is a “generic term used to refer to inexpensive Korean foods available at…snack restaurants [wikipedia]). This was a restaurant that was around even while my mum was going to school here, which was over 30 years ago! And even on this day, the restaurant was jam packed with students and tourists alike.
This is the Tteokbokki prior to cooking; you’ve got rice cakes, fish cakes, noodles, ramen noodles, leek, and a HUGE dollop of spicy chilli sauce just sitting in a pan/pot (what should I call this?), waiting to boil. One of the more popular bunsik foods, tteokbokki is available at all bunsikjeoms (street snack carts) all over the country, and is one of the dishes enjoyed by all people of all ages.
This is 맛탕 (mattang). We ordered this with our tteokbokki and what it is is basically sweet potato, fried until crispy and golden, and then covered with sugar water that is left to solidify until it becomes a sweet crackling layer over the soft and tender inside. This definitely helped with the fire that came along with such a spicy lunch!
After about 5~10 minutes of cooking over the stove, our tteokbokki was ready to eat! Even an olfactory whiff of the spicy goodness that is tteokbokki is enough to make your mouth water. Well, at least it did for me, which really is saying something because I usually don’t like spicy foods. And it tasted even better than it smelled for sure! Mouthwatering and sweat inducing, this dish is not for the faint-hearted, but with the pickled radish side dishes that were served as well (they are caled 단무지) as well as multiple glasses of water, I was able to down my portion like a champ. Om nom nom.
Obligatory close up shot of the food! Note how we have two different types of noodles. One of them is 쫄면, and the other is 라면, of instant ramen fame. The curly noodles are the 라면 while the straight ones are 쫄면.
Our lunch was followed by another quick run through the streets of the Idae Area. Lots of shopping to do! The cutest things were the vendors selling fuzzy sleeping socks on the streets. Trust me, those are comfy.
Here is a picture of a banana for you.