The hardest thing about travelling in Korea is…

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Not that I am adverse to eating alone – quite the opposite, on occasion I find it very enjoyable. What I have a problem with is reading a Korean menu!

I lived here for long enough to know eating blind could be a big mistake. It is deemed incredibly rude, and a comment on the quality of the cooking, not to clear your plate, But if I was served a plate of innards or fish head stew I’m afraid clearing my plate would be a near impossibility.

So, afraid of what could be put in front of me I have been wandering the streets in search of an English menu. The Korean’s have English translations on all the road signs, many of the buses, all subway stops and it appears any cafe / shop selling sweet food stuffs – but they have missed the boat when it comes to savory food – probably because, unlike the UK, most of the eating houses are small independents.

Yesterday I found myself eating dinner in Lotte – I’m ashamed to say the Korean version of McDonalds. But my reasons in visiting were justified – I had to see if the mozzarella sticks were still as good as they were six years ago – and they are! Kat and I, whilst planning our escape from Kumdan, would meet in Lotte for lunch and eat mozzarella sticks – luckily we only discovered them towards the end of our time in Korea!

Tonight I was determined to eat Korean. Leaving Bulguksa Temple I headed across the road to a collection of restaurants the guidebook assured me had English menus. Thing is, being off season 90 per cent of them were closed.

I knew what I wanted to eat, Mandu (Korean dumplings) or Dukboki (spicy rice cakes). I meandered past one place and the old lady waved frantically for me to come – I was probably the first tourist she’d seen all day. I opened the door to her tiny eatery with barely enough room for her cooking pot and a table. “Mandu,” I asked hopefully? “Bibimbap,” she replied encouragingly. “Dukboki,” I asked? “Bibimbap,” she replied.

I was never a fan of Bibimbap (steamed rice, vegetables, chilli paste and occasionally a raw or fried egg). It is hardly disgusting but something I always struggle to finish. With no travelling companions I couldn’t palm my left overs off on them so I decided it was best to decline her offer and look for another eating establishment.

I eventually found myself back in town and inside a place that was a bit more fast food than I would have liked but served me up a delicious plate of seafood fried rice. Not exactly Korean but better than fiery chicken wings and mozzarella sticks in Lotte.

It looks like until I get back to see Miss April on Friday Korean cuisine is off the menu!

April however loves the Kimbop houses and hasn’t used the kitchen in her flat once (I cooked every night when I was here). In the short time she has been here has already mastered reading Korean and is learning the words for different foods. Hats off to her. She has achieved more in a few short months than I managed in almost a year!

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