It’s been a few days now since we got back from our week away in Busan and it’s taken me a while to shove myself unwillingly back into reality. I’m still trying to write it all down in my journal, to bring it all back to life while I sit idle at my desk at work wishing for the sand at my feet and the mountain air in my lungs.
One thing I keep coming back to in my mind is the food. We ate well in Busan (my now bulging jeans can attest to that). We were braver than we thought we could be. We walked into dark, backstreet restaurants where no one spoke English and we tested our taste buds with things we we’d never tried before. I’d say it was a success.
The street food in Busan was immense. There were onion panckaes, tteokbokki, freshly fried donuts and this gem, a Hotteok. This one was fried with honey inside it. Then once they pulled it out of the oil, they cut it open, still steaming, and poured in seeds and nuts. My mouth is watering thinking about it again. It was sticky and sweet, but not too sweet.
What to Eat in Busan
One of the foods we kept seeing over and over again as we walked the streets of Seomyeon, one of Busan’s bustling, central neighborhoods, was Jokbal. We knew that it was pig legs and we knew that we wanted to try it. Oh my, am I glad that we did. We went for a small portion, not knowing exactly how much food we were going to get, but it was plenty. The plate was full of warm, perfectly pink pork. The skin was crispy, the fat was like butter, the meat was falling apart with tenderness. I could eat this meal every night for the rest of my days. The chef even brought us out a free portion, fresh out of the roaster. I nearly cried with joy.
We spent one of our afternoons wandering through the Jalgachi Fish Market along the docks and couldn’t walk past the row of restaurants that were grilling up freshly caught fish on BBQ’s along the footpath. We pointed to the ones that we wanted, then headed inside to sit and stuff ourselves. The side dishes were spicy and sweet and we polished off each and every plate in these two photos.
After a few too many beach side beers, we decided fried chicken was exactly what we needed. We ate a lot of fried chicken of all different varieties last week – sticky sauce, plain crispy, whole chicken (I was on vacation, don’t judge me). But this fried chicken was some of the best we’ve had. It came with salsa and it was piled high and steaming hot. I’m sure the beer made it taste even better, but I would go in any time of day and eat it again.
I was already in love with Korean food, but getting out to a new city and being forced to try new restaurants and in turn, new foods, was an invigorating part of the trip. It’s amazing how quickly we can adapt, us humans, to new surroundings. Everything around us in Pyeongtaek is already familiar; we go to the same restaurants, choose the same foods, we know what we like (and who doesn’t like what they know?). So getting out of our comfort zones again was a good wake up call. I need to find somewhere around here that makes Jokbal!