Regular FeaturesTravel Diary
A Taste of AdventureFood from all around the world in Itaewon
Ko Eun-biy  |  eunbiy.ko@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2017.05.15  20:20:55
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“THERE IS no love sincerer than the love of food,” said George Bernard Shaw. Culinary traveling, the act of traveling to other countries to try their specialties, has recently become a trend. People have started to travel in search of the most famed and appetizing menus. From Vietnamese pho to Mexican tacos, and from French macarons to Egyptian kosharis, people are craving unique plates from all around the world. Fortunately, Itaewon offers a plethora of palatable menus from around the world, saving you from buying a plane ticket to enjoy a Turkish or Canadian dish.
 
   
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KO EUN-BIY
Turkey: Salam Bakery
   When most people think about Turkish food, kebab is the first dish that comes to mind. However, there are many other delectable Turkish plates. Not too far from Exit Three of Itaewon station, there is a small bakery full of Turkish desserts and pastries. I bet many readers remember the sweet snack, Turkish delight, that Edmund was so fond of in the novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the novel, Salam Bakery has a whole shelf full of those sugary Turkish desserts. In Turkey, they are also called lokum. After trying some of the lokum myself, I understood why Edmund followed the evil White Queen just to get a taste of these sweets. *Lokum*’s texture is similar to that of a jelly, but they are usually filled with walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and other ingredients, and are topped with powdered sugar. The flavors range from lemon, pomegranate, cinnamon, rose, to of course, chocolate. Additionally, Salam Bakery also sells baklava, pastries with nuts and syrup, and flat bread called bazlama. Even though the store is quite small, visitors can find a variety of Turkish bread and desserts to enjoy.
 
   
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KO EUN-BIY
 
Thailand: BUA
Thai cuisine does not need a long introduction as it is already greatly loved by many people. Out of several Thai restaurants in Korea, BUA has been listed as one of the most popular restaurants with quality food at reasonable prices in the Bib Gourmand of the Michelin Guide. Even though other menus attracted my attention, I chose to try the one and only, pad thai. Pad thai is one of the dishes that best represent Thai food, but the recipe is often altered in other Korean restaurants to cater to Korean taste. Since BUA’s chefs are Thai, I expected the pad thai to be authentic and different—and I was correct. The pad thai was adequately seasoned with fish sauce, chili powder, and ground peanuts with a heap of bean sprouts. Aside from pad thai, BUA offers stir-fried curry with crab, pork with pineapple stew, and spicy papaya salad as well as Thai desserts such as coconut ice-cream, banana milk tea, and Thai coffee.
 
   
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KO EUN-BIY
 
Canada: Oh! Poutine
 Poutine is a Canadian dish equivalent to Korea’s tteok-bok-ki*. It consists of crunchy French fries smothered in gravy sauce and strewn with cheese curds. They are so popular in Canada that they can be easily found in the nearest Burger King or McDonalds. After spending some years in Canada, the owner of Oh! Poutine thought it unfortunate that there were no places that sold authentic poutine in South Korea. So, she decided to make her own gravy sauce and cheese curds and opened her store. Instead of the melting cheese that is regularly used in other dishes, poutine is topped with chewy cheese curds and savory gravy sauce. Since cheese curds are not commonly seen in Korean restaurants, many foreign visitors are happy to find them in Oh! Poutine. Even though Oh! Poutine just opened last winter, it already has regulars who come back for more of the crispy, mouth-watering fries.
 
   
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KO EUN-BIY
 
England: Elevenses
   After filling my stomach with the tasteful meals, it was time to digest them by drinking a cup of warm tea. There is no other place as perfect as Elevenses to relax and drink English tea. With an eye-catching and snug interior, Elevenses offers a variety of tea—from royal blend and earl grey to breakfast blend—that the owner personally imported from England. The royal blend tea was not as strong as I imagined and had a slight hint of sweetness. The black tea with peach, on the other hand, was very fragrant and sweet. Apart from the tea, Elevenses also serves fresh, hand-made desserts such as biscotti with almonds and cranberries, red velvet cupcakes, and scones in three flavors: basil and tomato, olive and bacon, and cheese. Since the store is small and quiet, it is the perfect place to go enjoy tea and desserts after a long day.
 
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   There is arguably no better way to explore a culture than to indulge its traditional, representative food. There are thousands of dishes worth traveling for, but some of them can be found without getting on a plane. For your next trip, visit Itaewon with an empty stomach and immerse yourself with the culture and food from all around the world.

*Tteok-bok-ki: A Korean food made from stir-fried rice cakes, fish cakes, eggs, and scallions marinated in sauce. 

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