Thursday, April 21, 2011

Seoul Eats: The Korean Night Dining Tour

Sunday afternoon we meet our host, Daniel Gray, for his Korean Night Dining Tour.

Sharing our group are Daniel's assistant, Susan, who is training to conduct tours, a very nice young couple from Virginia, Mark and Stephanie Gould, and Evan, their seven-year-old son. Evan is Korean by birth and adopted. He and his parents are back in Seoul to adopt an eight-month-old girl, who will be Evan's little sister.

After meeting and greeting, we're off on our walking tour. Along with a variety of food, we're plied with abundant quantities of Makkoli (or Makgeolli), Korean rice wine, served traditionally in bowls. We feel like cats lapping up milk as we enjoy more than one variety of the Korean sake, from the dollar-a-bottle basic brew to the two-dollar-a-bottle artisan variety. At those prices, it's amazing there aren't more Koreans stumbling around Seoul.

We wend our way through major streets and crowded lanes, as Daniel proves to be the perfect host, explaining in detail the foods we are eating as we find little hole-in-the-wall place where we wouldn't venture - or at least know what to order - on our own.

Daniel is a genial and easygoing host throughout.

We eat and stroll and eat some more.

We stop at a stand where a team is selling sweets. We saw this elsewhere in Seoul but Daniel claims these are the originals, and they're certainly entertaining.

Seoul has so many restaurants, large, small, and tiny. Does anybody ever eat at home?

Speaking of tiny restaurants...

And tiny lanes...

And we arrive at another eating establishment we never would have found on our own.

One bowl for food, one bowl for rice wine - a balanced diet...

The street food looks tempting too. We eat so much throughout our visit to Seoul that we never actually try any. Next time...

Onward we go, and young Evan hitches a ride with Tom.

Surprise! Another restaurant...

Beer goes well before, during, and after Makkoli. Gunbae!

Koreans love their barbecue.

It's common to wrap a piece of the meat in one of those lettuce leaves you see on the left along with kimchi or some greens. The trick (and the etiquette) is to eat it in one gulp.

More sights as we stroll some more...

Toward the end of our tour we stroll through a market past some local folks who manage to find a place to sit as they dine.

Our night dining experience was a highlight of our trip to Seoul. Thanks Daniel!

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