Jihye Chang

January 2013

Bing Soo – Popular Summer Dessert in Korea

It’s probably too early to talk about Bing-Soo or Bingsu (빙수 – Shaved ice), but it’s hot enough in Tallahassee!

Shaved ice is really popular summer treat in Korea. It is usually made with sweet red bean paste and various condiments – toasted grain powder mix (Misu-garu, 미숫가루), toasted nuts and seeds, some rice cake, jelly, fruits, ice cream, etc. Red bean is called “Pat” (팥), and it’s the most important ingredient for making this icy treat. Therefore the most common name for this dessert is actually “Pat Bing Soo” (팥빙수). During the early 2000s, Pat Bing Soo with a lot of different toppings was very popular. Also different kinds of Bingsoo made with sweetened fruit compote or green tea, coffee, black tea became popular. But during the past 2-3 years, I have observed the return of original simplicity: shaved ice with just sweet enough stewed red bean, a few pieces of well made rice cake, little bit of condensed milk or milk, and a few drops of pine nuts.

Photo below was taken at “Dong Bing Go” (동빙고) in Dongbu Ichon-Dong. It’s one of the very popular and famous bingsoo places in Seoul.

There are many places now famous for this dish, including “Gabae” (가배) of Samchung-Dong; Bing Bing Bing and Ok Roo Mong in Hongik University area and so on. One of the oldest and most popular place to taste this is “Mill Top” in Hyundai Department store Abgujung branch. You have to wait easily 30 minutes to try this, and they only focus on this dish. It’s the very simple version – red bean, shaved ice, a few chewy rice cake pieces, and condensed milk. For that, the price might seem a bit high. (Most of these famous and popular places charge $6-7 per small bowl) But it takes great care and good ingredients to make a really good bowl of Pat Bing Soo. One must start with Korean grown/ house made red bean that’s not too sweet or flavorless. The ice should be shaved very finely so that it doesn’t have a coarse texture in your mouth. The amount of milk or condensed milk should not be too much, otherwise it will overwhelm the balance of the dish. The rice cake should also have a good texture and freshness.

I really liked the version at Gabae, Samchung-Dong. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to explain how to get to this place. But Samchungdong is a very popular date course with many precious restaurants and shops, so you might want to just take a walk in that area and ask around for this place. (Gabae is located close to the Samchung police station, but it’s tucked into a very small alley way, and the sign is not too obvious. It’s right next door to the popular cafe-chain called 5 Ci Jung).  The bottom right one is Strawberry Bing Soo. Gabae freezes and stores a huge amount of strawberries when they are in season, and use them as a base of this dish. And then they garnish it with fresh fruits and some nuts. Very delicious and refreshing! I took some of my American friends to this place last summer, and they all liked the Strawberry version more.

The most expensive and luxurious version of Bing Soo can be found at the Hotel Shilla’s lobby “The Library.” They make it with in-season apple mango shipped from Cheju island. The price? Whopping $34 + tax + service charge! Probably the most expensive dessert I have ever eaten. But it was actually worth it. They use 2 whole apple mangoes for one bowl of this. The ice is shaved so finely and thinly, it melts in your mouth. It also has slight yogurt tang. And the apple mango – it is so much better than the bland and flavorless mangoes found in a lot of American supermarkets. It’s even better than the in season mangoes I had in Taiwan. The flesh is a bit firmer, and it has a lot more fragrance and a lot more flavor. There are a few other places that serve similar version of this, but the Hotel Shilla’s version is a must try.

So, there. I think I am already longing for a trip to Korea during the summer time! 🙂

 

Woo Rae Ok, Best Cold Noodle in Seoul

Woo Rae Ok is even more popular and well known for Mool Naeng Myun (물냉면, Cold buckwheat noodle with broth) than Bong Pi Yang. It’s one of the most popular (almost revered as if it’s some kind of religious mecca) restaurants among restaurant bloggers, connoisseurs, old generation from North Korea who has a sentimental attachment to this dish, which originates from North Korea.

It’s a bit more “tough” in style compared to Bong Pi Yang. More beefy, and a bit more salty. It has more generous topping than Bong Pi Yang, too. The price is also serious – $11 for a bowl of this. But then it’s much cheaper than any decent pasta dishes you find in Seoul.

This is a restaurant that’s always full. If you catch it during their busiest hours, you will see something that’s so Korean – a parking and traffic crew directing the cars lined up in the alley-way (all the way out to the big road, sometimes making a big traffic jam)! And you may have to wait about 30-40 minutes easily, sometimes up to an hour. People come to eat this dish from other regions, and from all over Seoul. You will also see a lot of people with cameras taking photos of this dish.

Woo Rae Ok’s Bulgogi is also justly famous and popular. Bulgogi, thinly sliced beef marinated in sweet and savory sauce, is probably one of the most well known Korean dishes to foreigners, along with Bibimbap, and it’s usually prepared on the tabletop over a copper pan. Woo Rae Ok’s bulgogi is tender and perfectly seasoned, but is one of the most expensive one in Seoul. You have to spend more than $50 per person if you want to be full by just eating this.

Side dishes are simple – thinly sliced radish kimchi (more like pickle than kimchi), lettuce leaves for eating Bulgogi “ssam” style, salad, and Napa cabbage kimchi (more like salad, as it’s not too mature or ripe), and a refreshing “Nabak kimchi” (kimchi with sliced radish and slightly sweet and sour broth).

There are two locations – one in Jugyo-Dong, Eulji-Ro area and one in Daechi-Dong, Gangnam area. I prefer the original one in Eulji-Ro. You can take the subway line 5 or 2/ get off at the Eulji-Ro 4-ga station/ Exit #4/ walk straight and turn right onto the first alleyway/ walk a little and it’s on your left.

Bongpiyang, Seoul’s best chain restaurant

If you ever see “봉피양” (Bong Pi Yang) in Seoul, you must go inside and eat their cold noodle and dumplings. If your wallet is full, then try their grilled pork rib (galbi – 돼지갈비). If someone’s treating you, go for the grilled beef rib. (소갈비)

It’s one of the favorite chain restaurants among restaurant bloggers in Korea, and is rightfully so. Some branches are better than others, but overall the food quality is really high. It’s not a cheap place, but you will feel that your money was well spent no matter what you order here.

Mool naeng myun (Buckwheat cold noodle with savory cold broth, 물냉면) is a winter delicacy as the buckwheat is in season during the late fall-winter time. Photo below was taken in July 2012 at Bongpiyang, Hoja-dong branch.

Photo below was taken in November 2011 at Seorae maul Byukje galbi, which is a higher end franchise of the same company.

Mool naeng myun needs a few essential components: noodle made with lots of buckwheat that is not too sticky or chewy, but rather soft and fragrant; broth made with beef (originally it was made with pheasant, but now beef is the most standard ingredient) and some white kimchi broth (usually Dongchimi, which is a radish kimchi without the red pepper); and a few toppings such as sliced radish kimchi, slice of the beef that made the broth, sliced Asian pear, and sliced egg omelet or a hard-boiled egg.There are a few really famous and popular non-chain spots for this dish in Seoul – Woo Rae Ok (우래옥), Eulji myunok (을지면옥), Eulmildae (을밀대),  Pyung-Yang myunok (평양면옥), Pyung ga ok (평가옥), Pil dong myunok (필동면옥), Seobuk myunok (서북면옥), etc. (“Myunok” means a restaurant of noodles.) But Bongpiyang is always on the top 5 list of “The Best Mool Naeng Myun Places in Seoul” along with these famous places, and their naengmyun rarely disppoints. It is also a little bit easier and friendlier version than some of the other purist version of this dish – more beef flavor and a bit of tangy-ness in the broth.

Photo below was taken in November 2011 at Bongpiyang, Bangyi branch.

I know it is a bit strange for a lot of foreigners to eat noodle with cold broth, but once you get used to the idea, there’s nothing like it! The depth of the flavor is really subtle, and there is so much nuance in this simple, non-aggressive dish. Also the faint fragrance from really good buckwheat is very attractive.

Another popular dish at Bongpiyang is the grilled pork rib. As far as seasoned and grilled pork meat goes, this is one of the bests in Korea. Not too heavily seasoned, not too sweet, and the meat is juicy and tender. But it’s also one of the most expensive – about $25 per person for not a lot of pork!

And Bongpiyang doesn’t give a lot of side dishes. (At any other grilling place, you would get at least 4-5 different side dishes.)

They use really good wood charcoal for grilling, too.

Service can be very indifferent or slow, though.

If you like spice food, try the Yang Gom Tang (spicy soup with beef intestants).

The easiest location is probably Bangyi branch. Take subway line 5 (purple line), get off at the Bangyi station/ take exit 4. Walk straight and turn left at the first side road. Hyojadong location is also easy. Take subway line 3 (orange line), get off at the Gyungbokgung station/ take exit 3 and walk straight for about 3-4 min. It’s on your right side. There are many fun little cafes, cloth shops and markets around this station, so it will be fun to spend an afternoon here after eating lunch at Bongpiyang.

Enjoy!

Ike and Jane, Athens, GA

Ike and Jane, where you can get an “Elvis Presley Donut” – yeast donut with peanut butter glaze, banana slices and a piece of bacon. It sounds strange, but it’s quite a great combination! (Although I can let go of the bacon part.)

Ike and Jane is a cute and charming bakery-cafe in Athens, Georgia, where one can get a cup of decent coffee along with their fun variations of donuts, cupcakes, breakfast items, and really good freshly squeezed orange juice. I stumbled upon this place while I was in Athens for a rehearsal, and a concert a few weeks later. Their sign was so cute that I had to go inside and check it out.

Breakfast biscuit was delicious, and the cappuccino was decent enough.Pistachio-caramel glazed yeast donut was also yummy!

Atmosphere: Casual charming. Fun to look at the showcase!

Service: Friendly and apt

Website: www.ikeandjane.com

Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30am-5pm/ Saturday-Sunday, 8am-2pm

Address/ Phone#: 1307 Prince Avenue/ 706-850-1580

Tip: Parking can be pretty hard! And it seems always crowded. It might be easier for the driver to stay in the car, and take a to-go order during the busy hours.

They also have quite large lunch options, but I have not tried it yet. A good reason to go back to Athens, I suppose!

Liam’s Thomasville – Tallahassee’s Best Restaurant..!

Technically, Liam’s Restaurant is in Georgia. But it’s pretty close to Tallahassee, and it’s on the Thomasville Road, which connects from Tallahassee to Thomasville. I wish this restaurant was in Tally, not in Thomasville, though, as 30 minute drive can be too much when one’s very hungry.

I found out about this restaurant from a bartender at the Fermentation Lounge during during my first week living in Tallahassee. He said his family has been living in Tallahassee and Thomasville area for many generations, and Liam’s was his favorite restaurant along with Jonah’s, also in Thomasville. I visited Liam’s the very next week for lunch, and it was awesome.

We ordered a hamburger, tomato basil soup, and sashimi tuna salad. Not pretentious or overly creative, but food made with fresh and good ingredients, prepared with care. And the price for lunch was pretty good, too.

Tomato basil soup – simple and good. Perfect for a summer lunch.

Miso tuna salad – I liked the dressing and salad components. Tuna was a little bit overcooked, but it was still good.

But we never got to go back until the end of our second year in Tallahassee. We went a few times for dinner with close friends, and then once for brunch. I think their brunch and lunch are much better deal than the dinner. Still, it feels pretty good to make a reservation and drive up the road and eat for a long time with your good friends. This place has enough charm and goodness that I can let go of a few minor things.

Food: I like their lunch and brunch better than the dinner (priced better/ not as loud or crowded/ more selections). Dinner may seem a little bit over-priced, but I love trying their cheese selection (price varies by selection) and talking to Rhonda, the owner and cheese-person at Liam’s who is so enthusiastic and welcoming. Also good is the American charcuterie plate ($16). I wish they would serve baguette or rustic Italian bread with these, though. (They serve thick slices of cheese flavored bread.) One day I shall try their $100 cheese course!

Charcuterie plate is yummy! It’d be nice if it came with a bit more condiment/ toasted breads or cracker, but still the selection is good. I love the lardon – the white stuff at the right bottom corner.

Sugar Beet Salad: house-pickled sugar beets, blue cheese, walnuts, chive oil – this was interesting. Beet was very hard and crunchy..! I liked the flavor and the texture, but I could not eat a lot of it. Probably would be better to share among friends, rather than having it as a salad for yourself.

Tomato Basil Blue Crab Bisque: heavy cream, fresh tomatoes & hand-picked blue crab $6 – yummy! Rich but not too much, and generous amount and good flavor of blue crab. Loved it.

One of the best things I ate at Liam’s was this Farmer’s Toast dish: grilled & buttered crostini, forest mushrooms, truffle cream sauce, organic fried egg, $12 – such a simple thing, but so yummy!

Roasted quail with nocchi, and mushroom cream sauce $28 – my husband loved it. I got to taste it, and it was a little too much for me. Too much game meat, too much cream, ,,, just too intense. But the quail was tender and juicy. The gnoccchi would be good just with the mushroom sauce without the quail, I thought.

Hanger steak $28 – this was the only thing that was a little disappointing. The meat was a bit tough, and the sauce was too thick/ salty. I could not get the character of this dish. Nothing special or delicious compared to the other dishes I had here.

For dessert, I have had the Banana Foster ice cream ($8), sorbet selection, and coconut cream cake. They were fine, but nothing special or great, considering the price. Coconut cake was fine, but the torched coconut flakes tasted funny. Banana foster sauce was good, but the presentation and ice cream selection can be better. Sorbet tasted too sweet and the texture was a bit coarse. As a person with a serious sweet tooth, I wish Liam’s had a bit more creative or diverse selection of desserts.. !

Atmosphere: It’s not a haute-cuisine type place to experience modern techniques or impeccable plating. Nor it is a place for super-chic servers and shiny chandeliers. It’s a family run business that serves food made with good ingredients in a simple way, but with good care. Overall a bit dark, with beautiful photographs and dark-wood tables and shelves. It gets really noisy during dinner time, which is my least favorite thing about this place. But I am willing to let go of the loudness at Liam’s and at Kool Beanz.

Service: Things can get slow sometimes, but the servers are professional and friendly.

Address/Phone#: 113 East Jackson Street, Thomasville, GA 31792/ 229.226.9944 (Reservation for dinner is a must!)

Hours: Another strange operation hours.

CLOSED Sunday and Monday; Tuesday and Wednesday, LUNCH ONLY from 11am-2pm

Thursday – Friday, lunch from 11am to 2pm AND dinner from 5:30-closing; Saturday, brunch from 9am to 1pm AND dinner from 5:30- closing.

Website: www.liamsthomasville.com

In Tallahassee, Kool Beanz comes close to Liam’s, but Liam’s is a bit more sophisticated. (and a little less noisy and less casual) Mozaik tries to be modern, creative and chic, but sometimes their food comes across strangely unbalanced. Cypress was OK, but somehow I never wanted to go back.. so I will probably drive 30-4o minutes to Liam’s as much as I can whenever I long for a fine dining experience.

Tallahassee Eats, Tasty Beer Garden

Want to eat a bowl of Pho in Tallahassee? The only option, in my opinion, is the Tasty Beer Garden. The unfortunate thing is that they serve it only on Fridays.

I like their Pho – it’s simple, the noodle’s not too thick, broth is tasty (I like a little deeper flavor, but TBG’s Pho is not too salty or MSG loaded), and it comes with bean sprouts+basil leaves+lime wedge. I prefer this bowl to the other Phos in town.

Tasty Beer Garden opened in the fall of 2011. It’s a cute little place in the Railroad Park. It doesn’t claim to be a Vietnamese restaurant, although it’s run by Vietnamese people. As the restaurant’s name suggests, they have a decent beer list and a nice patio area. Also they serve some of the American dishes such as meatloaf. I like some of the Vietnamese dishes (well enough to make occasional visits, even when it’s not Friday), and my husband likes the Affligem beer.

Some of the dishes I like are:

* Fresh spring rolls (Goi Cuon) – FAR from the best I have had, but this is the best option in town. Elsewhere it’s too expensive or not good enough for various reasons. (noodles too thick, weird crab stick or funny tasting ham slice involved, etc.) Personally I wish TBG’s rolls had more herbs and less noodles, but still I sometimes crave these little snacks so much that I don’t mind the flaws.

* Bahn Mi – Again, not the best I have had.. but good enough. I like the pork sandwich better than the beef one. The spicy mayo seems to come from a bottle, and it’s a bit too sweet for my taste. Meat seems to be in-house cooked, and is tasty.

* Rice combination – My favorite things to order in good Vietnamese restaurants are Goi cuon, rice combination, Pho dak biet, and noodle salad. But at Tasty Beer Garden, I don’t order the noodle salad any more as the noodles are a bit overcooked and the pickles seem too watery and not pickled enough.  The rice combination is fun to order, and it’s good for the price.

The biggest let-down, at least for me, of this place is that every utensils and plates they use are plastic disposable, except the Pho bowls. I really wish they would at least use real forks and spoons. It makes me feel so guilty eating there. But as long as this is the only pho option in Tally, I will probably go back there every now and then.

Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice

I think it’s genius that Danji called their kimchi fried rice as “kimchi chorizo paella”. It sounds so much more interesting! Kimchi fried rice has so much potential and variations – basically you can put any kind of meat you want in it. My favorite is with bacon or with some rib-eye steak in the fat from the steak. (I sometimes grill steak just to eat the kimchi fried rice afterward.) Chorizo is also good as well as andouille sausages. Canned tuna is next in line. If you can get your hands on pork belly, that’s always a great choice for any kimchi dishes.

Since bacon is available in every grocery store in the U.S.A., here is a recipe for Bacon kimchi fried rice. It’s so easy, and it’s so yummy. But remember, you must have good kimchi and good rice to begin with! (See my previous post for some store-bought kimchi options.)

For 2 hungry adults:

3 cups of cooked rice

5 slices of bacon (or more, if you like) – remove excessive fat and chop finely

1/2 yellow onion or Vidalia onion – finely diced

1 TB Korean style chili oil [Gochu-girum: You can find ta recipe for this among my old blog entries] OR Japanese La-Yu + 0.5 TB Canola oil

2 Green onion stems, green parts only – finely sliced

1.5 cup kimchi – finely chopped (about same size as the bacon and onion)

Salt, Pepper

Optional, but highly recommended: Fried egg, sunny side up

How To Make

1) In a wok, fry the bacon

2) Add the chili oil – then add chopped onion and green onion. Then stir fry until the onion is translucent. Add more Korean chili flake [Gochu-garu], if you like it spicier.

3) Add chopped kimchi and mix well/ stir fry until kimchi starts to cook. (color will become less vibrant)

4) Add rice and mix well. Try not to break the rice too much/ use the edge of a wooden spatula.

5) When everything is mixed well and rice is warmed through, it’s done! Top with sunny-side up fried egg and enjoy!

Enjoy~ 🙂

Tallahassee Eats: Vertigo Burgers

There was a lot of buzz about the Vertigo Burger during the late summer of 2012. I usually don’t eat much red meat, and I rarely order a hamburger for myself at a restaurant. However things were slightly different in 2012 as I was pregnant with a precious little boy. The meat craving was almost ridiculous – I ate more amount of hamburgers and Chipotle’s beef fajita burrito than I ever ate in my life during my second trimester!

Anyways. Back to Vertigo – this is a new burger joint that was established by the same people who own the 101 in downtown. I am not a big fan of 101, but somehow the logo of Vertigo was exciting to my eyes. Also I was craving hamburger like crazy in August. So I went there alone (!!) and ordered the “Straight Up” with some sweet potato fries..then went back a few more times with my husband.

Atmosphere: Minimal, simple, casual, modern, functional, a bit chic

Menu: Simple but varied enough. A few salad options.

See their website for full menu – http://www.vertigoburgersandfries.com/menu/

Food: I like the flavor of their hamburger patties and the texture/ flavor of the buns. I also like their sweet potato fries – crisp outside, not too salty. I am not a big fan of the accompanied Vertigo sauce, though. It has little bacon pieces, and they sometimes taste a bit rancid. Plus bacon+mayo doesn’t work too well with either potato fries nor sweet potato fries. Their onion rings taste as though they are fried in good/ clean oil and are seasoned well. But I prefer beer battered kind of rings with more spongy-ness inside. Vertigo’s onion rings are a bit too floury.

So far we have tried the “Straight Up” (Burger with red onion, lettuce, tomato, pickles, American cheese, mustard, and ketchup), “Triple Throw Down” (beef burger, applewood bacon &  blue cheese, horseradish sauce, caramelized onions), and “Vertigo” (beef burger, fried egg, applewood bacon, griddled jalapeños, sharp cheddar, vertigo sauce).

Triple throw down comes with a lot of blue cheese, and my husband liked it very much. Straight up is really straight up, but very clean and refined flavor. I don’t eat a lot of hamburgers, so I can’t compare it to other burger joints, except for Five Guys. I think it is somewhat unfair to compare this place to Five Guys.. Five Guys serves good enough burger (for a franchise) at a very good price, but I think overall quality of ingredients is better at Vertigo. (And it should be!)

Service: It’s straight forward. You order at the cashier, get a number for your table, and they deliver it for you. Servers here are mostly young college kids, and they have been all very friendly and competent. We visited four times, and every time our orders came exactly the way we wanted.

Price/ Portion: A lot of people complained on Yelp about the size of Vertigo’s burgers. I don’t have a problem with it. I actually like it that it’s not too humongous, but I can see that it might be too small for others. Also many complain that the burger doesn’t come with fries. Maybe that is a problem, considering the relatively “high” price tag. (about $8.5-9 average for a burger/ $2.95 for full order of fries/ $1.95 for half order of fries) Portion for their fries is a bit more generous than the burger.

Now that my little boy is out, and I have lost the meat craving, I don’t think I will go back there voluntarily. But probably my husband will want to go back there for some blue-cheese loaded burger. The only problem I have with Vertigo is that I smell like grilled burger after I eat there – somehow the ventilation system doesn’t seem to be working so well..!

Concerning Kimchee

Kimchi -or Kimchee- is probably a synonym for Korean food to a lot of people. It was once featured on Saveur magazine , and recently New York’s Danji restaurant made “kimchi chorizo paella” famous.

Many people in America seem to have a bad first encounter with kimchi. When not made well or not “matured” well, kimchi could be extremely off-putting with strange and stinky smell. (Although I think it is slightly more tolerable than really strong blue cheese or stinky tofu). A lot of Korean people who live abroad has a kind of “love-hate” relationship with kimchi. You may be able to live without it, but you crave it so much. You want to make it, Whenever one’s mom comes over or ships a package, some disaster happens with shipping a tub of homemade kimchi. Once I had a box delivered in a big plastic bag, swimming in bright red juice that came out from the box containing my mom’s kimchi. I was so grateful that the post office delivered it to me, not throwing it away!

Fundamentally Kimchi is a way of preserving vegetables for a long time. There are so many kinds of kimchi in Korea as you can make it with any kind of vegetable. The most frequently eaten kind is made with Napa cabbage, “Paechu” or “Baechu”. Summer version and the easy version of this Paechu kimchi is made with cut-up and salted Napa cabbage. But the most important kind is the one that is made with whole head of cabbage, stuffed with thinly sliced radish seasoned with garlic, green onion, ginger, red pepper powder, fish sauce, fermented shrimp and so on. Below is a photo of my mom’s kimchi, winter 2012 edition, in a big container and thick plastic bag. It doesn’t look much appetizing, but it is so yummy! It even smells nice.

During late November and early December, almost every household in Korea is faced with making a large amount of Paechu kimchi for the winter. It’s usually a cooperative effort – you help your neighbors’ kimchi making and you will get their help when it’s your turn. I used to love helping my mom and eating the raw kimchi with extra stuffing, although it sometimes made me have a tummy ache in the evening. 🙂

Next in line is kkagdugi, which is made with Korean radish (a little bit plumper than the Japanese daikon) cut into small dices.

                                * This image is a photo I took of the Saveur magazine.

When you eat Sullung-tang or Seolong-tang (Korean style clear bone and meat soup), you get radish kimchi that’s cut up a little bigger as well as some Napa cabbage kimchi. (See photo below)

My favorite kimchi is “Chonggak kimchi,” which is made with radish that is very much smaller than the regular kind. It is so good with some bone soup or beef soup, or just good plain rice!

Different regions in Korea have different styles of kimchi making. Also every household has slightly different recipes and secret ways for making good kimchi. Some prefer putting sweet rice “glue” (thick porridge kind of thing) in their kimchi, some like to put fresh shrimp and squid in the stuffing, others like their kimchi simple and not too fussy, and so on. Usually the southern part of Korea called “Cholla” area uses a lot more fish sauce and seafood in their kimchi, and people in Seoul make moderate amount of seasonings and stuffing items.

Now, making kimchi at home is a long and labor intensive procedure. When one’s short on mom’s kimchi supply, one must rely on the store bought kind. My favorite that’s available in the U.S.A. is “Chongga Pogi Kimchi” (종가집 포기김치). This is not the cut-up kind, but the whole head of cabbage in a vacuum sealed package or a plastic tub. You can purchase it in any H-Mart off/online.

For cut-up kimchi, Ochonnyon (오천년) brand in a jar is OK, and more readily available in smaller towns’ Korean markets. However this brand’s kimchi feels a bit more artificially flavored (=too much MSG and sugar) to my taste.

I have introduced kimchi zigae (soup) with canned tuna before. I will post recipes for kimchi fried rice and kimchi pancake soon. Those are the bests!

* For those who are interested in knowing more about kimchi: visit Pulmuwon’s Kimchi Museum online. http://www.kimchimuseum.or.kr/

Great cafes in America #5, Quill’s Coffee, Louisville

Louisville is one of my favorite cities in the U.S.A. – It has a bit of the southern charm, a bit of the college-town coolness, and a bit of the urban-ness without being too crowded or too big to browse around. I first visited the city in 2005, and have been going back there for concerts. But whenever I am there, I am as much interested in the new restaurants and cafes as in my performances. I used to frequent the Heine Brothers Coffee for espresso drinks and desserts, as well as Blue Dog Bakery for breads, North End Cafe for brunch, and Dakshin for Indian food.

The most recent visit was in October 2012, and a friend of mine who is a coffee afficionado told me about the new cafe in L-ville: Quill’s. Quill’s has 2 locations in Louisville and 1 location in New Albany, Indiana. I visited the Cardinal Blvd. location near U of L and the one in New Albany.

They only focus on the coffee – meaning, not a lot of other drink options or baked items. I like the industrial look and the spaciousness of both locations. Coffee tasted better at the Cardinal location, though. They have something that has a bit more milk than the traditional macchiato, and it was velvety+sweet with just right amount of acidity and deep flavor.. but I forget the name!

I liked the drink above better than the traditional macchiato.

They roast their coffee beans in-house. They also have nice selection of beans and coffee related merchandise items on their website at https://quillscoffeeco.squarespace.com.

There were other cafes I visited – Sunergo was nice, but I prefer the flavor and the texture of Quill’s more. (Also the atmosphere is different: Sunergo is a bit more hippy and free/ Quill’s is more urban and cool.)

I didn’t care too much for Vint, though. The store felt not too clean or friendly and the espresso macchiato tasted a bit burned and too dark for my taste.

Next time I visit Louisville, I will check out the Java Brewing Company and La Grange coffee. I hope the good stuff keeps coming in Louisville!