3.350 Assorted Jeon

-Cycle 3, Item 350-
20 (Thu) December 2012

Assorted Jeon


at Pumasi [품앗이]

-Bukchang, Seoul-

with S Postma

Since first meeting Sjoerd last September at WHO in Manila, where he's a team leader overseeing the project that had me gadding about South/Southeast Asia earlier this fall (see most recently 3.285 Lobster Tempered in Spices), much of our off-duty discussions has concerned cuisine, so I was well aware of his interest and extensive experience with global gastronomy.  For example, he introduced me to arrak at a dinner in Sri Lanka (see 3.282 Seerfish White Curry); I would later parlay this newfound knowledge into a free drink at an Iranian restaurant here in Seoul (see 3.342 Dal-Adas Curry + Rice).

Accordingly, while Sjoerd was to be in town for a couple days, I did my best to give him a taste of Korean food at the source.  On day one, I took him to lunch at Myeongdong Kyoja, a famous Korean noodle/dumpling shop.  Subsequently, however, scheduling conflicts prevented me from joining him and therefore participating in any of the meal planning, which then fell to the people at Yonsei University, who were already involved in various aspects of the trip.  They took him to a buffet--a BUFFET!!!!--for dinner later in the day, Chinese for lunch the next day, and Japanese for dinner that evening (presumably with breakfast at the hotel buffet in between).  Come ON!!!!  When we were finally able to meet up for drinks after dinner this evening on the eve of his departure, I made sure that we did something local.  Keeping it really local, we ventured out on foot from his accommodations at the Plaza Hotel and wound up in a certain notorious back-alley of ill-repute that I described in a prior post (see 2.265 Budae-Jjigae Jjajmbbong) (apparently, I'm drawn there by instinct, like a homing pigeon).  Amid all the hostess bars with hawkers offering the services of English-speaking girls (Sjoerd is a big white Dutchman), we managed to find a restaurant/bar decorated to look like a traditional countryside pub, complete with a thatched roof overhead and farming implements adorning the walls; the menu comprised classic anju (food served with alcohol), like this plate of assorted jeon (see generally 1.066 Assorted Jeon), which we had with both soju and makgeolli.  Afterwards, we stopped by a pojangmacha (tent bar) for a handful of roasted ginko nuts and beer.  Not so great overall, but at least everything was authentic.


  1. I can see two reason why the people at Yonsei Uni would choose not to take him for Korean food, and instead let him eat Western and Japanese food...

    Either they think that Korean food would be "too spicy" for a Westerner, or they think it would be to "causal" to take him out for "regular" Korean food, and instead want to let him have some "special" food (which I guess equals "foreign food" in Korea)..

    Which one do you think is correct?

  2. i've been to a place and ate just this type of dish and drank soju and makgolli at a place similarly described (thatched roof and farming tool decor) very close to the plaza hotel a couple years ago. but i'm assuming it wasn't the same place as the one you went to because i totally did not notice any girls offering their services on the walk there. maybe i was just blind. anyway, i would like to put a trip to that jeon place down the hill (west) from your place on the list of places to revisit in april.

  3. @Gustaf: probably more the latter. it probably didn't occur to them that maybe he'd want korean food, and they probably didn't ask, so they just assumed something "special" (i.e., "foreign" just like you said) would be more appropriate. which is ironic, because koreans are so into eating their own food wherever they go abroad, but then they're a bit hesitant to offer korean food when they're doing the hosting--i've been to countless academic conferences here in korea, and the food is ALWAYS some sort of western steak thing.

    @Lisa: i was like "west?" huh?" i used to tell people here to meet me on, for example, the southeast corner of such and such intersection, and they had no idea what i was talking about. for some reason, koreans don't use NSEW in reference to directions.

    as for the bukchang-dong thing, well, you're a girl, so obviously they wouldn't be inviting you in. and it's not the actual girls but guys standing around the entrances. if they're not hawking, they could just look like guys standing around. did the bar you went to have a loft "mezzanine" seating area directly above the main floor that made the ceiling seem really low?