Monday, February 8, 2010

Another Cocoa the Spoiled Poodle Post

Because I've been sitting on my lazy derriere and not editing the gazillion food and travel related photos taking up space on my harddrive, I present you (rather) old photos of Cocoa in his usual glory.

In his seat of power, i.e. my dad's lap. Dad is his favorite head-scratcher.
Aaaaaaah, that feels good.

Aiiiieeeeee! Happy screams! He also likes to have his neck scritched.

So what's your problem? His usual 'now don't give me attitude' face.

Power sleeping. Do dogs sleep hard or what?

Fine Chinese Dining at CHUNG

When you think of Chinese dining in Korea, it's probably the ubiquitous jjajangmyun that first comes to mind. It's a highly Koreanized noodle dish whose main forte is the fact that it can be delivered anywhere, and by anywhere I mean from living quarters to office buildings to the banks of the Han river where you might be picnicking. (Once you get spoiled by the 24hour Korean food delivery service you're pretty much doomed to live anywhere else.)
Along with jjajangmyun there's also the standard noodles-in-soup dish jjampong, sweet and sour pork/beef tangsuyuk that are commonly mentioned.

I'm not that fond of Chinese food; I've had more than my fair share of delivery jjajangmyun while working late late hours during my yuppie years and it's only on rare occasions that I find myself joining others to restaurants with round tables and spinning lazy Susans.
However, when an establishment has a scent of authenticity and/or creativity in their cuisine and manages to pull it off, I find myself pigging out like no other and heaping praises accordingly.

CHUNG in the Samcheong area is one of those places. I honestly can't mention anything about the authenticity of its cuisine (there are far too many different cooking styles in China and I'm no expert) but the execution and presentation were very pleasing. The staff were friendly, helpful and not too clingy.

Soft lighting always throws my camera off and takes blurry pictures. (I'm too lazy to carry around my DSLR.)

They offer a variety of set menus at different price ranges, including a lighter lunch menu and a junior set for kids. We had the CHUNG Original Course menu, accompanied by wine that the sommelier had recommended and of which I had neglected to take a picture. They have a fair wine list to enhance the dishes they had to offer.

Assorted cold dishes of marinated seafood, beef and veggies.

Sweet pumpkin juk.

Shark's fin with abalone sauce.

Sauteed sea cucumber with veggies.

Abalone and asparagus with black moss.

Braised steam pork belly and bak choi.

Sauteed scallops with black bean sauce.

Sweet and sour something (compliments from the chef, forgot what it was, d'oh!)

Warm noodles to finish.
I didn't bother taking photos of the fruit and tea for dessert.

In the main street of the Samcheong district, easy to find
Reservations required

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

End of Winter, Start of Spring?

Lights at Gwanghwamun Plaza

People in the western world, what was the groundhog's verdict?

Is everyone in the northern hemisphere as sick of winter as I am? Odd, for winter was my favourite season as a kid. It still was when I was in uni as well, come to think of it. I loved strolling along the deserted city streets with my walkman blasting my music of the mo' (yes, I'm of that generation) and breathing in the crisp chill air.
I started dreading ole man winter when my circulation started not to be so cooperative. Durrr, as soon as the north winds saunter merrily down south into the peninsula, I can feel the cold seep into every single cell of my body, even those of which I'm not aware. In short, I frickin' freeze in the winter. (Thermal underwear is my best friend for practically half of the year.)

February 4th is "Ipchoon" (입춘), literally the 'start of spring', according to the lunar calendar. That's tomorrow. And it's still minus 10something degrees celsius here. SPRING? Really?
February is my least favorite month of the year. November is right up there as well but December makes up a lot for it with the holidays, whereas March doesn't really manage to cover the absolute blahness of February.
I think they made February short for a reason. A test of patience, this month is. If it were any longer I'm sure a lot of people, yours truly included, will just go bonkers at the tenacious dreariness of the non-dying winter.
(Obviously they stuck in Valentine's Day to spice the month up a bit but it being an exclusive holiday rather than an inclusive one - what are you supposed to do if you don't have a significant other? - it's not that effective.)

The Lunar New Year holidays have fallen in February this year so there is at least something to look forward to but I honestly can't wait until this month, or to be more exact, this winter to be over.

No more ranting. Let's talk happy. Bright lights are happy.
Posting photos that I never got around posting about, from the Seoul Light Festival to holiday lights in downtown.

Gwanghwamun Plaza at dusk. A far view of the installation of Nam June Paik's video art "Fractal Turtleship". It was placed in front of Admiral Yi Sun Shin's statue during the Light Festival, an apt spot, as the Admiral led his naval troops at the helm of the Turtleship.

Took a video clip from the outside through the glass; the inside was far too crowded to get a clear shot during the guided tour.

Back to Ipchoon. The tradition is to put calligraphy writings of good luck on the front door, the usual shortened version being Ipchoon Daegil (입춘대길) - "Great Fortune on the Start of Spring". Usually written in Chinese characters rather than Hanguel, you rarely see them now but you might glimpse them on the doors of traditional houses (hanok, 한옥) in less urban neighborhoods.

Photo from