seoul eats: bossam (보쌈) and a “poopy” treat

After the tteok cafe and museum visit, Mark and I met up with one of my cousins to have lunch.  Since she obviously knows the city better than either of us do, I let her pick the venue.  We met at a subway station exit close to Samcheondong, where we were headed for at least a 20 minute walk to our destination.  I didn’t mind at all; we had just had breakfast at the tteok cafe, so a little walk would do us good for digestion before our meal.

What’s interesting is that while we were walking through Samcheondong, my cousin remarked how much had changed since her last visit just 5 months ago.  That’s how rapidly things change in Seoul.  In typical “hurry hurry” fashion, even the comings and goings of new shops and stores follows that same philosophy.  If things could change that much in 5 months, I can only imagine what a year or two would do for a neighbourhood.

signageAfter some consulting on a mobile GPS, we finally made it to our destination, Beuk Mak Gol.  It looks like one of the houses (hanok) you’d find in a traditional village.

signage2Their specialty is their bossam (보쌈), a popular boiled pork dish that’s typically wrapped with salted napa cabbage.  I don’t think I’ve ever had bossam before (or if I did, it must’ve been a really long time ago as I don’t have any memories of it).  “Boiled pork” isn’t exactly the most appetizing sounding thing in the world, but my cousin said this place had great reviews on their bossam.  My curiosity was definitely piqued, as their version is called (a direct translation) “garlic roasting bossam”.  That accompanying plate of fanned pork looks divine.

exteriorYou take your shoes off at the entrance of this hanok-style restaurant.  It’s traditional floor seating, which our North American-influenced bodies were so not used to.  We found that we had to adjust our posture and positioning several times to get comfortable, but such are the joys of dining Korean style.

mandoo2We started off with an assortment of 5 different types of dumplings (mandoo).  The selection included pork dumplings, really spicy dumplings, shrimp dumplings, deep fried dumplings, and kimchi dumplings.

mandoo1My favourite was the shrimp dumpling.  These were actually quite large as well, so we could only finish a couple each.  We had them packed up and enjoyed them later that evening.

bossamThis plate of magnificent pork belly adorned with fresh onions and fried, crispy garlic chips had us all in awe.  It’s a thing of beauty and the presentation was stunning.  Instead of wrapping the pork in lettuce, you eat it with a bit of onion and some garlic chips (I guess that’s what they meant by “garlic roasting”).  I was initially skeptical about how a boiled pork would taste, but as soon as I took my first bite, I was a believer.  It was one of the most flavourful and tender pork belly pieces I’d ever tasted.  It was beautifully seasoned, while the onion and garlic chips paired well and cut through the fattiness of the belly.

We ate up every last bit of this and were stuffed to the brim.  I’m really glad my cousin found this place, otherwise I may never have discovered the magic that is bossam.

Now, you’re probably wondering, what’s with the “poopy” treat?  Well, follow along children, and I shall show you.

After having such a big meal, the last thing I wanted to do was eat more, but I just had to get my hands on a treat that my friend told me about on his visit to Seoul.  Luckily, the place to find such a treat was Insadong, where we’d just come from (tteok cafe).  So we headed back in that direction.

And then… I saw it… I had finally found it!  If there was one thing I could not leave Seoul without doing, it was this… finding this treat…

ddongbang3That’s right, it’s the famous “poop bread” of Insadong!

ddongbang2Obviously it’s not made with poop (you’re thinking, “Thanks, Captain OBVIOUS”).  It’s just shaped that way and filled with sweet red bean paste.

ddongbangAlas, I finally got my hands on this poopy treat.  My life, at that moment, was complete.

So how did it taste?  Like any standard sweet red bean paste filled treat of that nature.  The taste itself is nothing special; I’ve had fish-shaped bread that tasted exactly like it.  It’s all in the novelty of it and being able to say with a straight face, “I ate poop bread in Korea!”  It counts as one of the ultimate joys of my life.

A delicious bossam meal topped with a poopy treat… it doesn’t get any better than that, folks.

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