The Croaker Street in Mokpo, South Korea

Four hours of bus drive from Seoul left myself and my bicycle at a terminal in Mokpo, the biggest port city on southwest coast of Korean peninsula. My ferry ride to Jeju Island leaves after midnight and I got plenty of time to cruise around the city best known for its seafood in search for local delicacy.

There is a song that goes “Mokpo is the port”. As the lyrics say, Manho-dong, the neighbourhood near the Port of Mokpo, is a hub of fresh catch that never cease to release the smell of the deep blue sea. Restaurants serve all kinds of delicious local cuisine made with sea creatures harvested from the waters off Sinan, South Jeolla Province. Out of these unique regional seafood parades, fresh croaker sashimi is known as something that one should must give a try in their lifetime.

Croaker sashimi with a side of assorted “special cuts”

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Butterfish Sashimi in Mokpo: Last Day of Youngsan River Bike Trip

The last bike trip of 2016 was the one to remember: from Gwangju to westcoast city of Mokpo. The route that runs along Youngsan-gang (river) goes through the province of Jeolla-do, the part of Korea famous for their unique traditional fare.

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Finally arrived in Mokpo! After two days of riding

As a way to celebrate our achievement, we decided to go for something rare and out-of-ordinary. A quick search on smartphone led us to a sashimi place nearby that serves daily catch. Today’s special: A pomfret or so-called butterfish. Continue reading

Beef & Rice Soup in Naju: First Day of Youngsan River Bike Trip

Last November, a few friends and I decided to go on a spontaneous bike trip to Youngsan-gang, a river running through the province of Jeolla-do. I mentioned number of times on my blog that Jeolla-do is the mecca of traditional Korean cuisine. Nowadays, it is a popular tourist destination not only for foreigners but for Koreans from other provinces as well. Living in Daejeon, the center of South Korea, it is just an easy two-hour bus ride to Gwangju, the largest metropolitan city of gourmet province.

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Naju gomtang, beef broth with rice

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Pigs’ Feet Hot Pot at an Old Tavern in Gurye

The province of Jeolla-do (전라도) is known as a mecca of Korean soul food and home to traditional namdo (southern provinces) fares. Many foodies around the country travel down to the southern region for good foods and history behind them. Our 3-day hiking trip in winter Jirisan ended near Gurye, a small town located at the southwest corner of Jirisan National Park. After only having quick meals in the snowy mountain for three days, I craved for a nice, warm, home-cooked style meal with some makgeoli.

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Must Eat in Mokpo, South Korea: Pork Bone Soup

Our weekend bike trip to Youngsan-gang (영산강) was a great way to end this season. I haven’t been riding much since the eastcoast ride I had done over last Thanksgiving week. My bike had been sitting in the corner of my yard and was literally being covered in spider web. So being able to take her out again and into the nature was amazing despite the damp weather on Saturday.

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Grilled Short Rib Patties in Iksan, Jeollabuk-do

Last Sunday, my parents and I decided to go for a little drive out of the city.  Less than an hour away is a small city called Iksan (익산시), located in the province of Jeollabuk-do.  Today’s destination was solely based on my father’s suggestion.  He has been eager to try the famous ddeokgalbi (떡갈비: minced short rib meat shaped into patties then charcoal-grilled) that his tennis buddies were raving about for some time.  He was pretty serious about giving a fair review.

The restaurant sits in a quiet countryside and is conveniently adjacent to the entrance to a country club that mom often goes with her golf buddies.  In fact, mom has been here few times before during the summer.  She also praised the quality of the meat patties and claimed that they are better than that of “originals” in Damyang city.  Our family has tried the dish few years ago when we went on a road trip to Damyang, the city where ddeokgalbi was born.  We ate at one of the most famous places in the city — the kind of place that often appears in media and claims that they are the “original”.  Unfortunately, I do not remember much of the dish as it was not special to me at all.  Perhaps I got my hopes too high but in the end I felt the meat patties of Damyang were just average-tasting and overpriced.

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The sign also includes the word “Damyang” — probably indicating that they are following the cooking method that was originally developed in Damyang.  The first impression was not so welcoming as the place was completely empty.  The owner explained that the winter is their off-season.  Of course, most of their regulars are probably golfers who only come all the way out here to enjoy a game under the sun.  A frosty, gloomy Sunday in January is indeed no day for golfing.

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