This time, the focus is on cuisine from the Far East: South Korea. South Korean food is one of the most flavourful cuisines on the globe. Contrary to widespread perception, it is not limited simply to dumplings and kimchi; rather it offers a wide range of unique techniques and fermented preparations. The intensity of flavour in South Korean dishes comes from use of simple but sharp seasonings like scallions, dried seafood seasoning (jeotgal) and chili (gochugaru). The overpowering taste of spices is countered perfectly by the freshness of vegetables used as toppings and miso broth.
The most popular South Korean delicacy is probably kimchi, which is made from salted and fermented vegetables, most commonly napa cabbage and South Korean radishes. It is a staple accompaniment to all South Korean meals, and is that one thing every South Korean grandma makes at home for her grandchildren. Some dishes to start your journey are bibimbap, which is a wholesome meal with rice, vegetables, and a fried egg to top off, and bulgogi dup-bap (marinated beef in a bowl of rice), a simply prepared meal with complex tastes. Vegetarians as well as meat-lovers are catered equally well by South Korean food. A South Korean meal is incomplete without soju, so do remember to ask for a bottle of the sweet stuff.
Thanks to globalisation, we have plenty of South Korean food to go around in Dublin. My personal favourite is Dublin’s oldest South Korean restaurant, Kimchi Hophouse on Parnell Street. Besides serving a mad range of delicious, affordable food, it also has a beer garden for a relaxed evening. Their soju cocktails are a must-have. Han Sung on Great Strand Street, primarily a grocery store, has a small restaurant tucked at the back, with the cheapest, delectable South Korean food in town. Brothers Dosirak on Capel Street is a puzzle to find but totally worth it, with salmon misoyaki and South Korean sushi roll on the other side of the adventure. The Hailan restaurant chain, present in Dundrum as well as Dame Street, is another destination for your South Korean food cravings.
For us gourmands with economic restrictions, cheap authentic South Korean food serves the purpose of alternate eating in the true spirit of a diverse college life.