Saturday, 30 June 2012

Korean Menus #2

This sign is for a 샤브샤브 restaurant. It's just a place I saw in my local neighbourhood when I lived in Incheon (인천). The name of the restaurant is 계양촌.

Under the red name, you can see in blue '찌개 / 전골 전문점', so this place must specialise in  찌개 and 전골. The word 전문점 simply means something like 'speciality outlet'. Then under that you can see in black another speciality, 샤브샤브.

Jjigae is a kind of stew ...

Jeongol is another kind of stew ...

Kimchi Jjigae Jeongol
Well, it's a kind of kimchi stew, I guess!

'부대' (Budae) or 'army' stew is spicy and contains a random assortment of ham, spam, sausage and other mystery meats.

(You'll see 부대찌개 and 김치찌개 at many restaurants.)

해물 - Seafood

Korean Alcohol / 酒 / 주 / 술

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Korean Menus #1

I love translating things. Which is good, what with me being a language teacher and all ... it kind of helps to be obsessed with language ...

Anyway, one of the most important things - if not THE most important thing - you need to be able to do if you visit Korea, is read restaurant menus. Because there's soooooo much good food to try! So here are a couple of menus translated. Actually, I never took any pictures of menus inside restaurants ... these are the signs outside the restaurants ... But if anyone has any good pictures of actual menus, please send them my way and I'll put them up in my next menu post!

1. First, the sign for a  쭈꾸미 restaurant.

baby octopus



slang word that means something you 'crave' or have a craving for. (Oh yeah, I''m really craving baby octopus so bad, mm-mm)

쭈꾸미 철판구이
Baby octopus grill

This is one of my favourite 'special treat' dishes in Korea. Why? Because it's one of the very few dishes I've ever tried in Korea that was actually SPICY HOT! Like, really spicy. Not 'spicy for wimps', which is how I would describe some other so-called 'spicy' food I've had in Korea, unfortunately. No, when I had this (at a different restaurant) it was really hot hot hot. It's a big hot pan full of a mixture of yummy things in spicy sauce, the star of the dish of course being the whole mini octopi.

2. Next, a kinda retro-looking sign for a fish restaurant.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Elderflower Season

영국에서 6월에 딱총나무 꽃피는 계절이다. 시골길에는 딱총나무 꽃향기가 가득한다

It's June, and the English hedgerows are overflowing with frothy white elderflower heads. Get up close to them, and you can smell that gorgeous, distinct elder fragrance.

Friday, 22 June 2012

茶 이야기 - Korea's teas

차 - 茶 - tea, 'cha'

A lot of people talk about Korea's food and alcohol, but often overlooked are the country's traditional teas, tisanes and non-alcoholic drinks (the encompassing Korean word for drinks is 음료). Korea has some really wonderful and unique flavours when it comes to traditional beverages, and there are loads that I recommend trying.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Snack of the Day: 연양갱

Oh my god. My mouth is watering so much looking at this. I want to eat it NOW! But it's my last bar left from a multipack I brought back with me from Korea ... and I don't know if there's anywhere I can buy these in the UK, so, I kind of want to save it ...

Today's snack is 해태 연양갱. It's a brand of 양갱, a sweet bean jelly that's popular in Korea. It has an unusual firm texture that is unlike any kind of Western confectionery I can think of. Although it's a kind of jelly, it's a different kind of jelly. And very, very sweet. Perhaps something akin to marzipan? It's made from 팥, the red beans that are often made into a paste and found in various other traditional Korean sweets.

Survival Korean: Excuse Me?!

Being British, I naturally say 'excuse me' an awful lot. 'Excuse me, can you take our order?' 'Excuse me, how much is this?' 'Excuse me, can I pass by' 'Excuse me, I'm sorry about that', etc etc etc. It's just terribly British, isn't it?


There isn't a simple answer. Because Korean doesn't have one word to fit all the situations that 'excuse me' covers in English. So if you're going to Korea and you want to be nice and lovely and polite and say 'excuse me' a lot but IN KOREAN, here are some phrases you need to know:

Monday, 18 June 2012

Korean Phone Input Method

Some phones (especially older ones) have strange input systems for typing Hangeul, and they can be a bit confusing. Here's how one of mine works:

This is a UK phone (although made by a Korean company), but it had Korean in the language options

Friday, 15 June 2012

Typing in Hangeul

For typing Korean on an English keyboard, you'll need to know where the keys are:

qㅂ      wㅈ      eㄷ      rㄱ       tㅅ        yㅛ       uㅕ        iㅑ     o ㅐ   pㅔ
  aㅁ       sㄴ      dㅇ      fㄹ       gㅎ        hㅗ       jㅓ        kㅏ     lㅣ
     zㅋ       xㅌ      cㅊ      vㅍ       bㅠ       nㅜ       mㅡ


Qㅃ    Wㅉ    Eㄸ     Rㄲ     Tㅆ     Yㅛ     Uㅕ     Iㅑ    Oㅒ     Pㅖ

If you have a UK keyboard, the " and @ keys will switch places.

My laptop ... with children's letter stickers

How to add Korean input method in Windows 7:

1. Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region > Change keyboards or other input methods
2. Change Keboards > Add > Korean > Keyboard > Microsoft IME
3. Click all the relevent OK, YES and APPLY buttons, etc.

You should now have a little bar somewhere on your screen that allows you to change between KO (Korean keyboard) and EN (English keyboard). When you're in KO, there's another button that switches between A (English) and 가 (Hangeul), because Korean keyboards have both options. You should also see another button that allows you to input Hanja.

Happy typing!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Korean Street Food - 포장마차

Ok so the first question someone asked me about Korea was, "Oh Korea ... Is that the place where they have all that street food?"

Well, I had to think about it, because although it's true to some extent, I guess there are loads of other countries where you can easily find street food, too. I don't know if Korea is particularly famous for its street food, more than any other country. Is it?

Heart attack-inducing delicacies for the cherry blossom tourists in Jinhae

That said, street food in Korean cities is cheap and abundant, and any busy Korean street without 포장마차 would be missing a vital feature. While there isn't always a wide variety of foods available, there are quite a few popular options that you'll often come across:

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Top 10 Hanja

Before you read the rest of this post, you'll need to know a little bit about Korean language. Here is a super condensed history of the Korean language in one sentence:

Long long ago, people in Korea used to read and write logographic characters taken from Chinese (and as you know there are lots and lots and lots of different characters so it's a bit diificult), but then in the 15th Century a famous, brilliant and genius king called Sejong the Great came up with a new super-simple phonetic writing system called Hangeul, which of course became very popular and eventually replaced the old complicated Chinese character system, and now in modern day Korea (both North and South) Hangeul is the official Korean script.

But what about those old Chinese characters? Can you still find them in Korea? Yep, you can. They are called Hanja, and there are a number of reasons why it might be useful to learn a few of them. Firstly, they can often be seen in newspapers, and sometimes on shop signs. Secondly, if you are interested in history, you can see Hanja in ancient texts at museums, palaces and temples. Most young people in Korea don't have a particularly in-depth knowledge of Hanja, but will have studied it at school and therefore know some. Here are the most common Hanja that you might see in Korea: