Gwangju Blog

Where to Eat Wednesday: 가매일식

Today’s post is basically the longest post ever because my friends are awesome, so let’s just jump right into it.

OutsidePrivate Room

My friends took me on a surprise trip 가매일식 (Gamae Ilsik) one night as a belated Christmas gift I certainly didn’t deserve. As I would never be returning to such a fancy place to review on my own dime, I figured it couldn’t hurt to take full advantage of my gift by forcing my buddies to wait while I obnoxiously took pictures of our food.

MenuPorridge

Located near the bus terminal, it wasn’t hard to tell how nice this place would be just from the real estate alone. Once we found parking and went inside, we were greeted by someone asking us if we had a reservation. There was a long awkward pause and a bit of scrambling before we were informed that a table was indeed available. It was interesting to see a distinct lack of customers, as every group got their own room. We were not excluded from this, though it did feel a little awkward for just the three of us to sit in a room that was meant to house a proper work dinner.

Salad & SaucesSashimi

As I flipped open the menu, I went in expecting selection here to be similar to 가매초밥 (Gamae Chobap; Gamae Sushi), which I’m 98% sure is owned by the same people. What I got was a fancy list with even fancier prices. While there weren’t any pictures, it was a relief to see that most of the menu options had English translations. The dinner sets, which came in Sashimi, Tuna, or Sushi, ranged anywhere from 55,000 to 120,000 per person. The menu also had some lunch specials and single seafood dishes, but the star of the menu appeared the be the Omakase, which is the Japanese word for a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef. It should be noted that if a set is ordered, everyone else at the table will be expected to order the exact same set. As tempting as the idea of consuming ridiculous amounts of tuna was, curiosity forced us to go for the Omakase.

ShellfishOctopus

Spicy TunaDuck & Onions

After we placed our order, we started our journey of many courses that offered what I’m pretty sure was a proper sample of the ocean. We started with some black sesame rice porridge, which was nutty, savory, and slightly bitter. The salad that came after was fairly basic, though a bit fruity. We then got a fancy sashimi display that came with a side of raw vegetables, an assortment of sauces to be used for either or, some roasted seaweed, and this garlicky kimchi that has basically turned into one of my favorite forms of fermented cabbage. I wasn’t able to identify all of the fish on the plate, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the different cuts of tuna and the freshly grated wasabi. Needless to say, it was fantastic.

Fish CakeMackerel

Next came a shellfish platter than came with oysters, meat from different types of clam, and what I’m pretty sure as raw 홍어 (hongeo; skate). The oysters weren’t as fresh as we hoped they would be, but they still tasted alright. The rest of the plate was relatively untouched by me, because I’m someone who honestly doesn’t know how to appreciate seafood properly. The next couple of dishes came with 산낙지 (sannakji; raw octopus tentacles) and some sort of spicy tuna that was very reminiscent of spicy raw beef. The former, which I have tried before, was a fun experience as always. For those who have never tried this dish, the tentacles don’t really taste like much outside of whatever they’ve been seasoned with. I’m pretty certain people eat this more for the experience than anything. The spicy tuna was probably one of my favorites of the night, leaving me wishing that I could have enjoyed this in a roll or on top of rice.

White FistSalmon

We then got some sort of duck and onion salad, which was tasty and came with a smear of some sort of sweet and savory sauce, and 어묵탕 (oemuktang; fish cake soup), which was basically a fancier version of the more common street food version. The next two dishes were grilled mackerel and some sort of white fish that a couple of us thought was monkfish. Both fish came with a slice of lemon to add some acidity, and while the mackerel was nice, the mystery fish was insanely tender and moist. We also got a plate filled with different types of sushi, ranging anywhere from raw sweet shrimp to a piece of pound cake. As this was my first time trying sweet shrimp, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The rest pf the pieces were pretty standard.

SushiGrill

Next up was some sort of fried ball that was crunchy on the outside and filled with moist pieces of salmon. I loved this one. Then arrived a small grill to cook up some thin slices of beef and what I think were even thinner slices of scallops. Despite the amount of setup required for this course, we didn’t want things cooking too long, as we didn’t want anything overcooked. It also came with mushrooms, which I did a great job of soaking up the meat juices. We also got some crab legs, which made this fancy meal into a messy one as we tore into that tasty meat.

CrabRice Cake

As we started to get full, we got some grilled rice cakes, which tasted kind of fishy, and some shrimp tempura, which is pretty much my favorite way to consume shrimp. The last of the seafood we got was salted and dried yellow corvina, which is a classic Korean dish that I strongly dislike for personal reasons. If you’re a fan of funky fish, this is definitely for you. At last, we got some rice mixed with refreshing green tea before finishing our meal with a cinnamon tea with a side of fruit and a lovely brittle.

Shrimp TempuraCorvina

Consider how long this post was and imagine how long it take to eat all that food. If that sounds appealing, and you have a bit of money burning a hole in your pocket, then 가매일식 is the place for you. It may not be for the faint of heart, but it’s certainly a great option for anyone who enjoys most types of seafood. Even when going with a small party, it’s recommended that one make reservations beforehand, as this spot can get pretty busy. Be sure to come hungry and be prepared to spend a good few hours here.

RiceDessert

Address: 광주광역시 서구 농성동 649-1 (right next to Nongseong subway station)
Phone: 062-352-7711
Hours: 11:30AM to 10:00PM
Website: http://www.gamajp.com
Average Price Range: 55,000 to 120,000 per set

Waking.

Waking.

 

 

It is that time. A time to venture into spaces left idle for the past several months. During this time, chances are that the sun greats our earliest waking moments. This time allows for doors to be left open. Early morning wordless coffee on patios accompanied by neighborhood sounds, nearly forgotten in the midst of our post-winter slumber. This acoustic energy breathes in new life as the sun crests over Manjin-san. The haptic warmth of its rays spurs an awakening of the streets below. From above in quiet observation, this process seems the awakening of a single organism.

The watcher is watched from behind, yet all eyes are subject to an evolving spring. It sinks into the city’s arthritic bones, leaving little invasive trace. Color is set to resume not only the background hills, but also the wardrobes of those who walk their abutting streets. In the coming weeks, if not even days, the clothing rack above will likely be dotted with a more welcoming pallet of warm pastels and, if the lens is lucky, the odd, fluorescent yellow.

The ways in which a city awakens are subtle, yet when given time to appreciate, can knock the socks off of a street photographer at the ready. While this may be figuratively as well as literally true (it is approaching full-time sandal weather for yours truly), capturing externally/visually what is largely an internal experience of awakening to the world requires patience, perhaps a view, and of course, extraordinarily strong coffee. As we round the corner into April, here’s to an experience worth waking up into.

 

[Photo taken with my Ricohmattic 225 with its fixed 80mm lens, and on this day shooting Ektar 100.]

 

(Photo & Text by Marty Miller)

 

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People You Should Know in Gwangju…Kayla Edwards

This week we have a community member that just about everyone knows. You’ll see her out and about at the hot spots in downtown, and most recently she’s been spotted helping out behind the bar at Tequilaz. She is usually the first one to welcome new folks to Gwangju, and offer them any help they might need. An active volunteer at many of the local community organizations, and most recently a brand new foster mom to a beautiful puppy.  Tilted Kayla

 

Name… Kayla

Occupation… Nursery Teacher

Hometown… Depending who I am talking to it’s either Amory, Mississippi or Riverside, California

Length of time in Korea… 2 years and 9 monthsMiss K and her Owlettes

A book I read once a year is… the Bible. Ever since I was a kid my parents would tell us if we finished the Bible before the end of the year we would get money. Then I started enjoying it so I read it just because.

The show I am most likely to binge watch is… The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Cosby Show, A Different World, Full House. I can’t just binge watch one show at a time. I have a slight commitment issue haha…

My favorite sport to play is… basketball.

The food I am best known for is… Macaroni and Cheese, Collard Greens and Cornbread, oh and enchiladas…

My favorite movie is… Dreamgirls, Hairspray, pretty much any musical. I love singing along with the songs and acting out the scenes by myself. I wish I would sing like all of the people in those musicals.Moustache madness

How did you end up in Gwangju? Hmm, I ended up in Gwangju because I was getting away from my father, haha not really but he did play a huge part in my choosing to come here. I needed to get away from what I knew and what was normal for me, and pay off my student loans. I fell in LOVE with Gwangju from my first day here, I tried living in Seoul and only lasted 2 months. Gwangju is a great home away from home. The places I love to eat at, meet up with friends at, and the ones I love so much are here in Gwangju. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Santa KaylaWhat is your best tip for living in Korea? My best tip for anyone living in Korea would have to be don’t seclude yourself. Be open and outgoing and get involved in something. Volunteer with Adopt-A-Child, or join the Sunday Dog Walking group, become involved with GPP (Gwangju Performance Project) or join a language exchange program. Just look around and find something to be involved with and it will make your time here much more pleasant.

Are there any places/services/experiences in Gwangju you can recommend that a lot of people may not know about? I would definitely recommend people looking into being a foster “parent” for the animals at the animal shelter. There are a group of volunteers who go every Sunday to walk and play with the dogs. I recently started fostering this cute little Jindo puppy named Cinnamon. He is 4 months old and the sweetest thing ever.Cinnamon

Do you belong to any clubs or community organizations in Gwangju? I am a volunteer with Adopt-A-Child for Christmas Gwangju. This year was my second year being a volunteer and it’s just absolutely amazing. Visiting the different orphanages and handing out gifts to the kids, organizing people to buy presents personally, and the looks of everyone as they open their gifts is simply amazing.

What to Do This Weekend: A Film Festival, Figure Drawing, And an Ensemble from Vienna

Hello Gwangju!

Spring has officially begun and the temperatures are warming up! Let’s see what there is to do in town this weekend.

Thursday, March 23rd

Courtesy of the Gwangju Cinema

Courtesy of the Gwangju Cinema

Director Jim Jarmusch has been on the indie film scene for over 30 years now. If you haven’t had a chance to see his films, then you’re missing out on some great cinema. This weekend the Gwangju Cinema is holding a retrospective of his work. Seven of his movies will be shown until March 29th. Films starring Bill Murray, Johnny Depp, and Winona Ryder (Stranger Things) will be screened. My personal recommendations would be to check out 1989’s Mystery Train, and 1991’s  Night on Earth. If you already has seen what the multiplex has to offer, then head down to Gwangju Cinema for films directed by an indie legend. For more information on the films and showtimes, you can check out their website (info in Korean). You can also check out their Facebook page here.

Saturday, March 25th

Come out and support your local baseball team! The Gwangju Bombers is a team made up of international and Korean players. They started their season earlier this month and they play on Saturdays. If you want to cheer for your local team then come out this Saturday! For more info about when they play, contact: sprouleinkorea@gmail.com.

Art class is back this Saturday, and female figure drawing is the topic for this weekend! The class will begin at 12:30 p.m., and then the model will arrive at 1 p.m. After the model arrives the doors will be locked for their privacy. The cost of the class is only 10,000 won, and all materials will be supplied (you can bring your own if you wish). The classes are held at the GIC, and you can go to their website for more details. You can also check out the Gwangju Art Class Facebook page here.

Courtesy of Speakeasy

Courtesy of Speakeasy

What better way to cap off your evening by checking out some of the great local clubs/bars that Gwangju has? If you’re downtown, stop by first at Tequilaz. The drinks are always strong, and the food is tasty! The staff is pretty friendly as well. For more details, please go to their Facebook page. Gwangju Live continues at Speakeasy tonight with a performance from local musicians Jimmy Harris and Joel Kilmas. It will be another great opportunity to support local musicians. The music starts from 9 p.m. onwards. For more info about what’s happening, check out Speakeasy’s Facebook page. If you have ever ended the night off downtown at Bunker Bar, then you will get one last chance to do so. They will be closing down after this weekend, but it should be one last great party! Bunker is located one street over from Tequilaz.  For the ladies out there Saturday night at Loft 28 near the Chonnam backgate is for you! When you reserve a table for 3 or more people, you’ll get a free bottle to help you celebrate. Loft knows how to do ladies night, so get out there and enjoy. For more info about ladies night, please go to Loft’s Facebook page.

 

Sunday, March 26th

Courtesy of the ACC

Courtesy of the ACC

Music lovers, you’re gonna really enjoy what’s going on today at the Asia Culture Center (ACC). An ensemble from the Vienna Philharmonic will be performing. The show begins at 4:00 p.m., and ticket prices range from 20,000 to 70,000 won. It’ll be a great afternoon of music, and a fantastic way to end your weekend. For more information, please go to the ACC’s site: www.acc.go.kr/en/board/schedule/performance/1263.

Where to Eat Wednesday: 불불이

My time in Korea has somehow turned me onto food I never thought I’d be open-minded enough to enjoy. Blood sausage? Love it. Cold noodles with soy milk broth? Can’t live without it. Such evolution is to be expected with anyone who spends enough time trying new dishes. I never imagined that day would come where I enjoyed eating feet, but crazier things have happened.

FrontInside

I was invited to try 불불이 (Bulbulee) with a friend who wanted to treat me to lunch. Located near the Chonnam Backgate area, I had heard good things about this restaurant before, but never had the company to try it with. Before going, I knew this place specialized in 족발 (jokbal; pig’s trotters). It should be noted that before moving Korea, the idea of eating pig’s feet did not sound appetizing. I used to gag while my family members got together to enjoy what I saw as a mess of skin, meat, and bones. My time in Gwangju has indeed changed my stance, and I was excited to try a place that did it proper.

MenuSides

We arrived just as the place opened, making us the only customers in the restaurant. Though we were early, the owners graciously welcomed us inside and were more than happy to take our order. It was unfortunate to see that there was no English menu, but the menus they had at each table did come with helpful pictures. As expected, the main feature was those pig’s feet that came in different styles and flavors. There was 바베큐족발 (barbecue jokbal; barbecue pig’s trotters), 마늘족발 (maneul jokbal; garlic pig’s trotters), and even 치즈족발 (cheese jokbal; cheese pig’s trotters). A lot of these choices came in small, medium, or large sizes, the smallest offering enough food to feed two people. Other menu items included 쭈꾸미 (jjukkumi; webfoot octopus), 치즈참치김치전 (cheese chamchi kimchi jeon; cheese tuna kimchi pancake), and 잔치국수 (janchi guksu; anchovy noodle soup). It was so hard to make a choice, so we ordered the 불불이커플세트 (Bulbulee couple set), which came with an order of 족발, which we got in both barbecue and spicy, cold noodles, and steamed egg.

Pig's FeetRice Balls

After we placed our order, our table was quickly overwhelmed with sides and more dishes than we could handle. For two people, we received a ton of food. Not only did with receive some classic sides and typical vegetables, we also got a bowl of hot and spicy soup, a bowl of seasoned rice and seaweed to make rice balls with, and everything else that came with our order. My personal favorite of the sides were definitely the rice balls, which we had to roll ourselves. They contained carrots, zucchini, pickled radish, and were seasoned with sesame oil, making them tasty in such a simple way. The soup we got was creamy and not too bad, but I was far too focused on other things to pay it much attention.

Cold NoodlesSteamed Egg

The cold noodles were also an afterthought, especially since I’ve definitely had better in the past, but the steamed egg, which is one of my favorite side dishes, was cooked just the way I like it. The main star of our table was definitely the 족발. Half of it was standard in the best way, having been cooked with a lovely combination of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and rice wine before being served dry. The other half was coated with a mildly sweet and mostly spicy pepper sauce that tasted great when eaten with the lettuce we got. It was hard to pick my preference between the two, as they were both delicious in their own ways. I did find myself eating more of the first on its own.

Though it felt like forever, my friend and I managed to make a significant dent in our giant meal, polishing off most of the meat without leaving too much of the sides untouched. While I initially thought that the prices were a little steep, my mind was changed upon seeing just how much food we got with our order. This is a solid spot for anyone who appreciates a lovely take on pork that doesn’t require grilling or having it in a stew. I’ve been told that this place tends to get fairly popular after dark, so come prepared for that if you choose to make dinner plans. I’ll have to bring more people the next time I go back, as there’s a certain kind of disappointment that comes with being defeated by your meal that I struggle with getting over.

Address: 광주광역시 북구 중흥동 275-3 1층 (located around the corner from Starbucks)
Phone: 0508-2724-2999
Website: http://www.bulbul2.com
Hours: 11:00AM to 12:00AM
Average Price Range: 13,000 to 16,000 per person