Following our business trip to Hong Kong, where we had encountered the typhoon season (dreads!), we had made our way to Incheon. Quite a number of flights were cancelled due to the bad weather and we were hoping our flight to Incheon would not be affected.
It was really crowded at HK airport especially the main terminal. There were people sitting or lying down next to pillars and eating while standing up. Queues for food were horrendously long. We had arrived around an hour plus before our supposedly flight departure time but the gate was not available. At that point, I am a little concerned that our flight maybe cancelled.
Thankfully, the weather condition had improved that evening and our flight had managed to take off, even though there was an hour plus delay. A flight delay is still better than cancellation. I had expected a bumpy take-off but I am glad that it was rather smooth instead. I guess, it’s partly because the rain had stopped and the wind velocity didn’t seem that strong.
Unfortunately, the flight (via KE) did not come with in-flight entertainment so it can get pretty boring for about 4 hours till we had reached Incheon. Luckily, I had downloaded some TV series online so I had pretty much kept myself occupied.
By the time, we had reached the hotel, Best Western (yup, we had stayed in an airport hotel in Incheon as well) and checked-in, it was past midnight already. I didn’t get to bed until 3am Korean time. In fact, I haven’t been sleeping well through the trip. Think I am not used to the hotel bed, not to mention the ruckus of howling wind, rain and ruffling of the leaves and tree branches at HK.
My duration of visit in Incheon is short and most of the time are work-related, but I am glad that I had the chance to enjoy some delightful Korean food (one of my favourites!). Even though, I didn’t get to explore the city area but reasonably good food can also be found near our hotel and at the airport.
On Day 1, our host had brought us to lunch at this restaurant, which I didn’t catch the name but I think it’s within the town area.
Like many Korean restaurants, bulgogi (bbq meat) is a key speciality. Unfortunately for me, beef is most commonly served. For our lunch, we had shabu-shabu (hotpot) instead of bulgogi. Correction- The rest had shabu shabu while I had a vegetarian lunch since I don’t eat beef. Don’t ask me why I wasn’t served pork or other meat. I guess it wasn’t catered in the lunch package (probably pre-booked) and our host may not have realised that there are non-beef eaters as well.
It doesn’t matter that I didn’t get to eat any meat. I can have my share of meat in other meals. The banchan (small dishes of appetisers) typically served in a meal is one of my favourites. The banchan served in our lunch included boiled spinach seasoned with light dressing (I love!), kimchi (definitely a must), mushrooms dressed in some kind of creamy dressing and spicy radish.
Part of the appetiser is tiny balls of rice (looks like the rice had some condiments mixed in them) wrapped in lettuce, to be dipped in fermented sesame dressing. Interesting. Each individual is served with a plate consisting of around 8 rice balls. That is a lot of rice for an appetiser.
As you can see from the following pictures, this is a carbo-heavy lunch especially for me. Because I don’t eat beef, they had served me a vegetarian bimbimbap instead. Secretly, I wished it would be pork instead of a huge bowl of rice, on top of the 8 rice balls (which I didn’t consume all cos its way too much) and noodles (as you can see later). All these carbo would help if I am gonna do some heavy-duty construction work later but I will be sitting on my ass in meetings after meetings instead. Damn, I am so not gonna burn off these carbo.
After everyone had wiped out their beef, the noodles and vegetables (just a couple of leeks, mushrooms and sliced green chillies) were added to the soup which the flavour would have been enhanced by the beef.
I had managed to reserve some small room for the noodles. They looked pretty springy so I can’t resist… Indeed, the texture of the noodles is what I had thought so. That “QQ” effect. I would have eaten more if not for the earlier consumption of rice. Ok, time to stop eating now.
By dinner time, much of the rice and noodles consumed during lunch had seemed to vanish. Dream on, they are probably converted into hateful fats and are now residing comfortably in my tummy and butt. Argh!! Nevermind, I shall step up on my gym sessions by doing more running. Hopefully…
For dinner, we had settled at this restaurant called “JaYeon” which is located at Incheon airport. Though the sign at the entrance states “fine Korean dining, high-end for executives”, it wasn’t as pricy as it seems. The price is somewhat close to the mid-range Korean restaurants in Singapore.
To make the ordering simple, each of us would choose for either the beef or fish set. No prizes for guessing which set I had chosen.
The set cost about 35,000 won, which is about SGD 38 thereabouts. For the variety of dishes and the type of fish (cod-fish was served that night) plus free-flow of the banchan, I would say this set is pretty value for money.
I love all the banchan served in this set except for the radish and the spinach. Oh, why must they sprinkle cheese on the spinach?!
In the picture, the bowl which the special porridge was served looked big but it was a tiny bowl of around 6cm diameter instead. Someone commented that this is like baby food. I agree.. LOL…
Next came the pan-fried vegetable (spinach and mushroom) with flour and egg, and prawn… Consumed in 3 big mouthful! Burp..
The cold dish is interesting… I think it is seaweed noodles dressed with horse-radish dressing. The effect is like wasabi, i.e. a shot of burning sensation up the nasal passage and watery eyes.. I couldn’t finish this dish without looking like I had a sudden bout of sinus.
Though it is just a simple spicy miso-based vegetable soup, the taste could have been more rich as it is actually rather bland. Also, it would be nice to be served warm soup instead of room temperature. This is soup, not plain water.
The main dish of grilled cod-fish is perfecto. It’s a reasonable size and well-grilled. I think they don’t always serve cod-fish as it depends on the availability and season. But I am so glad they did cos I’d absolutely love cod-fish. How not to resist the smooth and velvety texture of a grilled cod-fish!
We had also ordered a seafood pancake to share. I won’t say I am that fond of Korean pancake but I’d still can’t resist ordering or agree to order (if someone had suggested) this dish. There is this mysterious allure of the Korean pancake. Or you can just say I am greedy lah. Hehehe…
After a long day of meetings, it’s time to chillax. A bit of alcohol always work. Some had beer but I chose the Makgeolli (rice wine). Sweet with that slight zing of alcohol. Absolutely refreshing! For around $10, the rice wine came in a large tea-pot, making my boss worried that I might be an alcoholic in the making! No worries… I know my limit ok.. At least, I can guarantee I won’t turn into a raving loony drunkard after one teapot.
The next day, the official work part had ended before noon. Just in time for us to catch a quick lunch before heading to the airport. Some of the trip participants had opted for the midnight flight while some would depart the next day. I had initially thought of extending but I didn’t want to travel around Incheon or Seoul by myself. Besides, we had booked a vacation to the Gold Coast in September so I shouldn’t spend unnecessarily in this trip.
There are a couple of eateries right next to our hotel. Given the time constraint, we had decided to settle for one of these eateries instead.
It is a very small and humble establishment. There are no chairs so everyone would have to sit on the floor. There are only 8 of these tables (with a grilled on each table) in the eatery.
Looks like a family-run business…
Of all the banchans eaten in previous meals, I had especially loved the banchans served here. The kimchi is extremely potent. Very spicy but it is the sort of spiciness which one would relish at each bite.
Many of us are looking forward to a piping hot bowl of Samgyetang (Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup) but horror of horrors, they ran out of chicken!! 什么!! (*Thunder and lighting*).
My next alternative option would be grilled pork loin. Thinking of the vegetarian lunch on Day 1, I have this sudden yearn for MEAT!!
I had asked a colleague on why the grill pan is tilted at an angle. Won’t the pan *gasp* slide down? She had explained that a bowl would be placed beneath the tilted grill pan such that the oil from meat, emitted during the process of grilling, would flow into the bowl. Oh I see!
Hmm, I wonder what they would do with the oil collected? Not surprise if the oil is used for pan-frying other dishes. Reduce, reuse, recycle 吗!
Ignorant me have also never seen such a huge mint leaf before! Apparently, this leaf can be used to wrap the grilled meat and consumed together with the meat. Erm, no thanks. I’d preferred the normal lettuce instead.
That’s so much for food… Other than that, the other thing which got us all in a frenzy is……
Happy Call Pans!!
As you know, happy call pans are like a must-have in every kitchen. I had bought one online and for the first time, I had managed to pan fry fish in the kitchen without the oil splattering and smell.
Happy call pans are definitely cheaper in Korea. Around 40% cheaper. I wished I had been to Incheon earlier so I would save that 40%. Luckily, there was an E-Mart next to our hotel so you can imagine the excitement of some of us when we saw a shelf display of happy call pans. Most of us had picked up at least 1 pan…
I had bought the large grill pan (brown) for myself and a multi-purpose pan for a good friend. I know my first dish with that pan would be a grilled chicken… Will let you know how that would turn out soon..
Much of my time were actually spent at the airport. I had arrived at the airport around 2 hours before flight departure so I had some time to shop around before departing.
It’s well-known that the Koreans adore their movie/TV celebrities. Even the rest of Asia had caught on to the Korean dramas and movies, all thanks to their active marketing and publicity. Not to mention the amount of plastic surgery…hehehe… In any case, these celebrities are de facto models for almost anything under the sun.
Beauty products from Korea are also huge and widely marketed. Brands like Skin Food and The Face Shop had also set up branches in Singapore. A colleague had strongly recommended the sun block from the brand “OHui” (not available in Singapore…yet?). Alright, I shall give it a try. At least, the texture is rather smooth and light (I hate those thick sunblock or BB cream which makes the face looks corpsey) and the smell is rather pleasant (almost citrusy fragrance). Given our merciless sun, wearing SPF make-up is a must!
For a moment, I’d thought they are filming something at the airport. Who knows, some kind of time travel movie, which is quite hot in China. Nah, it’s actually a promotion by the Korea Traditional Cultural Experience Center in the airport. Supposedly a display of the royal family, maids, guards and all.
The costumes are elaborate but the hair pieces of the ladies looked heavy. Do Korean ladies of the past have that much hair? Looks like a flick of a single braid can whack one to death…
I don’t know if this is part of the cultural promotion but I was asked to fill up a 10-page (seriously!) survey in exchange for a lovely fan. Now I can fan myself in the sweltering heat!
Though the visit was a short one but as you can see, I had a burpingly good time!