Cucumber Kimchi – It Is Really Easy!

Thanks to Paloquemao market, I’m able to find “Asian vegetables” to make Asian food. This includes kimchi.

Cucumber kimchi in pride of place on the table.
Cucumber kimchi in pride of place on the table.

In Dhaka, I organized Korean cooking lessons and it was possible to buy Korean goods at the Korean mart in Dhaka (and I had my special Korean place in Dhaka to supply me). In Bogota there is no Korean supermarket with ready-to-eat small dishes (other than Maki Roll restaurant which has a few items for sale). Also, I haven’t found my kimchi source (Casa de Coreana‘s is the best in Bogota, in my opinion), so I decided that I would have to make it myself.

Hand made cucumber kimchi.
Hand made cucumber kimchi.

The recipe is easy to find on the Internet (Maangchi is one of favorite) and I used her easy recipe involving fish sauce. I made it and it was delicious!

Cucumber kimchi made by me.
Cucumber kimchi at six hours old.

All the Korean Restaurants in Bogota

Kimchi from Casa de Coreana. I think I like theirs the best.
Kimchi from Casa de Coreana. I think I like theirs the best.

To continue my Korean restaurant collection, I have now eaten at all the Korean restaurants in Bogota. Previously, there were more Korean restaurants in Bogota and on many of the online sites, the addresses are not updated (Degusta, Bogota Brilliance, etc.). As of January 2015, in Bogota, there are seven Korean restaurants and one Japanese one where they will serve you Korean food. Here they are according to my opinion of their food.

Arirang (Carrera 14, 106A-86. Closed on Sundays. The sign for the restaurant is tiny. The restaurant is cream-colored house set back from the road. There may be a rooftop area as well.), 12/13: It’s a clean and neat looking restaurant. The food is fairly authentic. The spicy pork belly was flavorful and delicious, and probably the spiciest food I’ve had here other than at the Taiwanese restaurant (generally, people in Bogota are of the “if it’s spicy, I can’t taste it” school of eaters. There is no black pepper on the table ever). The beef lightly marinated in soy sauce (not bulgogi) was a high quality cut of meat and tasty. I asked for the “salsa con sal” and they brought the traditional sesame oil dipping sauce. The kimchi is sour (so, good if you like sour), the banchan includes a red pepper leek dish which I liked. And one of the days, one of the panchan was an egg battered hotdog — and who doesn’t love meat in a tube! The mandu were thin-skinned, meaty, and pan fried. There are lots of stews on the menu and kalbi (beef rib). No haemul pajeon (seafood pancake). The fish stew was fishy. I found all the flavors a little different than I expected but it could be the kind of oil she uses. The restaurant has been in existence for 18 years and the owner said that there are about 4,000 Koreans in Bogota. Oh, and at the table which had two gas burners (thumbs up for the decor and logistics), there is a bell on the table to call for service, and one gets a pitcher of that pale amber warm barley corn tea that I like so much. The owner and the waitress were friendly. This is a place one could bring business colleagues.

Motomachi, Carrera 13A, No. 96-65 (this is a Japanese restaurant) 12/13: This restaurant is two years old. The interior design is my favorite. Wood paneled ceilings and view of an Asian garden. The owner is Korean and she doesn’t speak Spanish so if you want Korean food, you have to speak Korean or Japanese (The tables are Korean style with a gas burner sunken into the center — but the first I was here, I couldn’t make myself understood. The nice waitress didn’t understand that I wanted Korean food — it’s not on the menu — only kimchi is listed as a “cold appetizer”). The chef is a long-time Bogota resident and he is Japanese (but he stays back in the kitchen. The sushi chef is a Colombian). The Japanese sushi was some of the best I’ve had in Bogota. The Korean food is good but it is what I would call Japanese-Korean fusion. It’s light and elegant. No fiery red bowls or raw garlic. The mandu/potstickers/empanadas de japon etc. are good. The bulgogi was more like a shabu shabu filet cooked as bulgogi, and the owner seems to try to recommend that everyone eat this meat as its good. Kind of funny to me. She doesn’t serve a lot of “panchan” or small dishes as so many Korean-food-fans rave about, but what she serves are well done. The kimchi is good but not spicy. The small fried fish were great and the spiced dried burdock root also good. I’ve been there three times so far and each time, the second small plate is different. The japchae (stir fried rice noodles) is good (there are always those that order this just as I always order the seafood pancake). The “haemul pajeon” or seafood pancake is different each time but still good. The first time I had it, it was made more like a Japanese dish and the second time, it was smaller and less doughy. The first time I went there, I had Japanese food and didn’t find the tonkatsu edible but the sushi was fine. I shall be back many more times. This restaurant is hard to find due to all the one-way roads surrounding it so it’s best to walk. It’s located near a small pedestrian street.

Beef for grilling or shabu shabu.
Beef for grilling or shabu shabu.

Casa de Corea – original location (Calle 104A, 11B-61. M-F 12-13 & 6-10. Weekends 12-10.) 11/13: Supposedly, according to themselves, theirs is the best kimchi. I’d agree. The bulgogi is also good, marinated for a minute right before being brought to the table. The seafood soup was mild and warming on a cold night. They brought a ladle and small bowls for sharing. The dumplings, mandu, are also good but are deep fried like an empanada. The Colombian cook has been cooking Korean for 30 years and she is on point. The service is also friendly. Now, I am annoyed that this place is not located in my apartment building. If it was, I’d eat there every day. Prices were average at about 20 U.S. dollars per person. This place is too “dumpy” to take business guests.

Casa de Corea – Previously Deum Jang, affiliated with Casa de Coreana at the old location (Carrera 14B, No. 106-18. M-F 12-13 & 6-10. Weekends 12-10.) 11/13: Supposedly, according to themselves, theirs is the best kimchi. I’d agree. New location is also on a residential street. Inside is nicer and more modern than the original location. There’s a fire pit and a TV on the wall. Cozier. The food is the same as at the other location. This location is fine for taking guests.

Biwon (Carrera 7D, #108A-33. Tel: 215-4773. Closed on Sundays. Also hard to find. It’s in a house on a twisty residential street, and comically, across from it is posted a sign which says, “no businesses allowed.”) 10/13: The bulgogi is actually the best here. Instead of being shaved flakes of stringy meat like most places, here, the strips are like I’d make at home. The meat used is tender and actually has some flavor. The bulgogi is served with lettuce for lettuce wraps. The kimchi was also slightly sour and not a deep red color. The haemul pajeon was thick and soggy. I didn’t find the staff all that friendly. Also, fine for business meals.

Asiari (Cra 18B, No. 108 – 05. Closed on Sundays. Asian fusion. It is really hard to find this street. When going west on 109, look for the red Banco sign on the left corner. Turn left on that street.), 9/13: This place made decent Korean food. It appears to be run by two Korean ladies. The restaurant has various kinds of seating, from the cafe outdoors, the cafe indoors, upstairs private rooms, the shuttered back room, and so on. Plus, the bathrooms have quirky art and fancy faucets. The chicken wings were okay but the sushi roll was terrible. I enjoyed it more than I expected to. They have Korean tea and serve it in a large teapot which I appreciated. When I asked to pay, I was told that they lady in the back had already paid for me. Some strange things are nice.

Maki Roll (Carrera 11, No. 95-01. All days, 12-11.) 6/13: This place also sells some Korean items including the red pepper paste (kochugang) that is distinctly Korean. The meals include a starter of cold marinated chicken wings and small pancake (pajeon). The banchan were inedible. The bulgogi, while a good sized portion, was too chewy. The staff are friendly. This place is a cafe so very casual or, as I noticed, hip enough (all white decor) to attract dating couples out for a nosh.

Senor Kim, Calle 78, No. 12-09 (old address is Calle 39, #18-34. Was also called Mini Nyam Nyam, I think), 3/13: Well, hola Senor Kim! When out exploring, we stumbled across the sixth Korean restaurant in Bogota. They moved in the summer of 2014… so only their Facebook page has the correct address. This is a small caf’ style place. Although this is a new location, it’s dark and cramped which makes it feel a touch old school. Located on a through street between Carrera 11 and Carrera 13. I really wanted to like this place because the young couple who own it are so cute. I think that their best dish is their bowl of rice with stuff = bibimbap. The kimchi was not bad but it was more like a cabbage with red sauce.

That concludes my Korean restaurant search in Bogota. I may have to start cooking at home as delivery (domicilio) doesn’t seem like such a good idea with Korean food.

The haemul pajeon at Motomochi.

The haemul pajeon at Motomochi.

Asian and Oriental Grocery Stores in Bogota – Taiwanese Bakery

Taiwanese buns at Afternoon Tea.
Taiwanese buns at Afternoon Tea.

“Prepare to have your mind blown,” said Mr. X. I stepped into Afternoon Tea, a two-month old Taiwanese bakery and I was indeed bowled over to find such a delicious bakery. Their baked goods, especially the Taiwanese cream bun, were soft and sweet. They also make bubble tea (tapioca balls were pretty good with a bit of chew at the center) with fresh juices. I had passion fruit today but I’ll be back to try the others. Supposedly, soon, they will have the red bean paste buns as well. They are located on Carrera 15, No. 94-51 and they have plans to expand, including providing delivery (domicilio as it’s called here). Their cakes are delicious too. I ordered a cake to take to a birthday and for 45,000 Colombian pesos (about $22), I got a spongy delightful eight-inch white cake decorated with fruit. Their cheesecake is good. Not cloying but it does have fibers from the fresh mango and passion fruit (thanks for the roughage in my diet). They can also make a chocolate cake with alcohol, but I haven’t tried it so I don’t know how it is. ***I was in for a chat when I picked up my cake and I commented that they should post photos on their Facebook page… and they did! I hope that they’ll soon post delicious food photos…

The front of the bakery.
The front of the bakery.

It was a great day for finding Asian (or “oriental” as they call it here) grocery supplies. Earlier, I found the Global Gourmet on Carrera 14, No. 90-12, and nearly collapsed from joy at finding fresh tofu, edamame, fish sauce, wonton wrappers, sesame oil, sesame seeds, peanut oil, woks, chopsticks, mango chutney, seaweed, green curry paste, cookbooks, rice bowls, miso paste, tapioca flour, somen noodles, rice noodles, 10 kilo bags of rice, and so much more. Unfortunately, they do not have fresh vegetables. Not a cheap store but at least they have all sorts of hard to find items. They have been open for nine years so there must be someone buying the goods. The folks in Afternoon Tea didn’t even know about this store.

Global Gourmet on Calle 14 at 90.
Global Gourmet on Calle 14 at 90.

Then, I found the Asian section at Jumbo, the mega supermarket near Calle 110, No. 9B – 4 (like a Walmart) located in the Santa Ana mall. This mall also has a taxi service in the basement so it’s easy to catch a cab home with one’s groceries.

The Asian section at Jumbo.
The Asian section at Jumbo.
Fish sauce, rice sticks, and so on.
Fish sauce, rice sticks, and so on.

For kimchi, I bought some at the Casa de Coreana restaurant, Calle 104A, No. 11B-61. It cost 10,000 Colombian pesos ($5) for about a pint. It was acceptable, and according to the lady in the restaurant, the best in town. We’ll see.

Kimchi from Casa de Coreana.
Kimchi from Casa de Coreana.
Global Gourmet sells more than just food.
Global Gourmet sells more than just food.

Carulla also sells some imported goods like sushi seaweed and rice.

Global Gourmet receives fresh tofu several times per week.
Global Gourmet receives fresh tofu several times per week.

Now, the most difficult part of shopping for Asian food is finding vegetables. I found out from the folks at the Taiwanese bakery that Paloquemao market sells Asian vegetables on Tuesday mornings.

Sriracha, French mustard, and other global foods in Global Gourmet.
Sriracha, French mustard, and other global foods in Global Gourmet.

I’ll update this as I find more sources. Later, I’ll blog about the Asian restaurants… as I taste test them.

If anybody knows of more sources of Asian food or good Asian restaurants in Bogota, please share this with me by commenting or sending me an email at m@madventures.me. Thanks!

Someone told me that Maki Roll, a restaurant, was also an Asian grocery store. I went to investigate. The restaurant smelled of bulgogi and sesame oil. They had a few items for sale in the glass counter and on the shelf between the kitchen and the cash register. They sell Korean spicy ramen (which makes them the only place to carry this brand so far). They also sell kimchi (not as good as Casa de Coreana’s), individually prepped seaweed, and kochikang, the spicy Korean red paste.

Bubble tea at Afternoon Tea.
Bubble tea at Afternoon Tea.

All in all, between these stores, it is possible to almost find everything I’d need to make the basics of Korean food. Tonight, there’s a bag of bulgogi beef happily marinating away.

7 Korean Restaurants in Annandale, Virginia

Lighthouse Tofu's seafood stew, with half a mini seafood pancake in the background.
Lighthouse Tofu’s seafood stew, with half a mini seafood pancake in the background.

“Hey, do you have a recommendation for a Korean restaurant?” Do I ever! In the service of social media=democracy=sharing information… here’s my list of Korean restaurants I like to go to when in Northern Virginia. I also mentioned Korean food in my list of iconic American eats in the Washington, DC area. All these restaurants are located in Annandale in Fairfax county about ten miles from the Lincoln Memorial. There are buses out to this area but that experience would probably ruin your experience.

Lighthouse Tofu (Vit Goel Tofu) – 4121 Chatelain Rd #100, Annandale, VA 22003: More than tofu, this place specializes in volcanically hot earthenware bowls of stew/soup. This place actually has seafood stew which I love. Plus, they have created a mini seafood pancake which is more like an American appetizer. Most places serve a huge seafood pancake (haemul pajeon) which can be harder to deal with.

Honey Pig – 7220 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003: Very loud music, steel decor and smoky, this place will make you feel like you are in Korea.

To Sok Jip – 7211 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003: Across the street from Honey Pig, easy to overlook, this place with the purple awning, is worth finding. It’s got three “rice” options – white, barley, or purple which is a mix of brown rice and beans. This is one of the few hole-in-the-wall places left in this area. The bok choy kimchi is fantastic. They also have a mega-pot “wartime soup” which is a hodgepodge of hot dogs, tofu, pork, kimchi, noodles, etc. thrown into a cauldron. Must not eat alone. Plus, the ladies’ has a fancy Japanese toilet.

Gom Ba Woo – 7133 Columbia Pike, Annandale, VA 22003: This place is next to Giant. I mention it because I’ve had some really delicious home made mandu (dumplings, potstickers) here, and I’ve had wonderful language barrier issues here too, one of which resulted in us receiving a cold bowl of noodles in a lard soup. The lady looked at us approvingly because clearly this was the dish to order in hot weather, but we were not so thrilled.

Nak Won – 7317 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003: This place is where I’d take newbies to Korean food. It’s got a nice authentic feel and it’s quiet. The decor reminds me of the decor of the 80’s with wood tables and memorabilia on the walls.

Oegadgib – 7331 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003: This place should be called “Mr. Lee’s” but instead I think it is “Gram’s place” or something like that. There is a full menu but the two things that stand out are the all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu (where you cook meat and vegetables in a broth – like hotpot) and the barbecue which includes three kinds of meat. The prices are under $20 per person so a great place to go with big eaters. This place is hard to find and hard to pronounce so look for the Jerry’s Sub sign, make absolutely sure that you do not park in Jerry’s lot, and then go behind the building on Little River Turnpike and you will often find Mr. Lee waving his light saber around to help you find parking in his lot.

Yechon – 4121 Hummer Rd, Annandale, VA 22003: This is a 24-hour standby. It’s big and they do everything well. It’s located a bit away from the other restaurants and many don’t like how generic it feels, but that’s one thing that’s good about it — you can always go there and find acceptable Korean food.

There are two other places to mention – one bakery and one chicken place:

Shilla Bakery – 7039 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003: Forget all the weird ideas about not liking Asian desserts… you will like these! They have everything from French bread, puffy pastries, colorful cakes, bingsoo (frozen ice dessert with flavorings, fruit, etc.), Illy coffee, and yes, some of those weird Asian desserts made with beans. This place is always pumping with Korean American youth hanging out and families. The bakery is very generous with its samples so you can try four or five different breads, cookies, pastries, before buying one or none.

Bon Chon Chicken – multiple locations: Really, very few things make me NOT want to share. I have a friend who is a true foodie friend because when we shared a plate of Bon Chon’s wings, he ate the winglets (part that looks like a drumstick) so that I could enjoy the flats (the part with two bones). Sigh, now that’s true understanding. These wings are sweet, crunchy, and lightly coated.

Korean barbecue.
Korean barbecue at Oegabgib.

Maybe once I get to Colombia, I’ll compile a list of the seven best Korean restaurants in Bogota.

M’s Adventures Moves from Inshallah to Ojala – And Top Search Subjects

Boys of an SOS Village in Bangladesh.
Boys from an SOS Village in Bangladesh.

Very soon, I will stop blogging about Bangladesh and begin blogging with a Spanish accent. I hope. ¡Ojalá! (Which is “hopefully!” in Spanish — it rhymes with, and is used a similar way as, “inshallah” or “god willing” — and I’m guessing, comes from the 700 years of Arab influence in Spain). In Bangladesh, people often end a thought with “inshallah” and I like the segue for my blog.

I have tried to make my blog easy to find on the World Wide Web. The world of online searching, or googling, is like falling down the rabbit’s hole. You can get lost for a long long time… but never wake up wearing Tim Burton makeup. For the past few years, I have blogged primarily about Bangladesh (and yet, there are still so many things I did not blog about — like the SOS Village I visited).

The kiosk where one can buy top off Grameen cash cards closed on an Eid day.
The kiosk where one can buy SIM and phone cash cards, closed on an Eid day.

So, as I plan to switch my focus, here’s a re-cap of the most popular search terms which have lead readers to madventures.me (thank you).

Top search terms of the past 18 months.
Top search terms of the past 18 months.

Because I like random international blending, I was pleased when someone searched for, “where to eat kimchi in dhaka.”

As far as I can tell from reading Google, it will take the searchbots on Google take about six months to register my blog’s new topics and tags so perhaps I should begin to blog about the place I am moving to?

Just for fun, I’ll make it a sort of guessing game… ¿por qué no?

Clue number one of “M’s Adventures moves to ______?” is: It is a country with a river famous for being the most ______ in the world.

Fine Dining Korean Food in Dhaka

Finally a truly classy fine dining experience has arrived in Dhaka (I wrote this blog posting in 2012 and now I’m updating it 14 months later). It’s refined Korean food at Goong (formerly known as Dae Jang Geum and not to be confused with the Dae Jang Geum that opened up down the street). The smoky Korean barbecue is available on the third floor of the restaurant. Enjoy the elegant Korean food with an international fusion flavor (some may think that the restaurant is borrowing French or Japanese styling — the restaurant is not a hole-in-the-wall at all).

The Koreans have been eating raw fish forever as well.

I hope that this place can maintain the same level of food and service (and it has). If they then would start serving “specials’ at bargain prices (they do have lunch specials), I’d really have to move in!

Fried fish, fried vegetables, and other fried pancakes.

Soybeans, spinach, cucumber kimchi, potato salad, and kimchi are typical of the mandatory small dishes served at every meal.

Insist on the dumpling, mandu, being pan fried. Not deep fried.

The delicate mini bowl of pumpkin soup to amuse your palette.

The pretty tomato flower meant to tickle your taste buds…