Street Food in Gyeongju
Gyeongju Travel Blog› entry 35 of 174 › view all entries
October 15th, 2009 – by: domnicella
Walked through Tumuli Park, which houses dozens of grassy dome-shaped hills, which are actually tombs. One tomb, Cheonmachong, is open to show the cross sections and you can walk in to check it out. There are life-like replicas inside, showing the crown and swords and things that were unearthed with the excavation, but the real treasures are in a nearby museum. The guidebooks liken these tombs to being similar to the pyramids in Egypt, so you might grasp what kind of expectation I had in the wonder and awe department.
From Tumuli I walked through downtown, constantly being honked at and zoomed past. In my defense, Gyeongju has no sidewalks, and I was as far over to the side of the street as I could be, short of scraping against the buildings as I went by. I'd also like the record to state that I seemed to be the only person giving deference to the cars and scooters -- all the locals were walking wherever they pleased.
Down one street I saw a bunch of red and blue umbrellas, which I learned in Busan to identify as street vendors. So I made my way thataway. The street vendors were not the kind I was hoping for, serving street snacks, but rather it was a small little farmers market with all sorts of fresh produce and seafood and meats and things. But while walking along and checking it out, I noticed a small dark corridor behind one of the vendors. (Couldn't even classify it as an alley -- it was much too small for that.) So I walked in there and aha!, found what I was looking for: a whole line of stalls selling street snacks. Why they were tucked down some tiny dark corridor with no indication as to their whereabouts, you got me.
I spotted big, flat discs, I'd say at least a foot in diameter, that looked like the Korean pancakes I'd read about. I pointed to one with bright red chilies on it, and she threw it over the cooktop for a minute to reheat it, before cutting it into more manageable chunks and throwing it into a bag with some soy sauce. A couple stalls down had big, fluffy looking dumplings, so I ordered a few of those badboys too. Apparently six come in a serving (I've been used to eating one at a time in Japan), because as soon as I forked over the cash, six went into the steamer to cook for a good five minutes or so. This stall actually had a few tables and chairs behind it, so I managed to convey via gestures that I wanted to sit there. One of the ladies was nice enough to turn my two street snacks into an actual feast, and brought me a bowl of soup and some pickled radish and some chili paste.
The pancake (think crepe) was some sort of wafer-thin dough absolutely LOADED with the dark flimsy ends of green onions, and this one had a healthy dose of crazy hot chilies, both red and green. The soft steamed dumplings were a happy complement to the spicy pancake, as they were an easy mellow flavor, at least until dipped into the chili paste.
Snagged some Korean plum wine on the way home, and am hoping for an early night. I have a massive mountain and more temples than I think even the guidebooks can count on the to-do list for tomorrow.
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