Saturday, March 21, 2009
It has been suggested that it would be most appropriate to blog about the wondrous variety of food available here in Seoul. Just within walking distance from our hotel here in the business district, you can find just about anything.
If you go Korean, you might try bulgogi – tender, thinly slice beef simmered with noodles in a broth – or bimimbap – your choice of meat sautéed with vegetables and rice and often with an egg on top. Another common way to go is with a hot, spicy soup.
All Korean meals come with banchan, generous and free additional side dishes that could include kimchi, radish greens and even seafood.
On the coast, such in Incheon, you might pick out a couple of fish, part of which the chef will slice into sashimi and then cook the rest at your table in a soup.
Just like at home, people here want variety. Thus it’s easy to find Italian, Japanese and Chinese restaurants. Because of the influence of the nearby military base, the Itaewon area offers you with an opportunity to eat around the world without ever leaving Seoul.
One dining experience that will stand out, however. Students were invited to dinner at Din Tai Fung, an award-winning restaurant that specializing in small steamed buns – known to most Westerners as "dumplings."
Din Tai Fung was ranked as one of the world's top 10 restaurants in 1993 by The New York Times. Its original location is in Taiwan, but other select locations have opened Japan, the United States and here in Korea.
There is no media hype. The food is fabulous.
Mr. Joo, who has an MBA from the Kelley School, operates Seoul’s three locations, in addition to his other business ventures.
The restaurant sometimes also serves as the meeting place for the local IU Alumni Association chapter. More than a dozen IU alumni now succeeding in business, government and the media joined us at the dinner, along with about 35 students from the IU journalism school and the LAMP program.
Mr. Joo graciously served as our host for Friday night, treating us to a delicate seafood soup, broccoli and broth-filled dumplings, shrimp shu mai, greens and other tasty treats.
Many of these same alumni will welcome IU President Michael McRobbie and a university delegation here in May. We extend them many thanks for extending us the same warm hospitality.
All week, several have helped us to feel at home here, particularly Professor Heejoon Kang and his dear wife Younga. We also thank Dean Robert Klemkosky, who made most of the arrangements for our visits; the staff of our hotel and many people on the streets of Seoul who worked through the language barrier to help us find our way.
Sunday, we're heading home with many fond memories in large part to their efforts.