What's for Lunch 2018

PB, lucky you! I love Bun Bo Hue. Still recognise most of the dishes on the menu in 1 of your photos.

My lunch yesterday. Thought it was noodle soup but it was rice soup. (I have removed most of the scallions in my bowl. There was A LOT.)

Fermented, salted tiny tiny shrimp. An employee instructed us to mix it in the soup. Btw, every meal comes with a little plate of raw garlic cloves and green chillies. I have seen how Korean eat this: dip them in the chilli sauce and then straight into the mouth. Also, some restaurants do have round chopsticks, as seen in these photos. My chopstick skills are rubbish but round ones are a tad easier to handle.

There are many restaurants inside the market, just like this one. It was full of people waiting around for someone to leave. We just vacated our table (on right).

Some photos on our way out. Meat being chopped up to go in the soup.

Kitchen is outside the restaurant. Soup broth is being prepared.

Meat and all the bits being removed from the bones.

Everything in the soup comes from this:


Lunch on the 31st. Tried “sea pineapple”, finally. Now I know what it tastes like and there’s no need to repeat the experience. I first came across this curious creature in Hokkaido, Japan. You are supposed to eat it raw with Gochujang but the fish stallholder said it could also be steamed, slightly.

What they look like still alive.

Innards removed and is served raw (in the photo below) as I wanted to try it as sashimi first. I have an aversion to slimy and slippery textures so this is like facing my “fear”. The best I can describe eating it is it’s like eating a live toad. The exterior is hard and rough, the interior is jelly-like. Smells strongly of iodine but not as strong as sea squirts I had in Chile.

After a couple of chunks the fishmonger steamed it briefly for me. The jelly interior had firmed up a little, just barely. The red pointy bits were impossible to chew but my partner could do it.

I ate 1 oyster with some Gochujang but the rest was eaten plain.

Big blood cockles.

Sashimi with white kimchi. It’s quite impossible to photograph something white and has no texture.

Seaweed soup with fish bones and bits arrived near the end of the meal.

My table and fish stalls in front of me.

Korean pensioners at the next table. Koreans love their booze. I saw men at another table with a full bottle of scotch even.


Nice. I had some very good rice soup with sundae when I was in Busan.
Today was com hen. Which is clam rice. It also had peanuts, small fried noodles , lots of mint and puffed pig skin. Served cold you add clam broth to warm it all up. It was very tasty.

Com hen.

Stall in Hue.


PB, I have been wanting to make clam rice. Never had it in VN, when I was a novice traveller/eater.

Really enjoyed this meal at a homely restaurant. Cheap and filling. There’s no meat but the sauce contains fermented fish. A lot of sauces here tend to contain fermented or salted fish or shrimp, Busan being a coastal town known for its superb seafood.

Barley broth (unseasoned) to wash everything down.

I was looking around to see how Koreans eat this meal. An elderly woman at the next table saw that and was showing me (loudly) how it’s done. There’s a reason why the rice bowl is big (in this case a mix of rice and barley). Locals just dump the side dishes on top of the rice then mix everything up real well. How I like mine:

I always try to sit near the kitchen. The set-up here (at least in Busan) is usually the kitchen out front. You walk through the kitchen to get to the table. Most places also have a traditional sitting area (sit on the floor with your legs dangling in a hole under the table).

It’s not common to see men in the kitchen, or work in the restaurants.


PS: Koreans do eat open-mouthed but it’s not as horrendous as in China. Korea became industrialised in so short a time one can’t expect things to change as quickly in other aspects of the culture. Manners which you might find “gross”, “annoying” or “repugnant” in Korea are 20 times worse in China.

Now in Hanoi. Lunch was bun moc thit. The broth was a bit bland but was improved with the addition of pickled bamboo shoots that were at the table. The pork was just ok but the noodles had a really good texture. The outstanding ingredient was the herb sausage balls studded with woodear mushroom, absolutely delicious.

Bun moc thit.



Wish I were there! Did you have some nice pho?

Monday lunch, spider crab and endive salad.


I’m in Seoul now. It’s -4C at the moment but will go up to 3C this afternoon. OMG, it’s so crowded. I hate big cities.

Still have some lunch photos from Busan. Soups here are simple, not so elaborate as Vietnamese soups.




Views from where I sat.



Fishmonger selecting my snails.


Snail sashimi.

The snails I ordereed.

Fish sashimi.

My abalones.

Abalone sashimi.

Grilled abalones.


That spider crab looks delicious. I’ve had a fair bit of pho in Vietnam. I’n the South it’s with round noodles ( always had it with flat noodles in London) and large plate of herbs and bean sprouts to add yourself. I’n the north it’s flat noodles and just a sprinkle of herbs already added. In London you get the herbs to add but not as many as in Vietnam so it seems to be a hybrid style in London.

I’m still in Hanoi, yesterday’s lunch was bun cha at Huong Lien. It was very tasty but the broth was far too sweet for me. I had to add a lot of chill vinegar. This was where Obama ate with Anthony Bourdain in 2016. There’s at least 5 other bun cha places on the same street though this is the only proper restaurant rather than a space being open to the street which was probably why they pickled it.

Herbs and cold noodles for dipping.

Broth which has grilled pork, pork patties and slices of bitter melon.

Menu celebrating their new found fame.


There’s dried squid in the broth and that’s always good. I also use kombu/seaweed to make my broth at home.

Busanese are friendly and kind. I look around to see if there are 2 free seats and before I spot the seats they gesture to us “come” and “sit here”. They shuffle around to make room for us.

The cook opens all the pots to show me what’s cooking in them.

Everyone eats the same soup. Other things on the menu are probably just extra bits to add to the soup.

Seasonings for the soup. The white stuff in a container is MSG, it’s in everything so if you are sensitive to it Asia might not be for you.

Where are the men? Most people who cook and sell food are middle aged or elderly women. Is there a pension system in Korea? Or maybe pensioners and the elderly still want to work (hard).


Last lunch in Busan before going to Seoul.




Man who cooks is not a common sight but they do exist.

Place is run by a couple pensioners.

I was told to point at the photos outside to order.

Had this thing the day before whilst wandering round the market. Seems there’s usually a queue for snacks. One person forms the dough, one person collects money and tells people where to queue, one person fries the dough.

The brown thing in the container is “chocolate” powder. The dough is very wet.



Folding the dough to fit in the paper cup.


Too bad she ruins it by folding. I would have preferred mine flat but they haven’t thought of this, just look at the stack of paper cups. The dough is very chewy and the exterior is crispy.


I’m still in Hanoi but am off to The Philippines tomorrow night.

Day before yesterday was bun rieu cau. Very particular to Hanoi. Rice noodles in a tomato broth with fried tofu and a pounded crab meat dumpling. Would be lovely on a hot day but it’s grey and drizzly at the moment. Just like being in England.

Yesterday’s lunch was much better suited to the weather conditions. Bo Kho, beef stew with a very good baguette.

I’m not sure of the Vietnamese name but today I had wonton noodle soup. I passed the stall and the wontons looked excellent, I was not disappointed on the wonton front. Shrimp paste in the broth which I’ve not encountered before.


First lunch in Seoul. It’s cold and you’ll want to eat soup all the time. This is beef rib soup.

Bibimbap with beef tartare.

2 kinds of lettuce but they both had Korean dressings.


Mostly rind and fat.

“Sausage” filled with rice, blood (and noodles, me thinks).

Cup of hot broth and salty shrimp sauce for dipping.

I got 4 of these.

The corner is my seat.

More food at my stall.


Even the market stall benches have heating. Koreans laugh in the face of winter. Outside it’s cold, inside everywhere it’s boiling hot night and day.


At another stall. Plain rice and bean porridge.

Mung bean pancake.

View from my table.

This place has everything, too.

A very atmospheric market. They say ever since it was featured on TV the prices have gone up a lot.

I had the misfortune of seeing this.

Now you also. He eats a piece of rice cake in chilli sauce on a toothpick. Koreans eat this popular dish in a little snack container or plate.


Finished the last bit of a chicken rillette I made the other day on toast points made from the end of an Italian loaf


Went to the meat market for a late lunch. This meat market is a gruesome place but still nice and clean. The meat section at a market in China takes the biscuit, though. So ghastly.

Many butchers or meat shops have menus like this out front with pre-packaged meat platters in the cabinet to tempt you. You can order the cuts individually but I saw most people bring the packages with them to the restaurant to be cooked.

Mine. Sirloin and chuck flap (not sure now). Plus 3 small packages of “brisket point”. I asked the young shop keeper to hold the platter for the photo.

The side dishes are brought to your table almost immediately.

Already half way through.

With a grill I could cook the garlic, otherwise I wouldn’t touch it. I love garlic but in Korea it’s already in every thing.

The soup is so nice, with brisket point strips in it.

Where someone cooks the meat you buy from the butcher downstairs and you eat here.


A couple of things I ate in between. This is egg bread, a popular street snack. Saw like 5 stalls in the same area.

Another stall on the same street. I tried another bread.

Shallow moulds/bread pans.

Fried dough.

Vienna is the capital of all things breaded and deep-fried, Korea is capital of all things deep-fried.

He puts the filling in the dough. The characters say what this thing is called.

Very hot.

Chewy exterior, filling is typically Korean: scallions, onions, garlic, sweet potato noodles.


The varieties of street food in Seoul seem amazing. Can they be found everywhere easily in the city or you need to go to specific areas?

Naf, both. There are specific areas, like markets and shopping streets. It seems Koreans can’t walk more than 5m without eating something so there’s always some place to buy street food or a light bite.

Last lunches in Seoul. There are 2 fried chicken places on the same street in my lodging’s neighbourhood. Fried chicken, Korean style to be precise, is very popular here. Everyone has their own secret recipes. Wish I could try them all.

Plain and with a spicy sweet sauce.


They always fry it twice. These on the shelves are ready to go in the fryer again when you order.

We needed something “bland” for a change and the porridge was just what we were looking for.

Perilla kimchi.

Don’t know what this is. Thought it was tofu but it was not.

Melon or squash.

Rice porridge with abalone.

And with chicken. Both brought to your table boiling violently.

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