Wow, I can’t believe I’ve made it past the 125 post mark, but what better way to push on than with my second day of traveling and eating through North Korea. New Years Day was godawful since we had to wake up at 7 am to get breakfast and then get out of the hotel to start touring at 8 am. The actual breakfast was quite run-of-the-mill in terms of what was offered for both Korean and Western tastes. There were random breads and cakes for Western palates along with the stewed shoestring potatoes and some pickled radish soup. I did enjoy the unnaturally verdant green apple soda they were serving though.
We eventually made our way to the mausoleum of both Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung. It was quite impressive as waves of soldiers filed passed us with their chests gleaming with medals. Very Soviet Union a la Brezhnev.
For lunch, we were going to a restaurant that specialized in 냉면 a.k.a. naengmyeon or cold noodles.
They brought out other side dishes that are also common to South Korea like pork mandu or dumplings along with spicy kimchi.
The cold noodles were pretty tasty even though none of us were feeling too hot. I liked that the waitresses also provided us with spicy mustard and vinegar to really liven up the dish with a little sour and sinus scorching kick.
However, the oddest part of the meal was the one I was the most familiar with…or so I thought. They provided us with plates of hotdogs alongside our Korean food, but when I took a bite of one, I was in another dimension of gastronomy.
Texture-wise it was like any other tube steak, but the taste was unnerving because it literally tasted like cotton candy. I don’t know if that is because they share the same love for sweet things like their Southern brethren, or if it was made from people. Either way, it redefined the idea of sweet meats. I left lunch with a very satisfied stomach after the naengmyeon but with the most peculiar taste in my mouth after those hot dogs. For dinner, we had a version of hot pot that I never had before. Normally, a hot pot dinner involves literally a large heated pot in the middle of the table that everyone shares while their food cooks within the smoldering cauldron as show in a few of my other posts (1, 2, Taiwan). In North Korea, they put aside the collectivism for once and gave us our own pots. They ignited the gas underneath each pot, and then we could throw our ingredients (pork, bean sprouts, peppers, lettuce, etc.) into the boiling water.
There were also various spices and seasonings we could use like chili pepper, black pepper, salt, and even MSG. Naturally, I decimated the chili powder cask which gave me just the right spice level that I enjoy while still savoring the stewed meat and vegetables.
There was also a raw egg on the side that you plopped in right before you were about to eat it in order to fry it instantly.
Day 2 was a day of more traditional Korean food that I really enjoyed along with the occasional bizarre element like the hot dogs. They left me wondering what they were going to throw at me for day 3.