I first had the opportunity to visit South Korea in 2015. As soon as I got off the plane and processed where I was, I really felt a connection with the place. This was odd for me because I knew almost nothing about Korea.
At the time, I had only started watching some Korean dramas but never really paid much attention to them. I also could have hummed along with some KPOP songs but wouldn’t have been able to sing along to any of them. I never really expected that connection, especially right off the plane.
Spending a few days in Korea just solidified that connection for me. I loved the ambiance, the vibe, the colors, and especially the food. I appreciate the simplicity of Korean food. It doesn’t normally have an overwhelming flavor even when it’s packed with extreme heat.
This makes them easier to replicate as long as you have the ingredients. With the continuous rise of K-dramas and K-Pop, a lot of restaurants and stalls have started offering Korean food. But there are some things that just don’t taste the same anywhere else.
1. Sweet Potato
This might come as a surprise but I would go back to South Korea even if it’s just to have some of their roasted sweet potatoes again. Bought through street vendors, these freshly roasted treats are perfect for cool afternoons and winter nights. When you open it, a steaming soft treat is waiting for you. I used to be confused about how, in some dramas, the characters would always savor the sweet potato. It was beyond my expectations. It was sweet, soft, and creamy. From what I know, they don’t put anything on the sweet potatoes but they’re just like custard.
2. Thin radish in sandwiches
I haven’t found this in the Philippines, yet, but this is pretty simple. It’s a piece of thinly sliced pickled Korean radish, also called Ssam Mu, added to a sandwich. It’s a sweet and slightly sour taste that also adds a bit of crunch to the sandwich that I really enjoyed. Usually, Ssam Mu is used for wraps for meat.
3. Myeongdong dragon mustache candy
Also called Kkul-tarae or Ggul-tarae, this is a dessert or sweet snack that is unique to South Korea. In the past, only royalty was able to eat this delicious treat! It’s made through pulling sugar similar to cotton candy but done manually and is filled generously with a peanut chocolate mix.