Rain Live @ 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix Concert, Sepang

rain concert start

I dropped by the Rain concert after the F1 race in Sepang on 10 April 2011. It was after the final race and there was already a good sized crowd forming there at around 7 pm. Luckily, I had pretty decent tickets so I managed to get into the pit – was about 5 meters from the stage itself.

rain concert billboard

I can’t say I’m a fan of Rain. I don’t know him at all except from the Clear shampoo TVCs. I went to catch his performance with very little expectations since I don’t listen to K-pop.

this is rain

Rain has a really good stage presence – his choreography is excellent and the stage set is managed well by his technical people. However, I can’t say I’m impressed with his singing. I don’t think he’s that talented – he’s just one of those pretty boy “idols” that teenage girls go all gushy over.

rain live

However, I must admit that he’s quite good at what he does – namely his appealing looks and dance moves. The pyrotechnics helped a lot too!

rain concert sepang

I’m not his target audience, but there were legions of fans screaming for him. His fan base is predominantly female and he knows the usual tricks to get them into a frenzy.

rain stage

One interlude had him commenting on the heat in Malaysia while taking off his shirt and wiping his sweat with it and throwing it into the crowd.

rain concert

That went down very well. It was a huge hit with the crowd and I bet the girl who caught it would really treasure that personal souvenir. I don’t want to think about what she would do with it in the privacy of her own room. ;)

I will refrain from making captions like “It’s raining (men)” but that is apparently his most well known song. I think it’s called It’s Raining. I captured it in its entirety for your viewing pleasure.

rain dance

I don’t know how many people who’s reading this is a Rain fan. I’m not but if you are, I hope you enjoyed the video coz I had to stand there for damn near two hours before he came on stage. ;)

South Korea and North Korea DMZ

dmz

I’ve been reading with MUCH interest about the latest exchange between the two Koreas – what the papers would undoubtedly call a “souring of relations”.

dmz fence

The shelling and the drama. Hell, I wish I was back there.

dmz us

Anyway, I just came back from Korea over the weekend and one of the more interesting places that we visited was the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) that separates South Korea from North Korea.

dmz stone

You can actually SEE North Korea from the border.

north korea

If you use the binoculars or if you have a really good zoom, you can even see the poor North Korean folks slaving away at the farms.

prayers

Part of the DMZ consists of a tunnel (one of many) that the industrious North Koreans built (or a ruse by South Korea, depending on your leanings and proclivities towards conspiracy theories).

dmz aud

We walked down one of the tunnels which was allegedly painstakingly dug from NK under the DMZ right smack dab into South Korea territory where they can march their formidable (but undoubtedly emaciated) troops through.

dmz me

I can’t figure out how that can happen though coz when we walked through the tunnel I kept bumping my head (which was wisely equipped with a mandatory safety helmet) on the top of the route.

dmz seoul

No one would call me a basketball player, I’m certainly not tall but I’ll be damned if it really was the North Koreans who built it.

dmz end

It would take a lot of effort to transverse the distance with firearms with your head hitting the ceiling every meter or so.

dmz photo

I managed to sneak a couple of photos of North Korea while at the DMZ – it didn’t turn out well since security was tight and some people got their digicams checked, but I pulled it off.

korea dmz

Not that there’s anything to see anyway. :S

dmz prayers

Well, I guess their prayers for peace didn’t work so well after all.

Alaskan King Crab and Snow Crab in Korea

Alaskan King Crab korea

I had a laundry list of Things To Eat (TM) when I went to Korea last year and one of them is the famous Snow Crab. We stumbled upon this place that serves just that and another delicacy – Alaskan King Crab

Alaskan King Crab start

It’s a veritable Korean King Crab Experience! =D 

Alaskan King Crab aquarium

Well, if you didn’t know, the reason Alaskan King Crab fetches such exorbitant prices is due to its unique place as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. 

Alaskan King Crab pick

Alaskan King Crab fishing that is, not that being a crab is particularly perilous, though I wouldn’t know, being homo sapiens instead of a crustacean.

One cold autumn night we decided to make a trip out of it and ordered several kgs of Alaskan King Crab and Snow Crab for dinner. 

Alaskan King Crab weigh

The place just pulls the crab you want out of the aquarium… 

Alaskan King Crab boil

…weighs it, 

Alaskan King Crab preparation

and proceeds to boil it wholesale.

Alaskan King Crab prawns 

Unlike other Korean eating establishments we have been to, this one serves premium banchan (side dishes) like prawns and mussels.

Alaskan King Crab banchan

They even have clams – it’s all seafood inspired. 

Alaskan King Crab fork

You use scissors and a special fork to dig out the good parts of the crab but for the Alaskan King Crab, you can practically just dig in with your fingers! 

Alaskan King Crab scissors

I shit you not, this has gotta be the best crab I’ve ever had in my life. It’s just boiled but the photo of the tender, flavorful and squirt-in-your-mouth juiciness of the sweet crab meat is making me salivate like Pavlov’s dog right now. 

Alaskan King Crab claw

The Alaskan King Crab is so HUGE you can just insert your finger into the thoughtfully prepared crab and dig out all the sweet juicy meat. 

Alaskan King Crab

I cannot describe the taste with mere words, pictures or videos. It’s a nibble of nirvana for anyone into seafood. It’s a crab unlike any other – sweet and creamy due to the large proportion of fat in the Alaskan King Crab. 

Alaskan King Crab flesh

I literally ate a whole bucket of it. 

Alaskan King Crab bucket

Anyway, there was this (rather drunk) aunty from the table behind us who pointed out the error of our ways and kindly offered to help us cut the legs of the crab…before proceeding to force-feed me physically. I feel so violated. T_T 

Alaskan King Crab auntie

Alas, a stranger in a strange land and the local womenfolk took advantage of me! >.< 

Alaskan King Crab shochu

It should be noted that if you’re at risk for heart disease or stroke, you should not enter the premises under any circumstance. You’ll have a cardiac arrest when the bill arrives. I think we each paid around RM 300 in the equivalent of Korean Won for that crab dinner but you know what? 

Alaskan King Crab eat

It’s worth every single fucking cent!

Bonga Korean BBQ bulgogi

bonga

Bonga is a Korean BBQ franchise that I went to in Pusan, Korea. However, they don’t call it “Korean BBQ” over there, just like there’s no “Singapore fried noodles” in Singapore. It’s just BBQ.

bonga bulgogi

This Bonga place specializes in bulgogi which are succulent pieces of thinly sliced marinated meat that mere words or pictures cannot do it justice. It’s like the Matrix. I can’t explain what bulgogi is, you have to see it for yourself.

bonga interior

One of the things that we noticed in Bonga is their awesome ventilation system. You know how you go to some Korean BBQ places over here and you come out smelling like you’ve just spent a hard day’s work shoveling coal?

bonga ventilation

You don’t have to worry about that shit here. Bonga has this retractable suction system that ensures the place is smoke-free.

bonga charcoal

Bulgogi is marinated beef but you’ll be surprised at how a piece of bull(shit) can taste so good.

bonga bulgogi cook

Adjectives: tender, succulent, moist, flavorful, tender, orgasmic.

bonga bulgogi cooking

Watch as the fat of the land (beef) simmers and sizzles into a delicious morsel of food!

bonga dishes

There are starch sticks for you to chew on as well as an assortment of other dishes.

bonga drink

I highly (and not just from the shochu and Korean beer we drank) recommend Bonga as the be all and end all of all bulgogi joints.

bonga cold noodles

You can also order this cold Korean noodle dish that comes with kimchi (they eat it like we consume sugar), eggs and shaved ice. It’s a good ending to the beef extravaganza.

bonga cheers

Unfortunately, it’s in Korea so you have to fly there to experience their food. It’s worth it, I assure you.

bonga bulgogi simmer

Bonga servers tender and juicy pieces of beef that melts in your mouth. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in Korea.

Lotteria Shrimp and Bulgogi Burger

lotteria order

Lotteria is one of the largest fast food chains in Korea. It’s an offshoot of the Lotte Korean conglomerate. I was there a couple of months ago for a business trip and decided to sample the local cuisine junk food.

lotteria

They had this 30th anniversary promotional burger going on – it’s a half-and-half of shrimp and bulgogi beef. I have been a HUGE fan of bulgogi after going to Korea – done right, it’s the delicious! I’ve been to a proper bulgogi place as well as the McDonald’s bulgogi burger *drool* and I love it to bits!

lotteria promo

Naturally, I went for this one, half bulgogi and half shrimp in a sub, you can’t really ask for more!

lotteria burger

We had it to go coz it was really late at night and all of us were pretty tired.

lotteria bulgogi shrimp burger

I know why Lotteria is doing so well in Korea (kinda rhymes right?) though. Their burgers are orgasmic! Imagine half of a shrimp burger and half of a bulgogi burger in a single sub – it’s an XXL sized portion of belly patting goodness in a single bun.

*cue* It kinda reminds me of the Xpax double bonus. :p Double the fun, double the pleasure!

Tteokbokki (Dduk Bbok Kie): Hot and spicy Korean street food

Tteokbokki stall

Tteokbokki or Dduk Bbok Kie as our Korean interpreter Kim spells it is a popular street food in Korea. I only knew that after I had it though. Three of us were walking around the streets sans interpreter and stopped to grab a quick bite to eat before heading back to the main event.

Tteokbokki

I caught sight of a group of locals congregating around this stall which sells some kind of spicy looking pottage. I don’t know what it is but it looks starchy and comes in a rather promising shade of red. The smell coming from the bubbling pot was decidedly pleasant and I concluded this was just the thing to have on a chilly autumn night.

busan street

We were in huge market somewhere in Busan and attempts to ask what it was failed miserably. I wanted to know what it contains so I can write about it but finally gave up and did The Sign Language Thing (TM).

pointing thing

The Sign Language Thing (TM) involves using your index finger to point at the simmering pot, turn that finger 90 degrees to indicate one serving, and rotate it another 90 degrees to point towards yourself, demonstrating your intent.

Dduk Bbok Kie

The Tteokbokki is served with a whole boiled egg, fish cakes, sliced meat, and tteok (a long rice cake with a texture like chewy dough) doused with a hot paste. It was surprisingly good. I love the hot sauce made with peppers – you can still see the chillis in the dish. It’s savory and spicy and costs 3000 Won (RM 8).

pork sausage

I was also given a pork sausage made with pork and starch as a “service”, which means free in their version of English.

eating Tteokbokki

Anyway, I was standing there eating the hot Tteokbokki (though I didn’t know what it was at the time) when up came this hot Korean girl (or so I thought at that time) and explained in PERFECT QUEEN’S ENGLISH what the dish contains. I was flabbergasted and my jaw probably dropped in mid-chew, exposing the half eaten contents inside my mouth.

I’m sure she was very impressed. T_T

She translated what I said to the stall owner and vice versa and thanks to her, this post comes complete with the ingredients in Tteokbokki.

malaysian student

Oh, and I found out she’s a Malaysian studying in Seoul after talking to her. Heh! She was here with her friends for PIFF 2009.

Isaac Toast: The Korean version of Ramly burger

ramly burger korea

I swear this uses the same setup of the Ramly burger stalls over here. We were actually discussing on how easily this can be done in Malaysia – same hot plate, same skillet. Even the topping of shredded lettuce is similar. Same same but different different ya know? ;)

isaac toast korea

Isaac Toast is a franchise operation in South Korea that serves a variety of toasted sandwiches. Now, I was dubious at first too. Toasted sandwiches? It all tastes about the same everywhere. Okay, listen up, history lesson is in session:

isaac toast sandwich

Korean toast sandwiches started out as authentic street food in the same vein as silkworm pupa but got so successful it spawned a host of different franchises for toasted sandwiches. One of them is Isaac Toast.

korean toast sandwich

What makes a toasted sandwich a Korean toast sandwich? That is a very good question…

…to which I have no good answer.

isaac toast interior

I suspect it has something to do with the egg in every sandwich – it is grilled with something that makes it taste sweet. That’s the best part about the sandwich; the savory taste combined with the saccharine omelet at the bottom turns this Korean toast from ordinary to exceptional.

isaac toast egg

I had the bacon (made from real oinking babis) toast sandwich which costs about 2,400 Won (about RM 6) and I loved it! The salty strip of streaky bacon contrasted with the sweet egg at the bottom. Delicious!

isaac toast bacon sandwich

I only wished they put more bacon in. You can never have too much bacon! It’s scientifically impossible.

Beondegi – Korean silkworm pupa

canned food

I got this can of mystery food in Busan and had it last night for supper. I call it mystery food coz I still don’t know what it is. I don’t read Korean and since I bought this in Korea, there are no English translations anywhere.

Update: I have found out what this is! =D It’s Beondegi - Korean silkworm pupa. It’s a very popular snack in Korea and can be found in convenience stores in cans, where I got mine.

korean canned food

It looks remarkably similar to cockroach larvae right?

cockroach larvae

Exhibit A

Update: I emailed the photo below to the Korea Air flight crew that I met and she translated it for it – it is Beondegi (Silkworm). Mmm…I’m so glad I accidentally purchased this! =D

Beondegi Korean silkworm pupa

I would have dedicated a longer post if I knew it was silkworm pupa though, but worry not, I have ANOTHER CAN (had the foresight to get two – haha) so I’ll do a cooking post with that one. :) 

It’s crunchy too, just like how cockroach egg casings sound when you step on it. I found it quite delicious actually.

Bungeoppang – Korean fish shaped cake

bungeoppang

I was at 1U just now and came across this stall selling “Korean fish shaped bread” filled with red bean paste. I didn’t bring my dSLR since I had a data disaster to manage but I remembered having the same thing in Busan.

Korean fish shaped cake

Bungeoppang is a fish shaped cake of sorts sold by street vendors in Korea. It’s 1,000 Won (about RM 3) for 4 pieces. It has a red bean filling and it’s quite tasty when you eat it hot during the chilly autumn weather.

Korean fish red bean

We didn’t have a translator with us that day since we’re just exploring the streets and the kind stall owner gave us one with a smile and said “Service”.

Service means “complimentary” in Korea. The stall owner guessed we were not locals (probably due to our complete inability to speak Korean) and gave us one for free! It’s these little things that I love about Korea…and the fact that you can leave stuff lying around and it won’t get stolen the moment you turn your back. =D

McDonald's in Korea

*adds a notch on my belt*

mcdonalds

I like eating McDonald’s in different countries to check out their localized offerings. I suspect this has a lot to do with the New Tastes menu in Australia where 2-3 new items are introduced for a week, and a week only. I was in university then and most university students eat a lot of fast food. *shrugs* I digress.

mcdonalds korea

McDonald’s in Korea has several different items:

Big Bulgogi Burger (3400 Won or RM 10)
Bulgogi Burger (2800 Won or RM 8)
Bacon Tomato Deluxe (3800 Won or RM 12)
Shanghai Spice Chicken Burger (3700 Won or RM 12)
Shrimp Burger (3300 Won or RM 10)

korea mcdonalds

The Bacon Tomato Deluxe is like the Big N’ Tasty we get over here except with real bacon from pigs. The Shanghai Spice Chicken Burger is their version of the Spicy Chicken McDeluxe. The Shrimp Burger is similar to the Crispy Prawn Burger we had over here a while back. I ate the one in Lotteria (the fast food arm of the giant Lotte) instead. Lotteria is the #1 fast food chain in South Korea – I’ll post about it later.

Thus, the only truly localized menu item is the Big Bulgogi Burger.

bulgogi burger

I had the Big Bulgogi Burger set (4900 Won or RM 15) and one interesting thing about Korea is that they’re very big on the environment. You pay 100 Won extra for the cup, which is refunded when you return it for recycling.

big bulgogi burger bite

Bulgogi is a Korean dish which means marinated barbecued beef and we had the same thing for dinner the night before. Bulgogi done right (and the Koreans always do it right) is tender, succulent and delectable! The Big Bulgogi Burger is essentially a double Bulgogi Burger – the Korean version of Big Mac, if you will.

big bulgogi burger

Oh, how do I even begin to describe the pure awesomeness of the Big Bulgogi Burger? Imagine a huge burger made with soft buns and tender, melt-in-your mouth bulgogi beef sandwiched in the middle. Visualize the juices practically squirting out of the bulgogi beef when you bite into it, coating your tongue with the delicious barbecue marinate.

big bulgogi burger me

Now, multiply that thought by a factor of 10 and you might just get a hint of how breathtaking the Big Bulgogi Burger is. One of my friends took a bite and promptly decided that he needed to have one too so we ate the same thing again at the airport McDonalds!

The Big Bulgogi Burger is awe-inspiring – it’s so delicious that the superlative to describe it hasn’t even been coined yet.

I have experienced the divine and I’ll never be able to settle for a lesser burger. :(

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