It was love at first taste. Not first sight. Because visually, Soondae, or the korean blood sausage, it’s not exactly appealing.
But there was one day many breakfasts ago that Jr and I walked into a restaurant in Hyehwa and pointed to picture on walls only to discover the best delicacy I ate in Korea.
Ever since then I look forward to having soondae when I visit. Often at night, for 3000 won, I would stand in one of the street food kiosk and point to the steaming soondae covered in thick plastic. The friendly kiosk owner would cut half a foot length in one inch segments, coupled with a few bites of tripe and pork liver in a plastic covered bowl and place it in front of me, along with a little plate of salt and pepper. Smiling, he would raise his thumb, index and middle finger and I would hand him 3 one thousand won bills. He pour a ladle full of hot soup from where the fish cakes are bathing and he’d proceed to serve the next customer. I would do this every night after I alight the subway station nearest to my hostel before going back to my room. Samgyeopsal was plentiful in Manila, but I have yet to find a place serving soondae here. My goal was to eat my weight in soondae while in Korea.
On my last night in Seoul, instead of pigging out in Myeongdong, I decided to walk the streets of Hyehwa instead in the hopes of finding that breakfast place we once visited. It took a couple of blocks of walking and my mission was almost blocked by the steak rice topping being mobbed in one street corner. And then I saw a familiar establishment — bright, covered in thick plastic insulation, warming it against the cold fall night. I peeped thru and thought, I think what I was looking for was in one of the pictures on the wall.
I entered and a friendly Korean lady pointed to an empty table. I, in turn, pointed to the picture of the stew on the walls. In the universal language of food ordering, I hoped to the food gods that we understood each other. I also hoped it came with rice.
Minutes after and this boiling soup in a hot pot arrived on my small table already full of banchan. I scraped the bottom and yes, I hit the blood sausage hotpot. Also, at 5000 won, it came with a steaming cup of rice.
Ask and you shall receive.