Namdaemun Market

1024181930~2 (2)A short walk from Seoul Station lies Namdaemun, the Great South Gate of Seoul, South Korea. Originally constructed in 1398, Namdaemun was one of eight majestic gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul which surrounded the city during the Joseon Dynasty. Namdaemun was reconstructed in 1447, and significantly refurbished in 2008 after a devastating fire.

The Great South Gate is interesting. For this food traveler, however, the real intrigue lies just beyond the gate. Walk just a bit further, and you’ll arrive at the marvel that is Namdaemun Market. This center of sensory overload has been Continue reading

Hello, South Korea!

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Beautiful Incheon Airport

I’ll be candid with you, Crowded Earth Kitchen friends – I’m simply giddy about exploring Seoul, South Korea. Approximately ten million people call Seoul home, putting the bustling metropolis of Seoul on par with giants such as New York City. Who knew?

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Chivalry is alive and well on Seoul trains, which can get quite crowded!

It takes 14 hours to fly from Chicago to Seoul, which makes a person pretty darn happy to have their feet back on solid ground!

 While train station snacks may lack for nutrition, they’re interesting and very low cost!

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While Seoul is peaceful now, there are plenty of reminders of the region’s complicated past. The fairly new statue above, situated just outside of Seoul Station, is in the likeness of anti-colonial activist Kang Woo-Kyu. In 1919, when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule, Kang Woo-Kyu threw a grenade from this very spot in an attempt to assassinate the Japanese Governor-General Makoto Saito. This act of defiance is celebrated annually with the laying of wreaths, and serves as a reminder of the fragility of peace.

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As an American abroad, I certainly never expect to encounter English signage. I did, however, find this sign a bit funny. Notice how “Information” is written in English, yet the actual information is not.  🙂

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The ginko trees in Seoul are spectacular. These trees are so much larger than ginkos I’ve seen in the US, and their color is so beautiful.

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Plastic food displays are popular in Seoul as they are in Tokyo. I’m eager to sample the cuisine! Next time on Crowded Earth Kitchen, we’ll begin exploring Seoul’s amazing outdoor markets and food stalls.

The world is small. Have big fun!

Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ)

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Garlic Beef

Tonight after a stroll through the charming Edo district, we hopped on a train for the excitement of Akihabara’s Electric Town. World famous for all things anime, Akihabara’s Electric Town also boasts a pretty great restaurant scene… those amped up gamers need to eat sometimes, too! We went searching for Yakiniku, do-it-yourself Japanese BBQ. After a few dead ends and a brief scavenger hunt leading to a small elevator and a narrow, 8th floor hallway with chairs for waiting, we found Continue reading

Tokyo Dining: Never Enough Noodles!

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Noodles in broth with thin sliced green onion and a poached egg

Seriously, friends. If you like noodles, you’ll love Tokyo. In addition to the ramen and tsukemen dishes previously featured here on Crowded Earth Kitchen, there exists a seemingly endless variety of noodle bowls. Hooray!

We’re Continue reading

Tsukemen (Japanese Dipping Noodles)

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Who says you can’t play with your food? Tsukemen is not only delicious for adventurous diners, it’s a guaranteed kid pleaser and appropriate for serving to finicky friends. If you enjoy sampling dishes from around the world but are also cooking for reluctant diners, Tsukemen is a must-try.

Tsumemen is basically Continue reading

Japanese-Inspired Banana Spongecake

Japanese desserts tend to be a bit lighter and less sugary than Western desserts. Also, bananas and banana-flavored treats are very popular in Japan. This banana spongecake is inspired by desserts we enjoyed throughout Tokyo. Enjoy!

Ingredients (Serves 8)

1 very ripe banana

2 eggs Continue reading

National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo Japan

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A visit to the Ueno cultural district in Tokyo, Japan would not be complete without a few hours devoted to exploring the National Museum of Nature and Science. Check out a sampling of the museum’s treasures below:

(Shown above: Yayoi Period human bones)

(Shown above: Crustaceans, Bivalves, and a cross-section of an ancient tree)

Admission is quite a value at 600 yen (approximately $5.30), which is significantly less than the cost of admission at many comparable museums around the world. The museum is open six days a week (closed on Mondays) year ’round. Be sure to check the website before visiting, in case of closure due to a Japanese holiday.

(Shown above:
A sampling of the museum’s impressive collection of telescopes and microscopes)

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Beautiful terrestrial and celestial globes made, unbelievably, from paper mache

The world is small. Have big fun!

Ueno Market

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Japanese Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and other grilled treats

Hopping off the JR train line at Ueno Station is recommended for any visitor to Tokyo, Japan. Ueno offers a concentration of world class museums and ancient Buddhist temples, many of which are accessible along the walking paths of beautiful Ueno Park. Today we explored an open air market in Ueno Park, and we were not disappointed!

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Japanese kindergarteners, looking spiffy in their school uniforms, were visiting Ueno Park on a field trip. So adorable! So well behaved! They melted my heart with their shy smiles.

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Aren’t these grilled fish interesting? At 600 yen (approximately $5.30) they were a fair price, especially considering that Ueno Park hosts many tourists.

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Non-food wares were expensive, but still fun to peruse. Aren’t these bonsai trees beautiful?

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Dango, a traditional sweet treat made from crushed rice, was delicious. At only 100 yen (approximately $0.89) for five bites, this was a very economical snack. It reminds me a bit of the Korean Garaetteok we made here at Crowded Earth Kitchen a while ago, with the addition of a delicious soy-based glaze.

Next time, we’ll feature photos from the fantastic Tokyo National Museum, also located in Ueno. Our world is small… have big fun!

 

 

Sushi Tokyo Ten

(Shown above: Shrimp with Salmon Roe, Akami and Toro Tunas, and Rock Lobster) 

Just outside of the busiest train station in the world sits Sushi Tokyo Ten. Simply entering the restaurant is a sensory experience, as a single step over the curtained threshold removes a diner from the chaos of Shinjuku Station and offers a calm and quiet, warmly lit enclave.

Sushi Tokyo Ten is a culinary adventure, perhaps especially for folks who think they know sushi. The reigning principle here is omakase, which translates as “I will leave it to you.” Over the course of two hours, skilled chefs prepare 20 different small plates for each dinner guest. Each plate is prettier than the last! At the end of the experience, diners leave sated and relaxed.

If you find yourself in Tokyo, I recommend spending an evening at Sushi Tokyo Ten.

Cookbook Freebie Contest

Crowded Earth Kitchen Loves Freebies!

cookbook-cover-imageThe Global Recipe Project Cookbook

Contest Ends November 30th – THREE winners will be drawn!

Three ways to enter:
1) Reblog this post!
2) Tweet a link to this post, and include @CrowdedEarthKit
3) Share elsewhere and post a link in the comments
———
Available on Amazon, 100% of the profits from The Global Recipe Project Cookbook will benefit not-for-profit organizations which feed people as a central part of their mission. Cooks and food bloggers from around the world have contributed to this amazing book. Over 170 recipes from 65 countries are included. Pick up a copy today, and support a worthy cause!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACheck out a few sample recipes from this cookbook:
Belgian Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
Chadian Chicken and Okra
Dutch Windmill Cookies
French Soupe à l’oignon
German Beef Rouladen
Swiss Fondue
8″ x 10″ (20.32 x 25.4 cm) 
Black & White Bleed on Cream paper
136 pages
CEK Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-0998191607
ISBN-10: 0998191604
BISAC: Cooking / Regional & Ethnic / General

Tokyo Train Station Bears

1029180200Hello again, fellow foodies and travelers. We’ve been busy exploring Korea and Japan! Throughout our most recent travels, we’ve logged many hours on trains. This means we’ve also logged many hours in train stations, which can be pretty cool places to explore! One evening, we channeled our inner five year-old and enjoyed a snack of these delightful, chocolate filled bears.

1029180203A bit like bite-sized, filled pancakes, these little bears are also available in caramel and custard flavors. A 14-count bag of these charming treats cost 580 Yen, or approximately $5.15. If the long line at the counter was any indication, we weren’t the only train travelers enchanted with these roly poly little pandas.

1029180202Stay tuned for more fun from Japan and Korea over the next few weeks here at Crowded Earth Kitchen.