As English teachers in Korea, it is so tempting to eat out all the time. With our schedules at Chungdahm, I am often on my way to work around lunch time and on my way home around dinner time. Fortunately, eating out in Korea can be cheaper and a lot more fun than in the United States.
One of the reasons I like eating out in Korea so much is that food is frequently prepared right in front of you. I know that these restuarants exist in the U.S. (i.e. teppan or hibachi restaurants), but what is different about Korea is that you are actually able to control the cooking. Each table has its own grill or stove and you have complete control on what goes on the grill and for how long it is cooked. With all the food safety regulations in the U.S., it is easy to see why this would not be possible there.
But in Korea it is a different story. Customers can order a variety of raw meats and vegetables and then be the chef. Often, each restaurant will have its own unique marinade for the meat. Meats are usually prepared in one of two ways though. One way is to cook the raw meat by itself and then enjoy it in a lettuce wrap filled with onions, garlic, and a tangy red sauce. Vegetables can also be added to the grill to add to the lettuce wraps as well.
Other restuarants specialize in stir frys. These are my personal favorites. You select what you would like in your stir fry and a whole plate of uncooked food comes to your table. You mix all the food together on the hot plate and before you know it, you are enjoying a very tasty stir fry.
For me, actually preparing the food yourself makes eating out more fun and the food taste fresher!
Adam Montgomery is a 25-year old teacher at the Chungdahm Branch on Jeju. He has been teaching in Korea for under a year. When he is not teaching, he enjoys exploring the wonders of Jeju and Korea.