From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."


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Lunch date in Hyewa’s Philippine Market

1382452431405Last Sunday, my husband and I went to the Philippine market, also known as Seoul’s Little Manila. I told him I wanted to eat Filipino food, so after my hospital appointment in Hyewadong, we passed by the church and headed straight to the Philippine market to have our lunch there. He seemed more excited than I was as we were looking at all the delectable Filipino dishes in the carinderia (small eatery). In fact, even before ordering our food, he started looking for our seats. There were too many customers that time, because the Holy Mass for Filipinos in Hyewa church had just finished. We went to Ate Violy’s carinderia first. I ordered “palabok” (Filipino style noodles in prawn gravy), pork barbecue and spring rolls for my husband, and “lechong kawali” (pan-roasted pork belly), “menudo” (pork stew in tomato sauce) and rice for me. While waiting for our order, I chatted a bit with Kuya Ed, the cook in the carinderia, who was kind enough to entertain us though he was very busy serving other customers.

Every time I go to the Philippine market in Hyewa, I feel like I am in my homeland. Everyone is just so amiable and accommodating. Just as I was going to my seat, I was greeted by another Filipino who was also having his lunch there. He’s a total stranger, but he smiled and said, “Magandang hapon, madam” (Good afternoon, Ma’am). I greeted him back and sat down. There were Koreans and other foreigners in the carinderia. They looked like they were enjoying not only the food and beer, but as well as the Filipino crowd and the friendly atmosphere.

It wasn’t my husband’s “drinking day”, but I let him drink four bottles of Red Horse, and jokingly warned him that I would leave him there if he got drunk, which amazingly didn’t happen. (My husband passed out drinking Red Horse before that he had to be carried back to our room. Oops! I hope he won’t read this. I made a promise I would never talk about that incident again… kkk)

lechon_kawaliThe “lechong kawali” was ambrosial, maybe because I haven’t eaten it in a looong time, and it was one of the Filipino dishes I had been craving. I had another order of that. My craving was finally satisfied. ^^

On the other hand, my husband kept bugging me to look for “balut“. He is crazy about Filipino street food. “Balut” is one of the popular street food in the Philippines, but some people, especially foreigners, may not stomach it. It looks like hard-boiled egg, but it’s no ordinary egg. It is boiled duck egg that you have to eat with the slimy, feathery embryo inside, sometimes with the feet and beak already formed! I DO eat “balut”, but only the yellow part. I give the embryo to my husband.

The first time I saw him eat “balut” was when he was my boyfriend. I thought that he was just trying to impress me, but to my surprise, he knew how to eat “balut” like a pro. He even taught me how to eat it with salt and vinegar. He couldn’t force me to eat the embryo, so he ended up eating the rest of my “balut”. ^^

20130416_192214Abonim (father-in-law) also likes “balut”, so we bought some for him. My husband called him up and asked him what else he wanted. He said, “sisig” (Filipino delicacy made from part of a pig’s head and liver, seasoned with calamansi or lemon and chilli pepper). Lucky for him, we got the last order of “sisig” from another “carinderia”.

My husband and I had a great time last Sunday. I appreciate his enthusiasm for Filipino food. He always talks about my Mom’s cooking and boasts to his friends about how well his mother-in-law can cook. I try to cook Filipino food sometimes, but he doesn’t eat as much as he does when it’s Mom who cooks for him… grrrr!


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Seoul’s Little Manila

What a busy, busy, busy week!

Thank God, I was able to unwind last Sunday after my hospital visit. I thought of going to the Filipino market since I was already in Hyewadong.

Every Sunday, the road between Dongseong High School and Hyehwa Catholic Church transforms into Little Manila. The vibrant and convivial atmosphere of the Filipino market attracts not only Filipinos but also Koreans and other foreigners.

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Haraboji (grandfather in Korean) looked amused as he was looking at the items in this stall.

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Genuine smile that is truly Pinoy (Filipino)

When I visited the Filipino market for the first time, I saw only a few stalls, but last Sunday, new stalls had mushroomed. The place was busier, noisier and there were more foreign visitors.

You can buy just about anything “Filipino” in Little Manila: cosmetics, toiletries, snacks and pastries, condiments, meat, vegetables and fruit, beverages, etc.

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Little Manila is also home to a variety of authentic Filipino dishes.

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Pork barbecue

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Balut (a popular Filipino street food that consists of a whole egg containing a duckling or chicken fetus)

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Turon (deep fried bananas wrapped in spring roll wrappers)

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Bananacue (deep fried bananas coated in caramelized brown sugar)

I decided to have my lunch in one of the carinderias (eatery) that serve some of these popular Filipino dishes. A Korean ajossi who was busy mixing pancit (Filipino noodles) and enthusiastically calling out customers caught my attention. With him was his Filipina wife who had that big smile on her face as she was inviting passersby to try their food. I wanted to try all of the food in the menu! Oh, how I missed Filipino food.

The carinderia is owned by Ate Violy and her Korean husband. The food is good and very affordable.

For 6, 000 KRW (242 PHP) (5.58 USD), you can choose two main dishes or viands with Filipino style-rice (not the sticky one) and soup. I ordered menudo and lumpiang gulay (vegetable roll). The soup of the day was sinigang, my favorite. ^^

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After enjoying the meal, I had a little chat with Kuya Ed Atienza, the cook, and Ate Violy. I asked them if I could take some photos of the carinderia, and they were more than happy to oblige.

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Ate Violy makes these sausages.

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Pancit and barbecue… perfect combination! =)

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Empanada (stuffed bread)

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Lumpiang gulay (vegetable roll)

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Kutsinta and Puto (Filipino rice cake)

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Kakanin (Filipino dessert made from glutinous rice)

I rarely cook Filipino food in the house, because my in-laws prefer Korean food (of course), but every now and then, I crave Filipino dishes. It’s too bad that Little Manila is open only on Sunday, and I have to travel for nearly two hours just to get there.

More than just the food, it’s Filipino amiability, hospitality, simplicity and enthusiasm that I like about going to the Filipino market. I hope, in years to come, Little Manila will not just be a little place in one corner where Filipinos gather and enjoy a weekend of food and shopping, but a bigger and stronger community where Filipinos relive their culture and embrace their distinctiveness.