S. Korea: Daejeon?
Can anyone recommend restaurants in Daejeon? I've seen very little about this city in any guidebooks. Really any recommendations for anything would be welcome, especially places that will welcome someone that doesn't speak a bit of Korean. Also, any good options for lunch for one person are welcome.
You're right, it is hard to find info about eating in Daejeon, particularly Korean food. There are so many foreigners working there you can find out more info about Mexican food!
How long will you be there? What is your experience with Korean food?
I have not been to Daejeon, but I found a VERY interesting suggestion in the link below. Particularly the dubu bo ssam 두 부 보 쌈 (tofu and steamed pork platter), which is a dish I had in Korea and is terrific. I would not miss those black bean tofu pancakes!
Also, one of the best things I had in Korea is duck bulgogi. If you see it anywhere, make sure you get it. Or better yet, ASK for it at a tourist information office. They can help you. The Koreans do great things with duck (ouri), yet it is difficult to find in the many Korean restaurants where I live.
My experience with Korean food is limited, but I've always enjoyed what I've had in the States (bulgogi, bibimbab, late night trips to Korean BBQ powered by soju). I haven't encountered anything that I didn't like and I'm a sucker for any noodle based soups. I'll only be in Daejeon about three days, but will be in Seoul a few more days beyond that. I love duck so the duck bulgogi sounds outstanding.
There may be a duck bulgogi place in Daejeon. You should ask at tourist information.
If you are up for an adventure, there are a couple of duck bulgogi places near, but not in, Daejeon. I have not been to this area, so I have no personal knowledge of them. I suggest you ask at a tourist information office or get someone to help you find an address. It will help if you can print out the Hangul characters in this post. Hangul is the Korean alphabet.
One is near the a golf course outside Daejeon. It is called
장원가든 (Friendship Garden).
It is located
유성골프장 앞 (in front of the Meteor Golf Course).
Into Google Maps, copy these words:
"골프장 near daejeon, south korea"
and do a search
The golf course will be the first hit you get.
There is another place near Gyeryong and Gyeryongsan National Park, even further into the countryside; it is in an idyllic setting. But I do not know the name or specific location. Again, you'd have to ask.
For noodle soups, here are some favorites you should look for:
수 제 비 (sujebi): handtorn noodle soup
칼 궄 수 (kalguksu): knife cut noodle soup
콩 궄 수 (kongguksu): noodles in a cold soy milk broth
If you find any of the above, the noodles will slay anything you are likely to eat in the U.S., but that is true of all the noodles I had in Korea.
The alphabet is actually pretty easy and fun to learn and will help you read many menu items.
Once you are anywhere in Korea and need translation help, there is a free 24/7 national hotline that will assist you, no matter what the need. Weekly cell phone rental at the airport is cheap.
Don't think you'll get any response on where to eat in Daejeon. I had the same experience last year when I visited Jinju and Sacheon - South Korea is still pretty unexplored territory where CH is concerned, and it's also hard to find any (English-language) material on the Web about dining out in the smaller Korean towns.
But South Korea is generally very well-structured - even if the facilities like tourist offices usually aimed at local, Korean-speaking visitors - so getting a list of eateries should be quite easy.
English is not widely spoken, so it's imperative that you get the addresses of the restaurants, and the dishes to order, written in Korean, unless you're accompanied by Korean colleagues/friends.
As it turns out, Daejeon is not a bad town. I wasn't on my own as much as I expected; but, when I was alone I discovered an ideal spot for someone that's dining solo, doesn't speak Korean, yet still wants Korean food: the Lotte Department Store food court. It's relatively easy to order as they have menus with pictures. Once you've paid for your meal, you want for your number to appear on a screen and go and retrieve it. I'm sure that there's much better local options for those in the know, but for me it was just what I needed at the time and I really enjoyed what I had there.
I also found that Daejeon, like Seoul, is loaded with coffee and pastry shops. I was particularly impressed with a cappuccino that I had at a place (Art in Espresso? Espresso Art?) right across from the gates of the Chungnam National University in Yuseong. Another nice find was the Sum Sing Dang bakery not far from the Jungangno metro. They have some terrific pastries and sandwiches.
Finally, there's tons of street food options, especially at night in the City Hall, Jungangno and Daejeon market areas. Speaking of, the market is worth a look for some interesting food voyeurism. If you're looking for something Korean, but more upscale and with English menus or at least someone that can speak enough to guide you through the menu, I suspect that your best bets will be around the City Hall area. But, long story short, if you find yourself being sent to Daejeon, there's no need to despair.
Sorry to be such a bummer about department store food, but I hope this does not encourage others to follow suit.
In my two weeks of eating fabulous food in Korea, the only bad meal we had was at a department store food court. It was in the 'worlds largest department store', the Shinsegae in Busan. Fancy place (for a food court) with a central ordering system from about a dozen different stands, each specializing in a different type of Korean food, and not the same as the 'international' food court which is even more casual and cheaper. This was the only place where the food was just plain wrong, from relying on too much sugar in the sauce to poorly cooked noodles or a dish with no flavor at all.
I'm sorry, but I think this is generally a poor strategy, and I wouldn't have done it if we weren't facing a severe storm outside.
In my world travels I have never found a language barrier to be a problem. Worst case is: you sit down, point "I'll have what they're having," and that's really all the language you need to know. Most pocket translation books can help, and in this day of technology at your fingertips, it can be even easier to get more extensive information, especially with Korea's 24/7 translation help. Plop yourself down at any restaurant and call the hotline, they will help with translation.
I'm glad you were satisfied, but there is no need to resort to this as a strategy.
Fair enough. I liked what I had, but it was just one meal, so I might have gotten lucky. And normally, I seek out more mom n pop type places, but this particular time, I happened to be right there, was freaking hungry and it presented itself as the path of least resistance (although, I felt a little guilty about it). I thought that this might be a good option for those in a similar pinch or those that find the language barrier to be difficult.
But, you bring up a good point. And that is that dining out in Korea was not as difficult as I thought it might be based on some of the things that I read. Pointing went a long way and there's no need for concern about Korea in particular. On the whole, it turned out to be fairly easy. Also, in the absence of other information to go on, simply choosing the place with a good crowd turned out to be a fairly successful strategy for finding good meals.
Thanks to dinersaurus for starting a conversation and reporting back about a little-traveled part of Korea.
I have to disagree a bit with Steve. I think eating in Asian department store food courts is in a different stratosphere than in, for example, the States. In Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, etc, I have had excellent food in malls. I think particularly as a solo traveler, that is not a bad option.
I was reporting back about my specific experience, but I would not be surprised if it is indicative in Korea since all three dishes we ordered were by far the worst things we ate for two weeks in Korea, where every other meal we had was a fond memory. Would those dishes do in a pinch? Sure. Is it a good strategy? Emphatically not, no matter what might be true for 'Asian department stores' in general.
One more thing: I'd like to demystify the idea of eating out in Korea. It's not that forbidding an experience as long as you enjoy Korean food to begin with.