Wednesday, May 15, 2013

low-rent food 2: Korean sandwiches

There's a sandwich stand not far from my apartment building. It sells mysterious items like bulgogi toast and New York hot dogs. Today, after my cell-phone kerfuffle and my grocery shopping, I stopped at the stand and ordered both of the above sandwiches. I asked the ajeossi to wrap them up for me, then I took them back to my lair. Here they are:

I have no idea what makes this a New York hot dog and not, say, a Chicago hot dog, but it seemed all Korean to me. See below for a presentation you just don't find in America:

What you can't see, above, is that, under the hot dog, there lies a layer of shredded cabbage and diced pickles. There may also have been a bit of flavorless "American" cheese. It was messy and a bit strange, but edible. Below, we've got the bulgogi toast. I was mystified as to what sort of meat would count as bulgogi on such a cheap sandwich, and I wasn't disappointed: it was pressed mystery meat, probably infused with artificial bulgogi flavoring. As the egg and meat and toast were frying, the guy piled on some shredded cabbage—the same sort of cabbage I'd eaten at the donggaseu place the other night—and added ketchup, mustard, and a small cluster of pickles to the whole. He pressed the whole thing flat before wrapping it up in tin foil. I was vaguely reminded of a panini.

The bulgogi toast cost W2000; the hot dog was W1800. W3800 total; not a bad deal, in all. For expats new to Korea, this is the sort of food that produces volumes of excited-puppy commentary about Korean versus American notions of sandwiches, and about Korean attitudes toward Western food in general. But after a few years, those bloggers just shut up and eat. Inexpensive fare, some flavor. Good, fast, cheap: pick two.


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