Korean Food : Flower Decorated Rice cake, Hwajeon



Nearly 20 years ago

It was a day spring revived with newly born colors. The street along my school was filled with diverse colors, yellow, dark red, crimson, pink and green. Among them, the pink was the most noticeable color of all. That was from fully bloomed Azaleas.

My grandma said
You are lucky to have them.

I didn't understand what she meant.
I assumed that maybe because it was so much beautiful.

One day, 

 my grandma called us and asked us to pluck some azalea petals on the street. I felt reluctant to do what she said. How dare I pick off flowers! I defiantly asked her why. She said there was something she wanted to make with it and I would be surprised. Yes, I love surprises.

Picking up petals
I felt unconscientious for the end of a life, even it was a plant. (I think I was more emotional than now.) After a moment, I forgot that thought and fell into the amusement of collecting pretty petals. Finally we ended up gathering a small basket of azalea and came back home.

Entering home, I saw my grandma kneading dough, sitting on the living room floor. Around her there were a gas burner, a frying pan and other ingredients and utensils. We sat beside her, showing off what we’ve got by ourselves. She grinned and asked us to wash them throughly and bring them back.

Grandma let us grab a hand-sized dough and round it rolling with two hands. Then, she flattened the dough, and placed it on the preheated frying pan. Around 1 minute later, she flipped it over and reheated it. I recognized that she was making a rice pancake, frying it. It must be super-yum with warm, chewy texture.

Petals Attached

All of a sudden, She glanced at us with a mysterious smile and attached a petal into one side of well cooked rice pancake. We were astonished and stared curiously at what she was doing. She let it firmly fixed, looking at us, giggling.

My sister and I were so excited and shouted at her in unison, “What’s next? What? What?”. She moved a azalea decorated pancake to the dish, and drizzled a teaspoon of syrup on it.

It is called 'Hwajeon'

She said, “It’s done. It’s called Hwajeon(meaning ‘flower pancake’). Precisely, Jindalle Hwajeon(azalea flower pancake). I made this beautiful dish very often when I was young. Nowadays, it’s not easy to find wild azalea in the city. You are lucky to have them around our house.”

I am lucky to have them.

Finally, I understood what she meant, and I truly thought I was lucky to have them.  And I also thought I was very lucky to have my grandma to let me know this beautiful plate of flowers.


On that day, We made hundreds of hwajeon trying as many different designs of it as I could imagine. How about the taste?

It was as delicious as my grandma’s love.


What is Hwajoen?

Hwajeon is a small rice cake(tteok) adorned with edible flower petals including azalea and chrysanthemums.

Hwajeon was commonly eaten at a traditional custom called hwajeonnori meaning flower rice-cake play. Every March 3 in the lunar calendar, named ‘Samjinnal’, azaleas blooming, women and children went out to pluck azaleas or other edible flowers. They also carried all ingredients and a thick frying pan to make it outside.

20 years Later

I have grown up and I could make Hwajeon by myself without any help from my grandma. But sadly, there’s no azaleas around my house anymore, as the city has grown larger. I am not lucky anymore in terms of azalea.

But I am lucky to have this beautiful memory
with my wonderful grandma


* Samjinnal(March 3 of lunar calendar) is March 24 this year 2012.

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Korean Food : Highway Service Station Food is way Expensive! (Hyugeso)

The Last winter trip to High1 

My b-friend and I went on the last trip of this winter, to High-one, one of the biggest ski-resort in Korea, located in Gangwon province. We spent 2 nights and 3 days with his friends.

On a first day, we arrived late at night, so we just grab a bottle of beer and had a rest. On the next day, we all snow-boarded nearly for 8 hours, trembling, tumbling, sliding, shrieking, bumping, crashing, shouting, sprawling, and laughing. To shortly say, Exhilarated.

At night, we ate pork belly, called Samgyupsal, with beer and soju. Samgyupsal after hard-working of snow-boarding was very wonderful. We played several games that we used to do during schooltime and chattered about our daily lives and again, laughed and laughed.

When the sun rose in the third day morning, it was time to turn back to own lives. After having said goodbye to each other, we took a car for own destination, Seoul, Gumi, and Busan.

It would be a long journey for my b-friend and me. To Busan to Gangwon, it takes 4 to 5 hours through express way by car. Before departure, we decided to drop by a service station, called Hyugeso in Korean, and have late lunch there.

I was a Service Station Snacker

During my childhood, when my family visited relatives’ house on traditional holiday, like a new year or a thanks-giving day, we took a highway to get there. For me, only thing I longed for, during the boring time staying in the stuffed car, was snack time in a highway service station(Hyugeso).

It was me who popped out first as soon as Dad finished parking the car. I dashed out to the snack area, rubbing my abdomen. Then, Mom, behind me, cautioned me to be attentive against cars with a worrying voice. Later, Mom arriving, I excitedly said to mom a list of want-to-eat snacks.

Mom bought whatever I demanded, grinning. Mom did never reject to buy them for me, since she knew it was the only interest for me on a way. My favorite was walnut bread, named Hodugwaja, a symbol of service station snack, and baked or steamed corn. I was so happy with them.

Cheongdo Service Station

Korea service stationKorea service station
We arrived at Cheongdo service station around 4 o’clock, 3-4 hours after departure. We felt a bit hungry and start to wander around for snack.

There were typical service-service station snacks including Walnut bread(Hodugwaja), Ddeokbokki, Oden, Baked potatoes, Sausage-bar(Hot bar), Hotdog, Corn and Coffee. We splitted, for saving time, to choose snack to buy.

Korea service stationThey look so yum, don't they?

Highway Service Station Food is way Expensive!

Soon I gaped at the prices of the snack.
It was unreasonably expensive than that in other places.

For example, Walnut bread, called hodugwaja, one of the famous snacks in highway service station, was sold in a packet of 8 balls at 2,000won, meaning 250 won per ball. In comparison with walnut bread in Cheon-an city, it’s 20% more expensive. Oden and Sausage stick(Hot-bar) cost 2,000won each, of which prices are 1,500won each in the city-market. It is way costly.

Unfortunately, I had no choice but to buy them. We bought a bowl of Ddeokbokki and a skew of Oden, paying 5,000won in total. I expected the taste to be good in suit of its high price. But the tastes of them was just fair, but not satisfying enough.

Korea service stationKorean service stationIt's my he eating a piece of ddeokbokki!

Korea service stationA skew of Oden is 2,500won!!

Please Keep price fair!

For me, it was still the biggest delight on a highway.
There’s something special on that service station, with cheering atmosphere.

The quality of snack in such areas cannot be guaranteed, due to its locational advantage for monopoly. But as it remains as a citizens’ rest area, providing convenience for exhausted drivers and passengers through long trips, it should keep its food price fair. 


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Korean Food : Winter Hobbang, a kind of Dumpling?



On a cold winter day, I ask mom to heat hobbang at home. Around 15 minutes later, mom gives me a white flour ball with steams on it. It looks so hot, but I pleasurably hold it with few fingers, of course to change fingers time to time avoiding possible skin burns. I hasten to bite side of it.

OMG. It’s damn hot and I got tongue burnt. I rapidly move my tongue, tossing that firing red bean paste in my mouth. Inside is hotter than outside. After being shocked by its temperature, I immediately divide it into two part in order to release the heat outside. Soon it becomes edible cooled, I again hurry on to put one piece into my mouth and enjoy.

Hobbang. Guess what it is?

It is a variation of dumpling with red bean inside instead of meat or vegetables. It looks similar to a dumpling on that reason. It originated from China, the country of dumplings. Then, it was introduced to Japan in 1341 by a Chinese, Jeong-in Im, who came along to Japan with his Japanese friend. He first made chinese dumplings.

But Japan prohibited eating meat at that moment, so he put red bean paste substitute for pork in the original recipe. Red bean dumpling hit the Japan, became very popular.

Later, in Korea, at its colonized period by Japan, Those dumplings were introduced and sold as a street food. It was called Jjinbbang meaning ‘steamed bread’ in Korean. A food company recognizing the product potential on it, they mass-produced red bean dumpling branding as Hobbang.

Where to buy Hobbang(Jjinbbang)

Just Eat it!

There used to be dumpling specialized stores in the past. Nowadays, We hardly see them on the sweet. I assumed it lost its competitive due to the season limit sales of it.

Don’t worry, although you cannot find the specialized store, you can have better access to hobbang anywhere easily. How? You can buy hobbang at the convenience stores. The season is quite limited from December to Febuary. But, thanks to the wide chain system of convenience companies, you can have them anytime 24 hours.


Just Heat it!


We can buy pre-cooked package of hobbang at any store including discount stores, supermarkets, and convenience store. Just go to the bread section, and look for it. They are usually sold 4 hobbangs in one packages priced around 3000-4000won.





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How to cool a burning tongue

1. milk

burning tongue

The easiest way to cool your tongue is drinking milk. it’s readily accessible at the nearest convenience store. Before dying of tongue burning, just run and grab a milk carton, and gulp it. Too exaggerating?

There was a tv show that experimented to figure out the best antidote for pain of spiciness. There were several options including water, milk, coolpis and boiled overcooked rice crust. The winner was milk indeed.

On the tongue

The fat in milk helps remove an element causing spiciness called capsicin from taste buds. Because Milk contains 3.4% of fat and Capsicin is oil-soluble. Keeping milk inside mouth extinguishes a fire for good.

Inside the body

Milk temporarily covers inner surface of the stomach preventing pricking feeling. But the positive effect lasts only few seconds, the it worsen the situation. Stomach lets out acid to digest protein from milk. It acidifies and causess gastric hyperacidity.

Milk is a makeshift. Although it is an effective and efficient method for cooling tongue, it also brings about side effect. Therefore, drink milk only in case of emergency.

2. Coolpis

burning tongue

The most popular way to save your burning tongue is drinking Coolpis. You might never heard of this name, if you are out of Korea. But it’s very common in spicy food serving restaurant. You can spot cartons of coolpis in the refrigerators there. The only savior from those hot places.

When Korean youngsters eat out spicy food, Coolpis must accompany them. If the restaurant don’t carry it, they sometimes buy and bring it there. There’s even a equation like ‘A drink for Spicy food = Coolpis’

Why Coolpis?

The most effective way was with milk, but milk cannot be a commonly drinkable menu. Some people have lactose intolerance and just don’t like its flavor. The owners of restaurant wanted to find the substitute for milk. That is Coolpis.

3. Other ways

The cool temperature and sweet taste soothe the tongue burning. The spicy taste feels more intensely when hot, so cooling down the tongue with cold drink is a good way. Sweetness also makes you flee from spiciness for a while.


Related Article :    Korean Food : Korean Food is Super-Spicy?


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    좋은 게시물이 해줘서 고맙습니다

Korean food is [                 ]

When characterizing Korean Food, there will be various answers.


And Spicy.

Korean Food is Super-Spicy.

On the statement, I would partly agree.

1. Not All Food is spicy.

All Korean food is not spicy. There are so very many foods that are not. In fact, the history of a pepper in Korea is relatively short compared to the entire Korean history of 5,000. It’s true that it spreaded throughout Korea rapidly and influenced Korean cuisine at significant extent. But there still exist a number of wonderful dishes without it.

The reason why Korean food is branded with spiciness is ‘pepper spiciness is stimulative and more unforgettable.’ When foreigners taste tongue burning food once, they perceive Korean food is mostly hot.

2. But Some Food are very spicy.

Some Korean dishes are very spicy. Korean truly love spicy food indeed. They make spicy food spicier and spicier. Some of them are addicted to it. Craving for more stimuli that bump your head and sweat all body.


Domestic Pepper Consumption in Korea

The domestic pepper consumption is 200,000~250,000ton and 3.8kg per capita. IT is the highest figure among vegetables. Why Koreans are so crazy about spiciness?

People prefer spiciness when they get stressed socially or individually.

According to a research by a folklorist, a pepper is introduced around 18 century when Kimchi and Pepper paste(Gochujang) were generalized. Especially around 1950, due to stress caused by Korean war, poverty and famine, the craving for spiciness enhanced. Its spiciness let out endorphin and relieve stress level. Nowadays, spicy food are popular among twenties, and it supposedly driven from employment troubles.

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Korean Food :  McCol, My Favorite Korean Barley Soft drink.


My favorite soft drink, Ever.

It was in the middle of summer.
On the way home, I was hot and thirsty. My white shirt was soaked with sweat. Escaping from scorching hot, I rushed into a supermarket nearby school. I ,still panting, stared at the displayed soft-drinks in the huge fridge. A variety of drinks lay in front of me. I lingered there until a clerk saw me strange for spending so much time, glaring at drinks.

To tell the truth, I was not deciding. I was leisurely enjoying the moment of a decision as a coin-holding consumer. I felt excited to admire those well-arranged rows of various colored cans. And also liked staying beside the refrigerator for a bit of cool air oozing from it.

I already knew which one I was going to buy.
McCol, my favorite soft drink ever, was waiting for my grab.

Alternative for beer!!

McCol was somewhat my alternative for beer. I was so curious about beer allowed only to adults. Soju seemed too strong for young me, while beer(Makju) seemed weak enough even for young me. So I started being craving for beer. As I perceived I was forbidden to drink, I got more strongly desired for it.

One day, a rumor was circulated that McCol was made of mixture of beer and coke. It meant I caught a good chance to fulfill my curiosity of beer. No sooner I heard of it, did I buy a can of McCol. I had already drunk umpteen cans of it, but this time must have been different.

I opened the lid with my hands shaking in excitement. And I gingerly swallowed one morsel like thoroughly examining a experimental liquid. You know what? I certainly felt a hint of beer flavor in it.

Since then, whenever I had a chance to buy a soft drink, undoubtedly, McCol was my choice. Feeling as if I were an adult, I drank it, namely, I swallowed a brown sparkling potion of making oneself adult.

What is McCol?
(extracted from ilhwa.co website)

It is the first carbonated drink made of barley in Korea. It lately has attracted much attention because it contains a dietetic fiber. It is a representative barley soda produced via a sanitary facility system using high quality water from the Chojung mineral spring. Balanced with moderate amounts of soda, barley, vitamins and lemon flavor, it has a cool, refreshing and clean taste. Also, no antiseptic treatment is applied to this product.

Vitamins contained in this product are; vitamin C which strengthens the immune function and operates as an anti-oxidizer, vitamin B1, which is known as a nutritious source essential for carbohydrate metabolism, and vitamin B2, which is necessary for nutrition metabolism operating as various enzymes do in a living body


McCol Taste - Love or Hatred?

As you could guess, I seem crazy for it. My appreciation of it ends it up with full of compliments. But, interestingly, I looked for other blogers’ comments on Mccol, and they had a controversy with their opinions diverged into extreme. Love or Hate. Delicious or Disgusting.

Some people say it’s too fuzzy, sour, and with somewhat mysterious feature. They found it disgusting from unexpected flavor, different from coke. They never advise you this drink.

On the other hand, other people, mostly switched from Coke to McCol, fascinated by its unique taste. They say its taste can grow on you, meaning you will get used to it. McCol is very refreshing and contains healthy ingredients –barely extracts, vitamin B1, B2 and C. They admire it as the best drink possibly replacing cola in the future.

Every taste depends upon one’s growth background and circumstance. When travelling totally unknown area for the first time, people must have some trouble on food. Later, they get familiar to its taste and appreciate its true taste. Just like western people enjoy sushi with raw fish on, that they used to feel disgust on.

I assume that a coke drinkers’ tongues got habituated to coke taste,
and feel weird of McCol’s somewhat phony-like taste. But you will get used to it.

So, Why don’t you give a chance to McCol?


Altanative for beer? lollol

My cute defiant action in adolescence. It’s ridiculous making non-alcoholic drink with alcohol. But the young me truly believed that absurd idea. Mercifully, it was not only me who was hooked by silly lie. I can still find some venturous  bloggers experimenting to make McCol by mixing beer and coke! lollol


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A Restaurant : Healthy Premium Polarex Buffet in Busan, Korea (2)

polarexCrab crunch Salad : Marvelous taste

As you will see, I brought a number of dishes, and I tasted almost all food there. Here I recommend some of my favorites. They were so fantastic.

Foodstoryist’s delighted at

Crab cruch salad 게살샐러드
Natto bowl 낫또
Sauteed Assorted Fish & Vegetable 팔보채
Salmon bowl 연어
Assorted Sushi 스시

polarexpolarexpolarexAssorted Sushi
polarexpolarexNatto bowl : Very good
polarexSauteed fish and vegetable : left on the bottom

Polarex information
Price(Adult, VAT added)

Lunch(Mon-Fri) 17,000
Dinner(Mon-Thu) 27,000
Dinner(Fri) 30,000
Lunch(Sat-Sun,Holiday) 27,000
Dinner(Sat-Sun,Holiday) 30,000

Opening Time

Lunch 12:00~15:00
Dinner 18:00~21:30
Luch 12:00~15:00
Dinner 17:00~19:00
Lunch 11:30~13:30
Dinner 18:00~21:30

How to get to Polarex

At Deokcheon station (line 2 & 3), get out through gate 12 and walk 5 minutes

Address : New core 12th floor, 298-2, Deokcheondong, Bukgu, Busan
Phone: 051-266-2300

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