About Korea, Living in Korea

‘Tastes Like 닭 (Chicken)

Hi, my name is Nathan. And I am a recovering picky eater. *Hiiii Nathan.*

Chicken_nugget_familyFor most of my childhood, I ate nothing but plain buttered noodles or rice, a few types of lightly seasoned red and white meats, and a predictable rotation of frozen peas, green beans and corn. I didn’t actually use my salad fork for salad until my 20’s. Any and all fruits received an automatic “no” until the last few years. And as for sea food, forget it.

I was the kid at your 6th birthday party for whom your parents had to come up with an alternative meal because I wouldn’t eat pizza (I’d just flip the slice over and pick the bread off the bottom). Now, after rehabbing my taste buds during college and a stint of studying abroad, I’m continuing my recovery in the land of kimchi and bulgogi: South Korea.

I recently stumbled across a CNN article titled, “40 Korean Foods We Can’t Live Without.” Below are eight of those forty that, on a scale of 1 to 10, I’m either excited (10!) or…let’s say, less than thrilled (1) about trying.


kimchiKimchi – This spicy dish of fermented cabbage, peppers, garlic, scallion and ginger is basically the staple, paper clip, Scotch Tape and rubber cement of Korean cuisine.

Rating on Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 5. As a self-confessed spice wimp, at first I was nervous that all types of kimchi would be flavored with great balls of fire. However, CNN tells me that more mild, tangy versions exist.




chimaekChimaek – A fused word meaning “chicken-beer,” this dynamic duo is to Koreans what “fish and chips” is to Brits.

Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 10! What American doesn’t like fried chicken and beer?





Army Stew

Army Stew – The end of the Korean War brought a scarcity of meat in the country, forcing cooks to get creative with what was left in the kitchen at the American Army base in Seoul: Spam, noodles, American cheese, assorted veggies, sausage and rice cakes. Thus, Army Stew.

Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 8. I’m not wild about Spam, and uber processed American cheese isn’t my thing, but if a waiter placed it in front of me I wouldn’t go running out the door.



CrabSoy Sauce Crab – CNN warns first-timers that the taste of this “slightly tangy, tantalizingly bitter, pungent and cold” Korean seafood favorite may come as a shock. 

Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 2. Seafood is still one of those hurdles I’m trying to get over. And if I’m told up front that I may not like it, the chances of that happening go up gastronomically (buh-dum-ching).



HaemulHaemul Paejon – This Korean pancake is one perhaps better enjoyed for lunch or dinner, with it scatterings of shellfish, cuttlefish and other sea-dwelling niblets.

Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 4. It sort of makes me want to cry for my Aunt Jemima, but as long as I don’t find any googly eyes staring up at me during my first bite I think I’ll be okay.



GalbiGalbi – Pork or chicken grilled to perfection with splashes of soy sauce, chopped garlic, and a pinch of sugar.

Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 10! Noms all around.




dotorimukDotorimuk – Topped with leeks and drizzled with soy sauce, this acorn starch-derived side dish is a relatively bland, vegan-friendly brown jello.

Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 6. Frankly, in my opinion, jello should never be brown. But the promise of blandness gives me hope.



BingsuBingsu – Sweetened red beans and rice cakes rest on a layer of shaved ice to complete this popular dessert. Common additions are ice cream, condensed milk and syrup.

Nathan’s Picky Eater Meter: 9! If there’s one meal course I’ve never had an objection to, it’s dessert.




The road to recovery is never easy, but I have faith that my taste buds will see me through. And if nothing else, I’ll eat a lot of rice.





2 thoughts on “‘Tastes Like 닭 (Chicken)

  1. I thought I was the only one who ravaged the back sides of pizzas as a kid lmao

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Liz | July 12, 2015, 10:38 PM


  1. Pingback: Are We There Yet? | Korealizations - August 3, 2014

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