Sam-guyp-sal - Tasty Pig Flesh

Some places are meat and potato places.  Regions, countries, areas, where if you sit down and random order from a menu, you're likely to get a piece of meat and some form of potatoes.  Spain is like this, lots of America is like this.  The Czech Republic swaps out the potatoes for dumplings, but it's the same.  Sit down, order, get your meat and starch.  Korea on the other hand is a meat country.  When you sit down and order at a restaurant, you're going to get meat, grilled right at your table, right in front of you.  And you're going to get piles of it.  There are literally all you can eat meat restaurants, where you pay a flat price and then go to a cooler and choose your raw meat and then take it back to your table and cook it at the table over hot coals.  If you like meat, it's awesome.  If you don't like meat, well, you can usually get rice, and of course a thousand vegetable sides in tiny dishes, that in good restaurants get re-filled.  Kimchi, radishes, sliced greens, maybe some tofu.  But the star of the show is meat.  It's an over-generalization to say that all Korean restaurants serve meat, but a whole lot of them do.  In fact, as you walk down streets with lots of restaurants, each restaurant's sign will show you which meat is featured, usually in a cartoon version of a duck or a cow or a pig.  
     One of the most popular meats in Korea, if not the most popular is Samguypsal.  Fatty pork belly, it's similar to uncured bacon in that it's delicious.  It's different in that I can only eat a few pieces of bacon before I start to get a little weighed down by the grease, but samguypsal, you can just keep eating.  Entire restaurants serve only samguypsal and you just sit there and eat and eat and eat until you just can't eat anymore.   Last night we went out with some of Pohang's finest and had a great meal at a restaurant that had one thing on the menu:  Samguypsal.  That and soju of course.  As always, here's 10 pictures and some foolish comments.
Here's where we ate, Kim Kang San's in Pohang.  It's behind the LG store on the main street coming out of the tunnel from I-Dong, about a five minute walk from the Hi-Mart, on the opposite side of the street.  If you can find it using those directions, congratulations.  
Eating in Korea is all about the sides.  You sit down at a huge table with a ton of surface area, and before you know it, there's no where to set your water down because the table is full of tiny dishes.  This place had green onions, broccoli, kimchi, almonds, tofu, another kind of kimchi, oysters or mussels, and bundaegi.
What's bundaegi?  This is bundaegi.  Also known as roasted silkworm pupae. This is the first time I've seen them in a restaurant, as they're usually sold as street food.  The smell when roasting is overwhelming in a less than pleasant way.  I can't describe it, it's something like what should come out of your garage on a really hot summer day.  You smell it, and it's disorienting, because it looks like people are eating it, but it smells like you should have a permit from a special government office just to dispose of it.  Until tonight Sara and I had never tried it.

Sara eating one pupae.  "Tastes like it smells," she says.

Me, eating one pupae.  "Tastes like dirt.  Kind of has the texture of dirt. But, I could see eating them in a salad. Strong umami taste."  I honestly think that if I tried, I could develop a taste for them.

Here it is, the main course.  The samguypsal.  Little rolls of piggy fat grilled to perfection dipped into a sweet red pepper sauce and then tucked into a lettuce pocket and devoured.  I like it.

This place had a smart little grill setup, that drained all the grease into the pan at the bottom. At the end of the meal, there was a shit-load of grease.  And no more Samguypsal.  Because we ate it.

Check out these little babies.  Quail eggs I think, hard-boiled.

One happy customer.  Check us out, sitting on the floor.  How cool. And painful.
And here's the bill.  At the top, samguypsal, the one featured menu item. One order runs 6,000 won and with 7 of us tonight, we ordered 13.  You can also get soju and mixed rice, but that's about it.  This is the entire menu.  It makes ordering really easy.

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