3.164 The Trinity

Cycle 3 – Item 164

17 (Sun) June 2012

The Trinity


from Cart #1

at home

-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with W and DJ

Among the 5 food carts clustered near Oksu station (see also 3.134 Sundae in Ddeokbokki Sauce), my favorite is the one located at the base of exit 4.  For purposes of distinguishing between them on GMTD – none of them are named – I’ll refer to it as Cart #1.  The food is great, the facilities are (relatively) clean, and the owners are nice.  The only problem is that they’re frequently closed for no apparent reason (rumor has it that the wife has some ailment that sometimes prevents her from working.)

Food carts of this type feature the same menu, more or less.  The holy trinity of Korean street food, representing a perfect harmony of three distinct tastes, three distinct textures, include (i) spicy/chewy ddeokbokki (rice cakes) (2,000 won) + (ii) earthy/crumbly sundae (blood sausage) (3,000 won) + (iii) savory/crispy twigim (deep-fried items) (3,000 won for 3).  A fourth standard item is odeng (fish cakes) (500 won each).

(i) Ddeokbokki.  The definitive street food.

I like everything with ddeokbokki sauce, even though I don’t really like ddeokbokki itself all that much.  I sometimes order ddeokbokki just for the sauce.  Fortunately, in Oksu-Dong, the proprietors are very generous, so they’ll always provide sauce with an order of sundae or twigim if requested, often tossing in a few free rice cakes for good measure.  A few years ago, a brick & mortar restaurant opened down the street that served these same dishes but refused to give free ddeokbokki sauce – it went out of business real quick.

(ii) Sundae.  Someday, I’ll post a better photo of this classic culinary icon featuring rolls of sundae sausages steaming in a tub along with various offal and ears (which I don’t eat).

(iii) Twigim.  Options are usually more diverse but for some reason were limited this evening [from left]: ojingeo (squid), goguma (sweet potatoes), kim-mari (seaweed rolled with noodles), mandu (dumplings).
Relating to the hygiene issue discussed in my prior post, I’ve always been a bit uneasy about twigim and odeng.  Twigim offerings are laid out uncovered in the open, right along the counter where customers sit and eat and talk, inadvertently or advertently spitting/spraying on the displayed food from time to time.  The pieces are deep-fried again in hot oil upon order, which probably kills most of the germs, but still.  As for the self-service odeng, it’s eaten straight off bamboo skewers that may or may not be sufficiently washed between uses.  And the soy sauce for the odeng, back in the day, it used to come in a free-for-all dipping jar, which has since been supplemented with a ladle and individual sauce dishes, but I still see people on occasion diving right in.  Hep-K heaven.

(iv) Odeng.  The broth is given is provided free, in a paper cup, with any order.

The following is a translation of the absurdly surreal exchange that transpired between me, another customer, and her companion, as I was waiting to get my order after taking the photos.

Her: Are you planning on posting those photos somewhere?
Me: Some of them, maybe.
Her: Where?
Me: On my blog.
Her: Why would you post photos of us on your blog?
Me: I’m not.
Her: You just said you would.
Me: I meant the food.
Her: Why would you post photos of food?
Me: It’s a food blog.
Her: What’s a food blog?
Me: A blog about food.
Her: What kind of food?
Me: Any food.
Her: Good food?
Me: Sometimes.
Her: This place has good food.
Me: I know.
Her: This place is famous.
Me: I know.
Her: So why would you need to write about it?
Me: No need.  I just do it.
Her: Would we enjoy the blog?
Me: It’s written in English.
Her: Are you a foreigner?
Me: No.
Her: So why do you write it in English?
Me: Because English is easier for me.
Her: But you said you’re not a foreigner.
Me: No.
Her: You should target foreigners and recommend this place to them.
Her companion: What foreigner would come all the way to Korea and eat here?!
Her: Do foreigners read your blog?
Me: Maybe.
Her: Then who reads it?
Me: Nobody.



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