I know, I know, not much to look at from the outside and most of you might run off screaming and never enter. Poor you - that's all I can say.
Four years ago when my dear friend Diff took me to this restaurant I wasn't quite sure about it. I was new to Korea, but was also up for new adventures so I went with it and boy am I glad I did!! This restaurant may not be anything pretty to look at, but the FOOD, OMGosh, THE FOOD ~ D E L I C I O U S ! ! The Mackerel Lady Restaurant (I have no idea what the real name of this restaurant is) quickly became a favorite for Hubby and I. We would meet for lunch here at least once a week and if we look into our family history books I'm pretty sure Hubby ate here at least 2-3 times each week, maybe more.
I know, I know, not much to look at from the outside and most of you might run off screaming and never enter. Poor you - that's all I can say.
The inside. If you sit at a table you don't have to take your shoes off. If you sit on the floor you remove your shoes before stepping up to the floor tables.
I get to have lunch with two of my favorite people on earth!
The Mackerel Lady: Isn't she precious?
Check it out, all of this for 6,000 WON!! (She increased her prices by 1,000 won from the last time I was here -but still totally worth it!) And if you run out of any of the sides you get more - FOR FREE.
This is my favorite side dish she offers (Odeng, AKA - fish cakes), although all of her sides are YUMMY!
I prefer to put a wrap a little rice (bap) & mackerel (godeungeo) in seaweed paper (kim). The combination just melts in your mouth. (Thanks for teaching me the right way so many years ago Diff!)
Now the hard part.....directions. This restaurant is in the Samgakji area. I am going to tell you how to get there from Dragon Hill Lodge Gate (forgive me; I haven't learn the gate numbers, as they all changed while I was gone...). Exit DHL gate - when you get to the main road turn left. Go all the way down past the Korean Ministry (on your left), all the way to the end of the War Memorial (on right). You will be at a traffic light - make a left here. Then make an immediate RIGHT (ally type street) You will see these trophy shops on your left:
Go to the first alley (Hangang-daero 62na-gil) and take a left. This is what it looks like:
The Mackerel Lady Restaurant is on the left. You will see the sweet little old lady sitting out front grilling Mackerel - just walk in and find a place to sit. If you go at lunch time she is typically very busy and you may have to wait OR you might actually get to sit in her house - which is a totally fun experience! Have a seat (but don't forget to grab your water bottle and water cups before you sit!) and the ladies working will bring food to you - there is no need to order as there is only one thing on the menu... Get ready for a GREAT meal!
When THREE different (random) people tell me that there is a new 'Mexican' restaurant in town and that it is FABULOUS I tend to listen. However when they say they have AWESOME Pork Carnita Kimchi Fries my ears tend to perk up like a dog that just heard one of those loud whistles that only dogs hear and it hurts my ears...
Excuse me, but did you say Pork Carnita Kimchi FRENCH FRIES?
What part of that other than pork carnitas is Mexican?
I ask a few more questions.
After several conversations I decided to give this place a try, BUT I also decided to go in NOT thinking of this place as a 'Mexican Restaurant'. Good thing too.
However what I have to say might SHOCK you. Are you ready?
Pork Carnita Kimchi Fries are THE BOMB!!!
Holy Hell. I'm not joking!
And just to be clear, their chips (made on site), salsa (2 types) and guacamole where also pretty darn good too!
To get there from Post:
Go out the Iteawon Gate.
Stay on right hand side of the street.
When you get to the alley where all the bags are, TURN RIGHT.
Pass the beloved "Bag Man" (on left)
Go to the next alley, and turn right.
Vapos will be down maybe a block or two on your right, 2nd floor. (This is the same street that if you keep going you will end up on Hooker Hill.)
It is VERY SMALL. (Not Hooker Hill, but Vapos.)
The first time I heard this phrase back in 2008 I wasn't sure what they were talking about, after living here for a while I started to understand- Korea is the land of the "not quite right". As hard as they try sometimes things for us Americans just don't seem 'quite right' while living in Korea. I think this will be a fun little addition to my blog...enjoy the first of many 'not quite right' updates that you will be seeing over the next couple of years.
I'm not sure you can tell what is going on in this picture, but this is the watering system that is currently being used on post. These guys are watering the bushes. See those big trash cans? They are full of water. They are using small buckets to dip in the trash cans and then pour the water on the bushes. Humm.....seems like their might be a better way to do this.
This is my kitchen. I wanted to bake cookies.,....too bad I couldn't open the oven door. I had to remove the cabinet handle. Fun times.
Happy Birthday to my sweet friend. Who would have thought a party crasher would become such a good friend. You made my last year in 'The Hood' much more bearable. Your kindness and friendship means the world to me. I'll never forget our electric scooter race, the dance party in my living room and hanging out with you till the wee hours of the morning. Oh, and Peeps. Make sure you continue to take time out to have FUN! I love and miss you!
PS.....SIGN UP FOR FACEBOOK!!
Boys 2 & 3 were biting at the bullet to get to Electronics market. They had money in their pockets and they NEEDED to spend it! In fact they Boy 2 has been saving his money for months so he could spend it at the electronics market as soon as he arrived in Seoul. He mentioned it several times on our flight over and then again every day since we arrived. Finally Saturday came and we headed out! But before heading to the market we stopped at one of our favorite little spots for lunch! Ahh, Korean food. It hits the spot!
Day 1 in country was very productive. I started my day at about 5AM...hiding out in the bathroom of our hotel room reading so not to wake anyone. Even though it sounds a little strange, I enjoyed my time in the bathroom reading in the peace and quiet. Hubby had to report at 7:30AM. Seriously - on Day 1.
After getting Hubs out the door I started my search for a car. By that I mean I walked all over this post looking for a car by peering into windows checking for 'For Sale' signs. I was thankful the lemon lot was in the same place - the commissary parking lot. There were several beautiful hoopties to choose from - I made a list, check it twice and took it home (to the hotel) for Hubby to look over with me...oh goodness, which piece of crap will we buy?!? The suspense is going to kill you isn't it?!
After searching the streets for a car I headed over to Military Clothing and Sales because even though hubby has about 900 brown shirts we couldn't find one in all of our 12 bags. As luck would have it Military Clothing and Sales does not open till 10AM, so I found myself with an hour to waste. Guess what is next to Military Clothing and Sales? That's right, my favorite place to get a pedicure ~ AND my favorite girls are still there!! SCORE! Check out my toes....
All that for $24 baby! That included a 1 hour 10 minute pedicure, coffee, walnut cookie, a moonpie AND a 5 minute 'massagie' on my shoulders AFTER my leg 'massagie'. Can you say heaven? And my girls remembered me! (Yes, I am hanging out in the bathroom again & that picture was taken on the toilet..... Don't judge me, all my peeps are sleeping...OH JETLAG how I dislike you!)
Hubs and I met back up after lunch and headed over to housing.
I wish I had taken my camera with me when we went to look for a house.
House #1 was in a great location, right next door to my old house. Perfect, it put the kids right on the park! We knew we wanted this one before we even looked at it, and as we were walking up to it we noticed it had a fence ~ EVEN better!! All I can say is THANK GOD WE LOOKED AT IT BEFORE WE SAID YES!! I mean all the houses here on post are tiny (1500 square feet) and they aren't anything special to look, but to be in such a great assignment I can do (almost) anything for two years. HOWEVER I COULD NOT DO THAT HOUSE for any amount of time. I'm not even going to talk about the nasty old cafeteria style tiles they have throughout the house because all of the houses have those, but THE DOORS. They must have been from the 1950's - old wooden dark brown lacquer; painted so many times they can't even shut accordion style doors. I was in shock. These would have made great antique garden pieces if you stripped them down to their natural wood...However they do not work in a living/functioning house. Next up is the light fixtures. OMG. I couldn't get over them. The light fixtures throughout the ENTIRE house were seashells and the light bulbs were BIGGER than the fixtures themselves. OMG. I didn't even know what to say.
House #2 - not much better, but a little, I think. Maybe it was the lesser of two evils...the doors were better, but the toilet and the bathroom. Oh dear. The toilet and the toilet lid didn't match. As I was 'considering' taking this house I ask if they could fix the toilet to make it match....all they would have to do is replace the toilet seat. The said no. THEY SAID NO! Are you kidding me?
We walked around the neighborhood noticing that there were 8 other 4 bedroom houses that looked available or looked close to available. I wrote the numbers down and we went back to housing to tell them how BAD the houses were. They really didn't care and told us those were the only 2 we could choose from. That is when I pulled out our list - they told us those houses were not 'available' and they were still in 'maintenance'. HA. We ask to speak to Mr. Dorrough, the head of housing. What an ass that man is. He told us that is all they have and that he can't show us anything that is in maintenance, even AFTER we told him we would take something that wasn't even finished with 'maintenance'. We told him that we are more than happy to take a better house 'as is' if it was liveable. He said no. This is a man on a POWER TRIP. (Most likely one of those GS workers that has been in his job WAY TOO long and needs to get a dose of reality and get shipped back to the US.) At this point I saw STEAM coming out of Hubby's ears, and that doesn't happen very often (and I must say it is quite the turn on! - I know - TMI. Whateve's..). In the end they found a house that had been refinished (that was on our list) and that was surprisingly out of maintance. It is still bad, but we can do anything for 2 years - and Hubby will not be deployed.
Oh and in the mix of all that I was able to shop around and look for a phone. No family plans anywhere. Must take the international phone we have to Ipark Mall to have it activated. Can't do it on post that would be too easy. They don't have unlimited texting or calling, so for those of you (this includes my stateside friends) that want to text with me you will need to download the ap Kakao - it is free texting and calling internationally although I have heard the calls are not very clear. Oh, and I only got 3g. (Am I pouting or what?)
More on my ROCKIN' ride later.
And OH what a rough start it has been! I was hoping my first blog post about being back in Korea would be a glowing one. That is not the case, although this has more to do with the Army than with Korea itself - however I am still smiling (even if it is through gritted teeth)...
Boy 1 nailed it when he said: "This will be 14 of the worst hours of our lives, but the 2 year pay off will be worth it". How did he get so insightful?
Let's start with the flight to Korea. Patriot Express. Sounds admirable doesn't it? I mean patriots are revered right? Webster’s Dictionary definition of a Patriot is: a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion. With a definition like that wouldn't you WANT to take care of that person? And if I am correct express mean, direct, fast....Hummm.... I think a better suited name for this flight is Traitor Kayak. (That was just off the top of my head. I'm sure I can think of a better name in due time.)
Let me paint a little picture for you....
- Arrive at the airport at 4:50AM (ordered to do so by the Army and or AirForce, I'm not sure which one made up this ridiculous rule)
-Flight time is at 8:50AM (that's right folks, we had to be at the airport 4 whole hours early!)
-Board flight at 7:30AM
-7:45AM - THAT family sits in front of me. 2 FIT THROWING, SCREAMING KIDS that are old enough to know better, plus two yelling parents that have NO fliters.
-7:46AM - in front of THAT family is another family - 2 screaming babies (which I can bear way easier than FIT PITCHING children with NO PARENTAL guidance) and 2 more kids under the age of 5.
-At 8:45AM pilot makes announcement - Will the kind gentleman that check a bag for a lady with too many bags please come forward? She is missing her bag and doesn't know who you are, but knows you are on this flight and you are wearing a red polo style shirt. (WHAT THE WHAT,WHAT?!?! Isn't this travel 101, NEVER GIVE YOU BAG TO A STRANGER?! ) Oh, and by the way, guess who is wearing a red polo style shirt that is sitting right next to me? That's right, my hubby, but NO he is not dumb enough to take a bag from a stranger.
-8:50AM - pilot makes another announcement asking the red polo gentleman to come forward (while all the flight attendants are eyeballing Hubby.)
- 9AM - The pilot makes ANOTHER announcement about the red polo guy - at this point I want to SCREAM - TELL THE DUMB B*&^h HER BAG IS GONE, STOLEN, SHE WILL NEVER SEE IT AGAIN and for her punishment she needs to come sit in my seat!!
-9:01AM - they come to Hubby's seat and ask him if he checked a bag for someone else. Are you kidding me?
-9:15AM - I guess they got the stupid lady situation figured out, and announced that as soon as they are able to get the loading door shut we will leave, and they have someone working on it. Awesome.
9:20AM - still working on the door.
9:21AM - did I mention that the airplane is SO OLD that is still has cigarette ash trays at each seat?!?! I'm NOT JOKING!!
9:30AM - we taxi, screaming kids, screaming parents and all.
And that was just the beginning of the worst flight of my life.
A few more flight highlights:
-My tray table is broken.
-Guy in front of me doesn't know how to sit still and is constantly fighting with his 6 year old.
-As soon as the airplane is dark, lights are out and my children have just fallen asleep some PSYCHO lady OPENS HER FREAKING WINDOW and leaves it open the rest of the flight - the light shines on OUR ROW and my children are awake! AGAIN I have the urge to yell, but I don't. (However as my civic duty I want to let those of you that do not know better that when you are on an international flight and they turn all lights off it means GO TO SLEEP.....they are trying to acclimate you to your new time zone.)
-Freak kids still screaming. Parents totally asleep. Are you kidding me?!
-Arrive in Japan 10 hours later exhausted.
-Sent to holding cell like criminals.
-THAT Family still screaming and carrying on.
-Stay there for 2 hours
-Back on hellacious flight.
-I'm so freaking tired at this point I don't care anymore.
-Offered processed chicken or processed beef - AGAIN.
-I. just. want. to. get. off. this. flight.
-I fall asleep for 20 minutes until kids scream again. (THOSE kids, not mine)
- 2 hours later arrive in Osan, Korea.
-Get on bus and wait another hour on HOT bus before heading to Yongsan.
-Finally arrive to Yongsan at 7:45PM (The next day)
-They don't even drop us at the hotel entrance - not too far away but far enough when you have 12 checked bags and 6 carry on bags, 4 tired kids, 1 grumpy Mommy and Hubby can't help at all because he has to go inprocess!!
-Get checked into hotel and make it to room by 8:15PM
-Hotel screws up rooms types............
-I can still hear THAT FAMILY (in my head).
-Hubby gets to hotel at 8:45PM.
Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day. ~ Author Unknown
Even though it was the worst flight of my life, I arrived safe and sound and with my family in tact and we are filled with love and excitement (as tired as it may be). We are all very happy to be back in The Land of the Morning Calm. (Just please, please don't make me fly Patriot Express EVER again.....)
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you
did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou
Hi, I'm Trish, the writer, creator and photographer of this blog. I started this blog for 2 reasons, 1 - When I found out we were moving to Korea back in 2008 I was a little freaked out and started scouring the internet for information on Korea. At that time there wasn't much out there so I am doing my part in helping families across the world not be so freaked out when it comes time to move to Korea. The 2nd reason I started this blog was to help stay connected to family members back in the states. Today it is so much more that.
Are you moving to Korea? Do you have questions, concerns? Are you freaking out? Freak out no further - click the button to ask a question. I'll do my best to answer open and honestly.
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