Korea: Ala Hemul

CK's family is ridiculously generous.  And I do mean ridiculously.  While we were in Suwon, they took us out to eat all the time.  Since I was essentially CK's extra baggage, I got to tag along and reap in the benefits.

After our day at the Korean Folk Village, we met up with CK's mother, uncle, and aunt at Ala Hemul:

All I was told before arriving at the restaurant was that the choice had been between duck and seafood and that seafood had won out.  Seafood?  Bring it on.

We had to take off our shoes to enter the restaurant:

Once we were seated, the panchan started to arrive:

My favorite panchan of the night was the salad, which was quite uncharacteristic of me.  That's right.  I said salad.  Friends, before you start cackling and whooping, hear me out.  In my defense, the salad dressing was the most interesting thing on the table.  As you can see from the photo, it was PURPLE.  Mulberry salad dressing.  How cool is that?

When the hemul jjim was brought to the table, my jaw dropped:

I mean, really.  What kind of monster plate is that?  Besides the obvious giant octopus crowning the top, there were scallops, shrimp, fish, and crab hidden in the bean sprouts.  There was also this kind of clam that I'd never had before.  It was tough and not meant for digestion.  You're actually supposed to chew it, suck out the juice, and then spit it back out.  I wasn't a big fan -- the juice tasted like potpourri.  Bleh.

The seafood itself was great, but the sauce it was cooked in was a tad bland.  How unfortunate.

At the end of the meal, we were brought this awesome pot of rice:

Our server broke the egg yolk, thoroughly mixed the rice, fish roe, and seaweed, and then patted everything down into a pancake:

What resulted was SCRUMPTIOUS:

Crispy rice crust rocks.

While the jjim was disappointing to CK, I honestly didn't know any better.  The seafood was fresh and would have been delicious even without the sauce.  I left Ala Hemul completely satisfied.

Mulberry salad dressing!

Edit: I have been corrected by CK.  It wasn't mulberry...instead, the salad dressing was made by some kind of prickly pear fruit.  Dangit.  Mulberry sounds cooler.

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