Archive | Travel RSS feed for this section

Daegu Street Food: Bulgogi Tents

3 Oct

Foreign bloggers have long described Bukseongro bulgogi tents as “Daegu’s best-kept secret,” “a must-see spot” and “the best bulgogi” they’ve ever had – and for good reason; these tents live up to the hype. Featured several times on Korean television, this spot may not be a secret, but it truly is a gem – a diamond in the rough to be precise.


Mounds of delicious, charbroiled meat

By day, Bukseongro is home to industrial tool shops, but after dark, a nocturnal world springs from the neighborhood’s vacant lots.  Bukseongro is a golmok, a street that offers several restaurants and vendors specializing in the same food. Daegu is home to many of these specialized alleys including chicken gizzard alley, jjimgalbi alley, seafood at Chilseong Market, karguksu at Seomun Market, etc.

The bulgogi tents are spread out over a couple blocks. However, the liveliest area is a row of about five restaurants under a single canopy. From the Bukseongro branch of Daegu Bank, walk one block north and take the first left – or just follow your nose! Upon turning the corner, you will be greeted by a chorus of apron-clad women steering people toward their restaurants, shouting out their menu and prices.

This reception was quite unlike anything I’d ever seen in Daegu, so we asked one of the “bulgogi ladies” about this. We’re all friends here, she said. It’s not a serious competition; it’s fun. It makes people feel welcome. They get customers from all over Korea as well as foreign visitors. We watched as she worked her magic, making conversation with regulars and sometimes physically pulling people into her section! It doesn’t matter that it’s quite crowded already.


One of the “bulgogi ladies” ushers customers into her restaurant

“Ah, jaemee eetda,” she said with a smile, her eyes shining in the light of the tents and the glow of the charcoal stoves. “Ah, it’s fun.”

People come here to let loose, she said. The party lasts from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“Here they can talk loudly, laugh loudly, sing loudly, argue loudly,” she said.

The tents are an intersection of nightlife and street food. Patrons sit on plastic stools around plastic tables in what is essentially a parking lot. The tents are lit by bare bulbs, and, in lieu of napkin dispensers, rolls of toilet paper are hung from the ceiling.


Note the rolls of toilet paper hanging from the ceiling 🙂

I’ve been to the tents on a Tuesday night and a Saturday night, and the vibe was the same: lively, crowded and, yes, loud! Walking into the tent, the air is thick with the smell of cooking meat, smoke, the clinking of soju shot glasses and steam rising from bowls of noodles.



A young, mostly-local crowd flocks here to consume copious amounts of meat, noodles and alcohol. The regulars we talked to said it’s the cheap price that keeps them coming back. One group of university students said they come there twice a week. When I asked what their favorite menu item was, without hesitation, they gestured to a green, glass bottle of soju on the table before breaking into laughter.


A group of university students having a night out


Soju for days

There’s no mistaking that people come here to drink. It’s a great place for a cheap night out. However, the cheap and delicious food makes the trip more than worth it. All the restaurants serve more or less the same food, so don’t get too stressed about making a decision. The menu is simple: bulgogi and udon noodles. Some restaurants offer spicy gochujang bulgogi and chicken feet too.

Marinated pork is charbroiled over a charcoal stove. The meat is tender and slightly chewy with crispy edges and a sweet, smoky flavor. The bulgogi is piled high and served family style. The greasy goodness pairs well with sides of pickled radish, kimchi radish and onions in soy sauce. A bowl of udon noodles rounds out the meal. Each steaming bowl is filled with thick noodles in a flavorful broth with fish cake, green onions, seaweed paper and chili flakes.



Udon noodle soup




Even if you don’t speak Korean, the menu is simple enough to easily decipher. The left side of the menu has the bulgogi serving sizes. 특대 teuk-dae is extra large, 대 dae is large, 중 joong is medium and 소so is small. Under that is 우동 udon soup. The right side of the menu has the alcohol selection. The smallest portion of bulgogi (5,000 won) is a generous amount for one person or enough to share between two people if you order soup too. The largest (20,000 won) is enough to feed four or five people.

How to get there

Bukseongro bulgogi tents are a 20-min walk or a short taxi ride from Jungangro subway station. Ask the taxi driver to take you to 북성로 돼지불고기골목 Bukseongro Dwaeji Bulgogi Golmok. The taxi driver will let you out in front of the Bukseongro branch of Daegu Bank (대구광역시 중구 서성로 81 Daegu, Jung-gu, Seoseongro 81).


It was so good, we had to get some to take home!

Our happy, dog hair-covered life: What it’s like to have a “big” dog in South Korea

31 Jul

A lot of our friends and family members have asked us how our dog, Clark, has liked living in South Korea, so I thought I’d write a post about what it’s like to live abroad with our pet. Continue reading

9 Helpful Apps to Download in South Korea

26 Jul

So you’re packing your bags for South Korea. Passport? Check. Travel adapter? Check. Deodorant? Double check. Smartphone apps? You’ve come to the right place!

In recent years, I’ve made it a point to research helpful apps whenever I’m preparing for a trip. Downloading them ahead of time is so much less stressful than frantically looking for WiFi after you arrive. Here are nine apps that I use on a regular basis. Whether you’re traveling to South Korea for a year-long stay or doing a fly-by weekend in Seoul, I hope this list comes in handy! Continue reading

Can you identify these 8 objects commonly found in Korea?

22 Jul

When my mother-in-law visited us in South Korea earlier this year, she would wake up early every morning and spend some time on our rooftop where she had a bird’s eye view of our block. By the time I woke up, she had a mental list of questions ready to ask me over coffee such as “Why do some of your neighbors have water tanks on their roofs?” and “What does it mean if a taxi has a red light on it?”

I was only able to answer about one out of five of her questions; the rest I could only guess or I’d never really thought about. But her curiosity brought back memories of my first days in Korea when everything was new and the mundane was a surprise. Some things seemed to make much more sense (like energy-saving motion sensors that trigger escalators to move only when people are present) while other things boggled my mind (like not being able to flush toilet paper down the, ahem, toilet).

One of the greatest things about traveling is noticing all the little things the locals take for granted. These everyday objects can actually tell us a lot about a country’s way of life. Here are 8 objects commonly found in Korea. Take the quiz to see how many you can identify then scroll down for the answers. Let’s begin! Continue reading

My stint in a Korean hospital

18 Jun

So there I was. In a Korean hospital bed in a Korean hospital room, the television set to a Korean drama which happened to be in the middle of an obligatory hospital scene.

Last week I was admitted to the hospital (for the first time in my life) for emergency gallbladder surgery. I’m okay now! On Monday I’ll be returning to work. I just wanted to share a few notes on my experience. Read on to learn about South Korea’s efficient, “no frills” approach to healthcare and the cultural hang-ups of being a patient in a foreign country. Continue reading