I couldn’t make my mind up what to cook for dinner last night so we ended up going to our local 회 hwae (raw fish) restaurant instead! I eat out a lot more here than I ever did back home in the UK – it’s just easier and cheaper. People tend to eat out here a lot. But it still amazes me to see restaurants packed every night – even on a Monday. I like it.
I think this restaurant is really good value. We ordered 도미 tomi (raw sea bream) followed by rice and 매운탕 meuntang (spicy stew). We had lots of soju and some beer too of course and it all came to just over 50,000 won. Unbelievable value if you ask me. And it feels even better value since there are free panchan (side dishes) served first before the order arrives. I know the panchan isn’t technically ‘free’ – I guess it’s covered in the price of the main dish – but it comes as a set with the order, so it feels free.
The panchan we always get at this restaurant includes (below from left) a cabbage salad with raw fish and spicy cho-kochujang dressing, quail eggs, prawns, and edamame, two small puchinge savoury pancakes with a mild curry flavour, and miokgug (seaweed soup). There’s also a dish of raw sliced garlic and twenjang (soy bean paste) in this picture (top left) to eat with the hwae later. Two 가리비 karibi (raw scallops) with sesame oil drizzled on top and 멍게 mong-ge ( sea squirt) was served later with the fish.
The sea bream is served with two kinds of dip (above): soy sauce and wasabi (Japanese style) and cho-kochujang, spicy vinegar and chilli sauce. (Korean style) You can also wrap the hwae in lettuce or a sesame leaf with a slice of fresh chilli, raw garlic, and a dollop of twenjang (soybean paste) with sesame oil. Then roll it up and eat it. Lovely!