Thursday, 20 January 2011

Haemil - Korean Food in Sydney

Clear sky after the rain in Sydney's Circular Quay

Spicy pickled cabbage soup anyone? Understandably not too many hands shoot skyward when faced with such a disgusting prospect but that is exactly what kimchi chigae is. This taste packed dish is one of the best offerings at Haemil, a quaint, charming and surprisingly inexpensive restaurant located in the relatively glamorous surrounds of Circular Quay.

Outside Korea the cuisine of this divided peninsula usually falls into a very narrow category for most people, barbecue. As delicious as pieces of grilled meat, snipped into bite size morsels, dipped in an equally delicious sauce and wrapped in a piece of lush, green lettuce are (and they are very) Korean food is being done something of a disservice, an injustice even, if a broader range isn’t sampled. And that is where Haemil comes in. It is the perfect place to expand your culinary range and treat those taste buds as the menu offers a good range of slightly more traditional Korean dishes in a relaxed atmosphere without leaving you wondering where all your hard earned cash went.

Before even entering the restaurant and being seated in one of the 30ish seats inside (there is room for about another 30 outside) the glass wall that forms the restaurant front shows a small crowd of Korean diners (which is of course a great sign) and a small but grand piano, taking pride of place in the center of the small but spacious dining room. The aforementioned glass wall that runs along the entire side of the restaurant makes it feel open and airy so that even if there are 30 people squeezed inside you wouldn’t feel cramped.

The menu offers a wide range of dishes from the kimchi stew mentioned earlier to dumplings, pancakes, spicy pork dishes and a chicken and ginseng soup that would satisfy any soul. The menu highlights a different, more traditionally Korean perspective on this relatively unknown food. The kimchi stew is dark and rich and with rice and the obligatory and delicious side dishes is filling and hearty. Yuk gae jang, the spicy beef and leek soup is another stew with kimchi and is equally delicious. The time and effort that has gone into preparing it is evident from the first mouthful as the intense but not overpowering beef flavour envelops your mouth and delights your taste buds as a subtle heat follows through and gently warms you. The bibimbap is another hearty bowl, this time of rice and vegetables, which may not seem particularly restaurant worthy but the individually prepared and cooked ingredients , seasonings and ‘hand taste’, a Korean term that signifies the the unique taste that can only be added by and expert hand, make for a delicious and healthy meal.

Joshua Kwak provides a great room to eat in and wanders around, frequently checking everything is up to spec, he is funny and welcoming and he plays the piano on request. He arrived from Korea 10 years ago and took over Haemil 4 years ago in Circular Quay’s Gateway Building. He offered our party a free shot of soju and even rounded down the bill a dollar or 2. Whether you are a Korean food virgin or an experienced eater of all things kimchi, Haemil is a great place for a meal.

Who - Haemil/Joshua Kwak
What - Affordable Korean cuisine
Where - Circular Quay's Gateway building,
Why - Why not, the food is great, authentic and affordable.
When - Lunch 12pm-3pm and dinner 6pm-9pm, Monday to Friday.



Thursday, 13 January 2011

Being Tall

According to Wikipedia, which I know completely invalidates anything I am about to say but nevertheless, I am taller than the average man. According to the aforementioned website men in the Dinaric Alps or Dinarides ( a mountain chain in Southern Europe, spanning areas of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro) are, on average 1.846m or 6ft 1/2 in and are the biggest, followed closely by the Netherlands. Welsh men rank alongside the French and Kiwis at 1.770cm or 5ft 91/2in.

I like being tall, towering over most people it gives me a sense of grandeur and of masculinity and I suppose superiority. Not in any meaningful way or in any way that I would exploit but I would rather be tall than not. Women find it attractive don't they? it is supposed to have something to do with being able to protect them and wanting to feel feminine and according to one random piece of Google advice "The sheer feminine feeling of dancing with or being held by a man who stands a full head taller than her is irreplaceable."

According to an article some years ago in the Guardian by Zoe Williams it is more to do with "Who can overpower whom?" where she talks about Tom and Nicole and how even though she is considerably taller he looks like he could take her if he needed to and that makes it OK. In the article Williams claims that the relationship between Sophie Dahl and Jamie Cullem would be much less talked about  (there are 7 inches between them) if she were a bit less Amazonian and he were a bit less slight. In essence she could overpower him if. They are now married with a bay due soon so it just goes to show that for some people it doesn't matter.

The reason I mention this is because in the hostel I am currently writing this from in Tasmania there is a Canadian man who has the distinct look of a surfer, toned and good looking, but he is probably 5 inches shorter than me and that made me feel better.

The average Korean man is, again according to Wikipedia, 1.739 m (5 ft 8 1⁄2 in)


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A lovely label cloud

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