Korean Wedding Banquet=Awesome Pork Belly!


I have been looking forward in attending my brother’s / family friend wedding this entire week since it will be the first time ever to experience a Korean wedding.  What I looked most forward to to be honest was the banquet and being a Korean buffet style, it was gluttony at it’s best. 

The wedding was held at a church in Teaneck, New Jersey with more than 90% Koreans attendee and church friends, my family and I were the outcast.  With similar physical features with a slightly language barrier and with the common love of food we manage to be more than OK.  The ceremony was a Christian church wedding with the exchange of rings and follow by hymns and songs (ode to joy- in Korean). After a bit of picture taking we head across to the banquet hall where there was a buffet line out the door.  To start off the buffet line was every Asian staple two choices of rice, the traditional white rice and white rice with a seaweed.  Next to the rice was what defines Korean cuisine the kimchi.  The amount of selection was overwhelming and trying to balance the mountain of each dish in my hand along with photo taking of the elaborate, vibrant colored dishes in beautiful lacquered server trays was challenging.  I took a sample of every dish but without the knowledge of what the dishes are called only based on my senses everything looked amazing therefore must taste amazing too.  There was kim bob (Korean sushi), shumai, somen, zucchini and shrimp tempura to name a few that are identifiable. The common vegetables used in the dishes are napa cabbages, daikon radishes, and a lot of Kochujang (Korean chili red pepper paste) which is a sweet and tangy, mild sauce used for Korean rice dishes and even for a fish marinate.  Down the buffet lane for a good 5 minutes finally approached pork heaven!   I know a lot foodies out there  who worships David Chang owner of Momofuku Ssams Bar, Noodle Bar, Ko, and Bakery Milk Bar and of Korean descent is known for his pork belly I knew I needed to have those sliced of Jokbal (pork belly steamed and cooked in broth for 2-3 hours).  It was definitely not the leanest meat to savor on if you’re caution on your health and it is not the most pleasant sight for any vegetarians but the pork belly was an equal proportion of skin, fat and meat and the taste of the broth somehow is nicely absorbed into the meat.  

Well into 20 minutes into the banquet, the bride and the groom had changed into traditional wedding clothes Hanbok to bid farewell to the guests while I made my third round around the buffet bar.  With many guests having the remaining leftovers to go and in a hurried way, my sister said to probably catch their 8pm KBS /SBS drama there was not much food except for the beef short ribs soaked in a medjool dates stew that was strangely calling to me “Eat me.”  I have not eaten beef for the last five years and frankly I do not miss beef much but here I was in an authentic Korean wedding banquet and knowing Korean takes their beef just as serious as they do with pork belly I was tempted to try.  It wasn’t like I was smoking pot so I had a piece.  I know I should not be over joy when consuming meat but the beef stew was a surprising highlight.  The flavor of the dates is a surprising Asian flair that makes this dish unique and as long as I remember when I used to eat beef it was usually one of the tougher meats to chew on but the beef came off nicely without a mess from the rib bone making this dish oddly my favorite.  Ending the meal on a sweet bud we had traditional mochi and what seemed on the exterior like mandoo (Korean Dumpling) but with a sweet filling and Korean Sweet Cinnamon Punch (fruit punch).  The variation and selection of food at the wedding from dishes I am familiar with  to newly introduced to are all nonetheless described to be bold flavors as well as the presentation and colors of the dishes.  As always as I am curious about food and culture.  With each dish or at least the dishes I was able to get to were all unexpectedly exciting and in a crowd of people eating together in a long communal table I assure the newlyweds will be surrounded with joyous people and happy bellies from beginning to the very end.  Congratulations!

New York City Eats

Kicking off July 4th Weekend


                                                                          Food Vendor Veronica Julien owner/chef of Veronica’s Kitchen

Walking in New York City today seem unusually quiet for a 4th of July.  I assume many have travel out of the city for the long weekend but for those of us who are dirt poor like myself, a short ferry ride to Governors Island is a perfect oasis from the metropolis.  Being Fridays at Governors Island are Free Bike rentals Fridays for the second year, Cynthia and I took advantage of this free city perk.  I think we can all agree for those who can ride a two wheeler that riding a bicycle is absolutely liberating though ride a bicycle in Manhattan can be intimidating fighting the pedestrians and traffic which is why Governors Island a car free island is awesome!   The free bike rentals are for 1 hour and it is a great way to explore the island, a once military base home to US Army and Coast Guards and it has beautiful views of Lower Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty to Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Governors Island is also now home to one of my favorite street vendors Veronica’s Kitchen, a Jamaican food vendor.  On weekdays you can find Veronica’s Kitchen parked on the corner of Wall Street and Front Street which I used to be a regular while working at Starbucks Coffee.  Since 2007, Veronica’s Kitchen have been a finalist in the 2007 Vendy Awards and deservingly to be recognize.  Veronica Julien treats all her customers with care and love.  Providing generous portions for a small ($6.50) a choice of 2 sides and a protein meat.  Being on Governors Island I had to make a visit to Veronica’s Kitchen so I chose my usual: Curry Chicken, with rice and peas and their string beans always run out so collard green.  For Cynthia I had recommended their Jerk Chicken, with rice and peas and she liked fried plantains and added her signature sauce: thousand island dressing w. ketchup.  As I recall it the curry chicken is slow-cooked till the chicken is tender and the curry flavor absorbed into the chicken, absolutely delicious.  On the other hand Cynthia’s Jerk Chicken which is what Veronica’s Kitchen is famous for went wrong…it was way too spicy for either one of us to handle it, burning lips to perhaps even swollen lips if any of us were to finish  eating it, next time we’ll go for the safer option and try the goat stew.  Or I read from New York Magazine Grub Street new food vendors such as Harry Hawk’s bacon wrapped hot dog will be introduced to the island this summer…sounds like a brilliant heart attack.  

Later we made a visit to Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Free Fridays 4-8pm – Love it!  I have failed 2 attempts in visiting MoMA in the last 6 months due to the outrageous lines wrapped around the museum block by European tourists but thankfully found the line shorter or somehow manage to cut through the line without getting caught.  Saw the Song Dong show that has been getting reviews even by Sinovision, a Chinese prime time news coverage for Time Warner Cable viewers.  The installation of collection of items reflects the many habits of Chinese people and my conclusion from this exhibition is my mother is an artist too.

DSCN6625                                                                                                Park Slope, Brooklyn The Chocolate Room

Refused to go home at 8pm, Cynthia and I  trekked our way to Park Slope, Brooklyn to satisfy our sweet tooth at The Chocolate Room.  The first step into the shop was a delectable glass case filled with ornate chocolate and the smell of what I imagine Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory would smell of.  The waitress brought us two glass of water with an unexpected sample starter of a chocolate sorbet instantly, I knew I was at the right place.  I wanted to try all the desserts on the menu but Cynthia and I compromised on sharing a chocolate fondue and she had ordered a pot of chocolate hazelnut tea -chocolate everything here and I was crazy to order a cafe torino expresso with chocolate and milk.  Along with the chocolate fondue was slice of pineapples, strawberries, bananas, homemade marshmallows, and scrumptious pound cake.   The chocolate fondue is perfectly sweeten and nicely thicken for dipping though the depth of chocolate was not enough for the fruits and cakes, and marshmallow to be fully covered.  Nonetheless, we cleaned the chocolate fondue real good. Cynthia’s chocolate hazelnut tea had a nice aroma and the tea was chocolate in color too and my cafe torino was a bitter dark sweeten chocolate espresso, a match made in heaven for the coffee + chocolate lovers.  A great place to end the day and a four day work week, wishing every week was a four day work week…damn.   

Veronica’s Kitchen///  Mon thru Fri corner of 100 Wall Street & Front Street,  Sat + Sun Governors Island

The Chocolate Room/// 86 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11217