Did you try last week’s restaurant crawl, then? Or at least one or two of the places I recommended in part I of our exploration of Koreatown in Shenyang? I really hope you did, and that you enjoyed every minute of it. Last week, I promised you a second part of the series, so here we go.
I cannot help myself, I enjoy food too much. And Korean cuisine has so many yummy dishes on offer, that it is doubly hard to resist introducing more of them to you. There will be a second “menu” that lets you jump from one restaurant to the next, trying out all the tasty signature dishes of each of them.
But, since I recognize this might not be everyone’s cup of (Korean roasted barley) tea, I also have a restaurant tip for the slightly lazy – or just pragmatic: a place that is famed for its set menus, where you only have to make one single choice and be done for the entire meal. Without compromising on quality, of course.
And, as a bonus tip, I will introduce you to a restaurant that is predestined as a pre-KTV stop, as they only serve fried chicken, and beer. What better way of prepping for some righteous karaoke, right?
As a starter for our “restaurant crawl menu number 2”, I suggest another noodle dish – knife-cut noodles(到切面 in Chinese, dāoqiē miàn in pinyin). These noodles are served in a fragrant broth, with clams and cabbage, an absolute must for lovers of mollusks and noodles.
Maybe the best place for them in the Xita area is 乡土刀切面 (Home Village Knife-cut Noodles in Chinglish, xiāngtǔ dāoqiē miàn in pinyin). The restaurant is small and unassuming, with the typical low Korean-style tables, but the food really is first rate. 乡土刀切面 is located east of the northern end of Xita street, on 21, Fushun Road (抚顺路21号 in Mandarin, fǔshùn lù 21 hào in pinyin).
This next specialty could be something of a challenge for the faint of heart (or the queasy of stomach), but if you are an adventurous eater, you should definitely give it a try. The specialty I mean is Korean style pig’s trotters (or pig’s feet, if you want to be less fancy about it). The best way of preparing this porcine foot, is to roast and then serve it with Korean chili sauce and sesame. Korean-spicy is easier to stomach than Chinese-spicy for most Westerners, because it is not as hot. So, even if you are not the president of the chili fan club, you might still like this type of chili sauce.
A tiny little place in Shenyang’s Koreatown that is famed for its pig’s trotters is Three Thousand Li (三千里 in Chinese, sān qiān lǐ in pinyin) – or One Thousand Five Hundred Kilometers, if you want to be technical about it. The restaurant is located on Xita Street, at number 100. You can find it at the western corner of Xita Street with Shifu Street. Conveniently, it is open round the clock. So, if you get a strong craving for pig’s trotters at 3 or 4 am, they’ve got you covered!
If you love Korean food, you have probably asked yourself already: When is she finally going to talk about barbecue? Hard to discuss Korean cuisine without mentioning barbecue at least once. There are many good barbecue restaurants in Xita (and elsewhere in Shenyang). While most places offer mostly beef, each restaurant has their specialty, with some interesting choices like eel, intestines or pork belly on the menu.
A good place for grilled eel, pork and black pepper beef is 金韩雅烤肉烤鳗鱼 (Jin Hanya Grilled Meat and Grilled Eel in Chinglish, jīn hán yǎ kǎo ròu kǎo mányú in pinyin). The restaurant is located at 2, Hunchun North Road (珲春北路2号 in Mandarin, húnchūn běilù 2 hào in pinyin), a good bit west of the northern end of Xita Street.
Sweet Rice Cakes
No good meal without dessert, right? A famous sweet(ish) Korean delicacy is their sweet rice cakes (打糕 in Chinese, dǎ gāo in pinyin). They are made with sticky rice flour and come in many different flavors. I call them sweetish, because they are definitely less sweet than many desserts in the Western world. But still good. Sooo good!
In Xita, probably the best place for sweet rice cakes is 师任堂韩国打糕 (Master Ren’s Hall of Korean Sweet Rice Cakes in Chinglish, shīrèntáng hánguó dǎgāo in pinyin). They have a vast selection of cakes, some 30 different flavors in total. In addition to the traditional sweet rice cakes, they also sell mooncakes, purple sweet potato cakes and others. For their best-seller, the red bean paste rice cake, it is best to come before 10 am, as they are often sold out quite early in the day. Whether the cakes survive until dinner (or even lunch) if you buy them that early is a different question…
The shop is located in the middle of Xita Street, on the western side of the street, at number 58 (西塔街58号 in Chinese, xītǎ jiē 58 hào in pinyin).
If all of these choices and recommendations overwhelm you, you might consider going for a set menu option instead. That way, you still get a good selection of Korean delicacies, but without all the fuss and the bother of having to trek from one restaurant to the other and go through the lengthy process of choosing many dishes from the menu.
There are Korean restaurants that specialize in this sort of pre-made choices by offering set menus (套餐 in Chinese, tào cān in pinyin). A good and popular one is 青瓦餐厅 (Blue Tile Canteen in Chinglish, qīng wǎ cāntīng in pinyin). Their specialties include a set menu with squid (海墨鱼套餐 in Chinese, hǎimòyú tàocān in pinyin) or one with salmon (三文鱼套餐 in Chinese, sānwényú tàocān in pinyin). This establishment is located directly on Xita Street, at number 28th, so quite easy to get to.
Fried Chicken and Beer
Or maybe all this talk of food bores you? Maybe you *gasp* are not a foodie at all? That’s okay, nobody is perfect. I still have another option for you (even non-foodies have to eat, or so I’m told). In Korea, there are a great number of restaurants with a very limited menu: all they serve is fried chicken variations, and beer. So lovers of junk food will find their paradise there, with fried chunks of poultry, sometimes topped with gooey sweet sauce, and – naturally – a bottle of beer. Or a case with 24 of them.
Xita of course also has its share of those chicken and beer restaurants. One that comes recommended is 689炸鸡啤酒屋 (689 Fried Chicken and Beer Shack in Chinglish, 689 zhàjī píjiǔ wū in pinyin), right at the southern entrance to Xita Street, at number 94.
How about some KTV?
Once you have fueled up with chicken and (lots of) beer, the mood might strike you to try out another very Asian way of passing the time – Karaoke, or KTV for short. If you have never been, this is an essential Asian experience you cannot miss. In the West, karaoke is an awkward affair where drunk people make fools of themselves on stage, in front of a crowd in a pub or bar.
In Asia, however, KTVs are sophisticated (or not) temples of entertainment. Plush appointed private rooms that are fairly soundproof assure that the humiliation of singing badly stays within your own circle of friends. It’s just you and your pals, and most of the establishments have a wide choice of songs that include Western pop classics as well as recent chart toppers in English. But KTV probably merits its own separate article altogether: how to book, how to navigate the computer for choosing songs, KTV etiquette, etc. Let me know in the comment if you are interested in a HOW TO KTV.
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