Foodies tour South Korean cuisine

By Lisa Kubota - bio | email

SOUTH KOREA (HawaiiNewsNow) - South Korea is famous for its spicy kim chee and other delicious dishes. Recently, some hungry visitors from Hawaii decided to eat their way across the country.

During the chilly autumn season in South Korea, nothing hits the spot like a hot bowl of tofu soup. Soondooboo chigae is just one of the delicacies on the menu for this foodie tour.

"I didn't even think I'd finish breakfast this morning, but everything's gone!" said Honolulu resident Sandy Irish.

"I thought it was more like a dinner! But it was great! And now we've gotta move on and in three hours eat again!" said Honolulu resident Mike Irish.

For Mike and Sandy Irish, this trip is part vacation and part work. Mike runs Halm's Enterprises, known for its popular brand of kim chee.

"I thought it would be a good time to research and develop for products that we could still make in Hawaii," said Mike.

The group travels around the country by tour bus, sampling the cuisine in different regions.

"I'm glad because this is going all the way south," said Hilo resident Gail Shiraishi. "It's not only in Seoul. That's what's exciting. You can see the countryside."

At a stop in Jeonju, they learn how to make bibimbap. A bowl of rice is carefully topped with colorful vegetables and chili pepper paste.

"I didn't know so much work went into making bibimbap," said Makiki resident Diane Choy-Fujimura. "Now I'll appreciate it more when I eat it."

"They're making their own bibimbap here at the hometown of where bibimbap originated in Korea," said food tour organizer Jeff Chung.

Besides all of the tasty food, the tour will also include sightseeing. The group will visit a few spots where some popular Korean dramas have been filmed.

"I think it's just a natural extension after enjoying all these Korean dramas that you either take interest in the language and actually the food," said Chung.

Chung is the general manager of KBFD TV, which airs Korean programs in Hawaii. But organizing this tour is a personal project.

"Through the food, you learn a lot about the culture," said Chung.

During the week-long trip, the group got some hands-on experience making spicy kim chee. They also devoured steamed king crab and feasted on traditional royal cuisine.

"I'm really excited because a lot of these foods I haven't tried, so I'm just interested in trying them all," said Mike.

And they returned to Hawaii with many tasty memories, plus a few extra pounds.

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