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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



October 24-31, 2007


go to next week's blogs


  Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Seoul is second only to Tokyo in urban density. There is an economy of space that wedges businesses in wherever people could conceivably navigate. Public transport is inexpensive and the method of choice for most workers in the downtown area.

Bicycles and Motorcycles carry huge loads. The guy collecting these empty tanks:

... just went down the street to get a couple more to add to the stack. 

Old collides with the new in this fast growing hub of Asia:

There is a lot of thought given to what will happen when North and South Korea’s barrier is gone. Even though it does not appear to be imminent, it is a puzzle that it on the minds of locals.

Many young women that we spoke to had thoughts of delaying marriage to prolong their independent lifestyles. This is not in line with the hopes of the government, which is trying to find ways to reverse the trend of plummeting birthrates. Fortunately, topiary rabbits:

... appeared to be plentiful as we made our way home from this Blade Runneresqe city:

... only to be trapped in SFO’s parking structure due to the failure of the FastTrak reader.



Thanks to all our readers for the bulging bunrab email bag. We appreciate all your tips and suggs.

Cindy writes about the puppies in the window:


Love the pics from Korea, but please please please tell me the picture of the puppies were at a pet store, and not a food store.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Cindy,

Definitely a pet store located in a cluster of puppy shops. There are those who make canine soup in this area, but it’s a rare practice.


I corrected my nutty caption in relation to the ginkgo snack after I got a note from Susanna:


Those "beans" you munched on are ginkgo nuts. When briefly fried in oil, they change from yellow (raw state) to pale green. Ginkgo nuts still in their shells are the stinkiest food in the world. The very first person who thought of cracking open one to eat it must be ravenous.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Susanna,

Yes of course you are correct. They are indeed ginkgo nuts next to those chestbeans.




Have you seen Brett’s enticing contest? Go to his site, pick out a name for his S.F. eatery and if he selects your sugg, you win dinner for four at his restaurant. Chubby put his vote in and you should too!



  Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Starbucks, KFC, Dunkin Doughnuts, Baskin Robbins, Burger King and the golden arches:

... are everywhere. What seems particularly odd about this is that the fast food on the street is quicker, better and cheaper. Even the vending machine coffee (300 won – approx 30¢ U.S.):

... is tasty and peppy. Maybe these chains carry an exotic quality that we can’t fathom.

Koreans are confident people. It seems as though they carve everything in stone.

They also commit to their parties. This evening’s buffet included some yummy chow:

... and old school toasts.





  Monday, October 29, 2007

Opposites don’t attract in Seoul. As a matter of fact, it’s the contrary. Shops cluster together. One side of the street will be lined with identical metal goods:

... another with puppies:

... and the next with chairs and tiles. Comparison-shopping is big here.

There is no haggling necessary for the 37 cm cones:

...that are sold in busy shopping areas. You will get the same metrically accurate spike of icy dessert if you come across one of these length-based dispensaries. They are not so much delicious as they are architecturally intriguing.

We love checking out the seafood selections:

... while munching on some portable snacks like these ginkgo nuts:

We decided to avoid this bakery:

...in case they decided to sub out their butter with uric acid.





  Sunday, October 28, 2007

My compass broke so we navigated using the satellite dishes (which face SSE) in concert with the metro maps at every underpass. There are long networks of tunnels:

... above the subway that are lined with all sorts of vendors. At night, there is an orderly assembly of homeless people setting up their cardboard sleeping areas, which they break down in the morning when the cleaning crews wash the floors. .

We must have walked 7k underground while we made our way to the Yongsan Electronics Market:

This plugged in emporium consists of thousands of shops spread over several buildings containing all of your gadget needs:

We were a couple of deer frozen in the high powered LED beams, but unfroze when hunger hit.

We opted for the chow that the locals frequented in this technomart and wound up in the basement area:

... of one of the multitude of buildings. We got an omelet (4,000 won – about 4 dollars):

... which came with a pool of ketchup. It was not our thing due to its overly firm and monotone taste that could have been broken up by the ketchup, but this combo didn’t ring our digital bell tone. However, the  bi bim bop (5,000 won – approx 5 dollars):

...was seriously good and was plentiful enough to sate us both. The bowl was hotter than a Chevy’s fajita platter and created a delectable, crispy crust of rice at the bottom. Mixed vegetables and an egg topped this stir and eat fest.

It came with some hot tofu soup, kimchee, sprouts, rice paste globs in hot tomato sauce, and an innocent looking,  but toothsome tofu which was drained, seasoned, egg coated and sautéed:

South Korea has a lot of rules:

Some that make sense to us, and some that don’t – I think that this rule requesting that visitors refrain from arguing with their hand:

... is a little strict. We did our best not to engage in the American faux paws talking “to the hand” as we made our way back to the hotel after our tech trek.





  Saturday, October 27, 2007


I didn’t fill up during breakfast so that I could grab a egg pancake oval (1,000 won):

... from a stand outside the hotel. The egg was overcooked and the dough was slightly too sweet for my taste but for the equivalent of a buck, I couldn’t complain.

Later we found a truck that had hot iron, circular molds with round pita-like discs (500 won):

... that I couldn’t resist. These were like pitas filled with a thin layer of syrup, like a Korean version of a stroopwafle.

Steamed pork buns (1,500 won):

... had massive amounts of green onion flecked meat like a sealed, steamed, porky hamburger.

Octopus filled, round pancakes (2,500 won):

... were a smaller version of those octoballs that I've eaten in Tokyo. Bonito shavings wiggle around as they heat up and absorb liquid in this decent variation of a Japanese snack food.

Crowds form around food stalls:

...during rush hour while commuters bump into young diners:

... who stand in a semi-circle around each cart.

Our host:

... took us to the 24/7 mega-market:

... which was in full swing after midnight.

The cinema multiplex has showings around the clock if you get tired of shopping in this bustling, Bladerunneresque district.






  Friday, October 26, 2007

We both went for miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables and fish at the breakfast buffet:

They have foreigners in one wing of the hotel and Koreans in the other. I guess it makes it simpler to have certain television stations and food in one high rise and not in the other.

This however is not a complaint because the breakfast made available to the non-indigenous included eggs cooked soft, crisp bacon and ripe fruit - they even had decent coffee. They were constantly refreshing each chafing dish:

... and neatening up each fruit plate at this European, American and Asian a.m. sampler. The décor was over the top:

... with chandeliers, ceiling murals and brocade galore:

Classical music acted as the coxswain for paddling chow into our kimchee holes.

Lotte Hotel
1, Sogong-dong
Jung-gu, Seoul
South Korea
+ 02.771.1000




  Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lost Seouls

We were sleep deprived when we arrived at our hotel in Seoul, South Korea, but not enough to settle for room service. We decided to walk down a series of crowded streets:

... and impulse shop for stall food.

Our giddy jet lagged zombie walk yielded some fun, mismatched snackage.

This cone of glossy chunks of hot sweet potato (2,000 won - about two bucks U.S):

... looked like their sheen was oil based, but they actually had hard sugar shells like little, orange starchy armadillos. We chomped through these spudtacutlar snacks with a bag of hot squid (3,000 won - about 3 bucks):

... from the vendor with an adjoining cart:

The chewy, hot, slightly oily tentacles were good fishy chewing gum.

Sticks are popular food delivery devices and we fetched a fish hot dog on a pole (1,000 won):

which was like a Japanese fish cake tube style as well as a skewered, poached fish cake sheet (1,500 won):

... painted with hot chili sauce and served with a small paper cup of cooking broth.

We grazed our way back to the hotel where we ran into a friend from the Bay Area who was headed out to get some chow after his long flight. We pointed him in the direction of the street stands before grabbing our z’s.



Speaking of streets, the ones in San Francisco are a lot more treacherous than we had previously thought. Yesterday’s Bunrab email had some enlightening info about the crazed drivers near UCSF.  Jill writes:


As a graduate student who is on campus at SF State two times per week, I can tell you that the intersection of Holloway and 19th Avenue is only for the bravest pedestrian. A crossing-guard is necessary due to the NASCAR driver-like behavior of too many who drive through there. When (if) San Francisco drivers slow down, the guard will not be required.


Sheila writes:


I think SFSU has probably started using a crossing guard because of the terrible driving habits of people on 19th Ave. When I was a student there I was amazed at the number of people who ran that red light right by the Muni train stop. I'm continually amazed by the number of people who run red lights up and down 19th. It's really frightening to cross.


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sheila and Jill,

Yikes, I had no idea. Maybe the campus should consider something more serious than a neon vested guardian.



Our Bunrab email bag also included a note from Susan about Sol Food:


I've driven past Sol Food about a zillion times without stopping in, but your description of the Ensalada con Pollo was fresh in my mind as I went to lunch today. A friend and I each got the salad with a giant jar of the refreshing Mango Iced Tea. The salad was delicious with each ingredient being fresh and tasty. And we got outta there for about $10 a head. Thanks so much for the tip!


Gutenberg replies:

Dear Susan,

Glad you had a good pollo experience. That chicken is worth crossing the (less risky) road.





  Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Guards everywhere

On our way past the SF State campus to SFO, we couldn’t help but notice a neon yellow vest imprinted with “crossing guard” on an University employee. What is up with that? Are tax dollars really paying for someone to help college students cross the street? Will the next wave of minds destined to enter the business community be able to negotiate their way to work? Is the crossing guard a neon herald of the rocky road ahead? I fear for our future.

Okay, maybe I’m over reacting. I get grumpy when I anticipate the march through airport security. There is something about the humorless, arbitrary, 3 fluid ounces of sense that go into the evaluation of each songless, incomplete, strip-o-gram into a bus tub. The problem with this whole process is that it is a monopoly.

What are you going to do? Boycott? “We know you have a choice when you fly” only applies to the metal tube we select. If there was a healthy competitive market for airport screeners we would pick the one with the most gracious staff and best environment rather than endure this juiced version of Simon Sez with consequences.

I understand that screeners have a thankless, high pressure job but what bugs me is that there isn’t any incentive to improve the process. Our only hope is that a cheaper and more efficient computer based system will be developed that will be as easy as walking through a turnstyle.

The strangest thing about this whole situation is that we are customers, yet there isn’t a trace of hospitality. We are required to remove our shoes but there is no provision made to do this comfortably. If you warrant a wanding, it’s like a scene out of OZ (and not the good one with the Lollipop League.) It’s a one way valve sucking the humanity from an interaction meant to protect you from harm yet the spirit of protection is put forward as if they wished you would curl up and die. I’m only guessing that it is against the rules to return a smile or engage in any chit chat lest it influence their ability to scrutinize our carry ons but I wish the baggage was limited to the travelers.

Oh yeah, and they don’t allow photos.






back to last week - October 16-23, 2007



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