By Zhao Guangzhi
I have been in Korea for over five years and am aware that Korean food is healthy and delicious. But sometimes I also miss food from my home country, Chinese food. Hot pot is one of things I miss most about Qingdao, my hometown in China. It is the food which first comes to my mind whenever I think of Chinese cuisine. Some people will say Korea also has its own version of hot pot, but the truth is that it is quite different from the one eaten in China. In Korea, chef puts all the food together, including vegetables, meats, cheeses, and more. However, we eat hot pot in a completely different way in China.
In China, there are hundreds of hot pot soups. And the order in which the food is put into the hotpot is very important. In different districts of China, the order in which the ingredients are introduced into the hot soup and eaten varies. In my hometown, we usually put mutton, beef and pork first. After eating all of the meat, we put items such as tofu, duck blood, and cattle stomach, and at last we put vegetables and noodles. In winter, our frozen body will thaw quickly with the presence of a steaming hot pot.
To some extent, it is not only about the food, but also the moments with friends and family that hotpot represents. The chef only prepares the hot pot soup and the raw food ingredients for us. I then sit down together with my kith and kin. We can put whatever we want into the simmering broth while talking about trivial matters or deep conversations.
Yangsaemari is a restaurant near Jeonju’s express bus terminal that serves authentic Chinese hot pot. The taste is very close to the one I was used to before coming to Korea. The pot served at Yangsaemari has two parts: a spicy and a clear soup. It also provides a wide range of foods to dip into the flavorful soup, including tofu, different kinds of meatballs and mushrooms, cattle stomach, and more. The wide variety of seafood at the restaurant even includes imports from China. This is my favorite aspect of the restaurant as my hometown, Qingdao, is a coastal city. We eat seafood all throughout the four seasons of the year. Therefore, sometimes when I want to celebrate something or feel upset, I go to this restaurant to overcome my homesickness. In addition, this restaurant also offers many traditional Chinese sauces, such as sesame paste and chive flower sauce.
As an international student in Jeollabuk-do, I have come to really love Korea as a whole and the region’s particularly traditional characteristics. The food here has become an indispensable part of my life, although it makes foreigners feel the pain of homesickness from time to time. The good thing is that there is always somewhere I can go to get a taste of home.
Yangsaemari is located across the street from the KB building near Chonbuk National University.