Cheese in the Far East

cheese in asia

Even though I’ve been home from Japan and Korea for about a month, I’m still seeing different friends for the first time and telling travel stories. I’m often asked what my favorite meal was or what country’s food I liked better or what was the craziest thing I ate. Often I mention the one instance 80 and I tasted cheese in the Far East as one of our best dishes.

We were shopping and strolling in the area near Seoul Women’s University. It was drizzling. Kinda chilly. Comfort was in need. It became our ritual to walk in, sit down and then leave restaurants if we couldn’t maneuver the menu or waitstaff. Because sometimes even hand gestures get lost in translation.

My co-worker Sherry told me about her sister’s views on Korean food while she lived in the country. The sister wasn’t fond of Korean food but enjoyed the country’s take on Italian food. 80 and I really did, for the most part, dine on each country’s cuisine. But at this moment, with seventy-five percent of our trip past, we needed something a tinge familiar. We needed cheese.

We walked into an Italian restaurant but then quickly left. We couldn’t communicate and weren’t up for the long batter of guesses. We snuck out. And instead we found college grub. Fusion college grub.

This place would fucking kill in the US. Huge bowls of hot rice, options of kimchi, veggies, chicken, whatever, then topped with melted mozzarella. Stir together with metal chopsticks. Awesomeness. Spicy, gooey, stomach-coating. Perfect drunk or hungover food. Plus, this place serves a side cup of broth to start. God I miss broth at every meal.

(PS–I hated Korean chopsticks: metal and thin. Hard to hold, become slippery easily. )

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  • BS June 28, 2010  

    Yes! I never understand why cheese is not incorporated into Asian food. Everything is better with cheese melted on top. Everything!

  • Nick (Macheesmo) June 28, 2010  

    I’d hit that.

  • erica June 28, 2010  

    BS – more than 90% of asians are lactose intolerant. also many africans. about 70% of the world is lactose intolerant.

  • Aaliyah July 1, 2010  

    Yes! I never understand why cheese is not incorporated into Asian food. Everything is better with cheese melted on top. Everything!

  • JoeHoya July 1, 2010  

    Dairy livestock didn’t really take root in most Asian cultures (with the exception of yak and water buffalo), either, so they didn’t have the surplus of milk that would necessitate longer-term storage in cheese form.

    Not sure which (lack of livestock or lactose intolerance) is the chicken and which is the egg in this situation…

  • Cora July 4, 2010  

    I’m of the opinion that lactose intolerance is not really that at all. I’ve lived in the States and I’ve lived overseas, and the dairy products in America have been a gastrointestinal pain in the rear and yet at other times, not at all. However when consuming milk, cheese and butter– products were imported from Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand gave me few problems if any. Now that I can get natural, organic dairy options at the market I find I can tolerate dairy in the States much better. But whoa, I’ve really got to watch eating cheese in a fast food joint or restaurant!

  • laura @ June 24, 2012  

    It’s been a solid two months since I’ve had a meal with CHEESE! Currently in Thailand and am still on the local food kick…plus I don’t want to dish our extra baht for western food. But that bowl of beautiful cheesy rice suddenly gives me the urge to visit the pizza shop down the road!

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