Paik Chulpan (백 철판) – A Korean Food Experience

A South Korean food experience is one that every foodie must have. My Korean food experience started with Dak Galbi, a stir-fry chicken dish and the best way to enjoy chicken in Korea. In the midst of the crowded streets in Busan, a Metropolitan city in South Korea, a small restaurant called Paik Chulpan stands out because of its bright red and yellow exterior. Specialised in making the delicious crowd pleaser, Dak Galbi, Paik Chulpan is a chain of restaurants in South Korea but is known for its Busan outlet.

Set in the streets of the front beach boulevard of Haeundae, Paik Chulpan is a great place for tourists to try out their first taste of Korean food with the Dak Galbi. With a very welcoming and simple interior, the restaurant is dimly lit, giving the customers a very homely feeling. When we entered the restaurant there were already a few customers enjoying their afternoon meal. We chose to sit beside a large window with a clear view of the crowded streets below. The table at which we sat had a stove that we were supposed to use for making our own Dak Galbi. When we were seated, our waiter gave us aprons that we could use while making and eating the Dak Galbi. So, I realized that the meal was going to get a little messy. After a few minutes a large cast iron pan in which contained boneless chicken pieces and chopped cabbage with gochujang, a Korean red chilli sauce, was placed on the stove. We were given a ladle, a pair of scissors and tongs that we were supposed to use for cooking the Dak Galbi. From time to time the waiter would come and check if we were doing the cooking the right way. He cut up the chicken and cabbage into smaller mouth-sized bits. After about 15 minutes the Dak Galbi was ready and we ate it with rice and the condiments that we could refill as many times as we wanted. Some of these condiments like bean sprouts, spring onions, pickled radishes, fish cakes and cabbages with sesame sauce were quite interesting.

(Clockwise: Cabbage with sesame sauce, fish cakes, spring onions)

The whole dish was very hearty and very filling. The juicy and succulent chicken chunks paired with the cabbage was a very good combination. The dish had both sweet and savoury notes to it with a slight tinge of tanginess due to the gochujang sauce. Eating the Dak Galbi with the various side dishes was a very out-of-the-box experience because I had never imagined that a chicken and cabbage dish could be eaten with such condiments. All of the condiments complimented the Dak Galbi and elevated the different flavours of the dish. The only thing that I felt did not go with the Dak Galbi was the fish cakes. They had a very peculiar smell and taste that my taste buds could not adjust to. 

As a whole, this, my first experience with Korean food, was a very memorable one and was quite enlightening in a way. There were some umami flavours in the dish that I had never had the opportunity to taste. The whole idea of cooking your own meal was very new to me and I wouldn’t mind always doing it.

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