Yeosu Weekend Trip: Food & Restaurants

Welcome to Part Three of Five on my Yeosu weekend getaway with you know who! Part Two featured Tourist Sites & Attractions, while Part One was an overview to the City of Yeosu.

Today I want to get to what is, arguably, Yeosu’s strongest point. FOOD. The entire Jeollado Region of Korea is known for having THE best and often cheapest food in the entire country.

Yeosu is famous for three things: agujjim, seodae hwae (sashimi), and soy sauce marinated crabs (ganjang gejang)..

Agujim is a braised fish dish served all over Korea. Yeosu is famous for it. Technically, the fish is “braised angler,” but 90% of foreigners wouldn’t know what the hell kind of fish that is (and it’s kind of ugly). So I’ll describe it. Chunky, flaky white fish. No annoying as fuck tiny bones. Clean taste. Good texture.

I would say it’s braised in spicy red pepper paste, spices, soy sauce etc.  But to quote Wikipedia:

“The dish is seasoned with hot chili pepper powder, doenjangganjang (soy sauce), minced garlic, and chopped scallions to make it spicy and hot.[2] However, other ingredients such as kongnamul (soybean sprouts), mideodeok (미더덕, Styela clava), and minari (미나리, water dropwort) also play an important role in giving agujjim a refreshing and fragrant flavor.[2][3]

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Agujjim, braised fish with spicy sauce, bean sprouts, vegetables

This dish was our first stop on the list. We went to “You Know Who’s” favorite place when he was a kid. Many of his friends said it had become super popular over the years and changed, but You Know Who still loved it!

The restaurant name is 조롱박 which does not translate to English easily…..literally Jo Long (or Rong) Bak . Google Maps has an even worse English name for it, Jolongbag. It’s true meaning is a dried out gourd used to drink rice wine. Presumably, this gourd is used to hold the rice wine vinegar, seasoning, food, ANYTHING 🙂

 

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In Korea’s small cities, literally EVERY seat is on the floor. Good luck finding a table!
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Included with these dishes is a variety of sides and a big bowl of rice topped with salted, dried seaweed. As we ordered both dishes, we got all the side dishes. The variety can vary based on which item you order. BUT, all have unlimited refills.

We also ordered another dish, seodaehoe. This is another example of Korean not translating well to English haha. Seodae is a type of sole, and hoe (pronounced “hway”) means raw. Served like sashimi. The pieces are very firm, nice and chilled, similar to tuna sashimi, tossed in a spicy, sour, rice wine vinegar and red pepper sauce. Also mixed in are cabbage and some various onions. VERY tart and refreshing.

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Seodaehoe, Sole Sashimi Marinated in Rice Wine Vinegar, Red Pepper….

Total cost for our meal: 40,000W. Now, you don’t have to eat this much. In fact, you can order just either of the dishes. One is more than enough. But we were being glutttonous and HANGRY!

That afternoon, we did A LOT of sightseeing. So, our next meal was for dinner at the Yeosu Fish Market. Again, these terms are searched in Korean, so they might not display in English on your phone or computer.

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Yeosu Fish Market By Day
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Blurry camera work is endearing, right? Somehow, I only took TWO blurry pics. Inside are rows and rows of stalls like this. All are literally the same price.
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All quiet for the night…

At the fish market, you choose any stall. Honestly, they’re all the same in price and quality. The worker will chop up your fish at her stall and plate the sashimi.  While she’s doing that, you will go to the “restaurants” next door. Choose any one that has a seat.  There, you will pay a small table charge of around 2-4,000W per person.

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The row of restaurants where you eat your purchases.

The restaurant staff will serve you beer, soju (of course, for extra) and free side dishes. After you eat all of the raw fish, they use the fish bones (from your fish) and make a spicy stew out of it. So all in all you get a giant meal out of this fish.

We spent 30,000W for the big plate of raw flounder (off-white color) and 10,000W for the raw squid (bright white color). We also spent around 20,000W on alcohol and the table charge. So all in all 60 for the two of us.

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Flounder “Sashimi” (Squid, too) with side dishes and a regional soju.
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My FAVORITE sauce for dipping is a spicy, vinegary fermented red pepper sauce. SO tart, sour and a little spicy!
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Spicy Stew from Fish Bones

 

After the fish market, we tried to go to Romantic Pocha Street, but they shut down oddly early. So we just visited a random hof near our motel. Nothing special to write about really. Some fried shrimp for 20,000W.

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Scrimps!!! Also included was some soup and random side dishes like CORN SALAD. Mmmmmh Corn and Mayonnaise!  AND YES, that’s cabbage covered in mayo and ketchup. No, I didn’t eat it.

 

The next day, we woke up and headed back downtown. As You Know Who grew up in Yeosu, we had a nice chat with the taxi driver about the changes in Yeosu and everything. So, logically, we asked him to recommend a lunch place. And we ended up at Daeseong Sikdang.

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Exterior of Daeseong Sikdang.

They have all the usual suspects of key Yeosu menus, so we went for fried fish. At 10,000W per person, we received two kids of fish: 삼치 (Spanish Mackarel, pronounced samchee) and 갈치 (hairtail fish, pronounced galchi).  One portion featured both fish pan fried and cost 10,000W per person.

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The main course. Big hunks of fish! While it may look small, it was very filling portions for a lunch. And heavy (but in a good alcohol soaking sort of way).
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Kimchi is the name of the game for these side dishes at the top. Then on the left is a root vegetable, followed by some black beans and nuts in a sweet syrup. Bottom forefront picture is hardcore……it’s a kind of fish intenstines made into a spicy “sauce.” Slightly sticky, very funky, and you just eat it with rice.
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The other goodies from forefront to the right: eggplant in sesame oil and seasoning, bean sprouts, tofu, fish cake and spicy pepper, and some sort of green that was pickled/Korean-ized. Great descriptions, i know.

 

After our lunch, we headed over to the rail bike by taxi, did that quickly, then taxied back to Odong Island.  The good news about, really, every tourist place, is that, of course they have snacks and people hustling everywhere. Some of it is tourist crap, yes, but some of it is really good…. like this random street stall.

The lady was selling warm breads/pastry snacks from her tent. The crowd of old people meant the product was on rotation and was fresh.

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Only three choices here: “Flower Shape Bread” (really just the mold stamp is the shape of the national flower), waffle pie, and Old Style Hoddeok (Cinnamon Sugar pancake-like pastry)
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The Flower Bread, filled with Red Bean. Sweet, buttery, moist, way better than I expected.
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Hoddeok is a puffy, gooey cinnamon sugar pastry. But this is old style, which meant it was VERY thin and crispy.
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The aforementioned thin, crispy hoddeok with red bean bread

 

After exploring Odong Island, it was time for the MAIN EVENT…..soy sauce crabs!!!!!!!!!!!!! Soy sauce crabs are a Yeosu specialty. A) Because they’re delicious and B) they’re CHEAP.

In Seoul, at a popular place, ONE person costs 45,000W. In Yeosu? The MOST popular place is 10,000W for all you can eat crabs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What are soy sauce crabs? You know Wikipedia has the answers!!

Gejang or gejeot is a variety of jeotgal, salted fermented seafood in Korean cuisine, which is made by marinating fresh raw crabs either in ganjang (soy sauce) or in a sauce based on chili pepper powder. The term consists of the two words; ge, meaning “a crab”, and jang which means “condiment” in Korean.[1] Although gejang originally referred only to crabs marinated in soy sauce, it has begun to be called “ganjang gejang” these days to differentiate it from yangnyeom-gejang (양념게장). The latter is relatively a new dish that emerged since the restaurant business began to thrive in South Korea.[2] “Yangnyeom” literally means “seasoning” or “seasoned” in Korean but refers to the spicy sauce made with chili pepper powder.”

Soy sauce crabs are the main event, but there are also a spicy version in gochujang, seasonings, etc. (which secretly I liked better at  the first place):

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The soy sauce variety
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The Spicy Version

Now, while they aren’t the sexiest or cleanest food to eat, they are DAMN tasty. like GAH. So good we ordered 2.5 kg of them to our house.  This allowed us to eat at #2 Most Popular Place and we ordered from #1 Most Popular Place.

You Know Who’s Friend recommended we try a place called Cheongjeong Gejangchon. They are famous for their 갈치조림 (Braised Cutlassfish, pronounced Galchi Jolim). They also serve the crabs as part of your sides and you can get one refill of each.

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Restaurant Interior (Again, see, no chairs! All on the floor!)
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Braised Fish with Radish, Onion, Spicy Sauce, Seasonings Etc.
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All this for 16,000W per person. From left, the side dishes: kimchi, seaweed, a soybean paste crab soup, more white kimchi, black beans (slightly sweeet), shellfish, the crabs and then three kinds of jeotgal, which is like a salty fish innards/kimchi.
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Soy sauce crab. How to eat? Just bite and squeeze the meat out! The legs you can crack to get the other meat out. Soy sauce crab meat is NOT cooked.

 

We  STUFFED our fat faces that day, whew! Then we headed over to the other MOST POPULAR CRAB PLACE, 황소식당  (Hwangso Sikdang).

We just ordered a jar of soy sauce crabs to our house in Seoul. Very cheap, 30,000W for 2.5 kg. We ate them for almost a whole month, but they became TOOOOOOOO salty so we had to throw a few crabs away. This month we’re gonna get the spicy seasoning (yangnyeom) ones.

After making our purchase, we hopped in a taxi back to Romantic Pocha Street for the last two hours before our train. We literally squeezed every second of time full of activities. It was PERFECT.

Romantic Pocha Street has TONS of different dishes, with some more famous and even people wait in line for them!

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So this is a cold noodle dish, with vinegary, sour, spicy red pepper sauce. Tossed with it are some onions and lettuce….BUT a very unusual blend of pig’s feet, blood sausage, and sea snails. All sound strange, yes, but all delicious.

We picked one that was full and had like one table left. Random. Luck of the draw.  At this point in the trip, we were tired of seafood hahaha. It was all delicious, but we wanted some MEAT!

So we ordered a rather interesting dish…..that still had seafood! Sea snails are common here (whelk if you will). They’re very meaty, not so much fishy. Also tossed in were some pig’s feet which have AMAZING seasoning.

We got a little drunk, then You Know Who raided a bubble tea cafe and bakery for the train ride home.

9 PM and we were at the train station and took the Midnight train back to Seoul!

This is where I’d usually write something cute and witty, but whew, so busy that this post took TOO LONG! Stayed tuned for the last installments…sooooooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnn……….

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Yeosu Weekend Trip: Tourist Sites & Attractions

I’m quite busy these days with my new schedule, but I know I’m long overdue for this post! So today I wanted to share the places to see and go while you’re in Yeosu.

Still to come:

Part Three: The Food

Part Four: The Nightlife

Part Five: Accomodations/Transportation

My last post was an overview to Yeosu. Yeosu is a gorgeous coastal town at the faaaaaaaaaaar south of Korea, around 3-3.5 hours from Seoul. It’s famous for it’s beauty from the bay, spectacular bridges, the Aquarium, Rail Bike….and THE FOOD!

Yeosu does not have a subway, but there are some buses. However, for the average tourist, the buses are not that easy to use. Even more, the buses are not THAT frequent and still don’t take you door to door….so taxi is the preferred way to hop around.

Most attractions are clustered around two places: Yeosu Expo Station and by Lee Sung Shin Plaza/the boardwalk park by the water.

This Google Map has pins for all the main places. **My computer is set to Korean, so I have to post things with Korean links. It SHOULD translate to English for you. If not, please do let me know!**

 

After I finished work, I headed down to Yi Sun Shin Plaza. Yi Sun Shin is very famous in Korean history for using the “turtle ship” to defeat the Japanese. With only 13 ships, he defated the Japanese fleet of 300.

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Yi Sun Shin Statue in Yeosu

In the downtown, they created a giant statue with roundabout and a big plaza for public events. Towards the waterfront, there is a replica ship you can go inside to see how the ship was setup, how it worked, their uniforms and duties, etc.

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Replica of the famous turtle ship at Yi Sun Shin Plaza in Yeosu. Two levels inside.

After we walked around Yi Sun Shin Plaza, we headed just around the corner to lunch at Min Su’s favorite childhood place. Fun fact: Many if not all restaurants in Yeosu were required to have some kind of English menu thanks to the Expo  a few years ago. While we didn’t check (we speak Korean, of course), this is good news for most visitors.

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Jwasuyeong Food Street, home to tons of popular restuarants serving Yeosu’s classic dishes.

 

After lunch, we took a quick 3,000W taxi over to the Expo Area and visited the Aquarium. Yeosu was home to the World EXPO in 2012 which was a big deal at the time, but now the whole Expo site is eerily empty and unused….except for this massive aquarium. The aquarium is of average size and has your standard array of animals. Worth a quick look.

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Yeosu Hanhwa Aqua Planet (Or, simply, The Yeosu Aquarium)

After the aquarium, we walked about 10 minutes down to the GIANT elevator tower to access the cable car. As it was around 5 PM, there was quite a long line to access the elevator. Yes, you could take the stairs, but as you can see, there are a lot of them. We waited about 30 minutes for the elevator.

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The giant elevator to take you to the cable car entrance for Jasan Park
Jasan Park Cable Car Elevator
That’s A LOT of fucking stairs.
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Yeosu Cable Car, Jasan Park View
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Yeosu Cable Car, Jasan Park Entrance View

The cable car area was VERRRRRRRRRRRRRY busy with people. In fact, we waited around 30-45 minutes to board. Before you view anything, take pictures, go to the ticket window or machine FIRST. Get your tickets. They issue you a number and your number is called in groups of tickets. Then it is your time to board.

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Cable Car Night View. Much prettier in person. Cell phone + window + amateur = blurry.

The cable car dropped us off in Dolsan Park, which was a short walk to where we were staying. We stayed in this area since it was cheap. A motel in the tourist area was priced at 100,000W or so, but this hotel (a short 4,000W taxi ride away) was 70,000W. There are other hotels in Yeoseo-dong that cost around 60,000W (but it’s a further taxi).

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View from Dolsan Park (walk down into the park area from the Cable Car Entrance)

After a quick rest and phone recharge, we called a taxi for pickup to take us to the Fish Market. This area was very quiet, so you can’t just easily flag a taxi on the street. Downtown Yeosu, no problem though. Yeosu has two fish markets, one big that is more for trade…..and then the smaller one across the street.

The big fish market was closed by 8 PM on a Saturday, so one of the ladies told us to go across the street. This fish market was definitely busier, but did close around 11 PM.

 

 

The fish market has many stalls, but honestly all have the same kinds of fish and prices are clearly listed and all cost the same.

 

 

You buy the fish from the staff and they sashimi it right there on the spot. Then, to the side of the market are a row of restaurants. Choose whichever one you like as they’re really all the exact same. You pay a small fee, like 3,000 or 4,000W per person to sit. The restaurant will give you side dishes for free and take your fish bones and prepare a spicy fish soup with it.  First you eat all your sashimi, and then when you’re done, they will bring out the soup.

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Yeosu Fish Market Restaurants

After our dinner, we took a walk to see Min Su’s old elementary school and where he played as a kid by the water. It’s actually a VERY beautiful spot at the base of the Dolsan Bridge.

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Small “beach” (mostly shells) at the base of Dolsan Bridge. GORGEOUS Night Views!

From there, we hopped in a taxi (3-4,000W) to Romantic Pocha Street which was closing up early. We visited again Sunday night and it was BUSY! Many places didn’t have a seat.  Pocha is a term for street tent where you can eat and drink. It’s definitely an old Korea vibe.  These pictures are from our visit on Sunday night:

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The row of Pocha (Street Tent). Some are so popular they have lines of people waiting outside. I believe it was #11, 12 and 13.
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Our neighbors dining and drinking pocha style
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If the pocha all fill up, there is this picnic table area. You can bring your own food and snacks from a nearby convenience store OR order pocha food to go!
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Our cozy pocha. Hard to see, but that’s where all the magic happens, that cart. Tables are packed in tight!
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View from the pocha and waterfront…selling anything and everything.
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People everywhere enjoying the waterfront.
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Yeosu at night along the water….they went heavy on the neon, but it’s very beautiful with the water at night.

On Sunday, we woke up late and headed for lunch at a restaurant recommended by our taxi driver. More on food later. Then we took a 6,000W taxi to the Rail Bike. We made a reservation online to avoid the wait. The rail bike is very simple. An old train track has been converted to allow bikes that run on the track. The reservation is an hour, but with a short wait to get on the bike, bike to the end of the path and turn around is just 35-40 minutes.

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Ooooooooooh pretttty…..
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Yeosu Rail Bike Course
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Don’t come. We cute. Also what a bitch of a pose to get this shot!

After the Rail Bike, we hopped a 4,000W taxi back to Odongdo (Odong Island). It is an island that is next to the Expo Site and the Aquarium, but we saved it for the second afternoon so we’d have enough time. It offers gorgeous views of the Bay, water, nature, everything.  You just walk across a short bridge. Takes around an hour or so to walk the whole perimeter of the island.

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See where it gets its name?

After our walking tour of Odongdo, we headed out for the infamous soy sauce crabs. We closed out our night at Romantic Pocha as previously mentioned……then on the KTX back to Seoul!

Up next……….. FOOD FOOD FOOOOOOOOD.

Yeosu Weekend Trip: Part One

You may have seen on Instagram or Facebook that I took a little trip to the coast last weekend. Welllllllll, it was AMAZING.  This trip came about as the perfect combination of schedule and timing.  I have a lot to say, so I’m going to break this into several parts.  Today is just an overview (other posts coming soon).

Part Two: The Sights and Tourist Attractions

Part Three: The Food

Part Four: The Nightlife (Coming Eventually :-))

Part Five: Accomodations/Transportation (Coming Eventually :-))

This past weekend, I visited Yeosu . Yeosu is a very small city of just 300,000 at the faaaaaaaar southern coast of Korea, just under 3 hours from Seoul by KTX train. The cost is around 47$ one way. There are buses available. They take 4.5 hours and cost 30-35$.

 

Yeosu is a very spread out city, but most of the action happens around Yeosu Expo Station and Lee Sun Shin Plaza. You can easily walk around here. While there are public bikes available to rent for 1,000W per hour, you need a Korean phone number and knowledge of Korean to use the machines.

There is a Rail Bike located just outside of the city, around 6,000W by taxi from Lee Sun Shin Plaza. Around Yeosu Expo Station, there is Hanhwa Aqua Planet, Odongdo, and the Cable Car from Jasan Park.

Yeosu is a very quiet city, but gorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgeous! It is perhaps my favorite ocean side city in Korea, even better than Busan. Since it’s small, it’s very quiet and there’s not much party, but there is VERY beautiful scenery.

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View of the Bay and Dolsan Bridge at Sunset
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Odongdo (Odong Island)
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Hanging out at a “beach” underneath Dolsandaegyo (Dolsan Bridge)
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Downtown Yeosu

A friend offered me a part time job working an English festival on Saturday morning. My friend, his other co-workers, and I all headed down to Yeosu on Friday night. We took the KTX from Yongsan Station and stayed at the Elena Hotel. The Elena Hotel is not right in the downtown tourist area, but a short 5,000W taxi ride from Yeosu Expo Station.  It is next to the main nightlife area, Yeoseo-dong. The nightlife is literally right behind the hotel. Lots of fried chicken and meat restaurants here. The bigger restaurants all have English included on the menu.

On Saturday, I woke up early to work the English Festival at the Yeosu Community Center. The bf came down from Seoul that morning while I was working. He arrived as we finished by 1 PM and off we went on our first mission: FOOD.

Yeosu is famous for seafood, seafood, SEAFOOD! There are many types of seafood available, and more on that later. You know I don’t spill the tea that easily.

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Yeosu’s Most Famous Dish: Soy Sauce Marinated Crabs, Ganjang Gejang
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Yeosu’s Other Representative Dish: Seodaehoe, a raw fish marinated in rice wine, fermented red pepper paste, and vinegar. Tossed with sesame seeds, lettuce, green onions, cabbage. Served chilled.

My boyfriend actually was born and grew up in Yeosu. He moved to the nearby city of Gwangju when he was 16, so this was a nice trip back for him. First, we headed to one of his childhood favorites…..

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Lunch at Jo Rong Bak, a Yeosu favorite!

Part Two comes later this week!