So, this was a rather impromptu TL;DR we did. On Monday, we went to Hannam-dong to visit the Meemers, who had to stay at the vet for 72 hours while they flushed out his system from the poison that nearly killed his bladder. He’s safe now! Success! He has a new diet now that could prevent it from happening in the future. I’m just happy the little guy isn’t in pain anymore :D

Point is, while we were there, we went to a foreign restaurant for some foreign food. I’m not gonna say which one because I don’t want to badmouth it, just in case it was just having a bad day, but I was really unimpressed. Sure, it tasted a bit like the food it was supposed to represent, but it was missing so many spices, and swapped out ingredients for the closest readily-available substitute, that I was disappointed as a whole. These kinds of experiences are common here in Korea, and – though you’ll surely find a good restaurant from time to time that serves really authentic stuff – more often than not you’re gonna get a knockoff that just doesn’t satisfy, if you’re particular like how we are.

We talked about a few of our experiences in the video, but we didn’t talk about desserts here that are really…different. Baked goods are very different a lot of the time. Breads are very sweet. Garlic bread has a sweet glaze. Cheesecake here is oftentimes not a dense cream cheese, but a fluffy kind of cake, with cheese flavor. So, yes, it’s cheese cake, but not cheesecake, you know?

One thing you might have to get used to if you get fruits with your deserts, like on cakes or ice cream or whatnot, is that cherry tomatoes in Korea fall under the fruit category. We’ve had cakes with tomatoes on them, patbingsu with tomatoes on it. Which, I understand, tomatoes are technically fruits, but they’re not supposed to be eaten like fruits…are they?

Story time! here’s a mind warp: when Martina was teaching, she asked her students about tomatoes in Ice Cream. She said she doesn’t understand, because even though tomatoes are fruits, they should be eaten like vegetables, rather than fruitily, right? Her students disagreed. Tomatoes should be eaten like fruits, EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE VEGETABLES. So, Martina – being the caring, educating teacher that she was – pulled it up on Google. Tomatoes are fruits. See there. Google says so. And Google never lies! The students took over the computer and opened up Naver. What’s Naver say about tomatoes? THAT THEY’RE VEGETABLES! *mind blown* So, which one is it? What am I doing here in Bizarroland? Or is this Normal-land, and I’m the one who was born and raised in Bizarroland?! Someone telllll meeeee!

Another thing we hinted at but didn’t get the chance to talk about is Costco hotdogs. Where I’m from, I’m used to putting mustard, relish, and ketchup on my hotdog. In Korea, though, they put a gigantic amount of mustard, relish, ketchup, and diced onions ON A PLATE. Make a giant plate of all this stuff, mix it up, and eat it like salad. There’s not a small amount put on the hot dog: it’s a giant amount put on a plate and eaten with a fork. I don’t understand why. Soo Zee doesn’t understand why. It’s not a Korean side dish seen anywhere else. It’s just a Costco phenomenon. I want to make a video of it to show you what it’s like, but I’m not sure how, without being offensive to others, but…I’m just confused by the whole thing.

I’m gonna open this up to the comments now, because I realize there’s a potential issue I might be suffering. What if Korean people come to Canada, eat Mexican food and say “hell, this ain’t what Mexican food is like!” It could be the reverse, right? I’m not sure what authentic Mexican is like, really. Though, when we were in Mexico the food we had there was closer to what we had in Toronto than what we had in Korea. And the Indian food in Toronto closer to what we had in Singapore than what we had in Korea. I’ve never had pasta or pizza from Italy, though. Maybe sweet potato mousse is Italian? I don’t know. So, tell me: if you’ve travelled, have you noticed how different foods taste than how they’re “supposed” to taste? Let us know!

Otherwise, if you liked this TL;DR, make sure you click on this fancy pants button below, right here. It tastes the same in all countries, by the way, but in case you’re not sure, lick your screen and let us know :D

  1. Eating foods from their country of origins and just from home is definitely an interesting experience. I’m from New York City, a city full of different cultures. In New York City, so far, I have tasted Korean, Japanese, Thai, Chinese, French, Italian, and Spanish. When I went to Japan, some of the food tasted about the same as it did in nyc with the exception of japanese curry which tastes like heaven in Japan. Also the tempura was way better in Japan. When I went to Spain, the food was definitely an higher quality. For example, the churros are sold on street carts in Spain, very crispy and can come with many toppings including dipped in chocolate. They were much better than soft churros in the US. When I went to China, there were definitely differences between food in China and Chinese food in the United States but it depends where you go to eat Chinese food in the US. Authentic Chinese restaurants in Chinatown almost live up to their counterparts in China but the vegetables are way better in China. When I went to France, the food was the same as french food sold in street fairs in NYC or in restaurants but the flavors were much richer.However, crepes and escargots taste fabulous whether I ate them in France or in the US. Although I have never been to Italy, I did eat Italian food in Hong Kong, Japan, and New York City. Italian food in New York City is legit because many of the descendants of people living in New York City are from Italy. However, the pasta in Japan and Hong Kong is much lighter than its North American counterpart. I have eaten both Korean BBQ and what would be considered more authentic Korean cuisine with side dishes as well. Korean food is absolutely fantastic but I am not really a fan of corn on pizza. However, it does sound interesting.

  2. Hi! I live in Arizona, USA and this comment is more about the tomato issue. Technically a tomato is a fruit because it has seeds in it. BUT here in the USA it is a vegetable because in in 1893 (or around thereI believe) the fruit or veggie issue was actually taken to the Supreme Court ( I kid you not) and the Court ruled that the tomato was a vegetable. So depending on whether or not the USA was the only country to take this issue that high up (seriously this actually happened. Women didn’t have the right to vote but this was an issue) I believe in most other countries it is, in fact, a fruit.

    • My history teacher talked about this once and according to him, the case was filed under Tariff Act which requires a tax paid for imported for vegetables but not fruits. Botanically, it is a fruit but the case was about the trade and commerce definitions not the scientific definition. They decided on vegetable under the definition of the Tarrif Act for tax income because if it was classified as a fruit, then they get no tax money under the Act. All of this is according to what I remember from my history teacher rant one day when he heard some students discussing this issue.

  3. There’s real Chinese food in Daejeon. You guys should do more TL:DRs outside of Seoul. Come to Daejeon! I’ll show you the real Chinese food places! I live within 5 minutes of at least 5 of them! This particular place has chicken, beef, lamb, frog, seafood, tofu, and more on their menu. Message me and I’ll give you more details about how I know this stuff is legit. ^_^

  4. Interestingly, only in Italy does cheesecake come in a little bowl of puddling-like stuff. Everywhere else I’ve been to, it’s a solid cake. However, the Italian stuff tastes a whole lot better than even the most delicious solid cheesecakse (my opinion), if you can even imagine that.

  5. So this whole issue whether or not ja jang myeon is Chinese or not…I believe they are trying to make something called za jiang mian (sounds very similar) it tastes almost nothing like it does in China, which is awesome, the biggest different is how much and how think the sauce it. The dish in China has a much thinner sauce but almost a stronger flavor, I used to eat it a few times a week back in Sichuan.

  6. Yes! I had that same ‘but tomatoes are fruits!’ conversation in Japan with my Japanese friend saying they were Vegetables and asking Mr google in English and Japanese. What I realised was that the Japanese word for vegetable, Yasai, is translated as vegetable but actually it has a different definition of what a vegetable is altogether. When I realised that my mind was blown cause of how difficult it is to really translate something….lol

  7. Saturday Night Wrist and JayJBK should just write a book… -_- this is ridiculous. They both have decent points, but why do they have to try to outdo each other. Soon it’s not even going to be about “Koreanized Foreign Foods” anymore.

  8. Hi all:) LOVE the interesting and informative posts In Israel, the pizza is GREAT (if you like American style..but yes. there IS often corn..but not always:) And coming from California, where Sushi is very popular, I must say the Sushi here is very good and the food overall is AMAZING..but Mexican..NOT:( I MEAN NOT!!!!) I am spoiled being from So. Ca., but I must say the only way to do Mexican food here is HOMEade:) They DO have good “Mexicani” cheese and tortillas and Salsa though..so the rest is easy!! I can even find packets of American taco-seasoning!:):) HAPPY me:)

  9. Great post! I actually have a question: As a fan of Korean variety I am very happy to have KBS World post a lot of their shows on You Tube with english subs. Is this something that is growing on Korean TV in general as well? More English subtitles on shows/dramas available for everyone, I mean. More English-friendly content maybe? Are you able to watch Korean TV with english subtitles?

  10. My family has hosted a lot of exchange students, and every time we had a new one we would find someplace that served food from their home country to try. Our German student liked the German restaurant near us (and now that I have also been to Germany and tried real German food, I can attest that it’s legit. It helps that the owners are German); but our Korean student was not a huge fan of the Korean restaurant. Except he did like that it was playing Korean news, so he watched that the whole time we were there. Obviously our Chinese students were disappointed with American Chinese food, since it’s more like ‘Chinese inspired’ (if that) food.
    When I lived in Germany, I was not impressed with the few American food (hamburger) places I found. Also, coming from Arizona (where we have Mexican restaurants owned by Mexicans, and I have Mexican neighbors who love to share their food with us), I was not a fan of the Mexican food, since I’ve had the ‘real’ stuff. But it did fill the void in my soul and tided me over for the next 5 months I was there from my Mexican food cravings. Then when I got back to America I immediately demanded we go to a Mexican restaurant.

  11. I’m korean woman, lived in south korea and temporarily living in US now. I can cook korean cuisine and… the reason I’m saying this is, … I’m also very critical about korean contemporary food, which is probably not home food but restaurant food 외식. Whether it is korean food ore korean foreign food, there is certain trend that “sweeten”, “oily”, “spicy” recently. Transitional korean cuisine is very complex as much as other cuisine, and it wasn’t really well standardized or industrialized. Also, most of product level sauce, puree is relatively low quality, whether it is korean or western or other cuisine. Most of product quality foods are not really well industrialized, especially sauces. Still handmade product is preferred for key ingredients for flavor such as 국간장, 된장/고추장, 젓갈 etc. Puree is, in my opinion in experiment recently. Of course, Puree and sauce is the major component of those what you mentioned. Customized sauce of each family is one figure of Korean cuisine. There is no western type “recipe” or exact “measurement” for this. In your video, those all you mentioned are about sauces. I totally agree that those are so different from its original, but let me say it is recently lot developed then before… god.

    For the foreign food, I’d say it is in same situation but worse. Korean food is, .. men, Korea is not such a homogeneous ethnic group. Korean cuisine reflected so many influences from immigrants of neighbors, Chinese and Japanese by tasting original food. For most of other foods, for instance, French and Curry was introduced as 경양식 at the beginning, which was pretty much reformed in Japanese manner. I don’t think those Japanese versions were really wrong, but it was already deformed and transferred in its cheapest version, without introduction of its original. Afterward, American food was introduced as relatively real “western food, ” from US military in 1960s. I don’t think any military foods can reflects the original characteristics of cuisine though. These are recently recognized from 1980~90s, in my memory. But still in development. Korean italian is something similar to 짬뽕 or 짜장 though. Relatively better for digest then others, isn’t it? Probably it is the reason pasta restaurant is every where. I have no idea about solution of this situation. It could be better since it is major problem of people who’d like to take a food at outside of home. I never saw any of me or my friends just walk in to random restaurant around 먹자골목 or whatever well known food court.

    About things “chewy”, In general, I think Korean cuisine, if it can be called in one name, is relatively generous for this issue then Western/Japanese cuisine, I guess. In the case of 회, 회 and sashimi is simply different type of dish: 선어회/활어회. I once heard that Japanese also has 활어회type dish as Korean has but well known by its 선어회. Please distinguish the differences of dishes. In my case, my family cuisine is in between Seoul/North west Korean cuisine tradition. They have different term on preparation and marinading for beef and seafood. Before Korean war, those were already very different from very southern Korean cuisine. Chewiness(?), bitterness is sometimes required as a part of taste on each dishes for certain recipe, based on its originated region. I suppose to respect this since it could be related to style of regional cuisine. Probably this huge regional gap is one of the enemies of “standardizing Korean cuisine”. Especially about sauce, or understanding western term of sauce.

    Otherwise, again, Korean contemporary cuisine is sucks, especially if you would like to find something correct one in franchise. Hope this is developed until I come back in korea or before pass away. I’m currently struggle in US korean food now : sweet, salty, oily, lack of vegetables with MGS. I have no idea which one is following which.

    Thanks for reading this. Hopefully I didn’t do many mistake in my writing and my tone is not too strong. If it is…please blame my english skill.

  12. By the way I can’t edit my post that wrote all sauces as source… (sources of sauce are also wrong but it was just spelling mistake!! Is there any opportunity of editing here. god..

  13. I’m Korean woman. I can cook korean food by myself and I learned it from my grandma. Korean food is very complex but traditionally there is not much tradition on its standard on “sources”. In many case source was verbally or traditionally continued and every family has different version, which is positive thing, yet not industrialized well. I still prefer handmade 국간장 for my cooking instead of using product. Purees, for instance sources for making kimchi, 비빔국수, etc, also I assume that it still in process of being product. In the case of, foreign food started at Japanized wester food tradition(경양식) at its beginning and also continued from US military supply. I mean, I don’t think 경양식 itself is wrong, but, it is already not original form and transferred again in its cheaper version. Also, I don’t think military food is great representative of its original cuisine. This was pretty recently recognized in Korea around 1980~90s, based on my memory. In many cases, sources/Puree of foreign foods are relatively wrong and a lot deformed from its original. Maybe it is still in period of experiment. Of course, sources/puree is the key of the western cuisine. It is very hard to get correctly cooked foreign food, when it needs correct source. Most of the foods you mentioned are this issue I guess.

    Additionally, I totally agree with your comment about “sweeten” stuff, not only about foreign food but also many korean food franchise(외식업체). Recently Korean and Korean foreign foods are in trend of “Sweet” and “Oily”, period. It doesn’t mean that it is really something taste sweet or butter, Just simply putting sugar, MSG or something can produce sweet taste without consideration of original recipe of the food, not controlling oils as much as it supposes to be. Probably the corn is a result of this situation. Also, ruining korean traditional food for making fusion menu, is one of the messes at the scene of korean franchise or foreign food. This is such a shame for my korean ancestors who establishes korean cuisine. Even if me and my friends were beside of 먹자골목, or whatever well known food court, there was not many choice because of this. I don’t know what’s going on in this issue at higher level of franchise business company, but I’m sure that they’d not like to eat those at home. I’m so sad about this. Unfortunately, it continues to outside of country. I’m currently in US. I don’t know the reason but…korean food here is so so so sooooooo sweeten with MSG and oily. Probably this is from somebody who tasted korean food franchise in wrong restaurant and recognized as korean food. This is such a disaster.

  14. Simon and Martina, do you guys often go to beaches or public pools in Korea?
    I’m wondering what the normal population will generally wear as swimming apparel. I know it’s not really popular there for women to show cleavage or anything, so are bikinis popular, or do they generally have bathing suits that cover them up a little better?

    I’m an American and going to study abroad in Korea anddd I have plenty of cleavage anddd I need a new bathing suit cuz mine is falling apart andddd I’m concerned about what I should try to look for that I could wear in Korea.

  15. I loved the comments/discussion this week. So many interesting ideas. And even if I have to have coconut flour pizza crust, I’m grateful my pizza doesn’t have any corn.

  16. Traveled 30 minutes by Seoul bus to a new Mexican restaurant that had nachos. Imagine what kimchi might taste like if an American prepared it working only from pictures of kimchi, an internet translation of ingredients, plus creative substitutions. (So that’s chopped lettuce, ketchup and garlic right?) The nachos had cheese Yea!!!!! and shredded meat. But it was served on top of sugary corn chips with red pepper flakes, whipped cream instead of sour cream, and a side of sweet pickles) 0_o

  17. On the tomato issue: Tomatoes are a fruit, and they actually are supposed to be sweet, but we’ve breed them now to look pretty but not taste sweet. Whereas before, tomatoes looked ugly but tasted like a fruit. So yes they’re a fruit, but by this point they mine as well be classified as a veggie, since they taste like one.

  18. Here in the Texas, Mexican food is not the same as if you try Mexican food in Mexico. I’m Hispanic, so I’m used to eating a lot of tortillas, but when I go buy tortillas at the local market here in Texas, they’re just not the same :( When you warm them up, they just get hard, so you have to eat them right away and they taste differently, but thankfully I have my grandfather that says “this tortillas taste horrible, I’m gonna bring some from Mexico…” So, my loving grandpa brings us delicious tortillas from Mexico every week :) (I live in a border town in Texas, so in order to go to Mexico, you just cross the international bridge, which takes about 20mins to get there, depending in what area you live)

  19. Here in the Texas, Mexican food is not the same as if you try Mexican food in Mexico. I’m Hispanic, so I’m used to eating a lot of tortillas, but when I go buy tortillas at the local market here in Texas, they’re just not the same :( When you warm them up, they just get hard, so you have to eat them right away and they taste different, but thankfully I have my grandfather that says “this tortillas taste horrible, I’m gonna bring some from Mexico…” So, my loving grandpa brings us delicious tortillas from Mexico every week :) (I live in a border town in Texas, so in order to go to Mexico, you just cross the international bridge, which takes about 20mins to get there, depending in what area you live).
    Also, I’ve notice that you guys love Mexican food and the delicious guacamole!!! So I don’t know if you guys know but, in the city that both my grandparents were born (and live in) is the only place that they grow this avocados:
    their called: Sabinas’ Avocados, you can eat the shell and everything :D because this type of avocados have their shell really soft. You don’t even need a knife to cut it; it is that soft :D

  20. When I was in Spain I noticed that all of the breads were so sweet! Either Finland has very salty bread or Spain really sweet :D

  21. One thing I’ve noticed traveling Korea is the traditional food versus the Westernized foods. Westernized foods are extremely confusing because it is “one thing”, I’ll explain. This transcends to not only foods but many things in Korean culture.

    An actual traditional Korean meal consist of a main food accompanied by many many many side dishes. To only think of Korean “side dishes” as corn or mash potatoes is a step in the wrong direction. Look at the side dishes as spices, not food. For instance when you eat Korean BBQ (which funny enough is considered to be Western food by many Koreans) there is the main meat accompanied by many different side dishes like garlic, onions in red pepper paste, shredded lettuce with yogurt etc. (yup drooled on ma keyboard) As you eat the beef you also eat a selected side dish simultaneously. In effect you are having not only Korean BBQ but maybe 10 different variations in that one meal depending on which side dish you pop in your mouth at the same time. That is why Koreans tend to obsess over side dishes because it extenuates the “main food”

    Now as for how this transcends into other Korean products. Samsung. No other products have so many different options crammed into one device. Most individuals, especially in the US don’t know a fraction of the options that come with their Korean electronics. Cars are also another example of something Korean that is loaded with so many options (side dishes) because you only get one thing and in that one thing you have to carry many things to increase its worth.

    Onto Korean version foods. When your eating a Korean version food you will notice, as you already have that there are so many different spices crammed into that one food. The hot dog you had is a perfect example as was the sushi roll with every thing thinkable stacked on top of it.

    The huge difference between the Japanese and Koreans is simplicity. In your Japanese Ramen (which I also love) there are not that many different things in it but the things that are in it are done to the absolute highest level. This isn’t to say the quality of Korean products are lower, its more of “focus” point. Another for for instance is the Korean BBQ meal. Koreans have amazing beef which taste amazing because the quality of beef is really good and the side dishes make it amazing as well. If Japanese were to make the exact same meal the side dishes would be minimal without much flavor at all because their focus would be on the Beef or selected meat which they may have massaged, fed beer to, rocked to sleep at night etc etc. ex: Kobe beef.

    I personally love both. I prefer Korean food usually over everything else because where I’m from in the states our food is usually strongly flavoured (I dropped that “U” in flavoured just for you lovely Canadians) and quite spicy. Having said that, if I were to look for a “steak specific meal”, then without a doubt it would be a Japanese one any day even over the best steak houses in the United States.

    This is all just my personal opinion being from the U.S. and extensively traveling Japan and Korea respectively. You guys can sound off on what you think.

  22. The tomato thing is super weird. Now that you mention it, I always see people eating tomatoes like fruit on dramas! They cut them into slices and eat them with those little fruit forks that they have. Whenever I saw it in dramas before, I was like “Is that a tomato? Eh, okay”. But I’m glad you guys talked about it because now I’m just like o_O that they eat them like fruit vs. vegetables (like how we eat them in North America).

    Cultural differences are so interesting. I’m glad you two do videos like these!

  23. A REQUEST!! Hello from Denmark. :D I was thinking that it would be awesome if Simon and Martina could do a Korean Drama tldr? Lay down the golden/cheesy kdrama rules and maybe mention your favourite kdramas and the ones you didn’t like that much.

  24. I’m form Texas and I recently went to Manila and at the mall they had cheese rolls. There was two different kinds so i bought both, they turned out to be a plain roll (no butter :””'( !), one with powdered parmesan cheese on the top and the other was a plain roll with a stick of cream cheese in the middle. Its was very strange, but I loved experiencing it!

  25. I live in America, I watch your show often but this is the first time I have felt the need to send a comment. “The secret ingredient in Japanese Curry is crack cocaine….” I laughed so hard when you said this because there was a Chinese restaurant that I have basically lived in for the past 3 years. I would only order their beef curry dish, sometimes twice a week restraining myself from ordering almost every day. The restaurant closed and I thought all Chinese beef curry dishes would be the same….WRONG… I searched everywhere, I went to Indian restaurants and couldn’t find the curry. I decided to visit the local Asian market and after purchasing all of the curry they had – I found GOLD!!! -Japanese curry, who knew a Chinese restaurant would cook Japanese curry? I found a brand that had the flavor that was making me crazy…. I checked the ingredients and couldn’t find crack cocaine, so I don’t know if I will ever understand the secret but I can eat the curry out of the package, it is that good.

  26. English Pizza does have pizza on certain favours – Vegetarian and Tuna and sweet corn – also if you ask for one flavour e.g. pepperoni you can have vegetarian with it which come s with corn. Barring that corn isn’t really on pizza over here.
    Really surprised on Korean’s style foreign of food! In England you cant really get a wide range of Asian food if you don’t live a large city, its predominantly Chinese food – there has been a few sushi and Thai restaurants pop up but its not really wide variety.

  27. One of the fusion things i have noticed a lot in Korea that makes me sad is Kimchi nachos/fries…. when i want mexican food. Sorry. I dont want Kimchi with it. Vatos in Itaewon has it and Grill5Taco (yes Im droppin names son!)
    On The Border has decent mexican food tho. Statisfys me.
    I have gotten used to Korean style pizza so thats not a big deal to me.
    Having visited Italy i can say this: all spaghetti is different lol. Everyone everywhere makes it differently. A big thing i have found with Korean Italian is that they only have one kind of noodle. Booorrinnnggg lol.

    As for the tomato comment in the blog post. Tomatoes being a fruit or vegetable depends on who you talk to: scientifically they are a fruit (so is corn, peppers, etc. Seed bearing). But a chef will treat is as a vegetable (which is where the word vegetable comes into play. With cooking.)
    Like carrots. Technically a root but we call them a vegetable.

  28. I live in Brazil and in my city there is no ANY tipe of foreigner food. It’s not the countryside, but it’s a “poor capital”, and we just have chinese food and japanese food.
    The chinese food I don’t know if it’s done the right way cause I don’t have other examples, but the japanese food it’s certainly WRONG! They make strawberry, banana and kiwi sushi, they put lots of green onion and cream chesse in normal sushis that just ruin the flavor. And the worst thing: they put so many sugar in the rice that I can’t eat more than 3 sushis. My only luck it’s the Japanese Association, that have many descendents that make the things right.
    And Korean sushi it’s terrible, my japanese teacher (who is really japanese, but spends a lot of time in Korea) made for us one time and I hated.

  29. This was really interesting about the food in Korea! I must say though Simon I’ve lived in England for the past five years and I’ve NEVER come across corn in my pizza. I even asked some friends today to see if it was true but they all denied it. So I don’t know why Koreans put corn in their pizza…

  30. I’m Mexican! Mexican food is amazing. We have this plate called enchiladas and gosh it’s so wonderful. I would totally send you guys some pasta and spaghetti sauce so y’all can make your own pasta… Hah.
    I have a question! What about American food?? Is it legit??

  31. I’m just curious. Why is Hweh in the playlist? As Martina said in the video that Hweh isn’t Korean-style Sasimi or Korean-style sushi, it’s just Hweh.

  32. Botanically, tomatoes are a fruit. However, ‘vegetable’ is not a scientific classification, and is defined solely on how it is used. Tomatoes are both fruits, and vegetables to most cultures, but it appears that in Korea they are strictly a fruit (from what was said here).

    Interesting fact- Corn is a fruit, a vegetable, and a grain.

  33. I’m an American who has been living in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates for around 12 years. We get almost every type of cuisine here, so its easy to get tasty international food (American, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian, Turkish, Persian, Saudi, Australian, New Zealand, and of course Emirati, to just name a few), although you may have to go to Dubai if you want some things since it has a wider variety of restaurants, but what’s a nearly 2 hour drive. We did have a problem when we first moved to the country when it came to finding good Chinese food, however that has now changed over the years. We did have a bad experience with falafel which is a Middle Eastern vegetarian dish, which being in an Arab country you would think that its extremely hard to mess up falafel. Boy were we wrong, apparently the nationality of the cook plays a part. In most places that serve Middle Eastern food, the cook is an Arab or occasionally an Indian. This place was fully staffed by Filipinos, hence the weird tasting falafel sandwiches that we bought. I also once tried a ready made falafel mix that I bought at Lotte in the U.S., however its obvious that an Indian prepared it, since it was liberally spiced with Indian spices rather than those used by Arabs. We go to Benihana for sushi when visiting the U.S. and my brother got excited when he found one at the Sheraton in Abu Dhabi. Lets just say that Benihana in the U.S. is a million times better. However, We don’t seem to have this problem with other international restaurant chains that we have tried here.

  34. Woooot! Thanks for the shout-out! :D

  35. I actually wonder what’s “proper” (North) American food… In Europe, I think, we tend to think that Americans don’t cook and only eat take aways or in restaurants (fast foods or “normal” ones). I’ve heard about apple pies, Caesar salads, Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce and other weird flavors associated with meat like jello or whatever, and meatloaves but other than that, it’s hamburgers and “foreign” food (Italian, Chinese, Tex-Mex, Japanese…).

    I know that Quebec is famous (in France at least) for poutine, but what else is typically North American? If you go to an “American Dinner” in France, you’ll most likely be served (I quote from one claiming to be a real dinner in my town, those are written in English on the sign) “burger, tex-mex, salads, bagels, cheesecakes, cupcakes, milkshakes”.

    It’s like French people being known for forg legs and snails and paradoxically expensive refined “cuisine” (and other stuff labelled as French such as French toasts or French fries…); British people being known for scones and tea, baked beans, meat with mint, fish’n’chips and mushy peas; Japanese people for sushi (I hate those restaurants in France that claim to be Japanese and only serve sushi, gyoza and fried meat or salmon on a stick, because there are so many of them), ramen and tonkatsu (though their curry’s becoming rather popular in Europe I think), etc etc.

    So I’d like to know what North American food really is according to North American people.

    • I’m not sure you could really say that there is any “proper” American food. Because of our long history of immigration, the different types of food that were brought over were adopted and changed over time.

      For example, I’m part Italian (I believe a fourth generation?) and though the language wasn’t passed down the line nor the culture, what we definitely still have left is the food. On my Dad’s side they brought German food. Those dishes are mixed in with our everyday meals.

      What my family normally cooks and probably what most people do, is a slew of all kinds of things from different countries; though it’s probably more “inspired” than authentic. People are generally up for trying new things. I’m having a hard time calling anything really “American Food” because basically all been brought over at one time or another, even apple pie.

      Most fast food is horrible stuff, and everyone here knows it’s really bad for you. There’s no possible way you could not get the message with all the rallying for healthy eating. But the thing is that it’s quick and cheap. It’s easier to go out then spend time and money on cooking. There’s been allot of changes though with having fast food restaurants list how many calories are in their food, offering healthy choices, and that sort of thing.

  36. I live in Australia and I’m actually quite happy with the international foods that we have here. Where I live there are many immigrants, and many of them open up businesses and restaurants that sell amazing food. I can’t say this from experience, but I’m pretty sure that they do use authentic recipes, but at times I wonder whether the beauty of multicultural food is being marketed and cheapened by pre-made sauces and the like. Mind you, they do make life easier sometimes!

  37. I really like Chinese food here in Italy so when I was in Norway I went to a Chinese restaurant hoping to find something a bit more familiar (even because I don’t eat meat), but I was disappointed because it was completely different from the Chinese food I knew. The portions where so big I couldn’t finish my bowl of rice and in that rice there was everything! From different kinds of meat to different kinds of fish so I had to tell them to remove something. When I came back to Italy I asked my Chinese friend and she said that what we have here in Italy is how she cooks at home, so…???
    Have you ever had a similar experience?

  38. I agree about Asianized Italian. When I was in Taiwan it was the same story – minus the pickles (that’s weird). But the sauces were always very soupy and were usually even served in soup bowls. It tasted good, but it just wasn’t what I was used to. When I went to Korea, I spent a day in Hongdae and ended up eating at an Indian food place, only because an Indian man in the road gave me a coupon. I went and it was really good, and, in my experience, pretty authentic. Where I live in America there is a large Indian population so there are a lot of restaurants run by Indians that serve the delicious, incredibly spicy stuff I assume is the real thing. And this Indian place in Hongdae had it nailed. I don’t remember the name, but I remember the signs were yellow and it was on the third or fourth floor of the building…

  39. I’m British and I’ve never had a pizza with corn on it. The pizza I usually eat over here is just pepperoni or just cheese. Maybe there are pizza’s out there with corn on them in the UK but I’ve never had one :S

    Speaking of foreign food, where I live there are a LOT of Chinese restaurants in the town. Walking alone the road there are four different restaurants within walking distance of each other and a buffet place which is mainly for Chinese food. I’ve had food from those different restaurants and the rice always tastes different. I thought rice was meant to taste the same no matter where you bought it or ate it but from these different restaurants, the rice always tastes different, I don’t know if it’s to do with the ingredients they use or witchcraft but it stumps me every time!

  40. I don’t know about swedish cuisine in other countries (probably nonexistent) but I have heard that swedish pizzas are very strange (actually, they are). I once heard an american exchange student refer to them as pies, which I can understand since they are kind of thick, but they are also very meaty. At the pizzeria closest to me they have “quattro carne” which has beef, pork, chicken and… I think ham? Another thing that’s unusual is that bananas are also used as toppings. There’s also the Taco pizza, with ground meat, salsa-sauce, paprika, cornchips, corn…. The kebab pizza is also very big, the most popular pizza I think, with kebab meat, sometimes onions and sometimes mushroom, cheese and ham with lots of kebab-sauce. There are also kebabpizzas with french fries on them.
    Pic of a kebabpizza:

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