OK, maybe it's just me, but I love Korean food. I hadn't really had it before I went to Seoul, but I got hooked and now seek it out in the U.S. Most Korean foods are red pepper-spicy and include a healthy dose of garlic, great news if you like those things (like me) but for most kids, unappealing. The king of all spicy foods is kimchi, fermented cabbage with gallons of red pepper and other spices. You will find, however, that kimchi comes in about 500 different types and not all are universally spciy.
The way most foods are prepared precludes asking for the spicy stuff “on the side”. Instead, here are a couple of foods which most Korean restaurants serve that might better appeal to kids:
- Bulgolgi is sliced beef or pork (your choice, they are not commonly mixed) cooked on a hot plate at your table. Usually the garlic is served in a dish and you can add it or not to the cooking mixture, along with green onions. The hot sauce is dumped on later, so you can control the amount.
- Mandoo are dumplings filled with a meat mixture, mostly beef and/or pork, then steamed and/or deep fried. The hot sauce usually comes on the side for dipping.
- Bi Bim Bap is a bowl of rice topped with various goodies, usually egg, beef and lots of vegetables. The hot sauce is on the bottom, and you are supposed to stir the whole thing up with a spoon. One Korean I was with told me in his best English, “You mix it up until it become chaos.” I was sold right there! Still, if you don't stir it, you and your child can navigate around the hot sauce and eat the goodies on top that appeal while circling around the ones that do not.
- Ramyon is thin noodles in soup. It is always salty and only occasionally spicy. Many places that serve ramyon serve multiple varieties, so try and specify a non-spicy one if you can.