Category Archives: Korean food

Cooking Korean: a kimbap class


The school I teach English in has this cooking project called Be a Chef, in which kids get to prepare a recipe both easy and yummy. As stressing as it may be for me (what can I say, I get stressed out pretty easily, haha), they always have great fun and love the experience, so I end up having a lot of fun, too.

And why am I telling this in here? Well, the thing is, yesterday was cooking day over at Polilogos, the school I learn Korean in. Be a Chef Korean-style, yay! We were told a couple weeks ago about it and I have to admit I was anxious and scared at the same time. I mean, I do enjoy cooking, but I’m always a bit reticent when first doing/cooking something. Turns out the whole thing was super easy and totally pleasant!

Kimbap (김밥) was the chosen dish – an awesome idea since it’s quick to make and requires no high cooking skills. The school provided everything we needed and all vegetables, rice, eggs and seaweed were ready to be transformed into this lovely food.

I’ll be totally honest: we didn’t cook the rice nor the vegetables and most certainly didn’t make the omelette; when I say they were ready, I do mean it. 😉 The teachers taught us how to put everything on top of the seaweed and how to roll it and close it properly and then we were off to make our own. In the end, we got to take home two rolls each, yay!

In the end, I was overjoyed: I had tried my hand at Korean cooking and had succeeded, partially, at least! I put a tad too much rice and when it was time to roll it, the seaweed ripped a bit. But, anyway, yes, it was absolutely elementary and involved nothing else but making the roll, but it made want to try it again and, maybe with a slightly more challenging dish. I do have dreams of making my own kimchi, so who knows where this may lead me? For the time being, though, I guess I’ll stick to easier, quicker to prepare things. 😉


For the history freaks out there, a little bit on the origin of kimbap: this dish was created during the Japanese occupation of Korea, which is why it looks so much like sushi, but with different ingredients. A quick search of Wikipedia brings this out: “This process was initiated during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945), when Western food and drink, such as bread, confectionery, and beer, became popular in Korean cities, and a Western-style food processing industry in Korea began. Some Japanese food items were also adopted into Korean cuisine at that time, such as tosirak (the assorted lunch box) and sushi rolled in sheets of seaweed, which was popular in Korea under the name of kimbap.” (Levinson, David; Christensen, Karen. Encyclopedia of Modern Asia: China-India relations to Hyogo. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002.)


Portal da Coreia: getting your kimchi fix in São Paulo


A couple weeks ago I decided to finally take my mom to a Korean restaurant for lunch. She loves spicy food, so I knew she was going to like all those rich flavours and I was pretty much dying to eat some kimchi ’cause it’s been ages since I last had it. There are quite a few options to choose from, but I decided to try Portal da Coreia, situated in São Paulo’s Japanese neighbourhood. This restaurant is actually a bit known around here, since it’s been featured on quite a few newspaper/magazine/internet articles dealing with Korean or Asian food and it’s an easier place to reach from where we live, so that’s where we headed to.

The doors closed as soon as we left; we really were the last customers!

It was a Friday and the restaurant, fortunately, was almost empty. Apparently, most people had already eaten and we were the last ones to arrive. According to the lady cashier, that just doesn’t happen on Friday nights and Saturdays, so booking is highly recommended.

Looking from the street, the place is not impressive at all. When you go inside, things change a bit. It’s certainly not super sophisticated, but it looks nice and feels cosy. As I do tend to prefer very solid furniture, the place’s heavy tables and chairs pleased me to no end.

As it was my mom’s first time, I thought we should order some basic and well-known dishes: I ordered bulgogi and she chose daeji galbi. The portions were quite big and, even though they weren’t officially suggested for two, were more than enough for the two of us to share both, which was great. The sidedishes were pretty good and as we ran out of kimchi, one of the waiters even offered to bring more.

One really important thing was that they taught us how to use the grill. All tables had one, but I had never used it before, so I was a bit baffled. The waiter, then, was more than helpful and explained in detail what I was supposed to do. The lady to whom we paid was also super nice and made the whole experience even more agreeable.

It looked better in person, I swear!

From what I could see of the menu, they offer all known dishes (known to me, that is, haha), so I believe it’s a pretty good alternative to people who want to try Korean food for the first time. The above mentioned friendly staff is one other positive point (am I crazy for taking waiters’ dispositions into account when recommending a restaurant?).

Unimpressive-looking menu; thank God the food was delicious! 😉

Prices were quite ok, especially considering that the portions were so big (for two women, at least). Oh, and the end reserved a little surprise: the check was delivered in the case below, with a lovely little doll wearing a hanbok. A bit dirty, yes, but still quite cute!

So, to sum it all up: good food, good environment, good service. I’m definitely coming back for more!

Portal da Coreia
Rua da Glória, 729 – Liberdade
(11) 3271 0924

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