Without a doubt, the greatest part about visiting Vienna is the food. In fact, all I can really remember about the city are the meals I ate, including Wiener Schnitzel and tall glasses of radler (beer with lemonade) every evening. And, of course, for dessert, strudel or cake (and, occasionally, both at the same time). Lots and lots of strudel and cake. The above photo illustrates just a few of the many cake varieties you can enjoy while in Vienna.
Forget Ben’s Chili Bowl, Pink’s Hot Dogs is where it’s at. Founded in 1939, Pink’s has been serving hot dogs to hungry Angelenos since. The line is always long, which is fine, because that gives you plenty of time to peruse their extensive menu. This photo was taken during my first trip to Pink’s back in 2005. I opted for the “Ozzy Osbourne” dog (Spicy Polish dog, nacho cheese, American cheese, grilled onions, guacamole & chopped tomatoes) and onion rings, while my friend Ryan chose the Ozzy dog and “Guadalajara” dog (relish, onions, tomatoes, topped with sour cream). The onion rings are pretty damn good, too. Start looking for some Los Angeles flights so you can try this place for yourself.
This is pansanggi, a traditional Korean meal that consist of several small bowls filled with kimchi, fish, and other assorted foods. Pansanggi was traditionally eaten by the Korean royalty, but we had an opportunity to try it at the Tongil restaurant in Kaesong, North Korea. I have previously posted about North Korean food here.
Behold the trdelník, the greatest pastry ever produced:
When we visited Prague in December 2009, I ate trdelník several times a day. Basically, you take dough, wrap it around a metal spit, and place it in a wood-fired oven. When it is finished baking you then roll it in sugar and walnuts and devour it while it is still warm. Perfect treat for a cold winter day, no?
I originally thought trdelník was a Czech creation, but it actually hails from Skalica, Slovakia. Nevertheless, if you are visiting Prague during the winter you can find trdelník stands throughout the city, including the Old Town Square Christmas Market and the Prague Castle.
I don’t think there is enough money in the world to get me to eat a scorpion. OK, maybe I would do it for $500. Scorpions on a stick were one of the many interesting snacks you could purchase at the Wangfujing Snack Street. I went the safe route and opted for what I call a Chinese burrito: noodles wrapped in a giant moo shu wrapper and then grilled, followed by a dessert of green tea ice cream.
Following our visit to the DMZ, we headed to Kaesong, the former capital of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392). Kaesong is currently North Korea’s 9th most populous city and serves as the DPRK’s center of light industry. Although we were originally scheduled to stay overnight in Kaesong, this didn’t happen due to a decision by some random North Korean bureaucrat (big surprise there). So instead of spending the night in Kaesong, we just had lunch at a restaurant there and then made a quick stop at the Koryo Museum.
A traditional lunch at Tongil restaurant. I had no idea what most of these dishes were.
Entrance to the Tongil restaurant.
On a hill overlooking Kaesong
The Koryo Museum. Originally erected in 992, this was an was the central institute of education during the Koryo dynasty, training children of the nobility to serve as officials in the Koryo government. It now houses relics from the Koryo dynasty. The present buildings date to 1602.
When I mentioned that a cameraman followed us around during our tour, filming our entire trip, I wasn’t exaggerating. He even filmed us dining at two restaurants in Pyongyang, which was kind of…weird. I’m guessing that when he went back to the studio at night to edit the footage he had shot, he and the other camera guys would get together and watch the footage. “Look at these idiot U.S. Imperialists! They can’t even pick up noodles with chopsticks!”
This is the hot pot restaurant:
And this is the Pyongyang No. 1 Duck Barbecue Restaurant:
On our last night in Pyongyang we stopped at the Pyolmuri Café, which, our guide assured us, served the best apple cobbler in Pyongyang. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure it’s the only place in Pyongyang that serves apple cobbler. Nevertheless, I was very excited at the prospect of eating dessert, as I possess an incredible sweet tooth and had exhausted my supply of Snickers bars that I brought with me.
Despite having stuffed ourselves with delicious duck at the aptly named “Pyongyang No. 1 Duck Barbecue Restaurant” only hours before, we requested several menus from the waitresses. We were curious to see what other foods this café offered. Opened in 2005, Pyolmuri was the first foreign-owned café in Pyongyang. It was started by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency and financed by Swiss business interests. As we could discern from the menus, they serve a variety of cuisines, ranging from Italian to American to “what the hell is this?”.
Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to eat a North Korean hamburger or pizza, a group of us ordered several items off the menu.
First up, the drinks:
This drink was on the cocktails menu and was named “Blue in Rusha”, even though the drink was actually a lime green color. I had no idea what it had to do with “Rusha” (I’m guessing Russia), but it wasn’t very good.
I ordered a chocolate milkshake:
It was the strangest milkshake I have ever had. It tasted like lukewarm milk with a scoop of chocolate flavored whey protein. Yech. Along with the glass of milk-like fluid, the waitresses gave me two small saucers, one filled with sugar, and the other filled with an unknown substance, which I proceeded to dump into the glass. Hilariously, the rim of the milkshake glass was covered in sugar, so it looked like some bizarre margarita.
These are the calzone we ordered:
They were basically gigantic egg rolls dressed in ketchup and bore no resemblance to an actual Italian calzone.
Ah, the burger:
The burger was actually quite decent, for a burger in Pyongyang. The only drawback was the horrible scent; it smelled like a dirty gym sock that had been left in a locker for four years.
Meh. Soggy and undercooked. An Italian would weep if presented with such a pizza.
And the dessert:
A member of our group had his birthday during our tour, so we celebrated by (of course) singing him happy birthday and eating cake.
And finally, the pièce de résistance:
The best apple cobbler I’ve ever had? No. The best apple cobbler I’ve ever had in Pyongyang? Certainly.