Restaurant: Kore Quan An Vietnamese (코래배트남음식)
Type: Authentic Vietnamese
Location: Shinae (시내) across the main road from McDonald's, opposite Kebab Sarayi
Price: Pho - 7,000 Banh Mi - 5,000
First of all, let me apologize for a couple of things. I know it has been a while since you have seen a "Tasty Tuesday" post. We here at Tasty Tuesdays deeply apologize for not providing you with our stellar restaurant reviews around Cheongju. With the holiday season, people travelling, and Joe becoming a dad, it has been a little hectic. My second apology is for the title of this article. I mean, I guess the rhyme scheme is nice? I was going to use "It's Going Down Pho Real" (by Pho Rida, naturally), but I respect all of you too much to do that to you. I will work on being more clever in the future.
Anyways, back to what you are here for: reading about awesome food! There are tons of "Vietnamese" places around Cheongju. All of them have almost the same menu: "Pho," which is more just rice noodles in some broth made with ramen soup powder, some sort of rice dish, and some spring rolls. I like that stuff, don't get me wrong. But after going to Kore Vietnamese downtown, it is clear that there is a huge difference between the Korean version of pho and the Vietnamese version. Kore is ran by a Vietnamese lady that is very friendly and willing to give you all sorts of advice on what to order. A lot of the ingredients come from Vietnam, and there is A LOT of fresh cilantro, meaning that it is already more authentic than you will get at most chain pho places around town.
The picture on your left is your traditional beef pho; rice noodles and pieces of beef served in beef broth with cilantro and onions. Right away, you can notice that the quality of the broth and noodles is far ans away better than other places. I can't really put my finger on exactly what is different, but I would have to say that the beef broth used at Kore is actually real. Other restaurants' pho feels like I could have just gotten some instant rice noodles at the store and cooked it at home.
The dish on the left is called "Bun BeoHuAy" (분버후에). Side note: The menu is mostly in Korean or Vietnamese, but pictures accompany every menu item, so no need to feel pressure. This is very similar to pho, but the broth is a little spicier and the noodles are thicker. Think more like spaghetti instead of thin rice noodles. There is also a bunch of meat and some veggies in this. Personally, I preferred the beef pho, but both are very good, and there are additional bean sprouts and fresh cilantro you can add, as well as sauces, to make it the way you like.
Look at all of these sauces! Most things are labeled, some aren't. I have no idea what a couple of them are, but be adventurous! Try some out! At the very least, I know that the tall, red bottle is chili sauce, and the brown sauce is pickled soy sauce. These are the typical sauces you will find at other Vietnamese chain spots. The chili sauce is a little bit spicy, and the soy sauce is pretty sweet.
This is Banh Mi, and oh baby, is it amazing. It is a Vietnamese-style sandwich made up of a bunch of veggies and ham, served up on a toasted baguette. And at only 5,000 won, you might as well order it every time you go to Kore. Everything is fresh, and even the quality of the bread impressed me. I have only ordered Banh Mi one other time in Korea. I was in a department store in Seoul, waiting for a bus to take me back to the 'Ju. I saw a place in the food court selling "Real Vietnamese-style Sandwiches" and thought I would try it out. Ya know, Seoul is a big place, I thought maybe they could have some quality Vietnamese food we can't get. Big mistake, friends. But this! This is real Banh Mi found right here in Cheongju! No sweet honey mustard sauce! No sweet pickles! (P.S. if you order this sandwich and then go to the Shinsegae Department Store and are tempted to order a "Vietnamese sandwich," DON'T! You will just be ordering broken dreams and disappointment.)
There are a bunch of other things on the menu for you to try out. I am no expert on traditional Vietnamese cuisine, so I didn't know what a lot of it was. It all looked good, though! This was some sort of salad with bean sprouts, cilantro, rice cake, and ham. It was not bad, but I still don't really know what it is. For those of you with a more refined palate with regards to Southeast Asian cuisine, feel free to comment below what you like and don't like. As a matter of fact, all comments are encouraged! Feedback is always appreciated, so drop me a line. Until next time, stay warm and eat up!