www.groovekorea.com / June 2014 46 ddeoKBoKKi: sTicKy rice caKes ‘n sTuff At the main branch of Yeopki Ddeokbokki in Dongdae- mun, cartons of Coolpis (a yogurty, fire-quenching mouth cooler) sat ominously on every table. We opted for “hard- core rice cake” Set A, with extra goodies like egg and dumplings, and added cheese and a side of boneless chicken feet, just to be professional about it. Ian: Another level of intensity from what you usually ex- pect for this: really, really spicy, just on the cusp of intolera- ble. Koreans say to eat the egg first with spicy food, since it helps the gut handle it, but I had popped two heartburn pills before this adventure and quietly congratulated myself on my forethought. The chicken feet were surprisingly mild — more of a smoky BBQ. The odeng pieces, though? They soaked up a ton of sauce and gave the biggest hit out of Mugyo-dong naKJi: ocTopus TenTacles sMoThered in fire There are hundreds of restaurants named Mugyo-dong Nakji nationwide, so we headed to the one behind City Hall. It’s a ren- ovated hanok called Youngest Sister Nakji, and on this particular evening every seat was occupied by flush-faced office workers. Celebrity signatures adorned the walls and gruff ajummas quickly appeared with nakji bokkeum (mixed octopus) and clam soup. Ian: My heartburn sucks lately (gee, I wonder why), so I chugged some chocolate milk beforehand to prepare for this place; it was old-school, authentic Koreana. The octopus was tasty and paired well with the relative simplicity of the clam soup. At first it was a tangy spice — I didn’t get why the guys next to us were beet- red — but I soon learned that it was a creeper, and that the oil for the side of bibimbap was a catalyst, ratcheting it up. Both of us broke into a sweat at exactly the same time. Damn spicy, but not wholly miserable. Increased booze intake resulted in drunken sweaty conversation with our neighbors. Solidarity! Matt: I was expecting something a lot spicier, but I left the octo- pus house relatively undamaged. The sauce was nice and garlicky, and I enjoyed the vibe of the place: stressed-out salarymen and -women kicking back with therapeutically spicy food and plenty of alcohol. The octopus had a lingering sting to it and I found myself digging into the huge heap of bean sprouts when the sauce’s boomerang effect started to hit. I’d recommend this dish to any- one who wants to test the waters. FOOD & DRINK Edited by Shelley DeWees (shelley@groovekorea.com) the whole crock-pot of foolishness. We definitely went to Little Russia for beer afterwards. Matt: I was skeptical that a street snack could be turned into a meal, but we ordered a little extra and ended up satisfied. It got hotter and hotter as the broth boiled down and the spiciness built up — slowly, like a symphony. A flaming sym- phony. When all was said and done, though, it was just children’s food, give or take a few mouth ulcers. And the chicken feet had no effect whatsoever. Yet for my scoffing attitude, I was struck down the next day with several bowel attacks that left me pale and fragile. Lesson learned. it got hot t er and hot t er as t he brot h boiled down and t he sPiciness buil t uP — sl owl y , like a sy mPho ny . a flaming sy mPho ny .