It is a cool, clear day. A few people are warming themselves in the sun on the wooden benches in Strathfield Square. Children chase seagulls while water tinkles down the tiered circular fountain. I look around. A sign advertises free dancing in the square. The shop signs across the road are in Korean and English.
Nervously, I enter the first supermarket I come across knowing nothing about Korean food or culture. Looking at the shelves, I think I recognise toothpaste and shampoo from the shape of the packaging, but I wouldn’t know what to do with most of the packaged foodstuffs. A woman and the cashier chat away in Korean.
Back on The Boulevard, restaurants advertise traditional Korean food, Korean BBQ, and Korean Street Food. In another supermarket (I’m feeling more confident now), I ask if I can take a photo. The woman is happy with that but says with a gorgeous smile and the glint of gold on a tooth “not of me, I’m too ugly”. She is far too modest.
Outside the Churchill Street entrance to Strathfield Plaza, an easily missed plaque and tree remember the seven people who were killed in a massacre at the plaza in 1991. I vaguely remember this. Inside the Plaza, I inspect the drinks on offer at Gong Cha, a Taiwanese chain but I’m not brave enough to sample one of the brightly coloured teas.
Korean food explained
Around the corner, I chat to the lovely man at Food World. He explains that the range of Korean delicacies on display is side dishes. The little pinkish ‘sausages’ are spicy fish roe. Pickled clams, octopus and seasoned peanut beans are in dishes alongside seasoned marinated crabs about the size of my palm. The stewed lotus root is flat roundish discs with holes arranged in a flower pattern. He suggests I order Bulgogi when I stop for lunch. It is apparently sweet and maybe more to my taste.