The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Too Much Korean Pancake-ness + the Popsicle Reveals Itself

i heart you, banchan
I heart you, banchan

From the first time I was presented with a table-ful of banchan, those tasty little dishes of Korean goodies, mostly spicy and vegetarian, I was mystified that I could get a whole meal before actually getting my...meal. Of course, banchan aren't meant to act as a meal—they're just side dishes—but they're like, really freakin' tasty side dishes, and they're like, FREEEEE. I like every dish, from the funky gelatinous seafood goo to the tiny dried fishes with their gaping eye sockets to the spicy chunks of daikon to the boiled mung bean sprouts to the chopped snow peas to the EVERYTHING.

Han Bat
Han Bat

Last Tuesday I went to Han Bat with John for dinner. I had been to Han Bat once before and it made my "visit again" list for a few reasons: 1) BANCHAN, 2) big portions and 3) opposite of pricey. It also seems to be frequently mainly by Koreans, which is a good sign, yes? But I did have another reason.


I craved pajun, a chewy, thinly crispy crusted, seafood chunk and green onion-filled pancake sliced into little diamond-shaped pieces for your convenience. During my first visit my table of 8 (or was it more?) shared one of these. I figured it could also act as an entree.


And yes, it can act as an entree, but I discovered why people probably choose to share it with others as an appetizer (that's just my assumption from observing other tables); because trying to eat a pajun that is the size of a hubcap results in tastebud fatigue. At first you're all like, "Oh, this is really good, I could totally eat the whole thing," and then later you realize your stomach is leaden with rice and flour and seafood bits and the texture has toughened up due to the dissipating heat and you can't eat another bite because the pajun has expanded to fill your digestive tubes. Or maybe not; I don't know the scientific part of it. Basically, you realized halfway through that it's a helluva lot of seafood pancake and you're not gonna finish it. I also realized that I was quite adverse to squid, even just tiny purply-tinged nubbin' bits of it. I would coax these bits out of the pancake with my chopsticks whenever possible.

pile o squidies

John actually loves squid, so he ordered a big honkin' plate of it coated in some spicy sauce. ...Which came with noodles and rice. I tried a piece of the squid, chewed for a few moments and realized squid didn't have much flavor. It was all about the odd texture, some weird imbalance between softness and firmness, not that chewy, not not chewy, not jello-esque, not whatever the opposite of jello is, not...what the hell is this stuff? It's like jello of the sea at the 85% stage of turning into a real boy. I don't know.

I have nothing against Han Bat's squid; I just have a feeling that I only enjoy squid in deep-fried form. The pajun was great too, or would've been better if I hadn't tried to force every last bit into my belly (which I failed at).

banana cake
banana cake

We went to Koryodang for dessert, where I picked a fruit off the banana cake tree. Which doesn't exist, but it'd be kinda cool if it did (a modern miracle of botany!). I think the Twinkie-like aspect of it gave me the impression that it would have an inner cavity of delicious cream, but the inner cavity was just made of cake. Ah. Well. It was still a tasty light, banana-flavored cake, even without the cream that I had imagined and so longed for with every beat of my heart, eeeevery beeeeeeaat.

the next day...

Big Booty Bread Co interior

The next day I went to Big Booty Bread Co, which I wrote about on Gothamist. I was planning to write a better review on this blog, but the desire ebbed away as the commenters informed me that any place depicting a Chelsea queen (a term I hadn't even heard of until after I made the post) is intolerable and makes crappy baked goods. Wow, I can learn so much from anonymous commenters! Not. And I won't go into the underlying messages of...stuff...ugh, nevermind.

triple chocolate chip cookie
triple chocolate chip cookie

I stand by whatever I said, that the bakery makes tasty things and the chocolate chip cookies also fall within that category. To whoever wanted to know what size the chocolate chip cookies are, I'd say depending on where you measure the diameter it could range from oh, 11 to 12 centimeters, give or take a millimeter. And if you want to know the diameter, why not the height? Perhaps a centimeter there? Dear god, I don't carry around a ruler and calipers with me as common food review tools and I'm not hardcore enough to make note of how big something is before I eat it. IT IS NORMAL COOKIE SIZED.

cheese rock innards
cheese rock

My Gothamist review didn't mention the cheese rocks. So here is a cheese rock. It's a little cheese-flavored roll that is soft, hole-filled, somewhat chewy, not dense but not very light either. It's good! I don't know what it's made of, but it didn't taste like any other bread I've had. The crust shielded the innards, but wasn't really hard or crunchy in any way. It was just...another texture. Hm.

I like reading articles on Gothamist, but spending time taking photos and writing about food, a process that takes away from the effort I put into this blog and usually results in staying up late on Thursday night to make sure the post is ready for Friday morning, for people who don't like where I eat or how I write, is heartbreaking. I know those type of people are few, yet I somehow attracted a mob of them in my last post. It's not my obligation to give those readers anything; I'd rather write for you guys.

Anyhoo. Guess what I found at Han Ah Reum after leaving Big Booty Bread Co?

watermelon popsicle

Could it beeee?


Sweet ferocious fire-breathing possum, it's THE POPSICLE! Yes, that one! Kinda. Mind doesn't look as pretty, but it's close. There was only one lone watermelon popsicle in the freezer case. And it was miiiine. For $2.

close up
close up

I know the tastiness of it had partially to do with having seen the pretty photo on flickr, which gave it an air of magical popsicle mysticism, but it was tasty on its own right! Yes. Like watermelon. Watermelon with hot pink flesh that melts into a puddle of goo and is studded with chocolate candy "seeds." I polished it off on the walk back to Serious Eats because it would've completely melted otherwise. I plan to go back to Han Ah Reum for more Asian popsicle happiness.


Han Bat
53 W 35th St

31W 32nd St

Big Booty Bread Co
261 W 23rd St

Han Ah Reum
25 W 32nd St


Kathy / June 24, 2007 6:17 PM

Hehe, Robyn, that urban dictionary is hilarious!...or useful I guess...
Banchan is my favorite part of every korean meal! I usually end up enjoying that even more than the entree I've ordered. I think banana cakes are requsite at every korean bakery. I've never seen them at Chinese or Japanese bakeries, but I swear to god, they're at every single Korean bakery I've been to. Don't know why though, banana cake = korean? :)

Su-Lin / June 24, 2007 6:48 PM

Restaurants should make smaller pajun - for singles or couples. Then it could be a lovely crispy side to something else? I dunno. Could you please elaborate more on the "funky gelatinous seafood goo"? I love banchan but have not come across this delicacy.

Marsha / June 24, 2007 7:11 PM

I wish you would come to San Francisco, because I can't get to your side of the country to sample all these goodies. I do want a watermelon popsicle. Very much. I'll see what I can do to find a local pajun - that's my kind of food.

We (I am sure I speak for many) appreciate your loyalty to this forum; I like your Gothamist posts too. Foop on anyone who doesn't appreciate them.

Sassy / June 24, 2007 7:27 PM

I love the way you write. I'm not really a foodie and I don't frequent food blogs, but I read you religiously both here and on Gothamist because I love how you express yourself. Don't let the bastiges get you down. :)

astrid / June 25, 2007 12:04 AM

Robyn, don't let those stupid anonymous commenters stop you from doing what you love. You're great at what you do!

elizabeth / June 25, 2007 12:24 AM

Ohhh. Now I almost want to try Korean food to see if they'll give me banchan. But I have this nasty twigging feeling that for cost purposes, affordable Korean food WITH banchan is hard to find.

I want a watermelon ice-cream too! And the smiling hippo on the wrapper (with its arms outstretched for warm embrace, etc) is just hilarious XD Do they have other interesting things, like a banana-shaped banana ice-cream, or a red bean-shaped (NOT "-sized") red-bean ice-cream, I wonder...*___*

What's been said above about the mean (and utterly irrelevant and hopelessly unkind and um not understanding-of-humour-or-ads) comments, I second and third and so on. *hugsies* -->or perhaps offering another popsicle (virtual) would be more in the mood. haha.

And I said I wouldn't go out today; I would stay home and watch Gilmore Girls. And then that darn picture of the chocolate (triple chocolate?) cookie popped up and NOW I want to go and try one. Ahahahaha. reading your blog drives me to eat. always a good thing. *_* If I ever get to NY, I'll put Big Booty Bread on the list. shall trust your tastes! (ditto the other eateries you've mentioned, o fellow not-enjoy-alcohol-at-all ...person. :))

Will Helm / June 25, 2007 12:41 AM

Great. Now I have to get off my duff and track down a convenient Korean restaurant in Central NJ.

Although at least I have H-Mart (Han Ah Reum) to tide me over. Yummiest storebought kim chee ever. I have yet to visit their Edison location, but I've been to two others in the area (one in PA and a GIANT one in Marlton, NJ). Awesomeness. Wicked awesomeness.

Plus, I once bought a durian there. With an emphasis on once.

quentina / June 25, 2007 2:20 AM

That popsicle looks awesome. Luckily, I work next to an H-Mart. I'm so going in tomorrow to look for them!

Don't let the nasty people get you down. You have a fantastic talent for food writing and photography. I'm always starving or at the very least, snacky after reading your posts and seeing your Flickr pics!

Brenda / June 25, 2007 2:24 AM


Hippo saiz I can has it?

I made the mistake of reading the comments at your Gothamist post. Yeouch. Who knew baked goods and homophobia were such intimate yet uneasy bedfellows in the minds of the anonymous?

I think gay buns are the happiest buns in the world!

Julia / June 25, 2007 3:27 AM

Just had to say love,LOVE your witty taste.
Let the haters eat're fabulous.

maria~ / June 25, 2007 7:12 AM

Yo Rob:

Awesome pics and I will definitely try out the Big Booty Bakery cheez rock when I'm in NY ( which is gonna be pretty soon). It sounds so Asian because when I was growing up in Indonesia, the bakeries always made soft pillowy breads that either (1) contain cheese or (2) is sprinkled with cheese. And these cheese breads would be quite sweet! So is the cheese rock that you tried sweet at all?

Cathy / June 25, 2007 7:54 AM

You're awesome Robyn! If they could do it better they would. But they're not, so there's your answer. (answer: they suck, you don't).

Now, If you'll excuse me I must go find a Korean restaraunt.

wonders / June 25, 2007 10:43 AM

Those people are Gothamist have nothing better but to write nasty comments. I pity them fools!! They need a life.
On a brighter note, I love korean sea food pancakes!! I love how their chewy and savory and all that yummy goodness but like you said, I can only eat two peices. Mmm yummy pancake...

Tina / June 25, 2007 11:55 AM had the cheese rock! I want one! :( Eh, someday soon perhaps. Anyhow, that watermelon popsicle looks enticing and I'm not into popsicles that much since I love creamy, dense gelato or ice cream. Mmm...I want ice cream now.

Actually, the thought of having ice cream with macarons sound appealing right now. hehe...

Jane P. / June 25, 2007 2:44 PM

I just posted a comment on Gothamist. It seems like the people who are being annoying are gay guys from the neighborhood who take offense from the bakery (not from you). Why they do is a mystery to me, as I don't find the logo homophobic at all (and commented as such). I mean, if they find the bakery not up to par, that's their issue, but it sounds like they're not willing to try it because - gasp! - there's a crazy "gay" guy sticking his bum out on the window.

You should have mentioned that cheese rock. THat's the only thing I've had from them, and I would return to eat again. From Chowhound, it's apparently made also from yucca flour?

Manda / June 25, 2007 3:09 PM

Piffle on the foolios...keep on keepin' on! Don't let dingnuts get you down. I was wondering what the logo was gonna be for that awesomely named bakery. =D I guess I was imagining bun-shaped buns but it works!

I *heart* banchan too! All those tasty morsels of deliciousness!

If you find yourself in SF, try the cheese wheel at Acme Bread in the Ferry Building. It's kinda greasy (yeah, cheesey) but it's like a super chewy but kinda tough sourdough bread. Tough isn't the right word but it gives your jaw muskulls a good workout.

susannah / June 25, 2007 3:16 PM


About Gothamist:
People like to complain. Especially when someone is doing a good job. So screw that! Theres plenty of love at this blog for you.

Eric / June 25, 2007 9:31 PM

Yeah some of those NYC blogs get some asshole-y commenters. I read Brooklynvegan for music and half of the comments are just flat out insults to bands, to each other...etc. People are just so cynical these days.

Anyways, I'm Chinese but LOVE Korean food and love those appetizers! My faves include raw squid kimchee, steamed egg, grilled fish, and those white jelly things.

And now that you've had scallion pancakes, you should take the next step and have kimchee pancakes!

Gloria / June 25, 2007 11:04 PM

Based on your criteria for your "visit again" list, it seems like most of the korean restaurants I know fit the profile. I love being korean. :)

Hm, personally, I like to eat korean pancakes as just a snack best. That's the thing about korean food. There's no appetizer or dessert. You're just served a whoooole lot of food all at once, and it's pretty much a pick and choose, mini-buffet style of delicious, delicious goodness...Did I mention that it rocks to be korean?

I don't know about the first commenter, but "I" have never in my, albeit short and inexperienced, life seen or heard of a banana cake. Must try. Yes. *puts on list*

Sorry you have to deal with immature, narrow-minded people on your articles. I don't get it. The only thing that comes to mind when I look at the bakery is--"I wish 'I' had a bigger booty...and some bread too. Mmmm, bread...":P

When you eat and write about food, you make it a fun and enjoyable experience for all of your readers, and that's the way it should be. Not only are your pictures absolutely delectable and just plain beautiful, your writing totally steals the show. You make reading, dare I say it, fun. Your writing ability baffles me. Hope you feel better. ^_^

roboppy / June 25, 2007 11:38 PM

Thanks for all your comments!...and now I will try to reply to them!...oh my.

Kathy: I think it's my fave part too. Is that weird? It's like a LITTLE BUFFET!

And yes, I noticed banana cake only at Korean places! Weiirrdd.

Su-Lin: A smaller pajun would be nice. Like...half the size of whatever I got!

I don't really know what the seafood goo was, unfortunately. :| I was hoping the wikipedia entry would say since it's in the photo (left-most, second row), yet...I don't think it was described. It's jello that tastes seafoody! Eeuh!

Marsha: I'd love to! Someday! I CAN EAT CALIFORNIA, BWAHAHRHARHRR! (I think I've only been to SF once when I was...8? I dunno. Little.)


Sassy: Aw, thanks! It's very easy for me to get pulled down, but people like you bring me back up. It works.

astrid: I will continue doing this stuff....for youuuu.

Steamy Kitchen: Well, this blog entry only covers a few meals over a few days. Assuming I eat twice a day (I do!), you don't really know what I eat...the other times. :) Lately I've been eating fruit and cookies for lunch. Balanced? Not really. But it's satisfying, not heavy, and ...uh, gives me a good dose of sugar for the day. And I bring it from home so I don't have to spend any moolah, WOOO.

Elizabeth: I feel like...most KOrean restaurants shoudl have banchan. I remmeber another one I went to in k-town had em, but not as many as at Han Bat perhaps.

Banana shaped banana ice cream! Does anyone do that? That's cute.

Thanks for the hug! And popsicle. TWO VERY GOOD THINGS!!!

Oh god, Gilmore Girls is a weakness for me. Or used to's not as funny anymore! Remember the good old days at Chilton? (sniffle) Oh well, it's still amusing.

Will: Ah, I live around a few H Marts in NJ too. I've been to three of em. They are SO FUN, and full of...fruuuit. I skip the durian though. :)

quentina: I hope you find one! Or something else that is tasty.

Thanks for the encouraging words. I don't want to make you feel starving though. Unless you're trying to encourage weight gain, in which case...okee!

Brenda: HAHA...ahh I love lol captions.

I didn't know baked goods + homophobia made for a hot combination either. Le sigh.

Gay buns are happies!

Julia: Thank you! Mm, sawdust! Non-tasty!

Maria: Ohhh no, they weren't sweet. That sounds yummy though. Like....cheeeesecake esque...somewhat.

Cathy: THEY SUCK! Fun conclusion! Bwahahha!

Nat: Me too. I need to branch out in the world of Korean food though, I keep eating the same stuff over and over again.

wonders: It is kind of sad...why spend the energy writing really poopy comments? Is there nothing better to do? Ugh.

Two pieces! I felt like I had eaten 100.

Tina: I'm not into popsicles much either, but CUTE POPSICLES are another matter! CUTE WINS ALL. I would love a macaron ice cream sandwich. Yeesss. .__.

Carol: I want those memories! I don't have many popsicle-based memories. Sniff.

Jane: I didn't think it was that homophobic either. I was confused because I feel like anyone who was "afraid" of it was kind of homophobic, except gay people didn't like it either, and BLAAH WHATEVER. Maybe it's one of those things like...euh, when Asian people are offended by depictions of themselves that non-Asians wouldn't immediately see (hell, I don't get it half the time either). Sigh.

Yucca flour? That could explain the interesting texture. I had nooo idea.

Manda: Piffle poff! I like all these semi-swear words I'm hearing. PIFFLEEE to the...schnizzle.

Cheese wheel? That sounds kinda scary, but also delicious. I'm all good with the jaw workout, as long as I don't get jaw arthritis...

Susannah: Your love obliterates all else! All the other pain in this world! ALLLLLL WASHING AWAAAYYY.

Eric: Duude I totally agree about BV. The hatred on the site is so silly since BV himself seems really nice and writes great stuff (as in, he can be critical without being an asshole), but then...WHO ARE ALL THESE POOPHEAD COMMENTERS? There seems to be 1 for ever 10 annoying people. This is when I could say "damn hipsters"...okay I just said it. Okay, more like "damn curmudgeon hipsters". The other ones are okay.

Gloria: Damn, am I the wrong Asian? Korean foor is awesome! And...well, CHinese food is awesome too, but for some reason it's losing its appeal. I could say because i'm used to eating it, but...I could be Korean and used to Kokrean food and I think I may like it more than Chinese food. Blah. Maybe it's easier to find "authentic" Korean food than Chinese food...since most Korean restaurants cater to Koreans, euh?

I LOVE DESSERT! I think that's one thing that makes me think "wah" about Korean food. Although I do like the complimentary orange at the end of the meal.

Maybe it's a phenomemon with Korean bakeries in NJ and NY, but banana cake is common! I don't know why! IT'S CRAZY.

I think you're one of the few people who wishes for a bigger booty. ;) I can't imagine being offended by the name though. It's so harmless, jesus christ.

Thanks for the comments; I aim to make this enjoyable! Because then it would suck. Yes. I've read non-enjoyable food blogs before and it's like...damn man, you're ruining the eating experience for me! [tear] My writing ability is only baffling though if you know that it hasn't changed much in the past 8 years. I found stuff I wrote in like...9th grade that is about the same level of weirdness as it is now. My grammar may have improved a bit...

janet / June 26, 2007 12:04 AM

bloggy hugs for robyn! yo seriously, gothamist attracts some of the more mean-spirited and ridiculously vile commenters i've read. so pay them no mind, though easier said than done.

commenter Will Helm, there are many korean restaurants in central jersey. because of all the ... korean people. try kimchi hana in s. plainfield.

i need to find me some of that banana cake. looks yum!

Paris Goat cheeese / June 26, 2007 4:33 AM

Robyn, I think I've got some calypers for you here.. Or you could always carry a portable scale?
Now I'm dying to have a Cheese Rocks!
What a bunch of idiots at Gotham..
Why give them your excellent gems of witty wisdom?

Yuizaki / June 26, 2007 10:03 AM

Everyone here has much love for you and the great stuff you post. I keep coming back because I'll know I'll find some great new place that I'll want to visit.

Keep up the great work. Don't listen to those negative people!

By the way, there are way too many good Korean eateries in Ktown! But, luckily it's all mostly affordable. If only I worked closer so that I totally eat lunch there. :)

Michelle / June 26, 2007 8:13 PM

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this (currently have blogging ADHD), but pajun means scallion mix or pancake. Haemool (seafood) pajun is what you lurve. Kimchee pajun is also awesome. I think anything in pancake is pretty awesome come to think of it.

Michelle / June 26, 2007 8:25 PM

One more thing: gelatinous seafood goo. Was it the whitish jello stuff? With scallions, soy sauce and other spices on top? If so, that is acorn jelly. Literally, acorn jello made of powdered acorns and other stuff. I am not sure why it tasted fishy. It doesn't have much taste. It's more of a texture thing, a vehicle for soy sauce really.

roboppy / June 27, 2007 12:01 AM

Janet: Yaay! I HAS HUGS! Janet hugs!

And you may have banana cake soon!

Carol: As though cameras weren't annoying enough, next I WILL CARRY AROUND A LITTLE SCALE, YES! ;)

Yuizaki: Thanks! I will forget the negative people in a while. YAYA (bashes head)...that should do it..

I like affordable. ANd I work so close to K-Town! I should eat there more.

Michelle: LUUURVE!!! :) Any pancake is good with me! Maybe I'd like the kimchee one more. NO SQUIDDIES!

As for the gooo, it's the left-most thing in the first photo. I don't think it had soy sauce ( soy sauce taste), but it had...stuff on it of some sort and for some reason tasted fishy! Huh. But it's acorn jelly? Double huh! Huh huh. Thanks for the info!

Michelle / June 27, 2007 4:51 PM

YEP - that white gellatinous stuff in the top photo, left side, is acorn jelly (really jello). They might have used fish stock base for flavoring. Or it's the seaweed that made it fishy. Not sure...

Sarah / June 28, 2007 1:06 AM

Hey Robyn, I love your posts they make me want to move to the east coast, but I'm down here in the south (Texas to be exact).
That white goo is called Muk. I love it, yummy. Here's a wiki link if you're intrested, there are different types of muk, not just acorn, and they vary in color also(usually brown or white).

roboppy / June 28, 2007 11:46 PM

Michelle and Sarah: Thanks for clearing up the mystery of THE GOOO! I went out for Korean food again today and got more of the jello. This time it was seasoned with soy sauce and tasted like...well, soy sauce because otherwise it probably wouldn't have tasted like anything. It wasn't like the jello I had the first time, I guess!

Deb / July 1, 2007 8:49 PM

Hey Robs,

At your recommendation above, my 12-year old nephew and I enjoyed Pajun at Han Bat on Friday. It was great! Thanks for the effective review. You've made two converts out of us. :D

BYW, I posted about it on my blog here.

Jin / July 5, 2007 11:49 AM

Elizabeth, don't worry about not getting banchan, because all Korean restaurants give them. The oly exception would be (1) bakery or sweet shop (2) mandu shop (3) fish shop (4) some young-style restaurants have different menu and pricing systems meant to appeal to college students.

If you need to make sure, just look through the window, and if every table there has people eating from tiny little plates, it means they serve free banchan. :)

sammi / August 23, 2007 7:53 PM

hmm this seems like an appropriate post to say hi! I found a link to ur blog on 'fops and dandies' blog before i had my dinner at 8pm and it is now almost 1am (oh thats GMT i'm a BBC british born chinese) and i have sat and read ur blog straight, every single post laughing like a lunatic with my cup of milky tea.
Ur style of writing is so addictive girl! God knows when i'll sleep hahahaha
love it lots! keep it up!

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