Vatos Urban Tacos

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So as per usual I am way behind the foodie times. Every food reviewer and his dog has already written about the wonders of Vatos.  The restaurant already has queues going down the hill so I’m sure none of the regulars want me sharing it’s deliciousness with the few people that don’t know about it. However readers I want you to know about all the places that I love to eat and Vatos is definitely in my Top 5 which is why it was 100% necessary for me to write about it, even if it has taken me a year and a half!

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This place is tres cool with a hip and happening vibe, in fact it’s probably so cool it’s out again. On any given evening it’s always filled to the brim with people eating, drinking and having a good time. As well as trying some of the best Mexican fusion food and drinks in Korea it’s the place to be seen.

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Almost everything on the extensive menu is good here, but I will will run you through my favourites and some of the new items that are on their Spring/Summer menu. But before I can even get to to the food I have to talk about the cocktails. No one loves a cocktail more than Fat Girl and at Vatos they have a pretty damn good choice. Now for me the star attraction is their margaritas! With a huge variety of fruity flavours and a whole host of accompanying bottles you can  have upturned into one. Why have one drink when you can have two right? For the sweet toothed I have to recommend the Sexy Sanchez (17,400). A strawberry margarita with a strawberry Brunty’s cider, cider + taquilla = drunken fun times ahead! I am also a big fan of the new passion fruit margarita (12,500). For non frozen fans try the Texas Tea (14,000) and the Mexican Martini (15,000).

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I have pretty much tried all the tacos at this point and hands down, the Lime Shrimp (10,000 for 3)  are my favourite. They are so good I would crawl over my grandmother to get them. In fact I usually order 3 then have another 3 because I love them that much. Breaded pieces of shrimpy goodness, salad, delicious limey sauce and their amazing homemade soft tacos. Just thinking about them right now is making me hanker after them. Just recently they added another flavour to their taco collection, Chimichurri Chicken Tacos (9,000 for 3). The chicken and chimichurri sauce has a really nice kick without being too spicy. They pack a punch of flavour while still remaining fresh and tasty.

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Also on the new menu are the Honey Tequilla Chicken Wings (12,000). I do love a good wing and these are exceptional. The crunchy coating is spectacular. I asked for the recipe and they told me it was just seasoned flour, but mine never comes out like that!  The sauce has a dozen or so ingredients that I am sure I would never be able to recreate. I could have eaten at least two portions of these even on top of the tacos.

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The Sid Burger & fries(15,500) is the latest and most popular burger on the burger network. Aptly named after it’s genius creator Sid! Now I love a good burger, I have written about this fact dozens and dozens of times. I even belong to a Seoul Burger Lovers Group on Facebook, yes there is one you can join here. Among the elite burgeratti of Seoul this is one of the most highly regarded and I was desperate to try it. A burger, cheese, and pulled pork. It’s like two things I love got married and had a burger baby. This is a serious mouthful of meaty goodness. Vatos makes some seriously good burgers, so be sure not to neglect them in favour of their more Mexican style dishes.

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Lastly we has to try the Tamales (10,000 for 2). I fell in love with tamales when I was in Argentina and never thought in my wildest dreams they would turn up in Korea. When Vatos put them on the menu I was one of the first to try them. Two big tamales stuffed with corny goodness and two dipping sauces. One cool and one spicy, so everyone is happy.

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One word of advice, this place gets packed during prime dining hours especially at weekends. Luckily you can make a reservation, do it or prepare to queue. The other option is eating at the bar or a little island table. As the cool and trendy folk that like to queue come here to be seen as well as enjoying amazing food, and are not generally interested in those tables so you can usually jump the line a little. Call the number below to reserve a table.

Vatos has three locations in Seoul. One in Sinsa, one in Apgujeong, and one in Itaewon. My local is the one in Itaewon. Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-dong, 81-8 2nd Floor, Seoul Korea(서울시 용산구 이태원동) For the other location please click on the above links. For more information including maps and a full menu check out their website or call 02-797-8226. 

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Homemade Chocolate Brownie Mix

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Oh brownies I do love a brownie, good, bad or even mediocre. I’m even prepared to eat slightly burnt ones that have fallen on the floor. Now don’t get me wrong I love the luxury of an out and out decadent brownie which is stuffed to the brim with melted chocolate and butter like this one. But sometimes my fridge is bare of butter and chocolate. That’s where a box mix fix comes in. I will always pick them up if I see them on sale but rarely seems to happen these days. However I just found out you can make them for virtually nothing at home. If you get your chocolate chips for free on i-herb like I do then you are laughing. Just measure out your ingredients, chuck them in a zip-lock bag and just put add eggs and oil when you are ready to go. I decided to be a little more fancy and store mine in jars because a) I didn’t have any zip-lock bags b) jars are cool and c) I have a lot of jars which I went mad buying after first discovering Pinterest then subsequently never used. It’s suggested to give away these cuties as gifts, I’d probably have to adjust the size of the recipe and not eat them myself but a good idea in theory.

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So you may have noticed that my brownie is a little rustic this week, mainly because I dropped it on the floor. Did I have a little cry about this, yes, yes I did. I have made brownies for the past 3 weeks in a row intending to write a post about it but the first one I burnt beyond repair (but still ate), the second one got eaten before a picture was procured and this one was dropped and slightly burnt, but I decided to suck it up and show it to you anyway as we all make mistakes and it doesn’t make me a bad person. It just means that the damn temperature gauge on my oven is broken and I drop things sometimes.

 

Ingredients

65g of flour

45g of cocoa powder

200g of white sugar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking powder

100g of chocolate chips

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/2 a cup of oil

 

Directions

1. Weigh out all your dry ingredients and put them in a mixing bowl or store them in a zip-lock bag or jar for later.

2. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with baking paper or skip this if you have decent bake wear.

3. Measure the oil and add the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk. Then add to the dry ingredients and mix until the mixture is combined. No need to over mix here. You can also add in any extras at this point, for ideas see my note at the bottom.  Then pour into your tin and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on how you like it) or until a tooth pick comes out clean(ish).

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When your brownie is done leave to cool for ten minutes before removing from the pan. Under no circumstances drop the brownie on the floor and have a tantrum like I did. It’s seriously not cool past the age of 27.

This is a quick and easy brownie recipe that you can whip up in minutes with minimum effort when you are in the mood for a treat. It’s not the kind of brownie I’d try to make if I wanted to impress other bakers. Don’t get me wrong it’s still yummy just not amazing. You can pimp it up in various ways, add nuts, a couple of spoons of peanut butter, some white chocolate chips, or my latest favourite is to add a teaspoon of the orange extract that I bought on i-Herb. Can’t beat orange and chocolate goodness. You could also use this brownie base for a variety of other desserts like my Chocolate Trifle or Peanut Butter Brownie Cheesecake.

 

The Coffee Expo

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Urghhhhhhhhh I can’t move. I am filled to brim with free coffee, juice, smoothies, beer, ades, and free food samples. I am now seriously paying the price for overindulging in all those goodies. You would think with all that sugar I would be bouncing around like a beach ball… But no, although I do look like one.

The expo is on for the next four days so there is still time for you to go and enjoy all the freebies. When you first arrive you will need to fill out a form, unless you have pre-registered. I would advise you go as early as possible as when we left the expo there was a huge queue. They do have a special queue just for foreigners though which was far shorter than the K0rean one, so be sure to hit that one.

Once you have your pass it’s time to go enjoy the show. At this point we were all desperate for a coffee, there were dozens of places to choose from but I went to the Metier stand and they made me this amazing ice vanilla latte completely for free! There were a lot of big brand coffee stalls in the franchise part where you can buy a coffee, but there are tonnes of smaller places just waiting to give you the free coffee of your choice.

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As we walked around the stalls we were given cup after cup of coffee and other juice like beverages. There were smoothies, ades, juices, dutch coffee, drip coffee, and frappes. I took them all. It’s hard to turn down a freebie right?  Most of the stalls also had their products on sale for very reasonable prices too.

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Whilst perusing we even came across a Jordan’s cereal stand. I love my muesli and if I didn’t make my own I would have been raiding the shelves to get this good old taste of home.

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Be sure to head to the 1kg Coffee stand, where packs of coffee beans are only 1,000 each. Although they limit each person to 2. I got the Mexican Fair trade and Kenya AA.

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As we neared the end of the exhibitors we decided to take a walk and look on the other side where all the franchises were. And it was samples galore!!! Anywhere there was a queue of five or more people we knew there was free food to be had. The fist place we hit up was Frypan. I love their chicken, so getting some for free was amazing.

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At first I was grabbing anything in site, but with less and less room in my belly I started to become more discerning. There were dozens of ddeok-bokki stands, more chicken than you could count, pork cutlets, pizza, ice cream, gelatto, and sliced roast pork. There were even 3 places giving away free beer. And a lot of people were partaking despite the fact it was a Thursday morning (Fat Girl included).

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Food glorious food, it was very cool. There was all manner of coffee machinery and paraphernalia for making every kind of coffee imaginable so if you are on the look out for a new grinder or a whipping siphon you will find it here. But I know you dear readers are mostly in it for the free food and drink like me. They actually gave me these goodies as part of my press pack.

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So if you are at a loose end this weekend be sure to hit up the show and get your gorge on. Held at COEX from April 10th-13th, tickets cost 10,000 per person, but you can easily make that back in samples. For more details check out the website.

 

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Roast Vegetable Focaccia

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We are big focaccia fans in our house, and ever since the Fat Boyfriend started baking we have it even more often. I started thinking of ways to switch it up a bit and though it could be nice if it was made into a pizza of sorts. I roasted and blended the tomatoes, threw on some veg and cheese and bing bam boom dinner was served. It was so hearty we were eating it for 3 days. In a sealed glass lock container it actually stayed perfectly fresh which in itself was quite the triumph. No longer will I be forced to eat a whole focaccia in a day to combat staleness.

Ingredients

500g flour (I use the Baksul one with bread on the front)

2 x 8g packets of yeast

2 teaspoons of salt

400ml of warm water

2 tablespoons of olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)

Topping

200g of cherry tomatoes

4 mushrooms

1 onion

1 green pepper

1 aubergine

3 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon of mixed herbs

150g of cheese (I used some left over Gruyere, cheddar, and Parmesan)

A drizzle of balsamic vinegar

A glug or two of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions 

1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together in a bowl. Add the water in stages and mix thoroughly with the flour. The dough may seem as though it’s very wet but that’s how it should be. Once all the water is in, you can add the olive oil. Knead the dough for about five minutes until it has become stretchy and elastic. You can either do this on an oiled board or in your hands. Do not add any more flour to the mix. I prefer to knead it in my hands, pulling and stretching it until is is about right. Put the dough in an oiled container, drizzle with olive oil, cover with cling-film, and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

2. After the dough has risen and doubled in size, knock the dough back down and move the dough to a second oiled container and leave to rise once again for about 30 minutes. Make the dimples in the bread by using your finger or knuckle. Drizzle with more olive oil, dust with salt, and bake in the oven at 220 degrees Celsius for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the dough has baked through. You may wish to turn the dough around halfway through to produce a more even colour.

3. To make the the roast tomato sauce, put the cherry tomatoes on a tray with the garlic, sprinkle with salt, pepper, mixed herbs,  olive oil and balsamic vinegar and roast for about 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. When they have roasted blend them until you have a smooth tomato sauce.

4. While your cherry tomatoes are roasting, slice your onion, pepper, mushrooms and aubergine place on a tray and drizzle with olive oil and roast for 10 minutes. They don’t need to be cooked the whole way through, just partially.

5. When your focaccia is almost finished baking, take it out of the oven and spread the tomato sauce all over it, making sure it gets into those dimples. Top with the roasted veggies and grated cheese then bake for another 10 minutes until the top is golden brown and the vegetables have cooked. You could also top with some fresh basil leaves if your garden has yielded some yet.

 

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Coffee Chu

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I thought I would share this cute little coffee and churro place I came across in Sinsa, in fact it’s right across the street from Buccella Sandwich. There are coffee shops everywhere you look in Garosugil but this one has some really cool desserts on offer and I loved the decor. Also when when the sun is shining, their patio is an awesome place to hangout and look cool (which I always do). There was also no queue when we visited unlike the Street Churros in Kyungnidan which had a one a mile long.

 

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At this point in the day  I had already had a coffee and some lunch, but just about had enough room for a Churro Sundae (4,500). The churro was pretty good, but not rolled in sugar, although if you buy them separately they do. It was fried freshly in front of us and they also had various different flavours of fillings you could have.

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Nice vanilla ice-cream and thick chocolate fudge sauce it really hit the spot. The Fat Boyfriend and myself polished it off quite nicely.

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As well as the churros, dessert goodies and drinks, they have a random assortment of other things on sale like Guinness flavoured crisps. I was insanely excited about this until I found out they were 15,000 won and couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for them. They also had other random English candies like Walkers Toffee for ridiculously expensive prices but I guess that’s Gangnam style! This would make a great place for a casual date, it’s cool with nice desserts and wont cost you a fortune if it doesn’t work out. I guess that’s why Korea is overrun with coffee shops, not that I am complaining. I do love me a coffee shop.

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Coffee Chu is located at Seoul Building, 535-23, Namhye, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu seoul. To get there take a train to Sinsa station (line 3). Come out of exit 8 and walk straight until you get to Tous Le Jours and make a left. Keep walking straight along that road. It is tucked away on one of the little side alleys on the left about halfway down Garosugil oppositre Buccella sandwich. For more info you can call them on 070-8866-4592

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Chicken Pie

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I have been craving a chicken pie for quite some time now. This craving was increased ten fold when a friend sought out my own advice on baking a chicken pie. We had a good long debate about filling and pastry crusts. He went for a more difficult double pastry pie, I went for the more simple one layer. Now I love pastry as much as the next girl, probably more, but for one I don’t have a real pie tin, not a deep one anyway and Mary Berry has me petrified of producing baked goods with  soggy bottoms. So I figured I could make a nice deep pie in my lasagne dish covered with a pastry top. It came out perfectly and I’m glad I went with this decision. It was quick and easy and who can be bothered with a lot of fuss on a Monday night? The Fat Boyfriend also made the shortcrust pastry making it even easier. Since he’s begun baking I love him even more than I used to. I would advise all girls get their boyfriends the Paul Hollywood bread book as a present as it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

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Ingredients

Pastry

250g plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting

Pinch of salt

125g chilled unsalted butter

2 medium egg yolks

About 50ml cold water

Filling

2-3 chicken breasts (I used 3 as I had a few that needed using up)

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

4 potatoes (small-medium)

1 green pepper

1 carrot

3 mushrooms

1 small bunch of spinach

1 small bunch of parsley

1 tablespoon of rosemary

1 tablespoon of sage

3 + 1 tablespoons of butter

3 tablespoons of flour

1 litre of of chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

1 egg beaten (for washing)

 

Directions 

1. To make the pastry, first put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix together. Add the butter. You can either cube the butter or grate it with a cheese grater. I find the second method makes the next step easier. Rub the ingredients together with your fingers until you get a texture that resembles breadcrumbs, making sure that all of the butter has been evenly incorporated. Next add the egg yolks and mix using your hands. Finally slowly add the water and keep mixing until everything has come together and the sides of the bowl are clean. You may not need all of the water. Form the pastry into a ball and then gently flatten it into a disk shape with your fingers. Take care to handle it as little as you possibly can at this stage. Wrap it in cling-film and then leave it in the refrigerator to rest for at least 30 minutes.

2. In a saucpan, bring the chicken stock to a boil and add the chicken breasts and poach for about 20 minutes. Peel the potatoes and chop the carrots then after 10 minutes add the potatoes and carrots to the stock. When everything if done remove the chicken carrots and potatoes from the stock and set aside. When the chicken has cool shred into pieces. then chop the potatoes.

3. In a separate frying pan, heat a little oil and chop the onions and garlic and fry for a few minutes until translucent. Meanwhile chop the green pepper, mushrooms, and spinach then add to the pan along with a knob of butter. Cook for a few more minutes until the vegetables are cooked and the spinach has wilted then turn off the heat.

4. To make your sauce melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan then stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for a minute or so then add back in the chicken stock that you saved from earlier. Keep stirring and let the sauce come together, be sure not to let it catch on the bottom. After a few minutes the sauce will have thickened, add the herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add the coked vegetables, chicken, and potatoes back into the sauce and make sure it has combined. Pour the filling into your pie dish and allow to cool while you roll out the pastry.

6.Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Then on a lightly floured surface roll your pastry until it’s 2-3mm thick and bigger than the size of your dish. Carefully take your pastry and lay it across your dish and seal the edges of the pastry on to your dish by pressing them together. Cut a cross in the middle to let any stream escape then use any leftover pastry to cut some shapes and make a pretty pattern. Brush the whole thing with your egg wash and cook in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until your pastry is golden brown and cooked through all the way. Serve, enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back, cause you just made a pie!

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Buccella Sandwich

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Yesterday was a glorious sunny day and we paid a visit to Sinsa to have a gander at The Great British Festival that was happening. After a stroll, a coffee and a spot of shopping we fancied a bit of lunch and stopped at this place. A sandwich and a table in the sun was far too much for Fat Girl to resist.

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After having a look at what everyone else was eating I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist one of their lovely looking sandwiches. They also had a number of salads for the carb conscious. The Fat Boyfriend opted for the Tender beef (9,800). Pan seared beef marinated in a special steak sauce with mozzarella. This was a really nice steak sandwich. The beef was very tender and not at all chewy like you find in far too many steak sandwiches. The sauce on the beef was also really tasty. The bread they used was fantastic, I’m not 100% sure but I believe they make it in house as they have various bread items for sale. The sandwich also came with a small side salad. A pretty damn good lunch for under 10,000.

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I was torn between the Grilled Chicken and the Vegetarian. In the end I opted for the Grilled Chicken (9,300) as I was won over by the chicken marinated in olive oil and rosemary. The bread was once again fantastic, the salad fresh and just the right amount of dressing. However the sandwich just lacked in flavour. I was suffering from a cold so my taste buds were not at their finest, but even so, it just needed something to kick it up a little. Perhaps a bit more seasoning or a more flavourful dressing or sauce. Ratio wise it was great, so perhaps next time I will try the Chicken Taco Sandwich or Vegetarian.

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Although it’s not the best sandwich I’ve ever had, it’s still a very cute spot to grab a fresh and tasty lunch and I would definitely come again. It’s no Deli Heinzburg which is just up the street but it’s also much cheaper and had outdoor seating if the Deli queues are too long.

Buccella is located at Sinsa-dong 534-22. To get there take a train to Sinsa station (line 3). Come out of exit 8 and walk straight until you get to Tous Le Jours and make a left. Keep walking straight along that road. It is tucked away on one of the little side alleys on the left about halfway down Garosugil.

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