Rating My Korean Quarantine Meals
The events detailed in this blog post took place in August of 2021
After my 17-hour trip to South Korea, I stood for what felt like decades in line for immigration, baggage claim and quarantine hotel check-in at the Incheon Airport. I was exhausted and hungry, to say the least. Thankfully, after getting my documents processed at the airport, I was able to get a taxi and head to my quarantine hotel, which was about an hour away. The hotel provided us with three Korean-style meals a day and made it clear that we couldn’t order food delivery from the nearby restaurants. Unfortunately, the disappointment set in after trying the first meals. The meals were sadly not good.
Thankfully, we were allowed to order packaged foods online. The Coupang app works the best for deliveries, but since I didn’t have my Alien Registration Card (ARC) at the time, I used GMarket. I ended up purchasing some Ritz Crackers and Shin Ramen, but they took over a week to arrive, so I didn’t have much time to enjoy them. Despite my distaste for the hotel meals, I made sure to try the foods and record my thoughts and ratings. Below are pictures and ratings of a few of my best quarantine meals.
day 1 (dinner): 2/10
Dinner consisted of coleslaw, kimchi, bulgogi, rice and mixed fruit. It was sitting in the mini-fridge when I got there and was very cold. There was also no microwave in the room to heat anything up. The corn had an overwhelming mayo taste and the meat wasn’t seasoned but smelled strongly of vinegar. The only thing I finished from this plate was the mixed fruit and a little bit of the kimchi and rice, but even that started to taste like the foods around it, which I wasn’t a fan of. In my notes, I wrote, “I’m too tired to think, but I hope the rest of quarantine meals taste better.”
day 3 (breakfast): 4.5/10
breakfast consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich with imitation crab, watermelon, pickled veggies, tomatoes and frosted corn flakes. The watermelon and corn flakes were cool, but everything else could was not my taste.
day 5 (breakfast): 5/10
I had grape juice, an egg salad sandwich and a yellow dish that tasted sweet. The sandwich was decent and it was an okay meal.
day 8 (lunch): 8.5/10
Lunch consisted of rice, kimchi, Vienna sausages, mini beef patties, sweet and sour chicken and jjajang sauce. So far, this meal is the best thing I’ve eaten. I liked that it had different proteins and the kimchi complemented each dish.
day 9 (dinner): 9/10
I had a patty and seasoned fries. Y’ALL - the patty wasn’t sweet and it was okay. It had seasoning and although it was a bit cold and dry, it was one of the best meals I’ve had so far. This is all I wanted. (':
day 10 (lunch): 6/10
I had rice, kimchi, japchae, beef nuggets and a macaroni salad. The meal was not bad, but I couldn’t eat much.
Day 11 was my last day of eating the hotel food because my order from Gmarket came in. I only ate Ritz Crackers w/out the filling and Shin Ramen for the remaining quarantine days. I sometimes took the juice and fruit from the hotel meals, but I mainly stuck to ramen.
What surprised me most about the Korean meals was the sweetness of foods that I’ve known to be savory, like cheese, mayo, hamburger meat, pickles and pasta. Another thing that I had to adjust to was the different flavor combinations of foods like ham and cheese sandwiches with jelly. This quarantine experience was not the best introduction to food in Korea, but it made me appreciate the food once we left even more. I’ve eaten some of the most amazing Korean dishes during my semester abroad and found some of the staple favorites that I continuously come back to.