May is officially turning into what may be the best food month of this year. Seoul Food this week, Vegan Festival this Sunday, and Hong Kong next weekend = a very happy and full Erin 🙂
It was odd how Seoul Food was advertised as I saw it as only being a Taiwanese Food Expo at first. That got me interested anyway, because let’s be honest bubble tea is my kryptonite and it can be hard to find a decent one here. But, following that I found out it was an entire international expo and the ads must have only been for the Taiwanese section.
It turns out my wishes for boba were granted plus much, much, more. I have been to a few of these expo’s and by far Seoul Food is the best one yet. For starters, Kintex is huge and the expo was split in between eight halls and two different buildings. This left the international pavilion in the first building and the local pavilion in the next. I spent at least two hours just perusing the international expo which was definitely my favourite.
And not to be biased, but of which the Canadian section was seriously the best! Everyone was so friendly, and I met a ton of amazing people with products that I am crossing my fingers make it over to Korea soon. From Canadian wild rice, hemp seed oil, allergy friendly snacks, and fruit, it was definitely up my alley.
The first section I hit up was the Taiwanese one and as I’d hoped, there was boba! I sampled the mango flavour and went home with some to make myself. These pearls are special because they’re instant (at least compared to the conventional kind.) All you have to do is submerge the single serving packet in hot water for 3-4 minutes and perfectly textured boba is ready! I can’t wait to come up with more spring recipes for bubble tea with my new mango pearls.
There was a lot of baked goods in the international pavilion (off limits to me of course, but pretty!) Some other highlights include allergen friendly snacks, flavoured maple syrup, nut butters, coconut chips, and vegan gluten-free meat substitutes.
Made Good was most definitely a highlight for me. An allergy friendly snack company out of Canada, they make snacks that are free from the top 8 allergens, meaning that everything is certified vegan and gluten free! The rep was beyond kind and we chatted for a while about allergen friendly foods. She said that Made Good is now being served as a snack option on some major international airlines which is beyond exciting.
I tried the samples and almost cried. I can’t remember the last time I had a granola bar, let alone one this delicious! I seriously don’t remember granola being this good.. The bars are chewy and full of flavour and to top it all off, they are made with all natural flavourings only AND each bar has a whole serving of vegetables. WHAT?! One of their aims is to make snacks that are safe for children to take to school and obviously, for everyone to enjoy.
I could go on, but I’ll write a separate review of their products 🙂
These coconut chips from innofoods were unreal – I didn’t have a chance to talk to the reps since they were quite busy but I sampled them, and so yum!
Samples of seriously yummy nut butters – chocolate hazelnut, morning joe (coffee almond) cashew and more. They were all so delicious! I also had a chance to chat with the rep from this Karmalize Me and he was super kind. I typically make my own nut butters but it sure would be a treat to be able to buy them. Especially chocolate hazelnut, it was amazing!
Gluten free cookies! Unfortunately they contained dairy and weren’t providing samples anyway, so needless to say I didn’t try them.
Tamarind, dried pineapple, and more from Thailand.
I found buckwheat pasta! But, there was no rep in sight unfortunately. These also were not certified gluten free.
And, one of the things I was MOST excited about finding – Quorn! Quorn makes vegetarian (meat-free meat) products and they also have a vegan line. I asked the rep about gluten-free since I knew they did have some options. He directed me to the freezer and pointed out the difference between the vegan and non-vegan lines (the vegan line has the green label and is on the bottom.) Amazingly, the vegan ones are all gluten free!! And even luckier for me, they were giving out samples of a gluten-free variety so I tried it.
It was the.best.meat.substitute.I.have.ever.had. Seriously, I could have cried I was so happy! It was so so delicious. He also told me that Quorn products should be available in Korea in about two months in major department stores (!) I am beyond excited for this. The booth was also bumping so I’m super happy to see how popular it was and everyone enjoying the samples. Keep an eye out in a couple months for Quorn products! 🙂
After finding Quorn, I made my way to the second building of the expo.
The second building was much larger with bigger brands, most I can already find in Korea so not much was too new or exciting for me.
A lot of gluten free options from Nature’s Path though!
Nothing really blew me away until I came across Rice Cupcakes! I asked the rep and he insisted it was pure rice flour and flavouring. They pour the rice flour mix into a cup, and place it on a steamer for 1 minute.
Pretty anti-climactic in the photo though as you can’t see the steam.
He topped it with some mango syrup and mango bits. The toppings were super sweet but it was yummy!
These were really interesting too – modern rice cake! They were stuffed with various fillings, so I guess it makes them a whole meal? I’ve never seen fusion rice cake before so it was pretty cool.
And then there was this! A whole wall explaining gluten-free and showcasing some gluten free products. This is when I realized that the rice cupcake and other booths were part of The Rice Show – a separate section from the rest of the expo.
I didn’t find many products that were certified gluten free in the section, but these were!
And this was too! I’ve seen this Rice Milk at Emart before, but always in big cases so I was hesitant to buy it because a) I wasn’t sure of the taste and b) I wasn’t sure if it was gluten free. As it turns out, it is! I sampled the flavours and also went home with some samples. I’m super excited to find out it’s perfectly safe 🙂
I also got to try Hans Donuts, which I found on instagram, I think last year or maybe even two years ago. I messaged them to ask about gluten free once and they just never responded. They were at the expo though so I asked them to be sure if everything is %100 rice and if it’s gluten free. They assured me it was, but it’s my experience in Korea that you can never be too sure. Also at the rice expo, I came across a booth selling flour and coating for frying which was interesting. She told me that their products are %100 rice, no wheat, and are gluten free. So I sampled some, and later got quite sick after the expo. After reading the Rice Show pamphlet which lists the ingredients from the companies included, I found that they do use some wheat flour in their mix. It’s no surprise to me since this has happened so often here, but now I’m also not sure if Hans is perfectly safe since it’s the only other thing I sampled that was not certified gluten free.
Anyway, I’ll try contacting them again since it looks like they have a few locations and their donut samples were definitely good! If anyone knows for sure, please let me know 🙂
After spending a solid three hours at the expo, I finally made my way home. Here’s my sample haul! I’m super excited to try out all of these, and I’ll be sure to write a review for anything that stands out.
I didn’t take photos of these at the event, but I did get some samples from nature zen which I’m also excited about. They said they ship worldwide so even though it’s not available in Korea, I may give it a try if I can! Their protein powder is %100 plant based and all natural.
Annndd this is probably the longest blog post I’ve ever written so I’ll end it here! Check out the event page here, and keep an eye out for next years edition!
You can get to Kintex by taking exit 2 from Daehwa station. Walk straight from the station for about ten minutes. It’s massive and you can’t miss it!