I can’t stop thinking of banana milk when I drink dongdongju (동동주). Maybe it’s because of the consistency, its ever-so-slightly viscous texture. Or maybe it’s because of the (imagined?) hints of artificial banana extract in both aroma and flavor. It’s probably not the alcohol. Whatever it is, this spritzy cloudy rice wine makes me happy, whether it comes flavored with deodeok (더덕) as it did at the soondubu (순두부) house last night or with omija (오미자) this afternoon at the pajun (파전) house.
My smarty pants boyfriend likes to tease me about my tendency to put a number to arbitrary measures. For example, these days, I am 60% sure that we are picking the right restaurant that best represents the region we are visiting. He’s going to be green with jealousy that I’m able to use this skill again as the omija flavored version [pictured above] this afternoon was three times as good as the deodeok version even though I was unable to recognize all five flavors that you’re supposed to get from this red berry. The whereabouts of “salty” and “spicy” remain a mystery, but I’m happy to report that “sweet”, “sour” and “bitter” flavors brightened up the dongdongju. This pretty pink rice wine was smooth.
The deodeok-infused dongdongju, on the other hand, made me feel more virtuous for recognizing this traditional root that I prefer as a crunchy side dish marinated in soy sauce and red chili paste rather than relegated as a mere flavor enhancer in my drink. This brotherly version to this afternoon’s feminine omija dongdongju was slightly more cloying and less balanced, but was nonetheless fun and fitting company to food full of character and spice despite being three times less good.