Thursday, June 28, 2018

Our First..."Real" Korean Meal?

We have been craving for the real deal Korean meal where they cook your food on the grill on your table in front of you since even before we got here and tonight, ostensibly, was the night. There is a place close to our hotel that has a good looking menu and a few people recommended it to us so we decided to give it a shot. We actually liked it a lot although I am fully aware that I am basically a tourist so I cannot rightly judge the "local" food, so I'll just go by what I know and what I like. 

It started out innocently enough, with a middle aged Korean women with a plastered on face who spoke decent enough English seating us and then an older Korean guy who spoke really good English helping us with our order. We ordered the boneless beef and some mild chicken (I wanted the spicy but Max wanted chicken so mild it had to be). In short order a tray arrived with all the requisite vegetables and accompanying sauces and such, most of which I have already grown to adore in our modest two day stay here.

Eventually the meat arrived and the middle aged Korean woman, who seemed really bitter for some reason, threw it on the grill and then announced, as she dismissively slammed the tongs and scissors down in front of me, "In Korea, the MEN do the grill..."

Well it was go time. I will not attempt to hide the fact that in our family, Virginia is the chef and usually the master of the grill. Her culinary skills are unmatched so why mess with perfection? But the gauntlet had been thrown down and my masculinity was being questioned; I could not let this bitter, Korean woman with the plastic face have the last laugh. I could not and I would not. And so I grabbed those tongs and started grilling the hell out of that meat...of course I whispered to Virginia to tell me when to turn everything but that's neither here nor there - I WAS IN CHARGE OF THE GRILL. Things were going great and I was feeling like king of the castle...until plastic face came over and said "You have to cut the meat so it doesnt overcook" and then proceeded to take the scissors out of my hand and cut up the chicken in front of me. I felt so emasculated. I have so much to learn about this country...

The ubiquitous vegetables...

The beef goes on the grill

Two of my favorites; spicy bean sprouts (top) and cabbage in some kind of white sauce that plastic face would not give away the ingredients to...

Veggie paradise

Working the grill; the pressure was apparently too much for me.

Virginia taught me how it's supposed to be done; one piece of meat in the big lettuce leaf, then a slice of fresh garlic, a little bit of kimchi, a little cabbage with the white sauce, wrap it up and then shove it down your gob. One of the tastiest things I have EVER had. 

The woman is a culinary savant. 

The fresh garlic, these are sometimes called "elephant garlic". 

I asked the waiter who spoke English to give me the low down on Soju; he said this one is sort of the 'original' soju, and is stronger than the ones being made today. I, of course, had to try it. Stupidly, as it turned out. But I would have the last laugh. (Notice the frog on the label, Dad...)

Virginia was just adventurous enough to try one shot and then was done, leaving me to finish the bottle. It was a struggle and it took me a good 30-40 minutes but goddamnit I did it. Challenge accepted; CHALLENGE DEFEATED.  

The offending bottle of original soju. MUCH stronger than the sweet, flavored ones that most Americans know here. 

Promised the kids an ice cream on the way home so we stopped at the 24 hour mini mart and lo and behold...look what I found! My friends in Italy will be happy to know that it tastes just as shitty here as it does in Italy. Still, old habits die hard...

Virginia managed to find a green tea ice cream bar. Because that's what she does. 

Good night from South Korea!

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