Last night I called my friend after I woke up at 5:30am. I guess technically it was the morning. It's cool having friends who run a restaurant, as they're up late late late like me! My friend ended up calling me back at 6:00am and invited me to go out with them this afternoon. They needed to go shopping, and we were going to have lunch before that. "Sure!" I said, as eating is part of my new "I'm a little baby" regime.
We went to a Chinese restaurant. It was easily the best Chinese food I've had since I've been in Korea. We sat in our own little room at a large round table with one of those revolving circular trays in the middle of the table. The food came in courses, and the Taiwanese waitress came in and dished out our servings into little bowls for us.
First up was something a little strange:
It was beef, cucumber, jellyfish, and - what do you call this egg? Preserved? Ancient? I'm not sure, but I've seen it before. The white was all brown and jellified and the yolk was a daunting black colour. Regardless, it was delicious!
Next up, a seafood dish with shrimp, sea cucumber, and many different kinds of mushrooms in a spicy sauce. There were sure more ingredients, but it was hard to note them all and I inhaled this dish. I love shrimp. It's my favourite food!
With our lunch, we sipped this alcohol which came in a little bottle and was served in tiny little cups. My friends called it "Chinese soju," but I called it "Fire-Death-Juice." Even though I was warned, the first shot of it left me unable to breathe. With 56% alcohol, it was no wonder!
Next up, another seafood dish!
This was a mixture of shrimp, thick slices of sea cucumber, and squid, with bok choy, bamboo, mushrooms, and peppers. So yummy. I could have hogged the whole plate, but that would have been rude, eh?
This was the highlight of the meal. Tang Soo Yook is very popular in Korea. I once had to search the Big Ho's archives to find out the name of this dish (I had remembered him posting about it) when I wanted to order it from my local Chinese shop. My dinner that night had nothing on lunch today. Tang Soo Yook is thin strips of pork breaded and deep fried and served in a sour sweet sauce. This restaurant's version also had pineapple, cherries, and onions in the mix. It was the best I've ever had.
For our final dish, we were each given a choice of the jja jja myun, or the jambon. (I truly don't know how to spell that last one, it's not a French ham- but a spicy seafood and noodle soup. Champon?) Jja jja myun is noodles in a black sauce with onions and bits of meat (and other things surely.) The restaurant my school ordered dinner from in Masan had sweet potato in their version, and ah hates sweet potato, so I was turned off this dish. I'm rethinking that, as today's presentation was outstanding. The noodles were perfect- chewy and lovely. After I ate them all I had a mass of sauce at the bottom of the bowl, which was a shame- so I stole almost all my friends noodles from her jambon which she was too full to eat.
Desert was a mass of blue grapes and three sesame balls with evil "anko" in the middle. That's sweet red bean paste and I hate the stuff.
I was once at a formal Japanese tea ceremony at a fancy temple, and I was following the motions of my Japanese friend. Everything in the ceremony is very delicate and purposeful, and when we were served this beautiful pink pastry with a lovely design on the top of it, I admired it- as is required, and then popped it in my mouth only to realize it was full of hateful anko. Then I struggled to swallow it and not vomit. Puking would have totally messed with the peaceful zen of the ceremony. Grand faux pas, like.
What a wonderful lunch though. The next time I have to go out with my co-workers for dinner (at the end of September) I'm going to suggest this place. Bennigans Schmennigans.
After lunch we went to HomePlus for some shopping.
Look how peaches come in Korea! Delicately swathed in tissue and boxed. I was surprised to see bruises on some of them though. With such attention, I'd expect them to be flawless. I didn't buy any (and was regretting not eating a peach in Canada, what a dummy I am!)
Oooohhhhh! That's one expensive watermelon mamasita! (Just over 25 bucks Canadian!) Maybe when you cut it open, little fairies spill out to entertain you as you eat it. You never know!
I bought a little cheese and a little salami. Homeplus is currently rivalling WalMart for Western goods. Apparently WalMart's gone under and was purchased by EMart anyhow. Homeplus has a nice selection of cheeses though, (and damn, I love cheese!) though your wallet will suffer - cheese is very expensive. (I stood there regretting I didn't even have one slice of the expensive 5 year old cheddar I bought in Canada. It's intact in my brother's fridge now!)
Ah well! Our final stop was a little "Meat Village." We pulled off this street and into a little community of shops. My friends needed some meat for tonight for their restaurant. We passed a shop with tables outside with these red bowls which contained some kind of animal. The limbs were sticking straight up in the air. "What's that animal?" I asked my friends. "Dog!" I was told.
They were just small dogs in the bowls. Watching the shopkeeper hack into them made me want to ralph up my lovely lunch. "Aaaaggghhh!" I yelped. We stopped the car right outside this shop:
I apologize, but that's what used to be a big yellow dog.
They beat them or electrocute them to kill them. It's thought that the adrenaline the dogs produce while being killed thusly increases their deliciousness and power. (Dogs are often eaten by men to increase their sexual stamina.) Then their fur is burned off. Then they're hung up in shop windows for me to look at and mutter "fuck!" a hundred times. This shop just displayed one dog, but other shops had glass coolers with ten or so dogs hung in each. Seeing the poor lovely animals in their cages and hearing the barks that echoed in the village made me thoroughly sad. It wasn't just dogs here, though, there was all manner of meat. I didn't take a photo of the Shop of a Hundred Cow Heads. My friends don't serve dog at their restaurant, just cow and pig. They pointed out the slaughterhouse just up the hill from the little community. I also asked about cats, as I'd just recently read a post from a fellow in Pusan who'd visited the Gupo Dog Market. Cat is eaten here, but only by old people as a medicinal remedy for rheumatism and such.
So that was that. I thanked my friends for lunch and the shopping trip and for freaking me the hell out. Then I went home for a poop and a nap, because that's what us babies do.
Bruges: Bistro den Huzaar
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