Wednesday, January 5, 2011

but of course

Before dinner last night Paul and I decide we're going to book our tickets. Of course we search and the tickets have gone up $50 each in the past 2 days! I decide maybe this is because there's high traffic on the website, so let's let it cool for 12 hours.

We go to a lovely galbi (meat) dinner. I don't think I've detailed these out for you. It is the ultimate Korean experience. You walk into a building, usually very poorly insulated with floor heaters everywhere, and sit down on plastic stools around what I can only describe as a barrel. The barrel has a hole in the middle where the coals go, and theres a long metal tube hanging from the ceiling directly over the hole for the coals. The metal tube is there as ventilation; it sucks the smoke from the bbq. Then you have your choice or beef or pork and prices vary depending on the cut of the meat. We usually go for samgapsol, which literally translates to 3 fat pork, but sometimes spring for a nice cut of beef. Everyone must order. So when it says 10,000 won per 200grams, you must order 200 grams per person at the table. (Note: no one goes to a galbi jim alone. It's always a group activity). Then you must order your soju (rice alc 20%) and mekju (beer; you guys should know this by now) although last night we had magkeolli. Wasn't feelin a soju hangover. Once you order they bring the coals to the middle of the table. Flaming hot coals, with no warning. I'm shocked I haven't seen some sort of fire accident here. They use a lever to carry the bucket of coals and there's always 2 or 3 people running around doing this at once. It screams lawsuit.

Then they bring the sides. You usually get: leaves to wrap the meat in(ssam), a soy bean paste to put on th leaf (ssam jang), a huge bowl of onions covered in sesame oil and pepper flakes (also to go on the leaf), kimchi, garlic, jalepeno, and a variety of other sides. Last night we had a soybean spinachy thing, sprouts covered in red pepper (a favorite of mine), a salad (rando veggies covered in mayo- eh).

Then they bring the meat. You cook it yourself over the coals You get tongs and scissors. In Korea they don't use knives. You cut everything with scissors; it's pretty awesome.
You flip and cut the meat up and when it's all ready you put it in the leaf with toppings and stuff it down. Yum! The amount of food is amazing. And if that isn't enough, while you're eating meat they bring out a boiling pot of dwenjenjjigae (soybean soup). This soup is awesome. Its made with fermented soybeans, tofu, onion, radish, and either has pork or fish. Last night we had fish. I'm talking whole dried anchovies that srare back at you. Got to love soup that looks at you. Then they brought out pajeon! Another favorite. I hated this when I first came because of the chewy texture, but Ms. Han has changed my mind. It's a pancake made with rice flour and is either filled with kimchi (kimchi jeon) or my favorite, green onions and seafood (haemul pajeon). This is usually eaten when it rains with magkeolli. It's an unbelievable amount of food for a total of 20,000 won! We make it a point to go once a week. It's especially fun in the summer when you can sit outside. The only downside is that you're going to smell like bbq the rest of the night. Some galbijims even fabreeze you on the way out, or hold your coats in plastic bags to avoid the smell. Aren't they thoughtful! Even though it seems totally archaeic to sit around a barrel of coals and cook your own dinner, it's still the most popular form of restaurant here. You will find one in any neighborhood, and they are always full. There are some that are better than others, and the way I guage (because I don't really like meat) is totally based on the sides. Good sides = I'll be back :)

Fast forward 12 hours. Check the flights and it's still the $50 higher price. Bah, got to go, so we booked it. YEY Thailand! I was supposed to go last March but everyone ended up bailing. So now, a year later, I'm on my way, and with the best person I can think to go with! Now to plan the trip....oh and study. Still haven't gotten my CFA books. Thats my excuse for now.

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