Tag Archives: restaurant

Sunday Dinner

A lot of my posts are related to my coteacher and other colleagues.  There is a never-ending stream of stories about frustrating conversations with them.  It might seem like my relationship with Mr. Kim is defined by our inability to effectively communicate, but that is far from the truth.  Despite all my bitching and moaning about the language gap, I am fortunate to have a coteacher who works hard to make sure I have everything I need.  I have no doubt that he takes his coteaching responsibilities seriously and cares about my welfare.  Furthermore, he treats me like family.

Last Sunday, he invited me to join his family for lunch.  This is a weekly tradition in the Kim household.  Last Sunday was special because his oldest son was on leave (for the first time) from military training.  He met me at the subway stop in his neighborhood (Daeshil) and walked me back to his apartment.  I sat and talked to Mr. Kim and his sons for about an hour before we set out for a restaurant called 두부 (Dubu) Village.  Dubu is the Korean version of what we call Tofu.

*Quick side note: As I typed the last paragraph, Mr. Kim was rubbing my stomach.  I have no clue why.  He’s talking to another teacher in Korean.  At first he was pointing at me, obviously telling the teacher something about me.  Then he stepped up his game and went straight for the tummy rub.  Maybe he’s telling Ms. Jeon about how hairy I am – he likes to bring that up a lot.  I don’t love that.

된장찌개 (Den-Jang Jee-Gae). Absolutely delicious. (Not my photo)

Lunch at Dubu Village was exceptional.  We had a huge spread of kimchi, pork, fish, rice, vegetables, and spicy bean sprouts.  The best part was when Mr. Kim ordered my favorite soup at the end of the meal – 된장찌개 (spicy soy bean soup).  We sat for a while and talked – mainly through his oldest son, whose English skills were better than Mr. Kim’s.

Mr. Kim’s wife, who does not speak much English, didn’t spend a lot of time trying to talk to me.  Instead, she just smiled and loaded my plate up with all of the foods she wanted me to try.  At the end of the meal, she pulled a container of fruit from her purse and let me choose the first piece.

Though I didn’t think to pull my phone out and snap any pictures during the meal, I did get a quick photo of Mr. and Mrs. Kim this morning when we visited her office (while running errands).

I’m sure I will share many more stories about Mr. Kim and the other teachers at my school.  I think it is important to clarify that, although I get frustrated often, it is not due to a lack of care or consideration on the part of my friends and colleagues.  They all treat me well and seem to share a genuine concern for my well-being, even if I don’t do a good job of communicating it through my posts.

Until next time.

-Taft

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Movie Night

I am a movie snob.  It’s rare that I think a movie is worth the second mortgage required to get in and buy refreshments.  I tend to shy away from most blockbusters and focus on indies with great actors.  Unfortunately, that is no an option in Korea.  The more explosions an American movie has, the better its chances of gracing the big screen in Korea.

I’ve been dying to see a movie lately, so I decided to take a risk – a big one.  I agreed to go with my friend Scott (New Zealand) to see The Avengers.  In The Avengers, a bunch of Marvel comics heroes are united to fight against some aliens.  Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 97% fresh rating, which is exceptionally rare, so I decided to set my reservations aside and enjoy the show.

Well, that was a mistake.  A big one.  Just staying in the theater, and not walking out, was a battle of attrition.  The film was an atrocity.  The writing was absolutely horrible – like watching 2+ hours of CSI.  There were at least a dozen scenes that made us laugh out loud – and not because they were meant to be funny.  Despite a few actual funny moments (thanks mainly to Robert Downey Jr.), it was physically painful to watch.

When the movie was (finally) over, we decided to explore the Lotte mall in which the theater is located.  The theater is on the 9th floor, so we got a brief tour of the mall as we descended the escalators.  We realized we had gone too far when the final escalator deposited us in the basement.  We were delightfully surprised to find ourselves in the nicest grocery store we’ve seen so far in Daegu.

Though it was still a bit different from a grocery store in at home, the Lotte grocery store was surprisingly clean and well-organized.  We saw a few quality brands that we have not been able to find in other stores.  More importantly, we found a bunch of restaurant kiosks in the center of the shopping area.  One sushi kiosk in particular caught our eye.

It works just like similar conveyor belt sushi restaurants in the US and New Zealand.  You wait for an appealing dish to glide by, pick it up, and eat it.  The plates are color-coded by price.  Their prices range from 1,500 won – 5,000 won (about $1.50 to $5).  At the end of the meal, a woman comes to your seat and tallies up the total cost.

We spent less than $20 total and both ate too much sushi.  Even in a super nice place like the Lotte department store, food is cheaper than in the US.  This is becoming one of my favorite things about Korea.  Food that is tasty and moderately healthy can be had for relatively little.

Until next time.

-Taft

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Sexy And I Know It

I had my first date in Korea tonight.  Ordinarily, this isn’t the type of thing I would share – even with you.  But I had to tell you about part of it.  Two noteworthy things happened.  First, I found a Korean who seems to understand American humor.  Second, I found out that I still have game (sort of).

We went to dinner at a Shabu-Shabu place in downtown Daegu.  It was awesome.  You basically get to make your own soup at the table by adding vegetables, mushrooms, and meat.  It was delicious.  Once the meat was all cooked and the remaining soup had a strong flavor, the waiter brought out some thick, starchy noodles to put into the soup.  They were absolutely incredible.

I got full pretty quickly.  She didn’t.  She ate and ate and ate.  Right when I thought that she couldn’t possibly take another bite, she got a whole new plate of vegetables.  This girl is thinner than one of my thighs and she can out-eat me in a big way.  She made fun of me for not being able to keep up.  It was funny that a big American policeman eats like a wimp.  As we were leaving, she told me that I am big like a bodyguard, and I eat like a little girl.  I responded, “I’ll do the fightin’ if you do the eatin’.”

As soon as I said it, I realized that I was going to have to explain the sarcasm.  I turned around to tell her that I was just kidding, and to my surprise, she was laughing (I think it was real laughter, too…not polite fake laughing).  It was at that moment that I realized she might be the only Korean (not counting Korean-Americans and the like) to understand my sarcasm.

The second noteworthy thing happened at a coffee shop down the street.  She got a coffee and I got the worst iced tea I’ve ever had.  Fortunately, the conversation was much better than the drinks.  We had a great time.  Despite how well it was going, I didn’t expect this:

Date:  What time are you leaving to go home?
Me:  I’m not sure.  Is there something you want to do?
Date:  I wish there was a place where we could go to sleep together.
Me:  ……
*I almost choked on my tea.  I didn’t know how to react.  What the hell do you say here (other than YES!)?
Date:  Is everything ok?
Me:  Yeah, apparently it’s great.
Date:  I don’t understand.  You look tired, I thought we could take a nap and then go out later.
Me:  Oh….so you actually want to sleep?
Date:  Yes, sleep together.  Maybe I could sleep on your couch.
Me:  There’s something I should explain…. 

I don’t know what’s more awkward – my reaction or the fact that I’m going to eventually have to tell her that my place is way too small to fit a sofa.  Either way, I thought it was pretty funny.  She eventually understood and was pretty embarrassed.  All in all, it was a good night.

Until next time.

-Taft

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Last Night

I went to dinner with some friends last night.  I played fifth-wheel with a double date.  One couple was from England (Natalie and Ash) and the other was from new Zealand (Nat and Drew).  It was a lot of fun.  We went to an “Italian” restaurant near the Gamsam subway station.  The dinner was mediocre by American standards, and would have offended an Italian, but we enjoyed it.

I ordered spaghetti with pork cutlet and chicken breast.  As usual, it was too sweet and they skimped on the meat.  The garlic bread that came with it tasted like garlic candy.  Fortunately, the chicken appetizer we ordered was amazing.  I assume it was good because it was a Korean dish and not a knock-off western dish.

The restaurant made a comically poor attempt at upscale.  So poor, in fact, that it was funny to watch.  There was one waiter, one waitress, and a hostess.  They all wore nice uniforms, so they looked like an upscale wait staff.  They started out strong, bringing us menus and a wine list.  When we ordered a bottle of wine, the waitress brought us a re-corked bottle of house wine.  She made a show of opening the bottle, but it was obvious that it had been re-corked because there was no seal over the mouth of the bottle and the wine-stained cork was sticking out of the top.

When we were ready to order, the hostess yelled across the restaurant for the waitress.  Drew ordered a “steak”, but he was sorely disappointed when it arrived.  It turned out to be a hamburger without the bun.  Worse yet, the hamburger was stuffed with a weird rice tube that was the consistency of gnocchi.  The tube was filled with super-sweet processed cheese.  Needless to say, he skipped the prize in his burger.

The best part of the meal was a fruit plate that they brought at the end.  The hostess made a show of announcing that it was “Suh-vee-suh” (service), which is the Korean term that means complimentary.  All of the fruit was good, especially the apple.  I ate apples often in NC, so it was great to have a few bites after our meal.

I realized at the end of the meal that we are already being spoiled by the low price of food here.  We each paid about $25 for our meal, and it seemed ridiculously expensive.  I haven’t paid more than $10 for a meal (including drinks) in over a month.  The thought of a $25 dinner with wine and beer seemed outlandish.  I guess I’m in for a real shock when I return to the states.

Until next time.

-Taft

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