I couldn’t conclude that the highlight of our South Korea visit was our popping in a restaurant and stuffing ourselves with their native Bulgogi, and Bibimbap but it’s one of the loose-fitting experiences we had in Seoul. There were many other points of our trips to other places in the city that some of which, if I may rate them, were fascinating, comical, pleasantly gut-busting and certainly tiring. All of those need to be remembered and replayed in our thoughts over and over again, especially our shopping spree in Myeongdong district which sometimes flares into my mind and bring me back to the scene and regretted I didn’t buy some of my wants. “I should have bought those shoes.” “I should have bought the IPhone.” I should have bought the watch.” That would be the reaction if you were on a tight budget and came home with little things in hand. But I had still thousands of Won and five hundred US dollar left in my wallet. Again, I should have spent those.
Well, the eating perhaps took the points in terms of collecting food experiences and establishing a friendly intimacy with some of the familiar piquant Korean dishes.
Upon entering the restaurant, the name I could not read because it was in Korean phonetics, we noticed rows of tables, not just the usual tables we see in our local restaurants back home, but low, short tables. Are those the right words for it? Low and short? I think both would suit the description.
How could I survive the hours sitting on the floor? I could not submit myself a minute and endure the pain it would cause sitting with my ass flat on the floor mat.
Our menu lady came with our ordered Bulgogi and Bibimbap. It sounded like we’re rapping a tune. Our tour guide ordered it before hand. Next came the table burner.
With all the vegies, and meats in front of us, how are we going to eat those? We waited for a while. The lady just observed us and uttered some Korean words. Maybe she thought we were locals. The waiting in seconds turned to minutes. Then the minutes took long for an action to start. We just opened our chop sticks and scribbled the ingredients with it. A little touch there, a little touch here. A little sniff with the vegies here and there.
We don’t know how to begin the ceremony. Daw manul! Our guide ate separately from us in another room and left us on our own. The lady server sensed that we were tourists so she came to the rescue. She turned the hibachi grill on and waited for it to be heated. Then she put the thinly sliced marinated pork and other ingredients and waited for it to cook. I have eaten at some Japanese and Chinese restaurants back home using the same cooking utensils but the name of the food just excite me that it left me woolgathering on my seat.
Bibimbap was just cooked rice with vegetable toppings and an egg so we just mixed what’s in the bowl. She demonstrated how to prepare the Bulgogi. It was to be wrapped in a lettuce leaf with some kimchi preparations and dipping sauce and eat.
Kneeling was great as an alternate pelvic rest and it did good for the purpose. Doing a supplicatory position of making a mock of the uncomfortable correct way of sitting on the floor kept my level of consciousness, anyway. So, that was it. Sit kneel, sit, kneel, until I finished that bowl of mixed rice and vegetables.
We couldn’t say we enjoyed the food but we gained the experience. We could say our stomach were forced to digest a foreign entree not usually eaten by us back home.
Anyway, it’s good to feel there was something heavy in our stomach to be digested by the hungry enzymes of our intestines.