Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Vegetarians Do Korean BBQ

Ian and I met several of the other teachers last night to welcome two new girls who have come to work for GnB.  They are taking over Kate and Pete's positions, as they finished their contracts a couple of weeks ago.  They seem like nice girls, both from Hawaii.  I'm not sure if they are related, but they knew each other before coming to Korea.

The plan was to meet at a BBQ place that the other foreigners refer to as "The Sweet Corn Place" because they serve, boiling hot, sweet corn drowning in butter as one of the banchans.  I'm really happy that we went, because Korean BBQ, or galbi, is very popular inside Korea and very famous in other countries.  In the states, "Korean food" usually refers to galbi.

There are a couple of ways to have your food at a galbi restaurant.  Each table has a hot plate and depending on what you order, the waitress will either take your hot plate away and bring it back with the mostly cooked meat and seasoning on it with a burner underneath and set it back on your table, or the waitress will put a burner underneath the hot plate and bring a selection of raw meats and seafood to put on yourself.

Either way, I can see why it's popular.  The food looked very fresh and it's a completely communal experience.  There is a wide selection of banchan because galbi is eaten in lettuce wraps.  One takes a leaf of lettuce, puts on the galbi and then your choice of banchan and eats the whole thing like a taco.

Ian and I knew that galbi restaurants aren't for vegetarians, so we ate kimbap for dinner before we went.  But, vegetarian galbi is something that could be achieved at home.  Maybe not in our small kitchen here, but in the states it's something that I look forward to experimenting with.

After dinner everyone went out to "Western Village," a Western bar near the restaurant.  Ian and I have only been to a Western bar once, in Busan.  In the states, "Western bar" would probably refer to country-western, but here it simply refers to the bar having a "Western" atmosphere and a selection of imported liquor and beer, all at exorbitant prices.  It was a fun night, though.  I won a game of bingo and subsequently three cheap bottles of Korean beer.  We hung out with Ben and Amy most of the night, and when they left, Ian got his geek on with Matt.  They thoroughly discussed Star Trek and video games and we didn't get home until 3:30. 
From the menu.  Can I interest you in a "meron [melon] daquiri" or a "matini?"

The three terrible bottles of beer that I won.

I ordered this out of amusement and it was a mistake.  It's a blue kamikaze (spelled "blue kamikage" on the menu).  Kamikaze's should not be blue.  It was disgusting and I did not drink it.

The staff put on a very unsafe pyrotechnics show which included juggling lighted liquor bottles and spitting fire via a mouthful of Absolut.

 It was very kitschy, entertaining and unsafe.


  1. OMG , where is the fire marshal when you need them. Love the Engrish, it never stops being funny. I want you to give me more details on the Korean BBQ. I would like to try it here with seafood and vegetables. Glad you both had a good time.
    Oh, hope you took note of the fire exits!!

  2. Yes - ditto what your Mom says - playing with fire inside of a bar ... NOT a good idea! And those drinks look like poison! Thank goodness you didn't actually drink them. The blue one looked like listerine, and the beer - well, who would trust a beer with a name like that?

  3. Ha ha ha! I didn't purposefully take the picture of the beer that way. But, that's what they taste like!