Most (actually, all) of the Korean dinners I’ve had in this lifetime have been tame and civilized sit-down affairs. This totally changed last night, because T. Bazinga, my brother from another mother, came cruising back in town and brought his homies along for the ride! A-to-the-tezy, V-to-the-izzay!
On the less dramatizin’ side of things, I got to see G again, and the guy’s done so well with an amazing girlfriend (Hello T!) and also D, who at last granted me a 2/3 sincere smile (a vast improvement from the 1/3 smile I got in Tokyo). A year on, and these people I met at Kangaroo Hostel are pretty much still the same bunch of dudes knocking back pints of Sapporo on the bridge and hostel rooftop, all while attempting to shimmy to Nobody, Nobody but’choo!
Oh, but I hear the hot tune’s Taeyang’s Wedding Dress now, as Q and T.Bazinga quite unfortunately attempted to demonstrate for me on the car ride home.
Food is just food, no matter how you look at it. Not that that’s a bad thing; it isn’t. But a super flavorful bowl of galbi tang is just that: a super flavorful bowl of galbi tang.
Years from now, even the most mind-blowing of meals would probably trigger only a fond but extremely hazy thought; tastes and textures slip easily into vagueness. But years from now, it’s the people with whom I shared these meals who will still matter. I will remember that F‘s farewell meal was one partaken over spitfire Mandarin and plenty of belly laughs. I will remember that J had me walk 30 minutes to have the best galbi tang I’ve ever had and how I always seem to unearth one more fun fact about this guy every single time we meet.
Dinner table conversations and pillow talk. Oh, they’re one and the same.
Our momentous post-disso first meal. Hiroba never lets me down and in turn, I offer it my loyalty, my bare gut, and my overused credit card. I swear I ate each morsel with the creepy ethereal reverence that might have also accompanied many a last meal of convicts on death row. That’s what a steady diet of only chinese takeout and Redbull for three whole weeks does to you.
I hardly ever make a dent on English breakfast platters. Yes, even with the vegetarian option and even with J putting away half of the mushrooms, most of the bubble and squeak and half a hashbrown for me.
I should just stick to chinese takeout when I want some stomach greasin’.
So all I’ve been doing since coming back to this sweltering little island is stuff myself. And stuff myself up good.
The most addictive ramen and broth I’ve tasted outside Tokyo. Poached eggs and smoked salmon in hollandaise sauce, pancakes and really, Jones’ brunch all day long. Kangaroo meat, Chilean seabass and duck confit at The Moomba. Masterchef Cheok’s chickenating good dinner. Exorbitantly priced sangria that really was, bad red wine. More Korean before the devastating loss that was Korea-Argentina. And the largest platter of beef horfun I’ve ever seen which B and C demolished easily before my feeble eyes.
There are bigger guts out there than mine. I’ve been myopic.
The nice thing about being home for just a month is that your friends let you get first dibs on your choice of gastronomic poison. And naturally there aren’t any prizes for guessing what I choose. Each. And. Every. Single. Time.
I wasn’t all that impressed by Hansang, because of more reasons than I can count on one hand. But they did do a mean version of 자장면 (black bean noodles) which KC and I both liked. It was rinse and repeat on Monday night when I met C and L for dinner at Your Woul, which was more than a couple of notches above Hansang. The 두부전골 (tofu and beef casserole) was just what we needed to fill our beckoning bellies. And since Your Woul had all these K-Pop posters up on the wall, a much-needed brief education on the wonders of Korean idol groups was presented to L. Whether she wanted to hear it or not.
Today I didn’t go to the library at all. First time in what? Two weeks? I eat so much better when I’m not stuck in front of the computer or buried nose-deep in a book I don’t understand.
I started the day off at 2pm with two wholewheat crispbreads topped with Japanese gomare dressing. It’s the world’s best salad dressing, I’m convinced. I would bathe all my food in this if I could; the roasted sesame aroma is just amazing and I have M to thank for introducing me to this a year ago.
In the early evening we gathered at Bedales‘ for A‘s birthday. There were two huge boards of antipasti and loads of good wine, but I think the sniffles really got to me and I wasn’t in the mood for any cheese or alcohol. I had a nibble of two slices of roasted sundried tomatoes and two slivers of courgette. Then of course, the pièce de résistance of any day: Korean food. I met a very tired N for a good meal of bibimbap and pa’jeon.
And now I’m back in my warm and toasty little room, with organic hazelnut stroopwaffles for dessert. My belly is happy, and possibly quite ready for yet another day at the library tomorrow.
I’m really sorry if this blog has been thoroughly saturated with pictures of food. It’s just that when you spend 11 hours a day sitting your arse down either furiously typing away in front of an iMac or devouring as many books as your eyes will allow before they pop, only food will save your soul.
Elizabeth Wilson sure was right: The brain is in the gut. (sorry, that’s just one of my readings)
And when you can’t actually get any good food in your school situated in the armpit of London (Charlie’s words, not mine), you just click and click away to unearth gastronomic visuals that quicken your breathing quite audibly. Man, I’d love a good bowl of tonkotsu ramen with the perfect half-runny-half-chalky stewed eggs. But as you know, my search for this has been quite futile.