Two weeks ago my friend invited me to eat out. I replied that I was busy, and I really was, but after hearing his offer I thought twice. The devil. He mentioned he’ll treat me for samgyeopsal (삼겹살)!
Now, I have already mentioned my undying love for this favorite Korean food. It’s just actually thick, fatty slices of grilled pork belly fat – I know what you’re thinking: unhealthy! The most common accompaniments for samgyeopsal are lettuce (sangchu; 상추) and sliced raw garlic, but very often the meat is served with other accompaniments, such as perilla leaves (kkaennip; 깻잎), sliced green chili peppers, shredded green onions, sliced raw onions, and aged kimchi (mugeunji; 묵은지). Garlic, onions, and kimchi can be either grilled with the meat or consumed raw with the cooked meat. Mushrooms, such as button mushrooms or oyster mushrooms are also grilled with the meat.
Enough for explanation. My friend and I have debated on where to dine. He’s for Ortigas while I was rooting for somewhere in Makati, a strategic location for me. However, he wanted to be the one to grill the said meal and I didn’t have much Korean restaurants experience in Makati with that. Mostly, they serve the dishes already cooked. So in defeat, I agreed to go to Ortigas.
He suggested a place in Home Depot. I know Korean restaurants in Metro Walk and Home Depot in Ortigas, and in fact, I have eaten in some already. He mentioned something like Seoul Fusion and it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it.
When we arrived, the first thing he noticed was the restaurant’s name. It was not Seoul Fusion! I was like, “What?” Of course, I could see that he’s right. I can read Hangeul (Korean language) and the one glowing outside was far from Seoul Fusion (서울 퓨전). It was Masil (마실)
As we stood there, two attendants approached us and offer their menus. My friend asked if it was Seoul Fusion and they replied that it was and the new name was just changed a month ago. As we entered, I noticed that the interior was plain and simple, nothing fancy. It looked like a normal Korean restaurant, if you know what I mean. The place was divided into two parts; the one was a bit elevated than the others. All tables were equipped with own grill and adjustable exhaust. We surveyed the area and upon seeing only two tables inside were occupied (but there were others eating outside, too) I chose the one at the far end, near the huge air conditioner and electric fan. My friend smiled and if you know me, I’m sure you would, too.
When we settled, they gave us menus which are still named Seoul Fusion. Hehe. Funny they changed the name of the restaurants already, but not the menus. Anyway, we didn’t need it was already agreed upon that we were there to eat samgyeopsal. So we ordered with two cups of rice and as an afterthought, added dwaenjang jjigae (된장 찌개).
They attended as well. Unlike some of the places I have been, they gave us hot towels in the beginning. How I’d loved that! Then out of nowhere (ah, not really I suppose since she must come from somewhere, right?) one lady staff appeared carrying a, what’s that blazing charcoal? Indeed it was. A small bucket of charcoal was put under the “stove” in the middle of our table. I smiled at myself. Of course. I didn’t see check that the place was a charcoal grill restaurant.
After I got over that small surprise, I felt contented on what laid before me. Fatty and raw pork belly slices! Then I smiled when I saw my favorite partner for that – sesame leaf! My inner satisfaction ebbed a little when I saw the staff removing the pork slices in the platter one by one and putting them in the grill. “Huh?” So much for cooking it by ourselves.
But I guess I should not complain. I enjoyed eating the wonderful Korean dish together with dwaenjang jjigae. Now, I think it would be my first time to feature this dish in my blog, but I’d like you to know that according to experience and stories I have heard, many foreigners don’t like it. But I do. Whatever.
Doenjang jjigae is a variety of jjigae or stew-like Korean traditional dish, made with doenjang (Korean soybean paste) and available ingredients such as vegetables, mushrooms, seafood, or dubu (tofu).
One of my Korean friends tried to cook this for me before, but I think I wasn’t in the mood to take photos at that time so I haven’t written about it. Anyway, the taste is nothing similar with kimchi jjigae, as of course it isn’t with kimchi, but with dwaenjang paste instead, which others don’t find palatable.
Together with the dwaenjang soup, I ate a lot of samgyeopsal, but wasn’t able to finish my rice. Of course it was served in a whole cup! So I shared it with my friend who gladly accepted my offer.
When we were done, I was so bloated I envied him that he smokes. Well, I have heard a lot of times that men usually smoke and the feeling of being full lessens when they do. Since I cannot and will not smoke, I suggested having tea. There was only Starbucks in Home Depot and it was packed so we walked until Metrowalk only to find the other branch fully occupied.
It was around 7 PM at that time and I really wanted to drink something so I won’t feel very much bloated. And my friend, who was really not so bright with ideas, proposed to go to Robinson’s Galleria since it was ONLY walking distance! I stared at him like he’d grown two full heads and after recovering, I nonchalantly nodded.
The mall was full and we were immediately distracted with the happenings. All of a sudden he wanted to watch a movie, but since it was Wednesday and Alex Cross’ premiere, a long queue was visible even at the movie house entrance. Bummer. With long faces, we walked away and saw Icebergs. With gleaming eyes, I exclaimed, “Ice cream!”
They say that sometimes, unexpected things happen for a reason and even though they were unplanned, these moments were more fun and interesting than the originally thought. Would