Popping the Bubble Week Two: Korean Food—It’s Good for the Seoul

By Sinead Hunt

Last Thursday at 7:30 p.m. I came to the startling conclusion that I had not left Morningside all week. Thanks to my Calc 3 midterm, I had barely left the confines of my dorm room, where my desk had become inundated by papers. Not wanting to disappoint my loyal fans (aka my parents and those of you who stumbled upon this blog thinking it was a food blog), I decided that I had to stick to my promise, and venture outside of Morningside. Due to my innate laziness, however, I really didn’t want to have to transfer subway lines, so I decided to limit my adventuring to anything directly on the 1. It was this minimum-effort mode of thinking that led me to pursue #36 on my list: eating Korean barbecue in Koreatown.

K_Town.jpg

Conveniently nestled between many of New York’s hottest tourist attractions, including Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building, Koreatown, or “K-town,” has quickly transformed into a veritable cultural hub for Koreans in New York City. Its diverse offerings, including authentic Korean spas, karaoke and famed Korean BBQ, offer New Yorkers an inside glimpse into Korean culture.

I arrived in Koreatown with one mission: to try Korean BBQ. Having done no prior research into the best restaurants in the area, my friend and I simply walked into the first restaurant we could find. After asking the hostess the whitest question of all time—“Do you accept Amex?”—we were seated on the second floor of the restaurant. However, much to my chagrin, after a cursory glance of the menu, I soon discovered that Korean BBQ is actually insanely expensive. The waiter informed us that the minimum order was at least two dishes. Each dish offered a variety of meats, including bulgogi, a thinly sliced beef, and cost upwards of $30. After some quick, internal calculations, my friend and I decided that this restaurant was simply way too expensive for us, and began to formulate our escape route.

Not wanting to admit to our waiter that we couldn’t afford the food on the menu, my friend left the table first, under the pretense of “finding a bathroom.” I followed suit, and surreptitiously exited the premises, dignity still intact (well, not realpopping-the-bubble-week-2_10-7ly, but I really didn’t have much to begin with anyway).

Hungry and dejected, we sauntered over to a much more reasonably priced establishment. We still couldn’t afford Korean BBQ, but settled on tofu stew with kimchi. In order to cut costs, we decided to share the meal. The waiter seemed reluctant to allow us to do so, and insisted that the portion was really only enough for one person. After going back and forth between the two of us, I finally blurted out, “We’re poor, okay? So just let us share the meal.” This brash acknowledgment proved sufficient in convincing him to let us share our meal.

The meal itself was quite delicious, and its hefty portion proved enough to feed the both of us. All in all, it had been quite a productive evening. I had managed to embarrass myself in front of not one, not two, but three waiters, and ate enough kimchi to feed a small army. Check in next time, as I venture to the ends of the earth. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen…I’m going to Brooklyn.

Sinead Hunt is a first-year at Barnard and Liaison for Barnard Bite.

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