On Saturday, I was very, very hungry.
The Hus-friend and I decided we wanted to walk to get Korean food for dinner. Unfortunately, we live in a not-very-convenient location, so most of the Korean food is far away in the Richmond. No big deal, I thought–I typically amass a lot of steps on Saturdays.
Our walk to dinner was five miles, about an hour and a half. Since we walked across the city, we had to fight our way up some hills, and once we crossed the mid-line ridge of the peninsula, the sun was replaced by dense fog and wind. At about the halfway point, I started flagging, and the Hus-friend started saying things like, “I didn’t eat enough today. I’m really excited to eat a lot of Korean food when we get there. I’m so hungry.”
After walking for seemingly an eternity, I said, “Oh, we’re at 4th street. What’s the cross street of Han Il Kwan again?” The Hus-friend hesitated before mumbling, “19th.”
“AJKFLDSJKLF:DS I’m not going to make it. Leave me here to DIE!!!!!!” I said, completely without drama.
Right as the sign of restaurant, Han Il Kwan, came into view, I noticed a giant Korean tour bus had pulled up in front. “Oh, that’s a thing,” said the Husfriend, “Yelp said that giant tour buses of Koreans come here while visiting the city. We have to run so they don’t get ahead of us.”
…so we ungracefully speedwalked to the door to beat a [I shit you not!] gigantic bus of Koreans. It didn’t end up mattering because they apparently had reserved a huge room.
Han Il Kwan is apparently a popular choice for dinner (We tried to go there unsuccessfully with Mitzi last year.), so we had to put our name on the list and wait a few minutes. While we were waiting, I kept seeing servers busing the tables with food still left in the dishes: bits of uneaten banchan, half-bowls of rice, bulgogi left on the now-lukewarm iron plate. “These people are fools,” I thought, “How could you leave any food on your plate??? Om nom nom, I’m going to eat it all!”
When we sat down, I couldn’t decided what I wanted. The server came to take our order, and the Hus-friend matter-of-factly ordered bulgogi. When she turned to me, I panicked and screamed, “Um CAN I HAVE A HAEMUL PAJEON AND DUK MANDOO GUK?” (Seafood and scallion pancake and dumpling-ricecake soup). Giving no indication that we had ordered too much food, she nodded and left.
Two minutes later, a huge array of banchan came out.
“Um, I think I ordered too much food,” I said, as we started shoving banchan in our mouths.
“I’m so hungry! I’m going to eat all of this,” said the Husfriend, between mouthfuls.
“No! Don’t,” I cried, “You’ll fill up, and I ordered so much food!”
Just then, a server came out with a sizable plate of bulgogi and a
bowl cauldron of duk mandoo guk.
“I did a bad thing. Maybe we can ask her not to bring out the scallion pancake,” I said…just as she brought out an enormous plate of scallion pancake. Oops.
Sometimes, I try to slow down and savor my food, but because I was 1) the hungriest I could remember being ever in my entire life and 2) worried about not finishing all the delicious food we had ordered, I decided that the best course of action was pure and shameless gluttony: eating it ALLLLLL.
The way Han Il Kwan is set up, the people waiting for a table are just huddled at the entrance, watching you eat your food. I’d hear groups murmuring, “Ooh, that’s good, what she’s got” as our food came. Initially, I worried about their looks of interest turning to looks of disgust as I chewed and swallowed mouthful after mouthful of food, but eventually, I just decided to give zero fucks about it. Korean food is delicious and made to be eaten with full cheeks, and I wasn’t going to slow down enough to fill up.
Fortunately, I am super-good at using chopsticks now, so utensils did not get in my way. I shudder to think how this looked to an outside observer: two people at a table for four, covered with dishes, shoving soup, dumplings, pancake, and sidedishes into their mouths with reckless abandon. When I think about it, the word that comes to mind is “bestial.”
[I didn’t get a photo of the three main dishes because I jumped on them and begin inhaling their contents. SorryNotSorry.]
Long story short, we managed to take down almost the entire table of food between the two of us. We did not eat all the sidedishes (potatoes, bean sprouts, regular kimchi, rice.), and we took about half of the pancake home. Still, by the time the server came with some shikye-as-digestive, the table looked destroyed.
Yes, we took down an amount of food fit for five people. I’m not even sorry.
[Hilarious/embarrassing epilogue: I decided I was going to buy a donut for dessert while we were in the Richmond, so we stopped at a nearby donut shop. Unfortunately, there was a $5 minimum for credit cards, so we had to order, like, three donuts and a ginger ale. Whoops.]
We may not be the most exciting married almost-thirty-somethings, but we can eat. Om nom nom nom.
(We took a car home and passed out on the couch, watching movies on HBO. Saturday win.)