Friday, January 30, 2015


My friend John McCrarey recently wrote about our dinner on base this past Wednesday evening. I've been lucky to have friends, over the years, who have been able to sign me on base at the Yongsan Garrison: my buddy Tom used to have an AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce) pass; later on, my US Army friend Charlie (who currently tweets as @KimcheeGI) was able to sign me on. Now it's John, and as much as I praise the delights of staying away from American culture in favor of experiencing Korean culture more deeply, John knows I get the American-food jones just like every other expat. His invitation to eat at Oasis, the Tex-Mex/BBQ buffet on base at the Dragon Hill Lodge, was just too tempting to refuse.

I showed up a few minutes late for our meeting; John was standing outside the gate, keeping himself warm with a cigarette. We signed in and strolled over to the Dragon Hill Lodge, and I once again got that weird, surreal feeling I always get when I'm on base, as if I've stepped across a teleportation threshold only to find myself back in the United States. We descended the steps to Oasis... and discovered it was closed for "improvements." I had a good chuckle. John was frustrated: he had checked online and seen nothing about any repairs or renovation. True, I'd been hoping to stuff myself silly on bad-for-you Tex-Mex and barbecue, but I was fine with hitting a different restaurant, of which there were several. We eventually chose Greenstreet (in my mind, I'm always calling it "Greensleeves," after the song), and I ordered the Reuben, which is my go-to sandwich if I'm not ordering a burger.

Now, I've talked about Reubens on this blog before (my review of Suji's kimchi Reuben is here); while I'm no expert on them, I'd say I'm on the cusp of becoming a bit of a Reuben connoisseur. At the very least, I've had enough Reubens to know what I like, and the Greenstreet Reuben gets my unequivocal thumbs-up. Despite the fact that the preparers of the sandwich made the classic mistake of leaving the bottom bread soaked, the Reuben was positively stuffed with meat, and the cheese, sauerkraut, and sauce all harmonized to produce a pleasantly rib-sticking meal. Because I intended to walk home that night, I found the sandwich to be just filling enough without leaving me bloated and unable to walk without shitting my pants. (I know: restaurant reviews aren't supposed to mention shit. Well, too bad.) I had toyed with the idea of ordering the Greenstreet buffet instead, but I knew that I'd probably overeat. (Had I overeaten at Oasis, I'd have simply taken a cab home, then spent the rest of the night on the toilet.)

John and I talked about some personal matters, which I won't relate here. After dinner, I also had fun chatting in Korean with the cute young lady acting as hostess at the front of the restaurant. She was modest about her English ability, and she asked me what the best way to learn English was. "Constant practice," I said. She made a fist and said, "I'll study hard!"—to which I responded with the Konglish "Fighting!" John heard this and intervened: "No fighting!" I think John was faintly amused at my having chatted up both our server and the hostess; he later told me that I hadn't taken the conversation with the hostess far enough. I ruefully noted that I should have asked her, "What time does your shift end?" instead of the question I did pose to her, which was, "What time does the kitchen close?" Ah, well. She was a cutie, though. (And the Greenstreet kitchen closes at 9:30PM, FYI.)

We left the Dragon Hill Lodge and walked back to the gate. There, we signed out (John had to have his fingertip scanned at both sign-in and sign-out; that's a new procedure to me). We had stopped at the base "shoppette" before leaving, so John was lugging two cases' worth of diet cola in his backpack. I had elected to walk home; it occurred to me that walking up Namsan would have been ten times more difficult had I been carrying John's heavy backpack.

John felt bad about our not having hit Oasis, but it wasn't tragic to me. Next time I'm on base, we'll definitely slaughter some pigs and cows and tacos. But the Reuben I had this time around proved quite memorable, so all was not lost.


1 comment:

John (I'm not a robot) said...

Alright, I feel better now. Glad you enjoyed it. I just hate to promise something and not deliver.

I was indeed impressed with what a smooth talker you are with the ladies. And by impressed I mean envious!

It's always nice to see you in 3-D. I'll look forward to our next encounter.