Friday, December 21, 2018

Tom gets a birfday dinner

Tom, a 1969er like yours truly, turned 49 on the 12th, and I had promised to treat him to dinner at a restaurant of his choosing. Tom said he knew of an awesome chicken place in the Jongno area, so we went there Thursday evening. The place is run by the mother of one of his university students, and it's so popular that you have to sign a wait-list sheet in order to be seated. The restaurant we went to was small and cramped, but Tom and I ended up seated at a four-top, which gave us room to stretch out a bit.

The place specializes in cheol-pan (iron pan/skillet/griddle) chicken dishes, but the chicken isn't actually cooked in an iron pan: it's rotisserie chicken that gets piled on top of a wacky, fusion-style bed of rice, cheese, corn, and some sort of slightly spicy brown sauce. The chicken itself isn't merely roasted: it's given a nice, smoky glaze that helps to unify the bird's various flavors and textures. Dipping sauces are served on the side. If you were to consider the dish's components separately, then think about how they'd all taste if put together, you'd conclude that the result would be an incoherent, disgusting mess. Yet somehow, the cheol-pan chicken works. It's definitely Korean-style fusion, which can be very bad or very good, but this tilts toward the good side, and I enjoyed every bite.

The birfday boy himself, looking eerily like my sophomore-year roommate Travis:

Tom, now done with his semester, is off to the Philippines on Friday, where he'll meet his Filipina wife and half-Filipino son (both of whom flew there ahead of him). He'll stay with in-laws for a few days, then go do his own thing for the rest of his month-or-so in the PI. Tom always buggers off to the Philippines in the winter; he can't stand the cold here. "That's because that's what old people do," joked a younger, thirty-something mutual friend of ours. Yerp—I guess a lot of retirees prefer warm-weather locales like Florida or the Philippines or Thailand. Me, I love the cold. I should retire in Montana, but I'll settle for Wyoming.

No comments: