So I find this a great place for food!! Yesterday lunch was a traditional Korean meal, a sort of banquet, with many courses than just kept coming. There was a great simmered beef dish, with carrots and yams. There was a pumpkin soup to start. There were several diff noodles dishes, some with seafood, some with interesting vegetables. Plenty of small dishes, including the famous kimchee. (Every Korean restaurant makes their own, so it always tastes just a little bit different.) At the end a tofu hot pot, rather spicy, but delicious. Then fresh fruit!! The meals tend to have excellent balance-- the intense flavors of one dish balanced out by a much simpler broth, for example.
There is also very good italian-- albeit with a Korean feel. Thin crust pizzas, good pastas, but often the pasta while be spiced with more typical Asian spices. And their Tiramisu is light with strong coffee flavor, much fresher than many in New York.
Of course, because this is a fully globalized city, there are plenty of Tony Roma's, Burger King (serving a Bulgogi burger!), Pizza Hut(they like potato as a pizza topping), 7-11 and lots of other mini-marts, Coke and Pepsi, of course, and, yes, that's right, Starbucks!! Sometimes their take on "our" food is very strange: their is an "American" set breakfast menu offered at my hotel. It consists of a pretzel hot dog, a baked potato, some honey bread, a green salad, and a boiled egg.
They also like bakeries alot, and clearly use the French model for those. Lots of delicate breads and croissants, all exquisitely wrapped, and occasionally a green tea bread or cake, as well.
I had dinner the other night in a Korean barbeque restaurant, but did not want to bother with grilling my food, wanted something already prepared. The English writing on the menu was not particularly helpful, something like, "rice over mixed seasoned beef". The waitress spoke very little English, but was trying to send me a message of concern, pointing at various pictures on the menu. So my food arrives, and the beef is raw, alongside mushrooms, zucchini, with sticky rice that is to be added in. Not what I was expecting, and clearly what she was trying to tell me. It was rather delicious, actually, and loveliest of all is how she came over after about five minutes and asked, in fracturd English, "are you OK?"
American movies are here, like crazy. Indiana Jones, Ashton Kutcher, Cameron Diaz, Kung Fu Panda, Sex and the City starts soon. These will be in English, with Korean titles. Western looking models are used all over the advertisements-- it seems like whenever there is something to be sold, it's non-Koreans being shown.
And the driving!! Makes New York seem like a city with no traffic. Traffic jams at 9:30pm on weeknight are a regular occurrence. The streets are clogged with traffic and cars, many much smaller than ours. But everyone drives with very little thought to anyone else. In the smallest little city alley, there are no one-way streets, so cars wil just proceed along merrily, until an oncoming car forces them to react or change their path. It is quite something to see. Everyone seems cheefully persistent.
I'm off to the Naedaemun shopping district, and then a long afternoon of flute lessons. Dinner tonight with the flutist who has arranged my trip, SoYoung Lee, and maybe some headjoints to try, because her favorite maker is here from Europe. Whenever she's around, it's a party.