Sunday, August 22, 2010

What happens when you take a vegetarian to Korean barbeque?

Okay, so I know this sounds like the opening line to a joke.

And those awaiting a punchline will not be disappointed... because what happened last night was definitely comical, if not utterly embarrassing.
After a class field trip (Cheen-gu came along, of course) to Jeongju Hanok Village and Geumsan Temple (my elementary school-self was happy about this... we even got snacks on the bus!), a small group of us decided to ditch the cafeteria and go out to dinner. Aside from our bus trip, this outing is the first time most of us had really stepped off campus to do anything fun... orientation alone has been keeping us pretty busy!

We arrived at the restaurant two of our friends had seen a couple days before and suggested, only to find that it was Korean barbeque. This brought one of my personal dillemmas to the forefront, because I had been wondering this whole time if I, being a vegetarian, would be able to eat anything at a place like this. This was actually one of the most commonly-asked questions I got before leaving: "Will you be trying Korean barbeque?"

So this issue was bound to come up sooner or later.We decided to go inside, understanding that I might be swiping pieces of lettuce off people's plates for my main course. Of course, we were also banking on the fact that the menu might have some pictures on it. No such luck. Stuck in a Korean barbeque with virtually no knowledge of the Korean language, no readable menu, and me with my special needs... we defaulted to the foreigners we saw in the restaurant, and enlisted their help.

This resulted in one of the most awkward experiences I've had to date.

Emily approached the table of foreigners, asking them for help in ordering a 'no meat' or 'fish' option (yes; I did shamefully sit at our table and watch from a distance). This resulted in some weird expressions, and soon the servers approached the table.

Soon our fellow foreigners and the Korean servers were in what appeared to be a discussion over why someone would willingly come to a barbeque when they don't even eat meat. If that wasn't enough, they all began pointing at me from across the restaurant so we could clear up this debacle. It was hard not to sink in my chair from this point on, especially when they came over and laughed at me when I verified that, no, I didn't eat meat but was willing to eat anything else. That fact in itself scared be because I had no idea what they would bring out.

In the end, I ended up with a cold noodle dish (which looks really strange but actually tasted quite good):

While my friends cooked their dinner:

So what happens when you take a vegetarian to Korean barbeque?

I don't know, exactly. But put out a video camera.
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1 comment:

  1. I have experienced the vegetarian-at-a-Korean-BBQ situation before (here in L.A.'s own little K-town). It's awkward, and uncomfortable to be that person, so when my friends decide that is where their end of term dinner destination will be, I usually just eat beforehand, and go to drink soju!! Yayy for sojuuu! :P

    Glad to hear you still had food to eat! :P