Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Tonkatsu, and Everything in Between

Back in 2003 -- which, paradoxically, seems like such a long time ago (because it was) and not that long ago (because I have a memory like someone who has a pretty good memory) -- I used to work in the Sinsa area of Seoul. For lunch, probably twice a week, I'd go to either one of the two best tonkatsu restaurants in the city with my boss. We'd often go tete-a-tete over which place was better, like Beatles fans arguing the merits of John, Paul, and George. Place A had a relaxed atmosphere, had classic rock LP covers adorning its walls, and their miso soup might have had crack in it. Place B, on the other hand, was located on the basement floor of an adjacent building. Its walls were ceramic tiles; it was popular with office workers, particularly young women; and they'd give you a mortar and pestle with which to grind sesame seeds in and then add their house sauce.

I wonder if they're still there, still prosperous. I hope so. They deserve to be.


Last Saturday morning, I went to Kimbap Cheonguk (김밥천국) with my wife for breakfast. For the uninitiated, Kimbap Cheonguk is basically an analogue of the American diner: food served cheap, fast, and tasty (ideally). I ordered the fast-food version of tonkatsu, which in its own right is pretty good* but doesn't compare to the real thing. It's like a half-remembered thought of what once was great transformed into something that's still pretty good. Basically, it's the Kobe Bryant airplane meal next to Michael Jordan's Ritz-Carlton banquet: you can taste the effort, but it's still not the genuine article.


As much as I love tonkatsu, I love the fish variation more. Saengseonkkaseu (생선까스), served with tartar sauce, miso soup, and a side of shredded carburetor really pumps my nads is divine. 


I'm going swimming.




* Perhaps I'm a heathen, but ketchup on shredded cabbage tastes like Heaven in my mouth at 7:30 in the morning.

No comments: