Following a bad experience at a so-so restaurant many years ago, I had little appreciation for Korean food. I limited my encounters with it to Melona ice cream and Korean instant noodles.
That is, until I visited Ye Dang a few months back. There, my love for kimchi was rekindled. One bite of its crunchy goodness and I was head over heels once more. Ever since, I started to include Korean cuisine in my repertoire of favorite things. It was inevitable then that sooner or later, I’d go back to Ye Dang. This time, to have a despedida (farewell) meal in honor of my lovely friend and workmate, Mattel.
She has always been an admirable worker, friend, and teammate. Thus, as she leaves us to embark on another adventure, it was only apt that we gave her the festive, food-gasmic send-off she deserves.
The best thing about a Korean meal is the side dishes (banchan) that go with it. In Ye Dang, the selection is varied and numerous. They had the traditional kimchi, pickled radish, anchovies, sprouts with sesame seed, caramelized baby potatoes, and fishcakes. You can get full by eating the side dishes alone. These are “refillable” as well so you can enjoy as much as you want to eat! 🙂
Then, there are the leaves (lettuce and mint). I haven’t enjoyed leaves as much as I do in Korean cuisine. These leaves for me are the starting points of my culinary adventure. Lettuce and mint in hand, I like experimenting with the different side dishes, meat, and pastes to come up with exciting wraps. Shall I go for grilled chicken, kimchi, and garlic? Grilled beef, sprouts, chili paste, and fishcakes? The permutations are all exciting!
(Photo: Grilled chicken)
Meat is served in different ways as well – grilled, stewed, sauced, fried – ask and you shall receive!
But this time around, I tried two new things. First is the Pajeon or the Korean seafood pancake. It’s like a seafood omelet that also has chives in it. The egg is spread out thinly and evenly and for some reason, it reminded me of pizza except that there’s no crust. I quite like it.
Second is the Kimchi Chigae (Spicy Kimchi Stew), which has tofu, bits of beef, chives, and of course Kimchi in a spicy broth. Mattel ordered this for herself but she didn’t like it so she passed it on to me. As expected, I really liked it! It’s the perfect stew for a cold day. The broth is so spicy you can feel it warming up your tummy. Plus, there’s a sour taste to it that reminds me of sinigang, though my workmates disagree. I also love how the tofu just melts in your mouth and how the occasional bits of beef make it more savory. This, for me, could be the perfect comfort food. Especially because I love kimchi! 🙂
After an hour of gobbling and bantering, the food miraculously disappeared! The friendly banter, however, went on even on the way back to the office.
This is what I love most about work. There is an easy camaraderie among the people in the team that helps all of us get through the most stressful times. A teasing remark here, a burst of unrestrained laughter there – nothing is too difficult when there are friends around willing to help and make you smile.
To Mattel, one of my dearest friends and accounts partner, I hope that you have a glorious time in your new venture! But remember, when times get tough, we will always be here to cheer you up.