“What we need, ” I say early in the evening, “is to find a way to combine Children’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and Ogyeopsal Day.”
It’s May 5th and Shauna, Alex and I are sitting at a rooftop bar in Itaewon, the foreigner district in Seoul. We’re drinking beer as the sun sinks behind buildings and mountains. It’s still cool in the evening and I find myself shivering as streetlights pop on along the street.
We saw children and ate Mexican food earlier, but have yet to celebrate Ogyeopsal Day. This is mainly because I think Alex made it up.
Samgyeopsal is a popular Korean barbecue menu item: pork with three layers of fat. On March 3rd we celebrated the third day of the third month with samgyeopsal. Alex insists that we should celebrate the 5th day of the 5th month with a pork dinner with five layers of fat. Thus, Ogyeopsal Day.
Alex smiles suddenly and says, “We could always grill a fat Mexican child.”
Alex’s suggestion puts off our appetites long enough to finish our beer, but the smells of other people’s dinners are wafting up to the rooftop. My stomach is gurgling in response and five layers of fat seems more and more like a brilliant idea.
We walk down narrow, uneven steps to get to a small restaurant just off the main road. The serving staff laughs at our request. Alex keeps insisting that ogyeopsal is a real thing, so we walk back up the steps and continue on.
Finding a restaurant that serves Korean barbecue in the foreigner district is a challenge in itself. Finding one that serves a meal I’m feeling more and more confident that Alex made up, is starting to seem impossible.
We turn down a narrow side street near the Taco Bell, with small foreign food stores and Ethiopian restaurants, the front walls made of glass and small tables crammed into tight rows. We come to a large Korean restaurant with a menu posted by the door. To my surprise, ogyeopsal is listed. Alex lets out a cry of triumph and we make our way inside.
We sit at a table with a metal grill in the centre and a rectangular, plastic utensil box placed to one side. There are a couple of electronic dartboards against one wall and handwritten signs for the bathroom posted at the back. There aren’t many people in the restaurant.
Within a few minutes, a waitress who clearly, and perhaps correctly, doubts our grilling capabilities, is cooking our dinner in front of us as we sit and discuss our summer plans. This early in spring, there are still so many empty weekends to be filled with beaches, concerts, beer and more barbecues.
Or read more Alex Gould adventures in Alex Gould, Legend
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