Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Meal Fit for a McArdle

Nathan and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on Sunday by going to a nearby Korean BBQ place, San Soo Gab San.  We had heard good things about it from numerous people, but the last time we attempted going, we had back luck.

As a result of the last attempt, I was a little nervous about trying to go on this special occasion.  I still remembered rather vividly the last try.  Last time, we called ahead to see if we could make a reservation (no).  Figuring that we would probably be safe with no reservations early on a Friday night, we biked there through the cold of early February dusk only to arrive to find people lined up outside.  Nathan made me go in to check because he's odd about that sort of thing.  (Very non-oldest child of him.)  I checked with the hostess, who was extremely difficult to understand as she really didn't speak English, only to find that there was a TWO hour wait.  We were starving, of course, and unwilling to wait that long.  There is nowhere else to eat nearby either.  I remember biking to 5 other places as we tried to make a decision as a couple on where to eat (probably the quickest way in our relationship to ensure a fight).  We got home something like 3 hours later, having nearly thrown in the towel to just go home without dinner at least once.

Needless to say, I felt like the Korean BBQ option might just be setting us up for failure.  However, the first sign of this choice being a safe bet was when Nathan suggested we drive.  We got there right at 7 pm, which apparently, is the perfect time to eat at this place because we were led right to a large table!  We were seated, brought large menus, and left to our bewilderment: there was a hole in our table, a vent above, and a whole lot of unidentifiable Korean characters on our menu.  Our lovely waitress arrived shortly and asked if we had been there before.  We quickly admitted to being clueless.

Our waitress told us that we needed to order two entrees and very adamantly explained that we would be cooking our own meat, repeating it a few times just to make sure there was no question that we would be doing the work.  We ordered marinated beef short ribs and bulgogi (marinated beef that I was told is a national Korean dish).  Nathan also ordered soju, which is like Korean vodka, "only smoother," said our waitress.    She brought out a 16 oz. bottle and two shot glasses.  I thought to myself that driving might have been a bad idea after all, but she assured us that it had less alcohol content than vodka.  I think our first shot was a cheers to our making it this long, but all the rest, they were to the food.  The food.
We had only just placed our order, but out came a huge tray of side dishes.  This was the reason you must order two entrees.  So you can get the goodies with the meal.  The waiter proceeded to unload dish after dish after dish after dish, until he had balanced 27 dishes on our table in front of us.  Everything from lotus root to kimchi to any number of unidentifiable items.  (One tasted mostly like dried prunes, but felt like I was eating an inside out beetle.  It sounds better to just say eating a beetle, but my nerdy work friends said it wouldn't be crunchy on the inside if it was a beetle since they have exoskeletons.)

Then they brought our fire pot!  And our yummy, yummy meat.  Our delicious, scrumptious, tasty tasty meat.  The short ribs were easier to cook than the bulgogi, but it is pretty impossible to pick a winner between the two.  We also accidentally got some chicken since I started cooking the first dish they brought us, which was another table's chicken, and the waitress wouldn't take it off our grill when she came to fix the mixup.

Everything was great.  Nathan and I decided we would try everything, no matter how mysterious.  (I think Nathan also had an unspoken goal of finishing it all, so he could stack every bowl up next to him, but sadly we failed.)  It was just too much.  And some of those mysterious dishes were tough to finish, so we gave up at the last six.  Later I wished I had left seven because finishing off those last crunchy little dried sardines was much regretted when I could still taste them even after brushing my teeth.  We did, however, manage to finish the last of the soju with a toast to adventuring together.

Here's to sharing the adventure with you on your next visit!


  1. That sounds like a place Matt would love!! Congratulations on your 10 year anniversary and wishing you many more happy anniversary celebrations!!