Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Village Restaurant

Technically, that's 새마을 식당 saemaeul shikdang or "New Village Restaurant". The Saemaeul meme stretches back to the early 1970s when Korean strongman Park Chung-hee modernized feudal Korea by providing construction materials to villages to improve their infrastructure. Villages that made satisfactory progress were rewarded with even greater resources in an attempt (largely successful) to achieve a snowball effect of modernization. Saemaeul Undong, "new village program", combined with preferential government policies toward the chaebol, like Samsung, Hyundai, Haetae and Lucky Goldstar (LG), brought Korea roaring into the 20th century--albeit in the late 1980s.

Oh, sorry, this is a restaurant critique. Located on the main strip of Gangseo-gu cheong, just south of the GSG intersection, this restaurant is large, spacious, modern and popular. The menu...

... is inexpensive and varied. This was the second foray here by me and The Stumbler, joined by Kevin (from Yong-in training days) this time, and it was just as delicious as the first time. Even if we had to keep asking the staff to bring on more kimchi. Mind you, since we were seated at the last open table, it was admittedly busy.

We started with the sogeum gui (item #2 on the menu above), which means grilled in salt, but leaves out the cut of pork (shoulder?). We liked it so much we had more:

A few maekchu, a few soju and a lot of fun conversation later, we were ready for the next course: 열탄블고기 yeoltan bulgogi, thinly sliced pork slathered in a spicy but tasty sauce:

It fries up quick so you need to stay handy with the tongs, but the sauce is so thick it won't burn if you let the coals start to cool before cooking. Conversation, after all, is at least as important as the food, when entertaining with friends.

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