March 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm (Photographs)
Our first evening back in Korea started with another Korean BBQ, this time at a very popular all-you-can-eat place called Dino Meat. To prevent people from taking more than they can handle, the restaurant charges en extra fee if you leave leftovers (aside from a few bites). Here’s Ann busily working again:
You can see all the side dishes that are served and, as a standard practice, there is no tipping in Korea. So the price posted is what you pay, end of story. The only problem is trying to pay as Korean tradition means the host pays for everyone, and Anne is one tough cookie. She kept saying, “When we come to Canada, you can pay for me” and wouldn’t let us pay until we would either trick her by paying before she noticed or by enlisting Iain’s help.
After dinner we went to one of Iain’s spots where he meets with friends on Friday nights. On our way, we got a taste of what Incheon looks like at night. Advertisements tend to be on thin vertical signs all the way up buildings. Most streets are very, very narrow.
In Korean bars, you usually buy the liquor by the bottle and share with people at your table. I don’t drink hard liquor, but the bartender was nice enough to make me and Anne a drink of vodka-cranberry. It was either that or pay $50 for a bottle of cheap wine. Bars also always serve snacks as it’s considered unhealthy to drink on an empty stomach; we had a bowl of popcorn.
As in many bars, the techno music was deafening, so you had to yell across the table to be heard. Not my thing. Here’s a neon ad on the wall (in English) for tequila. I’m guessing this sign can be seen in some North American bars too.
By far, the most popular drink in Korea is Soju,
a fermented rice beverage. Though traditionally made from rice, most major brands supplement or even replace the rice with other starches such as potato, wheat, barley, sweet potato, or tapioca (Wikipedia) [Updated Mar 23]. It is similar to vodka but with 25% alcohol.
In Korea, going out is a three-step process. First the group decides where they’re going to eat (restaurants usually specialize in one or two dishes, so you decide what you want first, and that narrows the choice in restaurants), then it’s kareoke or some other bar, then it’s a dance place. Oh, and according to Iain, bars close when the last customer leaves. And if that’s not enough, once out of the bar, you can go to what’s called a Soju Tent. These are bright orange tents erected at night for the sole purpose of drinking Soju (and eating). They stay open until 5-6am, when the subway system starts running again. I wonder where the AA groups meet. Here’s a blurry picture of a soju tent.