Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gal-Be = Heaven

*Gal-be*, is the Korean word for *heaven* as far as I*m concerned. With just over ten months left on my contract, I*m already feeling disheartened about continuing my life void of certain Korean staples. Gal-be is one of these.

Gal-be derives its brilliance from its shear simplicity. To begin with, prominently displayed photos or drawings of pigs distinguish Gal-be restaurants from the rest and simultaneously provide passersby*s with a menu at a glance. After removing your shoes at the door, you take a seat on the floor amongst various Korean families and friends.

There*s none of this pondering the menu trying to decide if you should be adventurous or go with the same old favorite. Only two decisions are required: what type of alcohol you desire and how many portions of Gal-be you wish to eat. As quickly as these decisions have been reached the meal arrives. An iron cylinder filled with glowing ambers is placed in the center hole of the knee high table. A stainless steel grate is positioned overtop and switched periodically throughout the meal.

The biggest problem with Gal-be is allocating enough table space to accommodate all of the FREE, REFILLABLE dishes. Starting with the greens; there is a lettuce, green onion and chive salad mixed in a generously applied tart, yet sweet dressing, a plate with five varieties of lettuce, an entire cucumber, half a large carrot, two long green chili peppers, four gargantuan mint leaves and a hand full of fresh, peeled garlic cloves delicately wrapped in a lettuce and places in the center.

There is also a bowl of onion salad, which I recently discovered was excellent for grilling, and another bowl with two varieties of kim-chee... the Korean equivalent of salt. But no, that*s still not all! There is also a dish of co slaw like cabbage with a dollop of tasty vanilla yogurt dressing and peanuts sprinkled on top. Then there are the sauces, one of which is a bean paste that ranks right up there with Aroy-D sweet chili sauce from Thailand. The other is similar to Soya-sauce and used for dipping the freshly grilled meat in. Finally, there is big metal bowl of marinated pork! I was trying to figure out the cut today, to no avail, I think it could be from the rib area as there was a rib like bone in our dish this time around.

I*m a drummer, which also means I*m a fidgeter ~ always have been. It drives my family, friends and ex-girlfriends nuts. Gal-be demands close attention. The pork has to be placed on the grill, flipped to allow for even cooking and cut into bite size pieces using the large set of scissors provided. Not only is this meal a fidgeters dream, but it also satisfies my boyish fascination with fire! It is the ultimate first date meal, you can exude natural machismo grilling and slicing freshly killed swine, and you always have a sense of purpose just incase one of those awkwardly long silences develops. Once the pork is cooked you grab it with some chopsticks, dunk it in the sauces and then wrap it in a leaf with whatever you like, perhaps some grilled garlic and kim-chee, the possibilities are endless!

Tonight three of us ate four portions. I was stuffed, and it should be noted I hadn*t eaten all day and was extremely hung over. The bill came to 14,000 won, the equivalent of about $16 Canadian for the three of us. Let me phrase it another way: for $5.33 I spent over an hour vanquishing a day*s hunger from a selection of six different dishes.

Gal-be is heaven... perhaps I will never Korea.

1 comment:

anomi said...

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.