23 (Sun) January 2010
at A. Swannie
-Samseong, Gangnam, Seoul, Korea-
with the Family
In Korea, a special occasion celebrated in the company of a large gathering – wedding, birthday, not funeral but someday soon no doubt – will likely involve a buffet. If asked, most diners would immediately categorize the food as “western,” probably because the format is Euro-American in origin, rather than the food itself, which is more or less equally divided between Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, with a smattering of Koreanized American-style Italian.
Here, on the occasion of my wife’s friend’s daughter’s all-important first birthday, a typically big event involving family and friends, we arrived a bit late to discover that more guests had shown up than the hosts had bargained for – literally, meaning that they’d paid for a certain number of servings, which turned out to be insufficient. At this establishment, parties are held in private rooms, each with its own customized buffet table, as opposed to the more common arrangement of a central buffet in a main hall that’s shared by all parties and constantly replenished. Roast beef – sliced and neatly laid out in rows on a chafing dish – that’s not what we ate. Carrot wedges and other random vegetables that line the perimeter of the tray – the garnishes – that’s what we ate.