4 (Mon) October 2010
at unnamed tent bar
-Sinchon, Seodaemun, Seoul, Korea-
with MtG, CBD
Tent bars, though less common in recent years along the streets of Seoul, as city officials attempt to gentrify the city and younger patrons seek fancier, cleaner, and more consistent establishments to get their refreshments, still remain in isolated pockets as a popular venue for late-night drinking and snacking. They’re called “pojang macha” (“covered wagon”) in reference to the typical setup consisting of a mobile kitchen in the back of a pickup truck that’s enclosed in a large vinyl tarp to form a makeshift structure large enough to accommodate tables and stools. The kitchen often features a flat glass refrigerator displaying the ingredients available for order, usually by grill or stir fry or deep fry. Typical dishes, including chicken gizzards, chicken feet, eel, mackerel, and various types of shellfish, aren’t regarded so much as meals per se as they are anju, snacks to accompany alcohol, such as soju. Prices range from 10,000 to 20,000 won. Given that these tent bars cost the same or even more than their brick-and-mortar counterparts with running water, it’s clear that neither money nor hygiene is of particular concern to those who continue to frequent them. Nostalgia.
For my first visit to a pojang macha in some time, perhaps even years, I decided to try something completely new: quail. It was so hopped up on soy sauce and black pepper and MSG that it didn’t really taste like anything, not even like chicken. Interestingly, the bones are soft enough to be eaten along with the meat.