10 (Sat) September 2011
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ, the In-Laws
Seolmaene (설매네) is a Korean restaurant. Specializes in traditional cuisine, just a handful of dishes. Though not ostensibly North Korean, the simple style of preparation suggests northern influence. On weekdays, it’s packed with old Korean men.
I’ve come to observe that old Korean men are the most reliable bellwethers of good old-school Korean restaurants. It’s a cultural phenomenon that I attribute to 3 factors. First, working Koreans regularly eat dinner right after work with their colleagues and/or clients, as opposed to going home for dinner. Second, a work-related dinner is often a drawn out affair that involves food and booze in copious amounts, both in terms of volume and variety, best served one plate and one bottle at a time so as to facilitate conversation and bonding. And finally, up until recently, men constituted the majority of the workforce. Thus, old Korean men, with decades of experience, know where to go for good eats and drinks at reasonable prices in a relaxed atmosphere. Any Korean restaurant packed exclusively with old men on a weeknight has a strong likelihood of being good. I’m calling this the “Ajeossi Bellwether Standard” (“ajeossi” = “old man”).
I hadn’t been here in years, but I was happy to discover tonight that the food was as excellent as I’d remembered. The broth of the jeongol was perfectly clear and yet rich in beef flavor. Definitely worth 25,000 won. My only regret was that we weren’t all that hungry at 6:00 PM, so we didn’t order more.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)