5.123 Knee for Ki

Cycle 5 – Item 123

8 (Thu) May 2014

Knee for Ki

3.5

at Royal

-Malate, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-

with WHO Korean staff

Royal is a Korean restaurant.  Like most Korean eateries in Manila, the eclectic menu ranges from grilled meats to soups/stews, stir-fries, pancakes, etc.  Even though it’s been around for 7 years, Royal remains one of the least known in the city (among the 12 Koreans present at dinner, 10 of us, including me, had never heard of it until this evening).

Neither the outside …

The occasion was an informal welcome dinner for me, hosted and attended by the Korean staff members of WHO, to celebrate my joining the Organization as a technical officer.

… nor the inside suggested royalty.

The restaurant also offers two unusual items that I can’t recall ever having seen outside of Korea: heugyeomso (black goat) and dogani (beef knee ligament).

Even though the look of the place didn’t engender much confidence, the food overall was very good.  For me, the highlight of the meal was the dogani muchim.  Generally, I’m not a fan of dogani because it’s kinda mushy in texture and doesn’t really taste like anything, particularly when plainly boiled.  But here, it was perfectly cooked to be firm and chewy.  It still didn’t taste like anything per se, but the spicy seasonings, as well as the cucumbers and scallions, which also added textural contrast, compensated nicely.  From beginning to end, this was probably the best Korean meal that I’ve had in Malate thus far.

In Korean drinking culture, a common practice is the glass exchange.  Typically within the context of drinking soju, it operates as follows: X gives X’s empty glass to Y and then pours Y a shot; Y takes the shot, ideally right away; then reverts the glass back to X and pours X a shot in return; ideally, X takes the shot right away – cycle complete.   The idea is both to promote a sense of sharing and to accelerate the drinking tempo, making everyone drunk and facilitating the bonding experience.  It can happen under any circumstance, especially when certain members of the party are into the practice, but the glass exchange becomes virtually mandatory during a celebratory gathering.

Because the evening was dedicated to me, the shot glasses kept coming my way; after a while, I started dumping them in a separate beer glass.

I don’t like the practice for 3 reasons.  First, yes, I tend to drink too much and more than most people anyway, but I prefer to do it at my own pace.  Also, I never ever ever never drink to get drunk, and I actually don’t like being drunk, so why push the agenda.  And finally, towards the end, when everyone becomes drunk and sloppy, it gets to be really disgusting: bits of food on the glass and in the backwash within the glass.  If I ever become King of Korea, I will outlaw this practice.

(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)

(See also RESTAURANTS IN PHILIPPINES)

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