28 (Mon) May 2018
at Yeongdeok Daegae-Hoe Jib
-Gyeongpo, Gangneung, Gangwon, Korea-
Mission to Korea, Day 2.
- Day 1 (9.142 BBQ Platter)
In Seoul. As per the approved terms of reference for the mission, I have been deployed to identify suitable restaurants for our Regional Director and his senior staff to host the Regional Director of the neighboring South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) and her senior staff during their annual biregional high-level retreat, which will be held in Korea this year, not in Seoul, but amidst the sea-to-summit grandeur of the country’s northeast coast.
The team includes another WHO staff member, who is the responsible officer for the retreat. Apparently, RD doesn’t trust his judgment, at least where food is concerned, so I was sent to make the final decisions on dining venues and menus.
This is where they’ll be staying for the first two days of the retreat.
Day 2 – Lunch: CHECK.
Gangneung Hanwoo Town
Whereas Gangneung is one of Korea’s famed regions for local beef (hanwoo), our Regional Director insists that at least one meal be hosted at a beef restaurant.
When I informed him that the SEARO Regional Director is a vegetarian, he informed me that she’s reputed to be a closet carnivore, so maybe this would bring her out.
After we’d scoped out the restaurant and determined that it would be suitable in terms of ambiance, cleanliness, availability of a private room, etc., I was ready to sit down for lunch to try out the food, but the other guy resisted – “Why do we have to eat here?” When I tried to explain the purpose of the mission, he frowned, seemingly in confusion – “But why do we need to taste the food?”
Day 2 – Dinner: CHECK.
Yeongdeok Daegae-Hoe Jib
Within minutes of the inland mountainous beef region lies the beach, where seafood rules.
A local delicacy is steamed Yeongdeok crab, which is similar in structure to Alaskan king crab (see for example 6.221 King Crab), with less meat, but sweeter.
In the Korean tradition, an order of crab comes with all the fixings, including a full spread of side dishes, as well as rice and fish stew.
We are accompanied by a local guide who has short-listed venues for our consideration, and a driver.
If getting my colleague to sit down for a simple lunch had been a struggle, oh man, a full dinner spread was another monster entirely. After a few rounds of the “But why do we…,” I abandoned any attempt at persuasion – “Listen, it’s a beautiful, balmy spring evening. I am looking out at the ocean and smelling the ocean air. I am in the mood to eat seafood. I am already sitting down at what seems to be an excellent restaurant. I am going to order myself a crab and pay for it. You are all welcome to be my guests, please.” We ended up splitting the bill.
Even if we didn’t strictly need to eat there, wouldn’t we want to?
The food was great.
Day 1 – Dinner: CHECK.