Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nekoba's, Ilsan (Korea)

** Edit June 29, 2012:

I've noticed that Nekoba's has closed! This place no longer exists. I'm not too bummed about it because I don't live in that building anymore. **

One of the most convenient things about Korea, so far, has been eating. One of the most inconvenient things has been grocery shopping, so those differences balance out pretty well.

I have never in my life considered how annoying grocery shopping could be, because I've had a car since I was in high school. Having to carry groceries and walk home really makes a person think hard about what the essentials are. I don't drink Coke or eat snacks here (Coke is too heavy and snacks take up too much room in my eco-bag).

I was feeling quite lazy this weekend (I literally didn't leave the house on Saturday) so I called and ordered food from downstairs. Like many buildings here, there are tons of shops and places to eat on the first few floors of the building that I live in- things ranging from shoe stores to a kimbap (김밥) place, with a Burger King (labeled 버거킹 for the very few non-English-reading Koreans?), two convenience stores (편의점), a nail salon, a hair salon, a place that will mend clothes, a place to buy signs (neon and printed!), and a coffee shop in between. This is all in a small little area- some of the stores are wee.

One of the restaurants is called Nekobas (Nekoba's?), right next door to a place with a cartoon corn cob that claims to sell "corn noodles," the very concept of which scares me a little. I called Nekoba one night and ordered tonkatsu (sometimes spelled donkatsu (돈까스)), which is basically fried pork in a sweet, salty sauce.

Because I live in the building, they delivered to me. I called and a girl showed up in about ten or fifteen minutes, food in hand and ready to give me change (she brought exact change). There's no tipping here (I LOVE that, so easy to calculate things!), so she knew that if I didn't have exact change, she would need to give me a specific amount of money. Smart.

Most places in Korea (mostly Chinese-Korean places) will deliver in real dishes, with a little plastic bag for you to use after you're done. Finish eating, put the dishes in the bag, place the bag outside your door, and someone will come pick it up. Nekoba's is adorable (I went in earlier in the week to check it out) and a bit fancier than most delivery places (very cute and decorated with Totoro stuffed animals), so they brought me dinner in disposable containers.

Cute containers. Dinner came with salad (barely visible in the back), which is basically the Korean take on coleslaw (served at most Japanese-Korean places here), miso soup, kimchi (pretty good, actually), takuan (단무지, sweet pickled radish), and the actual donkatsu (pork's on the right, shrimp tempura on the left, and rice underneath it all). That white stuff on top of the sauce on top of the pork is mayonnaise. Asians (Koreans and Japanese, at least) love mayonnaise. I am not as crazy about mayonnaise as they seem to be here, judging from how many dishes mayonnaise sneaks into.

Dinner was 7,000 원 ($6.61). No extra charge for delivery, no tip. Crazy.

Also, I called them and they didn't answer. I didn't leave a voicemail, I just hung up. They called me back a minute later, identified themselves as Nekobas, and apologized. Being in a phone-centric country has its advantages.

Woorim Rodeo Suites Building
Janghang-dong, Ilsan-gu, Goyang-si, Gyeonggi-do

Telephone: 031-904-7909

(No idea what their hours are, but business (restaurants, at least) in Korea seem to open late and stay open late.)

Random updates:

Work's been fine. A little slow and a little dodgy, as we get used to one another and as I get used to having to speak in Korean all the live-long day, but fine. There are more and more (very proficient) English speakers coming out of the woodwork, which I'm grateful for. My brain can only handle so much Korean in a day.

I have to move offices this week, and I'm not happy about it. I like this office. Harrumph. I like my officemates, I'm used to them. Now I'm going to be in a big bullpen with a ton of people. Ew. I'm trying to delay my move as much as possible.

I can't figure out my cable and TV. The first week, I had one cable service and an old-school TV. Sometime while I was at work, they changed my TV to an HD flatscreen. That's all well and fine. Then a few days later, they changed my receiver. And all the channels changed! It's annoying me and I don't understand this new system. I can't find channels that I used to get, which is probably the part that's annoying me. Why they didn't do this before I moved in is beyond me.

Korean TV broadcasts an amazing number of American TV shows and movies. Yesterday, there was a Harry Potter marathon (I think it was on OCN). They regular broadcast marathons of American TV shows (Hawaii Five-O, Without a Trace, CSI, Hellcats (?!), Project Runway (I'm still bitter about the Mondo-Gretchen thing), America's Got Talent, the list goes on and on). I find it odd, but I also like hearing people speak in English. When I'm home alone, I generally leave the TV on. I'm not watching it- I just like the noise.

I also can't figure out my air conditioner. There's a remote, with words that make sense, I'm sure, but don't seem to have anything to do with cooling the air. I turn the thing on and off, set the temperature, and hope for the best. It's not a good system, and I should really learn to use it correctly. I'm terrified for the first time I have to do laundry in my crazy Korean washing machine (it's a washer and dryer in one, which is odd to me).

The rain's let up. I think jangma (장마) season (monsoon season) is pretty much over. Time for typhoon season (though I hear the first typhoon passed through Japan and missed Korea entirely) and then unbearably hot sunshine and humidity, plus temperatures in the upper 80's and 90's. I'm really trying to get used to the whole Celsius thing, but I can't. 30 degrees is cold, people. It's below freezing. America and its refusal to switch to the metric system is ridiculous. Nobody else in the world cares about Fahrenheit, inches, feet, or miles. So dumb.