Remember the Youtube video Steph posted months ago of LiAnn and Brenda at Manna in L.A.'s Ktown? Everything from the grill went straight into our mouths via chopsticks.
Crystal's birthday dinner at Kang Suh in New York City's two-block Ktown was unique in that...I ate as daintily as possible.
Manna it most certainly was not. At Manna, good friends paid waiters to douse the birthday boy or girl with beer. Guests leave the restaurant sopping wet from head-to-toe.
At Kang Suh, the waiters cook the meat for you -- even though the food is perfectly within reach. After all, the stove is right there...built into the table.
I also learned a different way of eating. When I swiped a piece of cooked beef straight from the stove and popped it into my mouth, my Korean-American friend (Hi, Jane!) tried to stifle her laugh but couldn't.
I asked myself, "Where are my manners?!"
First of all, Manna is not Kang Suh. L.A. is not New York. Let the culture war continue. Just because I can pick up a slice of beef and gulp it down in L.A. does not necessarily mean I can act similarly when put in a different situation.
Second of all, I can learn a lot from going out to dinner at a Korean restaurant with a Korean-American who lives and breathes the culture. Take advantage of it! Jane shared some traditions of Korean culture with us. She mentioned people usually eat their dishes by scrunching its contents into a compact lettuce wrap. The trick is to sprinkle enough filling in the lettuce wrap to eat the whole thing in a single bite.
This method of eating keeps people from creating messes, and it's also considered more polite. It's considered extremely rude to eat with food dropping from the wrap to the plate -- especially in front of older individuals.
I only recently heard of the phrase, "portion control." After five messy and undignified attempts to chew without dropping any food onto my plate, I downsized and adjusted to this new style of eating.
The real accolades go to Ana and Crystal, for mastering both the mini-lettuce wraps AND chopsticks in one sitting.
Crystal: You're cheating! You're supposed to make sure you eat the whole thing.
Look at those plates of food! Mmmm.... Kim Chi, bean sprouts, lettuce, beef.....
As the blog title states, we celebrated Crystal's birthday with her! The meal was only half the story. The other half involved serious karaoke -- no liquid courage necessary -- featuring Crystal's vocals and Mike's dance skills. A great way to finish the night and shake off the anxiety of 2010's final exams!