Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seoul Restaurant, Milwaukee, WI

My friend Pete (who used to live across the hall here in Whitewater) suggested we go to a Korean restaurant to help me get more in the swing of living a Korean life. We decided on Seoul Restaurant in Milwaukee, the only Korean restaurant in the Mill. It's in a swank part of town, Lake Michigan a few blocks to the east and directly across from the American Apparel/Urban Outfitters building.

The place had a quaint 10 tables, full bar and what sounded like Korean pop music (K pop?) accompanying our menu browsing. When the waitress came to our table, I told her that I was moving to Korea in August. I came to start enjoying the food as soon as possible! She reassured me that living in Korea would be fun. "Korean food is the best food in the world," she uttered with great seriousness and confidence. We ordered a bottle of soju (a sweet and smooth vodka-esque spirit made from sweet potatoes) and in Korean custom, only filled the glasses of each other and not our own. The menu was extensive and featured lots of seafood: squid, seaweed, eel, fish, and shrimp. Not what I'm used to, but I've been getting adrenaline from facing the challenges of acclimating to Korean ways. Challenge on!

Here's Pete with his eel. It was fried with a sour kind of brown sauce. Creamy and delicious is all I can say. There's no comparison I know. It was wonderful. He's had it before, and dove right in.

Here's Brez (aka Jason Brazil), one of Pete's friends. I met him for the first time over this dinner. He lives in Milwaukee and drove over to meet us for supper. It seemed like he was a little overwhelmed by the menu too, so we suggested what the waitress suggested for American palettes: Korean BBQ. The waitress served him a sizzling iron platter of juicy marinated chopped beef with onions. Wrap that with a bit of rice in a cool, crisp lettuce leaf and shove it down the hatch! Another winner of a dish!

Now check this out. I heard and smelled this dish sizzling from another table and asked what it was. Dol Sat Bibimbap--not my picture--is served in a hot stone bowl and keeps cooking while you eat it. There's vegetables, your choice of any meat or tofu, rice, mushrooms, and lots of some kind of fermented sauce with a lot of heat. And that shiny yellow thing on top in a lightly cooked egg. Our waitress stirred it all up, cooking the egg and mixing in the sauce.

And here I am enjoying it! And it stays hot through the entire meal. The coolest thing was that our bottle of soju beared the torso and wind-blown hair or a beautiful young Korean woman. Our waitress said the woman was probably a pop star.

Our meal was served with side dishes, all to share. From the top and going left to right, we had dried seaweed, green beans, spicy cucumber salad, kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), cooked spinach, and, last but the BEST BY FAR, dried squid. It was like jerky with a mild fish taste: salty and delicious!

I definitely want to go again before I leave. My boyfriend, Von, and I are planning a day to go to the Milwaukee Zoo and to Seoul Restaurant. Love is what I have for all the dishes I tried. Brenna, I don't know what you're talking about when you say you don't like kimchi.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I feel welcome already . . .

The agency I'm working through is Teach ESL Korea ( For anyone whose been to the website, you know how inviting and friendly it looks. Much of the language is focused on the happiness, income, and benefits of the jobs for the teacher. THAT'S ME. In my application to JET, it was much different. The hiring process was a mysteriously dark and unkown world with more than a half year of waiting and wondering what our fates would be. The income is publicized no where, and was only found out through rumors from other applicants at the interview in Chicago. I feel like Korea is beckoning for me. They have a spot for me, WAITING! I cannot say the same about Whitewater. I have lost count of the times someone has asked me at the middle school, having worked with them for months, "so is your student teaching done after this semester?" Or, "What class at the university are you volunteering here for?" There is no place for someone who is young and who has finished college in Whitewater. It's as if people don't quite hear me when I say I don't attend the university. Let me belong Korea! Let me belong!