Posts tagged ‘restaurants’

8 Suave Tips for the Big Date

Okay, so you blew it.

Valentine’s, that lunch, that little coffee break. It doesn’t matter — there may be at least one point in your life that you’ve totally freaked out a date by your … manners. Or, say, you won an epicurean delight adventure thing, and don’t want to make a fool of yourself.  I mean, if that’s how you eat ‘round your buddies, it shouldn’t matter to her, right? Wrong. Having good manners while dining doesn’t necessarily equate to showing off. Manners are supposed to stem from home, meaning, when you pig out in public, did you learn that at home? Here are a couple of tips for when you’re on a date.

  1. Basic proper hygiene. A meal only happens once in your life. You have to make each one special. Clip your fingernails, comb your hair, dress in clean clothes and wash your hands before eating. (And, after using the facilities)
  2. Never spring for a restaurant’s most expensive meal on the get-go. Chances are, these don’t get ordered too often, and would just hassle the chefs. Ask what their specialty is, and get that. If you’ve been to THAT particular restaurant before, you’ll be in-the-know of what the best meal is to get.
  3. Address your waiter/waitress by name. They should have nametags on ‘em, or, you could ask. It adds a personal touch to your meal when you know who to thank for serving you. Plus, if you return to that restaurant, they will remember you.
  4. Utensil use. Don’t be confused if you don’t spot a spoon by your dish. Simplicity: if there’s a fork, then that will be your food-shovel. If there’s a knife, then that’s what will saw down the meat, while the shovel’s holding it down of course.
  5. Napkin use. There are cloth and paper napkins. You may keep the cloth one on your lap, to avoid spills, then wiping your mouth in-between bites, or you could wear it like a bib. The paper ones are useful — you can wrap them around your glass, and you may use them to wipe your mouth as well. NEVER crumple your napkins. If you need to wipe and there’s stuff on your napkin, fold it in half, then use that side to wipe. Place them neatly at the side of your plate after use. Not only will your post-meal-plate look good, the service staff will thank you as well.
  6. Don’t take calls or messages while eating. I personally find it very rude when someone I’m in conversation with pulls out a phone and starts texting away, even while I’m still eating. You shouldn’t do the same as well. If your date starts doing it, say you aren’t comfortable with it and you find it rude. If your date, however, really needs to take a call (a parent asking where her daughter is, stuff like that) ask her to make the call away from the table.
  7. As an add-on to the last rule, constant watch-checking is really annoying. Your date notices it, I notice it — does the other person REALLY have some other place she’d rather be? A date’s a date, meaning, you set aside other things lined up in your schedule to make it. There’s no sense in not following your own schedule.
  8. Tip well. Even if the food was lousy, leave a tip. (Just don’t return to that particular restaurant) Hey, you’re already addressing the person serving you by name, the least you could do is return the courtesy and hospitality he’s showing you. Plus, this will definitely make you remembered by the staff. 12-15% tips are good. When a waiter does something terribly nice for you, (and wasn’t expecting a tip) build him up in front of his manager, then do that slick, “faux-handshake-money-pass” move.

February 22, 2008 at 10:57 am 3 comments

Seoul: Soul Food for Travelers You Will Miss

While designer boutiques and cafes spring up in Seoul, I will share with you my travel experience with some sections of Seoul. This capital of South Korea offers silk worm snack foods and street jazz.

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The place. It was a clear spring evening, outside Tongdaenum stadium, west of Seoul. Hundreds of teenagers mill around waiting for the clock to strike 8 p.m. I wonder if it is not a soccer match or a pop concert they have come to see. Their excitable chatter would lead me to believe otherwise.

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Oh I see! The big attraction lies across the road at the Migliore department store. 14th floors of thrifty glamour fashions and the latest arcade dance machines. Or maybe a guest pop group appearance awaits the crowd. Migliore’s night-owl business hours (8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily) have made it a beacon for Seoul’s restless and hip-to-the-groove youth. And at 8:06 p.m. the first transactions are rung though. Less than eight hours after Migliore closes its doors, another hive of shopping opportunity will abuzz on the other side of the city.

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We inched our way up the base of the imposing Mount Namsan, Myong-dong district, a new face of Seoul. Here we saw sleek office complexes rise over bustling local markets, Eastern and Western fashions. Coffee is the beverage of choice.

korea-myong.jpgThe food. Commerce is certainly the force driving the capital these days. But I find it’s worth noting about our travel to Seoul is when dinner time approaches. All our wheeling and dealing, haggling and bartering, suddenly stops. We and the citizens of Seoul get down to the very serious business of eating and drinking.

I believe that there is a growing demand for traditional home-cooked food that has created an enormous range of dining possibilities for travelers and visitors to Seoul. I find it the most challenging part of dining out in Seoul is where to pull up a seat at hundreds of food stalls, restaurants and even street kitchens.

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We sit down at one of these stalls and found out our fellow diners could be a mechanic chewing thoughtfully on a pig’s trotter. I saw a group of immaculately-dressed office ladies tucking into a fish head stew. I find the aromas of their dishes excite, and at the same time, completely confuse my senses. I’m still curious, odors fill the night air along the north side of Jongno Street back towards the Seoul’s city center. Oh! It’s peondaegi, or boiled silkworm larvae, wafting from dozens of street carts.

seoul.jpgOutside Danseonsa Theater, I spied elderly women spooning steaming critters into paper cups and selling them to passers-by for US$0.95 (1,000 won). I speared them with the toothpick provided and I swallow it as quickly as possible. It is at the back of T’apkol Park that I finally found an antidote for the powerful silkworm aftertaste. There are a handful of stores specializing in traditional medicine, called hanyak. Clusters in the alleys to the north, are easily recognizable by the bell jars of snake wine in their windows.

korea-snake-wine.jpgTogether with dried reptiles, exotic-smelling herbs and animal parts, snake meat soup called paem t’ang (don’t know if I spelled it correctly), and snake wine, called paem sul. At Cheung Jin Ok restaurant, opened in 1937, located in Jongno district my problem was solved. There is only one dish to choose from, hae jang or the coagulated cow’s blood broth served with extra spicy kimch’i.

kimchi.jpgDid you know? Kimchi is an absolute necessity in every Korean meal and can be made from one or more kinds of vegetables including Chinese cabbage, radish by seasoning and salting them with garlic, scallion ginger, chili and fish sauce.

January 23, 2008 at 4:01 am Leave a comment


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