So… at 6:30 we got together at the school to head out for sashimi. We enter the restaurant, and it is full of aquariums stocked with live fish, eels, and anything that swims. As Tony Bourdain says, “When I’m hungry, something dies.”
They put us in a banquet room where we sat on the floor, overlooking the street. Almost immediately they started putting plates of exotic foods and fish on the table. According to Korean custom, the elders and superiors were in charge of the drinks. They mixed soju and plum wine in a stainless steel kettle and poured for each of us. And, oh my god, the number of toasts we did that ended with “one shot!”
Mr. Min sat almost in front of me and loved trying to become closer to the foreigners. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s what you think of in an Asian businessman: works hard and parties hard. He asked us a lot of questions about our background. When he found out I minored in history, he quizzed me on American history. I returned by quizzing him on Korean history. Oh, that got a few brownie points with my Hanguk compadres.
After three or four courses of little appetizers, the big platters of sashimi were served. I can eat sashimi morning, noon and night. And it’s so expensive in the States. I went nuts over the abundance of raw fish. The food kept coming, and the liquor kept pouring. They then served us these large oddly shaped things on platters. Found out they were the heads of the fish that was our sashimi, cooked and split open. On closer examination, yes, those were definitely heads… from really big fish. One of the Korean teachers used her cell phone to take a picture of me with my chopsticks in the fish head. Unfortunately, the picture got erased, so I don’t have proof. I then remembered hearing that in China, the most prized part of the fish is the eye. Half the Koreans said it was good. The other half were just as disgusted as you. Oh, what the heck. I used my chopsticks to take out the eyeball and put it in my mouth. It actually tasted pretty good… if you can keep from thinking that you’re eating an eyeball.
After dinner, we headed to the noraebang. This was cool. We had our own private room with couches and a disco light. There was a huge selection of music to choose from. And everyone HAD to sing. It’s a rule. They wanted me to quickly find a song to sing, and I was just looking through the A’s. Okay, “Against All Odds.” Phil Collins. Mr. Min was curious as to why I chose that song. I told him it’s my mother’s favorite song. I think that impressed him, you know, with the filial piety thing. After the first song, noraebang was not so intimidating. The machine actually gives you a score on how well you sang. I have no idea on how it figures this out. Brant had drunk too much soju and beer, and he got sick. The crowd started to dwindle, and we headed back to the Brighton building.
Four of us still wanted to stay out a bit later. We went to Habana. There was a large foreigner crowd there playing pool. And, yeah, they were being loud and obnoxious. Am I already becoming too Korean? I still stayed around for a few hours with Ross and Nick. I looked at my watch.
“Oh, f#*%!! I turned thirty an hour ago!”
I went home so exhausted, I fell asleep with my bright fluorescent overhead light on.