Yesterday was my birthday. I hardly eat steak in Korea because is is just outrageously expensive. We maybe eat it once or twice a year. However, my daughter and son in law decided to take me out to eat steak for my birthday yesterday to celebrate my birthday. There are a couple of steak houses in Korea that are popular, Outback Steakhouse where we normally go to eat steak and VIPs which is more like an American steakhouse with a salad bar. However, since my son in law works over at Lotte Mall close to Gimpo Airport, he made reservations at T. G. I. Friday’s at the mall because he knows they sell steak.
The plan was for me to meet my daughter and son in law at the mall after they both got off work. I parked in the parking garage and went up the escalator to the floor where TGIF is located. My daughter was sitting on a round couch in the hallway in front of TGIF waiting for me, and my son in law arrived just a minute later.
We walked into TGIF. The first thing that hit me was that it was hot in there. Koreans have a problem in the summer. Electricity is very expensive in Korea. If you use just a little, there is no problem, but if the electric company thinks you are using too much electricty, they double your bill. This has caused many schools and businesses to just not use the air conditioners because all the air conditioners are either electric wall units or electric free standing units that stand in the floor that use too much electricity. The Korean government encourages them not to use their air conditioners too to save electricty. I have asked why they don’t use a cheaper way of cooling like a heat pump. We had a heat pump in Texas and enjoyed central heat in the winter and central air in the summer. It was really nice. It has been explained to me why heat pumps wouldn’t work in Korea, but I can’t remember exactly what they said except it has to do with the climate. Heat pumps don’t work in the Korean climate. The only way to cool the house in Korea is to do it in an expensive way, and even fancy restaurants like TGIF don’t use air conditioners. Besides the restaurant being hot, it was also noisy. The music was loud, and there were so many customers, and it seemed they were all talking at the top of their lungs.
The waitress at the door shows us to a large booth, then we went through the menus. The only kind of cola they have is Pepsi. I usually drink Coca Cola Zero, but there isn’t any here. There is a low calorie Pepsi, but with my experience, diet Pepsi has never been very good, so I have to order Pepsi to drink. My son in law and daughter also like Coca Cola Zero, but he also orders Pepsi, and she orders grape flavored Mirinda. My son in law chooses steak salad. My daughter chooses chicken salad, and they both insist that I choose a steak. Everything on the menu looks expensive. I notice that the steak they want to order for me is about the price of the steak I usually get when we go to Outback Steakhouse.
When they begin to bring our food, they put two small bowls on the table. I saw on the menu where my steak comes with soup, but they had not asked what kind of soup I wanted. They brought me mushroom soup which is good, but they also put a bowl in front of my daughter that looked like cream corn soup, but it wasn’t. My daughter took a bite out of it, and it was mustard sauce. If you go to Outback Steakhouse or go to a nice restaurant in America, they always bring you bread, but there was no bread on our table.
They finally bring the rest of the food. I had ordered my steak “well done” because I don’t want to eat raw meat, but my steak wasn’t well done. When I cut into it, the inside was red and blood was running from it. I resigned myself to it because I have learned that most Koreans eat their steaks like that, and it is difficult to get them to do things differently. When they put my son in law’s steak salad down, they had loaded it up with onions so high that you could smell onions everywhere. I had been tempted to order the steak salad, and was grateful they insisted I order a regular steak because I wouldn’t want to deal with all those onions. My daughter had already figured out the mustard sauce was to sprinkle on top of her chicken salad. The picture of my steak in the menu had something beside it that looked like corn meal mush because it was yellow, but when they brought it, it was mashed potatoes, and very little. The vegetables were mostly oriental mushrooms, and I really didn’t want oriental mushrooms. The steak was smaller than I knew I would have received for the same price over at Outback Steakhouse. I felt bad because my son in law was trying to hard to be nice to me, but this restaurant was not turning out everything it promised to be.
We began to eat and look around the restaurant. Right next to me, I saw a picture of Mork and Mindy, but neither my daughter or son in law knew who they were. When I told them that Mork was Robin Williams, they thought the picture didn’t look like Robin Williams at all. Like most people, they didn’t have any idea who Mindy was and I had to explain to them that she stopped acting when she married the actor who plays Gibs on NCIS to become a stay at home mom. I also explained that Mork from Ork was an alien who went around saying “nanu, nanu” and slept upside down, and this show was the first time I had ever seen Robin Williams. There were skate boards, baseball helmets, games, and all kind of things on the walls. My son in law saw a ship on another wall and thought it was so cool he went to take a picture of it.
We were still eating when they brought the bill. My son in law decided to ask them to take my steak back and recook it because it wasn’t well done, and they did. He also found out when he looked at the bill that they had given him my daughter’s chicken salad for free because he works at Lotte Mall. He was so pleased that he was getting a good benefit from working at Lotte Mall!
My son in law and daughter finished their food while I was waiting for them to bring my steak back. They finally brought my steak back, but my drink was gone, so my son in law asked them to bring me a refill. He was trying really hard to treat me well.
When we got up to go out, my son in law noticed there was a motor cycle right at the entrance that we didn’t see before and wanted to stop and mess with it. While he was messing with it, I thought I glanced American flags out of the corner of my eye, so I took a closer look. They weren’t American flags, but cushions on chairs made like the American flag. My daughter then said that she hadn’t gotten me a cake because she wanted us to go to a bakery and let me choose my cake, so we left T. G. I. Friday’s and headed for the bakery before going home. I am blessed to have a wonderful daughter and son in law. They were trying hard to give me a good birthday.