A friend decided she wanted to treat me for my birthday. She always gets a 40% discount at a restaurant called “Mad for Garlic,” so she insisted we go there and insisted my daughter and I both order steaks on her. We tried to tell her we didn’t want to order something so expensive, but she insisted that we didn’t have to worry because she gets a great discount. The last time she had insisted we go to “Mad for Garlic” is when I discovered that my stomach didn’t do so well with garlic. I enjoyed it so much I must have eaten too much garlic because I was sick all night, but she insisted that we could find something at the restaurant called “Mad for Garlic” that didn’t have garlic. She just kept talking, and we ended up giving in and going to “Mad for Garlic” and letting her buy us steaks because we know she has lots of money and a 40% discount.
“Mad for Garlic” has its own parking lot unlike many restaurants or businesses in Korea. It is really nice to be able to park without a problem and not have to pay for it either. The parking attendant takes my keys and gives me a ticket telling me to get the people at the restaurant to stamp the ticket before we come back to the parking lot. We meet Hanul at the front of the restaurant.
As we go into the restaurant, the ambiance is great! The lights are dim. The temperature is right. Classical music is playing, but you can’t get around Korean voices! Korean voices just flat carry. It was quieter than when we went to T.G.I.Friday’s, but you can’t change the noise level much if everyone in the country is noisy.
The first year we came to Korea, the noise level was so hard to get used to. We learned from another American teacher who had been here for several years why. He was an actor in the States. Actors and singers in the States have to learn to project their voices because we are taught as children in the States to use our inside voices. However, you don’t have to teach Korean singers and actors to project because they have been projecting since they were children, and no one ever taught them about inside voices. They only teach them “stand up and be heard!” Americans using their inside voices speak from their neck, so their voices are quieter. Koreans and American actors and singers speak or sing from their stomachs, and that makes them louder. I knew the guy who told me the reason for the loud voices was right because when I acted in the States, they taught me to speak from my stomach while I was onstage. During rehearsal, they stood at the back of the auditorium while I was on stage coaching me to speak louder, and I had to learn to speak from my stomach. Koreans are just louder than Americans, and it isn’t going to change any time soon.
We sit down at the table and begin going through the menu. We try to tell Hanul we think we should pay for our own again, but she is still insisting she is going to pay for it and insisting we all order steak. She found a steak for me she thought wouldn’t hurt my stomach. I thought it was too expensive, but she reminded me of her discount. There are two menus, one in Korean and one in English. Almost everything on the menu has a jalapeno pepper next to the item denoting it is spicy except the steak Hanul tells me she thinks is good for me. My daughter sees something interesting on the menu. It must be extremely spicy because the menu claims it is too spicy even for Dracula. Again, there is no Coca Cola Zero, so I end up ordering Pepsi. My daughter and Hanul order grapefruit and orange aid. We all order steaks making Hanul happy.
When they bring the steaks, my daughter and Hanul have big piles of garlic on their steaks. Mine has roasted garlic and onions on top, so I just pull them off thinking “I’m going to protect my stomach.” Hanul sees me doing it and asks if she can eat them. Of course she can! In Korea, if you are good friends with the people you are eating with, you share your food. My steak is served in an iron skillet. I notice that my daughter and Hanul don’t even have potatoes on their plates to go with their steaks, and there is no bread or even rice since we are in Korea on the table. On my plate, there is something with melted cheese on the top, and I am curious about what they gave me. When I put my fork in it, I find out it is mashed potatoes with mozzarella cheese in them and melted on top. When I eat them, I have to wrap the strings of cheese around my fork like I am eating spaghetti, and they taste very good! We had asked them to make our steaks well done, and they were well done. They were cooked to perfection. There is something else on my plate you just don’t normally see in Korea, green beans. You can’t buy green beans in the local grocery store, and I have hardly eaten green beans since coming to Korea. We all really enjoyed the food!
We get up to go out, and my daughter reminds me that I need to get my parking ticket stamped, so I do. When I do, we notice a large garlic wreath close to the front door. We also notice that in the other part of the restaurant, there are wine bottles lining the walls. The atmosphere in the restaurant is nice.
When we go back to the parking lot, at first we can’t find the parking attendant or my car, but he finally surfaces and shows us what he did with my car. As we get in the car to go, Hanul hands me a birthday gift. She is very sweet. I thought the steak dinner was her gift, but she still wanted to give me another gift. It is something to make my car smell good. Hanul had given me a good steak dinner and a gift for my birthday. We drive out of the parking lot and off into the city.