Yesterday I had the distinct honor of hanging out with Young Chun and Kevin Kim enjoying beverages, food and conversation. As regular readers will recall, Young recently published the story of his time as an American conscript in the Korean army. (go buy it now on Kindle for $2.99!) After reading the Kindle version I wanted a hard copy for my library and I saw on Young’s blog that he hadn’t yet acquired any bound copies for himself.
Now, I admit to having had a somewhat selfish motivation for this purchase and delivery–I wanted to get my copy signed! Which of course Young graciously agreed to do.
I had arrived to the meetup a few minutes late having made a poor decision in taking the 110A bus to Itaewon instead of the subway. Lesson learned. Young was already halfway through his first beer by then, but I played catch-up as best I could and thereafter matched him beer for beer. Young professes to be an introvert but he got on well with the Saturday afternoon crowd at Shenanigans. I introduced him to the bar owner and it turns out they have a mutual friend which was pretty cool. Also in the category of “it’s a small world”, the waitress asked me “is that Young?”. It turns out her brother and Young are colleagues. What are the odds?
We talked about the book and some of the stuff that wasn’t included in the book. I engaged in some good-natured ball busting about Kevin’s cultural insensitivity (after he complimented me for not using the Korean-style two finger salute in our group photo above). And then our thoughts turned to food. We briefly discussed eating at Shenanigans, which had the virtue of being convenient. But I still owed Kevin a dining experience at the Oasis Mexican/barbecue buffet at the Dragon Hill Lodge on base. Young recalled the last time he was on base was for his ill-fated attempt to join the U.S. Army in order to avoid serving in the Korean military. (Read the book!) So we hoofed it over to Yongsan Garrison and unlike our last attempt, Oasis was indeed open for business. So we gave them some.
Now, the thing about an all-you-can-eat buffet is that I feel the need to eat more than my money’s worth. On our first run through Kevin and I came back with heaping plates. Young returned with tiny portions of everything that barely filled half a plate. I feared he wasn’t clear on the concept. I shouldn’t have worried. His strategy was to taste a bit of everything to determine what he liked best. He then made two more visits to the buffet (versus one more for me and Kevin) and I’d judge he did indeed deplete the profit margin for Oasis last night. Young recounted how he used to blitzkrieg the Godfather’s pizza buffet. Coincidentally or not, Godfather’s is now bankrupt.
My guests declared the food to be to their satisfaction and I was happy about that. Kevin had briefly considered forgoing the pulled pork as he will be making a batch today in his new slow cooker. I pointed out that he should have some for comparison purposes and he agreed there was no flaw in that logic. He found the Oasis iteration outstanding, so I guess he’s set a high bar for his efforts today. Here’s a hint: It’s all about the sauce!
After leaving the restaurant, we stopped at the Dragon Hill’s designated smoking area so Young and I could feed our nasty habit. A young man there asked if we’d like to take some of his cigarettes off his hands. A rather odd request, but Young was down for some free smokes. The guy explained that he was waiting on some oil for his vapor machine (and it was quite a machine!) to be delivered from the USA and he didn’t want to be tempted to smoke a whole pack. Young graciously poured the remaining oil from his vapor cigarette into the stranger’s, and both seemed happy with the exchange.
We were all heading in different directions, but each of those destinations began at Samgakji station. So we signed off post and hoofed it over to the subway. I made it about 3/4 of the way before my damn leg flared up (the first time it hurt all day) so I said my goodbye’s and set down to rest. Two minutes later I was good to go.
And so ended a very pleasant evening with my learned compadres.