Saturday, November 12, 2011

# 1 Hana Korean Restaurant

I just had the strangest dining experience.  

It wasn't the food that was strange, though it was new to me. The service and decor were well within the confines of normal. If anything, the strangeness originated in me. 

Today we tried our local Korean restaurant for the first time. I've never had Korean food before, so I didn't know what to expect. Maybe the newness allowed for what I experienced. 

Hubby ordered Man-du Guk (Korean dumpling soup) I ordered Kim-chi Bo-kum Bap (kimchi fried rice topped with a fried egg). The server was pleasant. The food was served promptly.  It looked and smelled good. Everything normal so far. 

Then I tasted the food. In some elusive way it reminded me of Ukrainian food, and not just any Ukrainian food, my Baba's Ukrainian food. I thought I was going to cry right there at the table. 

I was in no way prepared for my reaction.  How could I be? The Ukraine is nowhere near Korea. I know because I checked the atlas when I got home. Hubby thought it might be the cabbage that was triggering my reaction. Possible, though his cabbage-free dumplings had a similar impact. (The dumplings also reminded me of a Chinese restaurant we frequented in our student days, so there was a double-whammy of culinary nostalgia happening in his bowl.) 

Each bite of my meal made me feel like the Grinch on Christmas morning. I could feel my heart swelling, but in a good way, not in a congestive heart failure kind of way.  My woo-woo, meditating friends would likely call this an opening of the heart.  I think I finally understand what they are talking about.  Funny that I was able to achieve with a bowl of spicy rice what I was never able to achieve with meditation.

I'll certainly be back to the restaurant, and not just because of the gustatory/metaphysical trip down memory lane. The food was really, really good. Hubby can confirm this should you need a recommendation from a sane person.  Wholesome food made with care in a tiny kitchen. Kind of reminds me of something. Oh, yeah. My Baba. Maybe Korea and the Ukraine aren't so far apart after all.  

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