This past Wednesday I stayed a little late at work to be able to talk with a good friend who is leaving today for Uganda. Just being able to talk to him was a treat but my boss decided that I needed another treat, she invited me out for supper with them. They were going to eat something that they described by saying, "It's like a water snake." With a mixture of curiosity and excitement I accepted the kind offer.
On the way to the restaurant they wanted to show me my new apartment that I will be moving in to this Saturday, so they did. It was still under construction but they assured me that they would be done by the time I moved in. In order to avoid(extra) complications with the move they arranged with the new landlord that I would move in a week earlier than any one else, so I will be the first person living in the apartment. It is a 3 story apartment block that is dwarfed by a few 25+ story towers being build across the road.
The room its self looks nice, it is a one bedroom and coming from a studio that is cozy, it will take some time to get used to all the space. I joked with my boss that if I was ever late for work it would be because I got lost in my apartment, she loved it. I hope she is as understanding when I actually am late for work. On that note the apartment is only a 5 minute walk so even if I sleep in I have 20 minutes less walking time so I could still be on time.
From there we went to the restaurant and I immediately knew what water snake is. Many of the places here that serve fish have an aquarium outside to display their wares to potential diners passing by. This restaurant's aquarium looked like this.
There were few options at this restaurant but at least it was easy to guess that water snake is really eel. I had never eaten eel and so this was an exciting prospect. We started off with the barrage of side dishes that I have come to expect in Korea.
This was followed by our eel, it was cleaned and cut up in small pieces, squares of about 1.5 inches. We threw it on the barbecue in the middle of the table and to cook it. It is then dipped in a red sauce, put on a leaf of lettuce with garlic and peppers, wrapped up and stuffed in to the mouth. It was fantastically delicious, the best meat that I have had in Korea.
After we went through one portion of eel, they ordered another which I was quite happy about. By the end of the second portion I was starting to slow down when they asked if I was ready for eel soup, I could do nothing but nod a hesitant yes. They had decided it would be a good idea let me to try two different preparations of eel.
The soup was not as much to my liking as it was a standard Korean red pepper soup just with eel as the meat.(think spicy ramen broth with eel) As full as I was I decided that the least I could do was eat the meat out of the soup, the last piece being a tail. As I lifted it to my mouth my boss exclaimed that the tail was very healthy, then added after a pause, "Especially for men." The others with us turned to her and they all burst out laughing. With that we were done and they promptly gave me a ride home.
If any one knows what is so good about an eel tail "especially for men" please enlighten me, I would love to know... I think.