Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Seven Springs!

I've never understood the prestige Koreans still accord to 'high end' chain restaurants (VIPS, TGIF, Outback, etc). To me, while going to one occasionally in years past was a marginally acceptable distraction from the soy bean paste soup and kimchi rice, generally those kinds of places serve overpriced crap food and are best avoided.  For some reason, I thought Koreans had twigged on to how crappy these kinds of places are and moved on.  I guess most of the peeps who go there are lower middle class and lack gastronomical experience; probably the same people who will pay near homeless waegs buckets of Won to teach their kids how to write the ABCs.  Or they are like June and have a mittful of coupons, and will insist on using them to 'stick it to the man', by providing all their personal information for the equivalent of the 40 bucks profit the restaurant would make off of her.

Waving her coupons in my face, I gave in and went to a Seven Springs in Gangnam last weekend. Admittedly I went in with a bad attitude: I knew the salad bar would suck, and that my medium rare steak would undoubtedly be improperly cooked.

I was somewhat pacified when I first walked in: nearly 85% of the clientele were youngish women, with a couple of very fine specimens. The only other guys in the place were either on dates, or had been roped in by their wives as well.

I did not remain pacified for long.  We were to get a small bottle of wine with our meal, but the only one offered was an obviously sickeningly sweet sparkling white.  Who serves sweet sparkling white wine with red meat?  A Seven Springs in Gangnam apparently.  Then there was the steak: the pic is of a twice cooked medium rare steak, essentially still blue rare - rare.  This is pretty much a standard offering in any chain steak restaurant I've been to in Korea. If I order it medium, I get a well done, but I still futilely order a medium rare despite knowing I'll probably get something that will moo when I cut into it.

I don't get it: the cooks must grill up a couple of hundred steaks a day; you'd think after a couple of weeks they'd know how to cook a steak proper. The only explanations I can come up with are that the staff turnover is horrendous (plausible), or they cook a frozen steak using the time required for a thawed one (probable). No one has yet had the temerity to ask: shouldn't we cook it a bit longer since it's frozen?  Hey Mr. Bad Attitude: rules are rules!  You must cook the steak according to the time on the sheet! 

I called the waitron over and asked why he was giving me a blue rare steak when I ordered medium rare.  Since I drank the coolaid years ago, I was prepared to not get too worked up, and wait for him to get the cook to at least warm it up to something a little more pink.  I couldn't contain myself when the waitron brought it back as in the pic, and merely apologized and offered a 20% discount on our next meal. Wait, you expect me to come back here again so I can get a measly 20% off?  Can't you see I'm wearing a Brooks Brothers suit here?  I should just say: Hey thanks, I am so grateful?!   Tell you what: why don't you go play hide and go fuck yourself?

And no, he had no idea we would be using coupons to pay, so don't even start on that, you apologist scum!

June interrupted my bitching by letting me know all her friends' husbands also go on about how terrible these 'high end' chain restaurants are: they would rather eat Korean food.

Not the same, I told her. I don't mind paying 60 bucks for a steak as long as it isn't less then a centimeter thick and is cooked the way I ask.

She probably won't suggest we go to one of those places anytime soon. I know a couple of very good steak places in Seoul; the cooks have been trained by 'experts' imported from overseas.  I'll have to take her to one sometime soon.

Time for bed.


Unknown said...

I have been living in my town in Korea for 4 years. The only chain restaurant we have is Outback, I have gone two times in 4 years and been so disappointed both times.

Scott said...

My wife and I live across the street from a VIPS and finally decided to try it. I was so disgusted the moment I walked in and realized it's a fucking wedding buffet with room temperature food dumped on top of cold food and you have to cook your own steak on this hot slap of rock and no tool to flip the bloody steak. For 70,000 won.

I can't help my wife understand why I was so disappointed with it. She absolutely fucking loved everything except my attitude.

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