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Monday, October 11, 2010

ANOTHER BEST LUNCH EVER

Today was supposed to be a day at Daegu, Solar City.  However, the interface for this journey got delayed, so I'll go there next Spring.  Thus, I had a whole day to do nothing.  I decided to walk as far as I could, for I'm sure I've already gained five pounds.

I asked the Concierge what was the absolutely best place to have lunch in Seoul.  She suggested Sanchon because I was sort of planning to walk through Insadong, a street of antiques and Korean art, as I've never been there.  Well, this was a place for Monk food, a vegetarian restaurant, not my kind of thing.

Option two was lunch at COEX (formerly Korea Exhibition, now Convention Exhibition, really their World Trade Center) because that is where the G20 will be meeting next month, and security has been high on a list of things to do, for good reason, for this is also a sprawling mall.  The matter of international currency is a real concern and the Korean government has already banned any rallies close to the venue.  The attraction for me was that this hotel I'm in, interestingly enough, has two high profile restaurants there.  Unusual, because COEX is on the exact other side of town [An underground arcade walk of 20 minutes plus one hour on their mass transit system to get to the Samseong Station.  The cost was about a buck.  In Tokyo, the shortest (two minutes) subway ride is about $2.]

The train I used in Seoul had comfortable metal seats, so vandalism is impossible and there is no need for maintenance.  Honolulu, please use this material.  I noticed that talking on the phone is allowed here (in Japan, this is a big no-no), but the noise from the tracks masks the talking.  In fact, 75% had some sort of electronic device to watch, talk, listen, whatever.  Amazing!!!  Americans can easily survive, for at all stations, the announcements and video guides are in Korean and English.  Buy a T-Money card, similar to the Japan Suica.

bizbaz was, in a word, incredible.

It is a buffet, but a high premium one such as I've never experienced before.  It is also a very spacious setting, larger in footprint than the entire Westin Chosun.  I looked around and it was about a quarter filled, 90% female and mostly local people.

I had red and white wines, both Chilean (chardonnay and cabernet), each $10/glass.  I'm sure both bottles cost the same, but the white wine was poured into a tiny glass (maybe an ounce or two), while the red wine must have been at least 5 oz, if not 6.  If you go there, avoid white wines.

I started with an enhanced Caesar Salad, adding various nuts, onions, sardines, capers and olives.  Good start.

The next course consisted of Oriental appetizers and soba:  Peking Duck in the traditional pancake roll, assorted asian pickles, maguro (yellow fin tuna) and hirame (flounder ) sashimi and sushi, three kinds of shellfish sushi, two different types of wasabi...and this was 10% of the selection available.

Course two was a plate of kalbi (barbecued ribs), Korean chicken, mussel, escargot, salmon piccata (the best of show), scallop tempura and assorted kim chi.  Note how much more red wine there is.

I placed a dozen desserts on to my plate and had them with an expresso augmented cappuccino.  I must have missed 80% of what was available.  The best was a frozen persimmon.

Mind you, I could not touch the crustacean section (at least a dozen different preparations) and never got to the meat carving, Italian and noodle/soup stations.

The wines cost about half the price of the buffet, so the value was extraordinary.  All in all, this is the best value lunch I've ever had.

I ate enough for the remainder of my Korean stay, so for dinner later that day I walked around the basement of the Lotte Department store, hoping to find that perfect take out combination.  I gave up because nothing particularly appealed and stopped by the 7/11 for a Jinro (Korean sochu), Hite (beer) and two chip bags for all of $5.

In the early days of Itaewon, I bought t-shirts for $1.  Today, I must have spent several hundred dollars on two t-shirts and a simple vest.  However, the material was perfectly comfortable and, well, why not.  By the way, I did find a pair of cufflinks at a 100 yen shop in Tokyo.  If I laid my $1.22 cufflinks next to my $150 version, you wouldn't be able to tell which was cheaper.

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The Dow Jones Industrials and price of oil are on the right.

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