If you’re going for some Korean barbecue in Seoul before a big business meeting, don’t! Your flawless presentation and impeccable hair and style might be ruined by a few minor food detail you may not notice. Here’s a few Korean foods that might ruin a perfectly good impression.
Wearing What Your Ate
Many Koreans know that eating Korean barbecue might not be the best choice for making good impressions. Grilling at the table makes sure you get meat literally off the grill. But that means you’ll be smelling like a grill master too. If you’re meeting your future in-laws or going for a job interview after your meal, you will have that telltale smell that can be easily smelled in a room or car. If you don’t want to smell like your last meal (and have everyone around you know about it), save this list of best Korean barbecue restaurants for next time.
Tip: Many Korean barbecue restaurants have Febreeze at the counter so you can spray yourself clean.
Garlic is an integral part of any Korean barbecue meal. Whether it’s cooked in sesame oil, grilled with the meat or eaten raw, the results are the same: delicious meals and embarrassing garlic breath. And it’s not the sexiest thing in the world to lean into a kiss only to smell the vampire apocalypse. You don’t necessarily have to avoid garlic. Just remember to take out a mint or some gum to get yourself back on neutral ground with the rest of society ;).
So far we’ve covered avoiding Korean barbecue for meeting someone after. But eat it together, and it’s all good: everyone will smell like barbecue pits and have hardcore garlic breath. But keep this in mind: if you know how to eat Korean barbecue the right way, you’ll be wrapping up pieces of meat, garlic and whatever else fits your fancy into leaf wraps (called ssam – 쌈) and stuffing them into your mouth in one go. And whatever conversations you may have will have to wait until you’re literally done with a mouth full of food.
A few years back, I ran into an old junior high school friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in several years. We spent a few minutes chatting and catching up. After we said our goodbyes, I got in my car and checked my rear view mirror as I always do. Except this time I noticed a big ol’ piece of black seaweed in my front tooth. It was an extremely embarrassing moment, but at least my misfortune can be passed on as knowledge here.
Certain Korean foods have the unfortunate tendency to ruin beautiful smiles. Laver (gim – 김 – a seaweed type food) is a popular rice wrap found in every Korean home, and thus, it’s present in a lot of Korean meals. It sticks to teeth pretty easily and is dark black, making for very embarrassing random encounters with old junior high school friends. Red pepper flakes (gochugaru – 고추가루) is a popular condiment to spice up any Korean dish. They also have a bad habit of getting stuck in between teeth and gums. These two Korean foods are notorious for embarrassing moments. Remember to check yourself!
The Korean Spaghetti
Chinese food in Korea can be ultra embarrassing if you’re not careful. The two most common dishes, jajangmyeon (자장면) and jjamppong (짬뽕), are notorious for leaving stains on light colored clothing. Many a white t-shirts and sweaters have been ruined for the sake of delicious Chinese delivery. Jajangmyeon (자장면) is a noodle dish with a thick black sauce. And if your chopstick skills aren’t the greatest, many of the noodles will slip and slide, while splashing around black sauce on your white shirt. Jjamppong is a spicy seafood dish that’s commonly used to cure hangovers. The noodles are in a deep red soup that somehow, someway have a way of ending up on your shirt, no matter how careful you are.
Tip: Some restaurants will have aprons to protect your clothes (not just Chinese restaurants). Apron – 앞 치마 (ap chima).
Ramyun noodles are a part of life in Korea. They’re the food of choice on road trips, break time snacks and substitute meals. And because it’s quick to make, it’s perfect for midnight snacking. Except for the fact that it causes ramyun face the next day. The Korean variety of ramyun noodles typically comes with noodles as well as a flavor packet of spices for the soup base. The flavor packet has quite a bit of sodium and MSG. If you have all of that in your system right before going to sleep, you’ll find yourself with a bloated face. If you’re waking up early to take passport photos, be sure to avoid ramyun face.
Ever have an embarrassing Korean food experience? Leave your stories in the comments!