Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Eyethiopian Caturday

After a bit of a mix-up, on Friday I semi-volunteered to host this month's Seoul Veggie Club get-togethers. Hosting involves scouting restaurants, choosing one, and making arrangements.The problem was two-fold. (Yes, I am aiming at the record for most hyphenated words in an opening paragraph.) Rapid-fire. Camera-ready. Cats-eye. (That'll come up a little later in this entry.) Smoot-Hawley.

First, I know virtually no veg-friendly places other than the ones the Club has introduced me to, and nobody would want to go someplace we've been in the last couple of months. Secondly, we usually have two schmoozefests a month, two weeks apart, and it was already the twelfth of March, so I'd have to either arrange just one or do two on consecutive weekends.

So both before and after my (50-minute! Hooray for me!) run, I spent way too much time online, investigating dozens of places on the veg restaurant map Ken of the SVC had kindly provided through Google Maps. Every option was too far away or too expensive or too hard to find from the nearest subway stop. Finally I stumbled on a really cool blog about being vegan in Seoul. It provided me with a lead on an Ethiopian restaurant, which would at least be a novelty, in Itaewon. Just in case, I also picked out a backup, a Middle- Eastern place in Itaewon called the Dubai.

That seemed right up my alley, as every time I go to a store, a little voice whispers "Do buy this" and "Do buy that".

But before I could go scout in Itaewon, I had to get Tug to the vet. It's a boring story about a boring two-plus hours of my life, so I'll just say he's got conjunctivitis, it cost me 25 bucks for the vet and almost 20 for the cabs, and now I have to drop and oint (shut up, I'm declaring that a word) his eye a cumulative 16 times a day (an oint oint here, an oint oint there, here an oint, there an oint, everywhere an oint oint...)

A vet in St. Augustine once busted my cat JP's eye. (Nuff sed.) Tug is virtually JP's identical twin, so messing with his eye brought back some bad memories... at least so far Tug's been quite cooperative, although the cab rides did get a bit old after his thousandth plaintive cry.

As soon as I got Tug home, I took off for Itaewon, which is a unique area. I've written about it before, but let's just say it's right by the biggest US Army base in Asia and it's chock-a-block with street vendors, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, storefront food stands, and people from Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Russia, Kuwait... every place in the world, I guess, but Ithaca, US of A. I stopped, as always, at What the Book and the Foreign Food Market, where you can get Bollywood DVD's, Lebanese spices, and Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Club Zion, which in the daytime allegedly hosts the Ethiopian restaurant, was just a block away from WTB and FFM, but the restaurant was gone; apparently they were only open for a few months. Perhaps the fact that the proprietor and his girlfriend are the only two Ethiopians in the country cut into their business. But the Dubai will work out fine; us vegheads love us some hummus and falafel, though if you eat too many of those, you feelawful.

Some of the SVC members are really strict vegans and they may not want to go to a place that serves lamb, so for the following week, I'll book a vegan buffet. At least the restaurant I picked is, for once, impossible to miss: Itaewon subway, exit 3, walk a block to the corner: it's right over Dunkin Donuts, with a huge red sign in English.

On the way home, an American couple approached me on the subway platform: could I help them get to Express Bus Terminal? I could; my stop, Yangjae, is one stop past EBT. He's in the army and they had taken a four-hour train ride from Busan, and were going to take a four-hour bus ride back, because she wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe in Itaewon. The "Hard Rock Cafe" in Itaewon is actually a little t-shirt shop that stole the chain's name and logo:
But he'd never been on a train before, so he was happy with his day. They were almost like little kids; it was kind of sweet. Also cool was that I actually know enough to help somebody over here. I wrote "Seoul Station" in Korean for them in case the bus was full and they had to take a taxi back to the train depot.

Today, Sunday, has been a little more low-key; I had coffee at *bucks with Lauren and bought a basketball and some bananas at E-Mart. (By the way, in a triumph of commercialism and overpackaging, you can now buy a "Starbucks Premium Banana" in a plastic pouch for only a dollar. Starbucks is okay, but Bananabucks? A fruitless expenditure.)

And now I guess I gotta do some dishes and some grading. Or I could sit here all day and try to come up with a clever final line for this post... wait for it... nah. Bye!

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