Friday, August 29, 2014

Funny Fridays // *SPECIAL POST* Rcubed's Guide To Navigating a Korean Barbecue Restaurant

I'm Korean. And naturally a large part of my life is Korean culture; i.e., food.

I actually don't like Korean food that much, having been raised as a good ol' Asian American. I have more of a taste for cheeseburgers than kimchi, and pizza over bean sprouts. But one of the Korean foods that my family and I absolutely LOVE is Korean barbecue.

Imagine this: you're walking inside a restaurant. The instant you walk in, you hear sizzling meat, smell the delicious soy-sauce-infused beef and pork, and see a large diversity of people enjoying small sides of vegetables and potato salad along with different large plates of freshly cooked meat.

That's kind of what a Korean barbecue restaurant is.

So, in case you've never eaten Korean barbecue before or been to a restaurant, but would like to someday, here's your guide to eat at a Korean barbecue restaurant!

Now that you're inside the restaurant, you're seated by a hostess and given menus. 
Since you're in Rcubed's Hypothetical World, money is no object. You order the All-You-Can-Eat Korean barbecue for you and all the people you're with.

The AYCE (All You Can Eat) is basically self-explanatory: you order anything that's listed, however much you want, whenever you want. Many times, people cook it on the table griddles.

Your Crash Course to Using Table Griddles
  • Usually, there's a griddle on top and a flame under the griddle. The waiters lift up the griddle and light the flame under it with a lighter. A dial knob is usually on the side of the table and can be used for raising or lowering the heat.
  • Whenever my family goes to Korean barbecue (usually with extended family or other friends), we have the kids sit at one table and the adults at another. It won't work if you have babies (obviously), but if you're an older kid and responsible enough to work the griddle at the kids' table, use it. Designate one or two older kids, and have them sit closest to the griddle. There are usually one or two pairs of tongs lying around; use those to flip the meat and make sure the food is cooking evenly. Beware of touching eating utensils with raw meat, particularly pork, and make sure EVERYTHING is cooked through all the way.
After you look at the menus and discuss among yourselves, order the meat that seems the most delicious on the menu. While they're getting the plate of raw meat for you, you examine the several little dishes of food on your table and try to figure out what they are. (This is called banchan, with a little bit of p added to the b.)

Keep in mind that these dishes vary with each restaurant. Don't expect to see the exact same things that I'm showing here (unless you go to the same restaurant that I went to, of course). 

Your Crash Course to Banchan

Technically, I don't think this is part of banchan, but I'm including it here anyway. This is basically salad: regular lettuce, with a slightly spicy dressing that has a hint of soy. (It's not that spicy. Try it.) This is really good when paired with the meat.

The middle dish is spinach with a sesame oil-salt sort of dressing. It tastes good (well, as good as spinach can taste), except you have to chew it well; I've choked on this before. 

I hadn't originally seen this before, so I'm not quite sure exactly what it was. However, when I tried it, it tasted good: the noodle-like things were either noodles or some sort of crunchy vegetable, and they were doused in a healthy portion of creamy mayonnaise dressing.

This is corn. I think it's just regular corn, with a few extra things added in, but for the most part it's just corn.

Broccoli (obviously), with some sort of cheese. I thought it was tofu, but my mom told me it wasn't, so I ate it. 

The cheese would have been bland by itself, but it served to be a nice complement to the broccoli.

**WARNING MESSAGE** Never assume something isn't tofu. A couple times, I've picked something up, thinking it was egg or something, but it turned out to be tofu. (Let me tell you: It's unpleasant when you expect something to have a nice, eggy-or-chickeny flavor, and it turns out to be tofu. Tofu!) In my humble opinion, tofu tastes like sponge, and it is one of many reasons why I will not be a vegetarian. Imagine having tofurkey for Thanksgiving!

(Also, I'm not even sure if this broccoli concoction is actually a real Korean dish. But if you take it into the context that they served it at a Korean restaurant...then yes, it is a Korean dish.)

This is pickled radish (and it can be white as well). It has almost a scratchy, starchy consistency (but it's not unpleasant), and if you're a fan of pickles, you'll like this. It's sort of sour and is good paired with something savory (like the meat or the salad).

This is a dish of spicy pickled cucumber. (They're like cucumbers with vinegar.) The spiciness is a little bit more intense than the salad, but not by much. 

And last but not least...THE RICE PAPER!

My siblings literally devour these things by the plate. (My mom had to give our waiter advance notice about her voracious rice-paper-eating children.) Rice paper is basically what it is...rice paper. It's smooth, fairly tasteless, and shiny. (See the reflection of the lights?) But it's perfect for making little mini-tacos or mini-dumplings, and it's pretty squooshable, too. 

***There are usually kimchi dishes added in the banchan as well...but my mom ferried them from the kids' table to the adults' table because she knew that we didn't like them. Alas, they are not included in this guide. Maybe a more appropriate name for this guide should have been "Rcubed's Non-Spicy Guide to Navigating a Korean Barbecue Restaurant."

****Also, there would be potato salad included in this list, but I ate it all and consequently don't have a picture. Sorry :-( But it was good! You can't really go wrong with potato salad :-)

You're sitting at the table, sampling the banchan, when you realize that your meat isn't here and that you're hungry. (Plus, you still have to cook it at your table.) So you're trying to figure out how to contact your waiter when I, Rcubed, magically appear out of thin air and guide you to THE BUTTON, which in some cases is mounted on the table itself or on the wall by the table.

THE BUTTON is kind of a thing of magic. American restaurants don't have it, so it's kind of a novelty. Anyway, THE BUTTON is pretty awesome. Press it, and your waiter will come within a minute or two to see what your problem is. No hand-waving or awkward-flagging-people-down-movements; just use THE BUTTON and all your problems will be solved. (Not really.) But the wait staff will's sort of like a Summons Charm with an erratic delay time.

Anyway, I show you THE BUTTON and your waiter comes, and you explain the issue. He says, "I'm sorry, but our cattle have not been cooperating and will absolutely not stay dead! But we will be out with your order as soon as possible!"

(Keep in mind that I am making this up as I go. Usually, there is no delay for your food; I just made the delay up to introduce you guys to THE BUTTON.)

Your meat eventually comes, and you start using the tongs to put it on the griddle.

That's what it should look like: nice and red.

Then the meat starts to "wilt" and stretch and stuff and turn brown and cook. 

**It's best to stretch the meat in one layer over the griddle. It cooks faster that way.

It's not quite done yet in this picture.

**Make sure you flip the pieces of meat to ensure that they're all cooking all the way.

IT'S DONE! It's brown all the way, and there's no sign of pink, so you begin to distribute the meat to your fellow patrons.

It is at this point in the process that you notice the dish of sauces set in front of you. The restaurant I went to had two sauces (but like the banchan, the sauces vary depending on the restaurant).

This sauce *used* to be my favorite. It's just sesame oil and salt, for dipping your meat.

This sauce is much eviler-looking, but it's my new favorite sauce to dip my meat in, mostly because it's more flavorful. It brings out the, er, meatiness of the meat (wow, I'm such a descriptive person) and it tastes really good. And it's not spicy.

After you cook a couple plates of meat, the waiter comes and substitutes a nice, clean griddle for your dirty, charred, blackened griddle. (You can ask them to do this if you feel like the griddle's disgusting, but usually they'll take initiative and do it without them asking you to.)

Then you decide to order a couple different kinds of meat.

This one was the restaurant's specialty meat. It was a lot like galbi (actually, I think it was galbi), which is my favorite kind of Korean barbecue. It was really good except for the pineapple. (I personally think they added the pineapple to make it look more fancy.)

Use scissors to cut the meat into portions that are easy to distribute.


This is probably my least favorite of the meat. First of all, it has bones in it, and it's kind of a hassle to spit everything out. (My philosophy: if it has to go in your mouth, it should stay there.) Second, it's a pain to cook. Even though the meat is sliced really thin, you have to cook it really well (think burnt) to kill all the germs or salmonella or something. (But then I'm wondering, if you have to burn it, what about cancer? Doesn't burned stuff cause cancer or something? So really, it's a decision between salmonella or cancer. But then what if salmonella causes cancer? Does salmonella cause cancer? There'll probably be a study like that in the future. So it's kind of at your own risk.)

I actually gave my brother a slight bout of food poisoning. I'm notorious for being an impatient person, so apparently, I undercooked the meat. (It looked fine to me.) He went and threw up in the bathroom, but he seemed fine after that, so I wasn't worried. None of us other kids threw up I'm wondering if my brother just made that up as an excuse to go to the bathroom. According to him, the restaurant had some really cool sinks. (Not even kidding. Apparently the sinks were formed like fountains.)

Wish I'd have gone to the bathroom! I could've seen those!

No, this isn't meat. It's egg. (And it's not tofu. Promise.) You can almost always order steamed egg at Korean restaurants, and it's really good egg, too. It always has a really good flavor--it's never bland--and it always comes steaming hot, which is good too (except when you really want to eat it right away).

Sometimes, there's free dessert.

Not even kidding. If you do enough research, you could end up at a restaurant that serves FREE DESSERT!

There are several Korean BBQ restaurants in my area; one of them has mini lollipops and a frozen-yogurt-type thing, another has a serve-yourself ice cream cooler with four flavors and cones; and the one we went to served a full, perfect scoop of strawberry ice cream in a cup.

It was good ice cream, too.

You take your ice cream and eat it in solemnity. 

Then you look at each other and wonder, Who's paying the check?

Being nice, well-rounded awesome people, you each want to pay the check because, well, you're a nice, well-rounded awesome person. And in the process, you start an unwitting fight over who will pay the check.

You #1 says: I'll pay the check! No, you sit down. No, stay there. I order you to!
You #2 says: No, really. I insist on it. Please!
You #3 says: Honestly, you guys paid for it last time. Let me pick up the bill this time! No! Seriously!
(You #4 sneaks to the waiter and pays.)

(You #1, #2, and #3 find out.)

You #1: Seriously?!
You #2: Seriously?!
You #3: Seriously?!
You #4: *shrugs*

You #4 doesn't talk that much.

By the way, adults, it's very awkward for us kids to watch our parents fight over who will pay the bill. 

So, really, eating at Korean barbecue restaurants isn't that hard. Sure, it's different from American restaurants. In some ways, it's awesomer (*coughcough* THE BUTTON), in some ways, it's not-as-awesome (*coughcough* TOFU MIXUPS), and in some ways it's the same.

But I guess that's one of the points of life: doing different things and enjoying them, even though they're different.

So, anyway, hope you had an awesome time trying to figure out my guide to navigating Korean restaurants. I had an awesome time writing it for you, even though it took me like 2 hours (no joke). 

Have you ever been to a Korean barbecue restaurant? What's your favorite food?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Writing Wednesdays // Bashing the Block #1 RESPONSES (or lack thereof...)

So last week, I introduced you guys to BASHING THE BLOCK, a prompt-type not-contest thing. Read the post here.

Well, let's just say nobody entered :-)

Which is kool with me, because I wrote an entry for the contest and now you can only read MINE! (Mer hahahahaha.) So here's mine...

by Rcubed 
Rcubed is an almost-fifteen-year-old sophomore with an affinity for writing. She enjoys eating ice cream, listening to Andy Mineo, and living life in general. Aiming to publish a book before high school graduation, she also hopes to make a Christ-filled difference on her public school campus.
The moment the salesman opened his mouth, I thought, Why is he trying to sell me a Tesla?

I checked my phone for an appraising look. Blue eyes, glossed pink lips, plain brown hair with bangs. Regular shorts from Old Navy; a T-shirt from Gap, the tag plainly sticking out.
Me? A Tesla?
So I waited patiently until I couldn’t stand his spiel anymore. I wanted a Civic, not a Tesla. “Sir, I’m not interested in a Tesla.”
“But I insist, ma’am.” He was a ferrety man, with a cone-like head, sort of like Phineas from Phineas and Ferb. “Come over here and look at our wonderful selection! Silver, red, any color you could dream of! Oh, and look--our magnificent rainbow car.”
I looked.
At first, the car looked white. Blinding white. It scorched my eyes.
And then I saw it.
It wasn’t a color, really. Just a hue. A glittering hue that shimmered in a way that made me think of magic.
It was beautiful.
“And guess what?” The salesman leaned closer, his breath smelling like Funyons. “I’ll give it to you. For free.”
The instant free left his lips, I stood straighter. “Hold on. You’re giving me this Tesla for free? That’s insane. That’s stealing. You can’t.”
“No, I was authorized.” He stared at me intently, and it was right there that I noticed his eyes were violet.
“I’m sixteen years old. I don’t need a Tesla! Somebody would probably just steal it or something. I don’t want handouts.” I crossed my arms. “Where are the Civics?”
“Please, just at least take it for a test drive, maybe?” He sounded so hopeful.
Why? It wasn’t like I was going to buy it. Or take it, even. I doubted he was even authorized to give it away.
“Why are you so stuck on selling me a Tesla?” I rolled my eyes. “Lead the way.”
I swear he did some sort of High School Musical dance as he led me over to the car. “I’ll be in the backseat,” he told me before the sides swung up and he practically dove inside.
“Yeah, yeah, okay.” What a complete waste of time.
But when I slid into the driver’s seat, a feeling of euphoria came over me. The seats were perfectly warm, and buttery, the controls smooth and cool in my hand. When I turned on the ignition, a little buzz flew through my fingers. And I’m not talking about emotional buzz--I’m talking about an actual buzz.
Was I just electrocuted? I stared at my hand, trying to figure it out.
“Go ahead, drive.” The man sounded nervous now, and by now everything was freaking me out.
I refused to press the gas. “Why are you doing this?”
“It doesn’t matter.” He was staring at a little black device in his hand. “Go!”
I don’t know why I went.
But I pressed on the pedal and we shot out of the parking lot and into the busy afternoon traffic.
Somebody honked once, and I checked around nervously, trying to see what was wrong. But as far as I could tell, I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
Then somebody else honked, then another car too. And before I knew it, everyone was honking at me in a sort of discordant symphony.
“I’M GOING BACK!” I shouted at the salesperson. “We’re going back!”
But now he was staring at me with a smile on his face, not a nasty smile, but a kind of smile that sent me back to my childhood and the games of Freeze Tag we used to play, the kind of smile that the person who was It would always have whenever they caught me. A satisfied smile.
I tried to steer back to the parking lot, but the cars weren’t moving. Not even when I added my own honks to the chorus of awoo-ahs and beeeps.
“What’s going on?!” I shouted at the salesman. “What are you doing? Where are we--” Suddenly the cars all around me began moving in one body, carrying me along with the crowd. I wasn’t even pressing the pedal.
Then I saw the orange cones. And the hole.
And then after that all I saw was a flash of light, and that was that.


For those of you who don't know, I joined the writers' blog Ravens and Writing Desks! To check out my first post, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Musing Mondays // 3 Ways To Beat Boredom (& Some Other Stuff)

I probably should have written this post at the beginning of the summer, but strangely enough my brain went "WE SHOULD DO THIS POST!" when it's the end of August and a lot of people are already back in school.

I don't get back to school until after Labor Day, so I still have some time. And if you're like me, you might be wondering what to do with yourselves for the rest of the summer (or maybe the rest of your life).

(You know what, I'll just admit it. This was a really badly scheduled post. Blame my brain.)

Anyway, hello. And if you're a really fast homework-doer or something, and you have a lot of extra time on your hands, and you have #FirstWorldProblems and don't know what to do, here are three ways you can wage war on your unproductivity and fight your boredom!

photo found on wikipedia & edited on picmonkey

  1. Make a list. It's sooooo boring, I know, but this somehow always works for me. (See? I'm making a list as we speak!) I think of what I need to get done and write it down (also make sure to put check mark boxes by each option). That way, I have a clear vision of what I could be doing at the moment.
  2. Do something crazy. Do the ALS Ice Bucket challenge! Do 10 ALS Ice Bucket challenges! (If you haven't been nominated, I nominate you!) Doodle on your backpack! (I'm going to get a silver Sharpie and write my favorite song lyrics on my backpack :-) Make a list of 100 things to draw and draw them all in an hour! Or something even insaner, like cleaning your room. (I actually like cleaning my room. Don't ask me why.)
  3. Do something OUTSIDE of your house. I find that if you're outside the house, you tend not to get as sidetracked. For example, when I'm in my house, I tend to "accidentally" stray onto YouTube and watch Bethany Mota and the Merrell Twins and stuff, instead of doing something productive (like working on my NEW WRITING PROJ! OH YEAH! IT'S ABOUT SPIES!). But when I'm outside the house and I don't have wifi, I can't get sidetracked on YouTube because of my data limit on my phone! So go watch a movie! (May I suggest Guardians of the Galaxy? It made me cry.) Or go to the library! (I went there and I got a ton of books, most of which were pretty decent.) Or go to Starbucks and people-watch! (Haven't done that...) Or go to Starbucks and listen to music and think about life. (I doodle and think about life, but most of the time it happens in Spanish class. Woops.)
Hopefully those hints help you beat boredom brutally.

Anyway, I've been receiving a lot of blogger awards, and as I can't keep track of them all, I'll post a couple of them down here in the form of PODCASTS! Yeah. Podcasts. Only the audio quality will be much better than my last one, and you'll be able to enjoy and listen to them.

Things to keep in mind while listening to me talk:
  • I don't have a lisp. It was the program that did it.
  • Sometimes I stumble over my words. 
  • I'm random. Very.
  • I'm also abrupt.
  • If I say something that implies something bad, I meant to say something that implies something good.
  • Listen...
O. Williams' Sunshine Blogger Award


Elise's Sunshine Blogger Award


His Princess' Very Inspiring Blogger Award


Also, check out my Soundcloud!

How do YOU combat boredom? And what did you think of the podcasts?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Funny Fridays: How To Be Viewed As a Smart Person

Our society enjoys being smart.

It's just a key factor to our society: pretending/actually being smart, and admiring other people who pretend to be/actually are smart. If you'd like to be viewed as a smart person, here are some tips...

1. Comment vehemently on current events. Comment on whatever you want--abortion, smartphones, Gravity, etc. Just make sure you do it emphatically, make sure that you use a lot of big words, and also that your argument makes sense to some people. (It doesn't matter who; not everyone is going to think you're smart. Just make sure you cater to your target audience, say the exact right things, and push the exact right buttons, and you'll be set!) It doesn't really matter how much knowledge or wisdom you have on the issue you're commenting on, just as long as you sound good doing it. For example, if I were talking about Gravity...

Gravity is a movie devoid of utter emotional connection. You see the agony and hear the 
passionate screams of the ever-present Sandra Bullock, yet I felt no connection to her character whatsoever. It felt to me as if a black hole had sucked out the potential emotional link of this film, and left it merely with Alfonso CuarĂ³n's over-hyped cinematography and "astounding" research.
See? I sound like an intelligent person. I haven't even seen the movie, so I technically can't have any opinions about it, but I still sound intelligent.

2. Say a lot of inspirational quotes. How do you make up catchy phrases and inspirational quotes? you might ask. Follow these three short steps and you'll have a good inspirational quote!

  1. Pick a topic, any topic. Let's pick hope.
  2. What is something true about hope, besides the fact that it's hopeful? (Try using a metaphorical statement, or a simile.) Let's say that hope gives light to those who have it.
  3. That's a good inspirational quote in itself, but we want to have that extra dramatic flair.  How do we get that dramatic flair? We contrast an element of the quote with its opposite. For example, let's contrast light with dark: Hope gives light to those who have it, even in the darkest of nights.
See? Can't you just imagine that on BrainyQuote? 

3. Dress the part. Generally, people who are looked upon as "smart" do not wear gold chains, backwards baseball caps, and pants on the ground. "Intelligent" people have an air of "sensibility" or an idea of the "conventional"; in other words, they don't have gold teeth. (After all, everyone knows that having gold teeth causes cancerous tissues to ravage your unsuspecting bodily vessel.) They can be preppy kool, or normal kool, or hippie kool, but you can't be gangster kool for some reason. (Because of society's stereotypes.)

4. Make sure you rake people down. When you analyze life, you have to make sure to tread on people's toes. Because all intelligent people have a little friction with the people who aren't smart? It amps up the drama, causes more debate...and you get to prove to people why YOU'RE right, and why YOU'RE smart, and why the other person is wrong and not smart!

If you want to be looked upon as a smart person, this is the post for you. If you learn how to truly be smart...I'm afraid this little blurb is the wrong place to look.