So last night my husband and I had a double celebration dinner at Kim Ga Nae, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Damansara Uptown. The dinner celebrations were in conjunction with my dad’s belated birthday (the actual day was on 29 June) as well as my aunt’s (my mum’s sister). My sister and her male companion were present as well.
We’ve never been there before, considering that we’ve only ever visited Bon Ga in Solaris Mont Kiara as our usual Korean barbecue hangout joint. This year, we decided to try a new place. A place that was apparently managed by a man and his wife, both people whom my parents knew. A friend of our childhood family friend.
The restaurant was a double storey shop lot located next to the Perodua showroom, the Malaysian automobile manufacturer and opposite the Starling City Mall in Damansara Uptown. The area of Damansara Uptown was packed as usual with cars parked, double parked and drivers inching slowly in search of more parking. It was a haphazard scene. So we found parking a little distance away from the restaurant instead.
The barbecue joint was crowded for a weekend night, which was a common sight here. Weekends were when families with and without children came out of their hidey holes in search of grub and time to spend with their loved ones. It was a time for friends who have just finished a few pints and were looking for something hot and fresh to line their stomachs before going out for more pints.
They were kind of under-staffed that night with what few of the staffers running around, desperately trying to fulfil the patrons’ orders without leaving out a request or two. But my dad’s reservation allowed us to get a table at the end of the restaurant, away from the hustle and bustle of other patrons. Our food did arrive later and slower than it should have but it didn’t matter as the taste of the barbecued beef, mackerel and chicken lived up to the standards while the presentation of the dishes were a match made in heaven.
We were even treated to a few bottles of Korean alcohol, starting with the ginseng wine that the owner served to my parents and my aunt. Apparently that was meant for the older generation. I took a sip of the ginseng wine but it was a tad bitter on my tongue, presumably coming from the ginseng flavour but the wine was like wine. The heat and weight of the liquid making its way down your throat and into your stomach. It was like a wake-up call. But no, wine isn’t really for me so that was my first and last sip.
The next serving of alcohol was for the younger generation (my sister, her companion, my husband and I). A bottle of Hite beer. I never thought I could ever see myself enjoying a glass of iced cold beer but strangely, last night was my first. I suppose it’s because the beer tasted a lot like Malta and Anglia Shandy (according to my dad, they were both the sparkling and bubbly types of beer). So it was a lot easier for me to drink and digest. The four of us polished the bottle as if it was iced water.
The last bottle consisted of Korean rice wine, something that most of us would use in our food preparation but seemed it is drinkable as well. The taste of the rice wine was much milder than the Hite beer and even more so compared to the ginseng wine. But it was still wine and it was wine that I wasn’t particularly a fan of so I took a sip of that to try and didn’t bother taking another. I did, however, down the last glass of Hite beer, vowing to myself that the next time I have the opportunity to buy a bottle or two, I will. Now I have a few favourite beers to enjoy, although one of them doesn’t have any percentage of alcohol.
We sat there, slowly picking off the bits and pieces of kimchi (spicy, fermented cabbage), barbecued meats and rice and washing it all down with our various cups of Korean alcohol. The only type we didn’t try though was the soju. I’m not sure what soju would have tasted like but apparently, it’s a type of beverage with an alcohol volume of at least 16.8% to 53%! If I drank that, it would kick me into the following weekend! Reminds me a little of vodka. Colourless, definitely. Potent, I’m pretty certain of that.
Paying the bill though was a little challenging. As we’d assume that most places accept credit cards these days, they didn’t as the place was new and they hadn’t set up a credit card machine yet. So the rest of us scrambled for our wallets and thumbed through for what little cash we had and put them together for the amount. We paid and left, happy, full and satisfied, with a plastic bag of free water bottles given generously by the owner of the restaurant. By the time we left, our hair and clothes smelled strongly of Korean barbecue, a reminder of the happy meal we just had.