Right up until the Olympics, every talking head on television and quote in the paper was saying that Vancouver would be nightmarish during the Olympics, and that residents should expect delays and difficulties getting around, and that they should leave their cars at home. The whole city (me included!) bought the hype, and now it’s quite easy to get around everywhere but downtown, where there isn’t much fun to be had on a Wednesday night anyway. So last night, I dragged poor, sick-day Nick out with some friends to the Westender Korean Café on Denman Street, where there is a place that only sells pork belly, and for which we had coupons that bought us 50% more pork belly.
The Westender Korean Café is a place that only sells pork belly, and they bring it to you with those hot-pot grill things that you use to cook it at your table. They bring you daikon pickles, kimchi, this shredded-lettuce salad thing, rice, and lettuce leaves, and you cook your pork belly and either pile it up with the Korean condiments on your rice, or load it into the lettuce leaves to eat like Korean fajitas.
From the outside, it doesn’t really look like anything but a dodgy old diner, which is perhaps why I’d never noticed it before Sooin brought us there about six months ago. On the inside, it’s usually packed full of young Asian ESL students from the various English schools in the city. They play nonstop Korean pop music videos – Sooin informed us that there are no fewer than twenty major girl groups in Korea, and as many boy bands, and that pop-culture is a huge deal there. She helped everyone out by pointing out which girl groups were comprised of girls too young for Nick to be ogling, and which boy-band stars we should pay attention to for dance skills and hotness. She says we can go to Korea and get thousand-dollar nose jobs and form our own group. If they’ll throw in free liposuction, I’m in.
When I say that it’s a pork-belly-only kind of place, I really do mean just that. When you sit down, the waitress will pretty much just bring your table a certain amount of food, which is determined by how many people make up your party. Be sure to also ask her for beer or shoju, which is also pretty cheap, and which you simply must have as an accompaniment to a pork binge.
All that food, and it costs practically nothing. Dinner for five, including four pitchers of beer, and more food than we could eat, was $125, including tax and tip. The only problem was that we were in such high spirits after dinner that we thought the fun ought to continue, so we stumbled down Denman past Robson to an izakaya Paul knew would be open, and then there was sake, and Nick held his head in his hands and waxed poetic about bedtime, and then Steve ordered us mackerel sashimi and a big bowl of edamame, and I was all, “We just ate and I’m too full!” “But we didn’t eat JAPANESE,” Sooin replied, and so we ate even more and drank the best cheap sake ever and now this morning I am not sure if I should bother eating or just go back to bed because I am still so full. I am not even sure I want bacon.
I’m sorry. I should never talk like that. Of course I want bacon. But maybe this morning, I’ll wrap it around a vegetable.