Date of Last Visit: Saturday, January 5, 2007
The Victim: Me
The Damage: £10, exactly.
The Background: Why do we make the decisions (or take the decisions, as you say here) that we do? I really don't know what prompted me to get up on a Saturday morning and go out for Korean food. I was going to Selfridge's to get my eyebrows done and buy some facial cleanser, if you must know. And I had this idea about hitting Polo for lunch at some point during the afternoon.
But then…as it does tend to happen…I ended up getting on the 243 bus instead of the 55. (No coffee. Not thinking.) And the 243 lets you out at Holborn instead of heading west to Oxford Circus. So I was really mad at myself and I was standing on High Holborn, thinking. Thinking thinking. I'm sure people thought I was crazy. Crazy American tourist blocking their way. (There is something about my teeth that betrays my nationality.) And then I saw Asadal and I thought…hmmm…not Polo…but it's Korean…
The Entrance: It's empty. I'm empty. And I want some tofu soup. I explain this to my very kind waitress who looks at me funny and tells me that I can't possibly want the tofu soup because it has a very strong taste and I won't like it.
At which point I look at HER funny and tell her that I am sure I WILL like it and that I LIKE strong tastes. I also challenge her to further define "strong" (and to provide a specific example) but we seem to have hit a language barrier. I sit and wait and contemplate the obviousness of my dislike of being told what I will and will not like. I need to confirm for myself. (Apparently my two favorite sentences as a child were "Are you sure?" and "How do you know?")
Now I know that Korean restaurants in London are challenged by their traditional notions of providing "little dishes" complimentary at the start of the meal. They are challenged because Londoners are cheap and will gladly eat all the free food, swizzle a beer, and leave. So many a Korean restaurant in central London will charge for the free stuff, although apparently if I go to New Malden, I won't have this problem.
The Food: So I am pleased and delighted when the little dishes arrive…there's kimchee, of course, plus some spinachy looking substance that looks better than it tastes, and some sprouts, which are just okay. But hey, I wasn't expecting anything and life is good when your expections are exceeded.
I pay a quid for tea and it is hot and so it the cup it's served in–so hot that I can't hold the cup. So I have to wait about 10 minutes before I can quench my thirst. Why would they serve tea in a cup that conducts heat? I don't understand.
Here comes the tofu soup and it is just tofu soup. There is nothing "strong tasting" about it, except for a few green chillies that I am wise enough not to eat. Perhaps others have eaten the chillies and complained. I can not guess at the eating habits of those that have come before me. The soup is nice. It's a good, warming lunch.
The Service: Sweet. Low scores on the TOEFL though. No automatic service charge is added to the tab. Even sweeter. But I leave £1.25 anyhow.
The Verdict: It was good. But I still like Polo better.