Thursday, November 14, 2013

Traitorous Jjimdalk

When I moved into my apartment, and before I learned how to order food, I relied heavily on local take-out places. I'd walk in, point at stuff, and show them my ARC so they could figure out where I lived.

I developed a mild addiction to Andong Jjimdalk. Run by a lovely ajeossi and his wife, this noodly, chicken and veg concoction makes me happy in my mouth. I want it.

It also made me fat, so now I ration my jjimdalk. Over the months, it has gotten so that I can walk in and they know my order - spicy, boneless jjimdalk with a coke, sometimes. They know where I live too. I just walk in, hand over my card or cash, and food magically appears at my door within half an hour.

Of course, one cannot live on jjimdalk alone (OH YES YOU CAN) so I downloaded the free 요기요 app from the android store so that I could order delivery without making awkward bad-Korean phonecalls with frustrated, nervous and non-English speaking restauranteers.

Tonight as I walked home from my Korean class I was hit by a sudden craving for jjimdalk. I went to the restaurant, where the lights and TV were on (there's a hairdressers' chair for waiting people to comfortably sit and watch TV, or for the ajeossi (who does the deliveries) to hang while he waits for orders). But the door was locked. She was out and he was on a delivery, so they'd briefly locked up. This is very unlike the chicken place down the street which stays teasingly open all day but is hardly ever manned by people to take your order.

Dejected, depressed and still craving jjimdalk, I trudged home in the rain. But the craving persisted.

I picked up my phone and questioned whether it would be a complete betrayal to eat different jjimdalk. And what if the new jjimdalk was better than the one from my local place? Would it forever taint the awesomeness of my regular jjimdalk? I swallowed the bitter taste in my mouth and tried to push the guilt to the back of my mind. I felt like such a traitor as I scrolled through 요기요's different options of local takeout places. I even had a little daydream in which I showed my ajeossi and ajumma the app and their business soared, and we celebrated over jjimdalk. My stomach rumbled.

I selected the first one I saw, and was amazed by the options. It is so simple to walk into my jjimdalk place and order the same thing every time - 매은 순살 (spicy boneless). But here I had options. Half a chicken. A whole chicken. A chicken and a half. Noodles. Extra noodles. No noodles. Three levels of spiciness. For the sake of testing quality to compare my jjimdalk place to the 요기요 one, I chose an order similar to my usual but a little cheaper (not boneless, medium spicy). A few minutes later the sms confirmation came through, and it told me it would take about 30 minutes.

So far, comparing wait time, they're the same. Prices are the same too.

I paced a bit.

My stomach rumbled again.

At last! The doorbell. I skipped over and let the delivery guy into the building, and then hovered by my door, waiting to hear the rustle of the bag outside. I opened it as he rang that bell. And there he was, with the glorious jjimdalk in his hands. His face was covered by his helmet, but as I handed over the exact change, he raised his visor and smiled at me.

My ajeossi. From my jjimdalk place. The one I've been ordering from all year.

And it tastes just as good as ever.

Yum. Not my picture.