Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jjimjilbang de-virginized

For the longest time, I was probably one of the very few remaining Koreans that had never stepped foot into a jjimjilbang (korean spa/bathhouse), ever. I guess it just never really appealed to me. But as I got older, the appeal of a jjimjilbang got me a bit curious. I was always hearing people talking about how relaxing a day at the jjimjilbang is…how their skin becomes so soft and glows afterwards…and yada yada…all these wonderful things that piqued interest. 

But still, the public nudity part made me very hesitant. And being a bit OCD, the walking around barefoot in a congested area part just added to the reluctance. Like, what if I get athletes’ foot or something? For at least a year or so, I was unable to actually get myself to find the balls to go.
Having a friend that went regularly, I asked him nonstop questions about all the things I wanted to know about a jjimjilbang. If you are a jjimjilbang virgin like I was and have some questions or concerns, you can most likely find them on my questions list (all the things I had been wondering have been answered, listed below). I have probably asked the general things most people might wonder about and then some. 

Earlier this week, after all the wondering and hesitating, I decided to just suck it up and go find out everything I wanted to know about jjimjilbangs.

The jjimjilbang at where I got devirginized was at the Imperial Health Spa in Fullerton, CA.

Imperial Health Spa
1885 N Euclid St
FullertonCA 92835

Since this is the first and only jjimjilbang I have ever been to, I don’t really have anything else to compare it to. I wish i had taken more pictures, but I left my phone in the locker. I just did not want to get too distracted with all the picture taking action to relax and enjoy the full so very unlike me, I know. I also didn't feel too comfortable about taking my phone in to some of the very hot rooms. It's like leaving your device in the car during a heat wave....there's possibility of damage.

My overall first time experience was pleasant. I came on a Monday night, around 7ish. There weren’t too many people. Had I came on a weekend or whatever other time when it was crowded…OMG I think I would have ran and been traumatized. I can’t even fathom the night of having kids running around here. Luckily, there were zero kids around the night I went.

And my biggest fear…the shower part would have been like my nightmare come true had it been packed. Being naked and having too many naked people around me is not just something I am comfortable with yet. It’s just too much communal nakedness than I can handle. I know that is all part of the whole traditional jjimjilbang experience, but it still makes me a bit uncomfortable. I can’t even fathom the thought of going in the tub…stewing in a communal tub of water with a bunch of strangers…OMG it just sounds gross to me, personally.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Efren's Korean tacos and Mexican kimchi

When Chef Roy Choi revolutionized the marriage of Korean and Mexican fusion, many fellow Korean American chefs were soon to follow in his footsteps. Just look at the rise in the popularity in the recent years of the Roy Choi wannabes putting their take into the spin of things. 

As a fellow L.A. native, Mexican food has been embedded into the culinary repertoire of what I grew up eating. We Angelenos are serious about Mexican food.  And Korean tacos are nothing new to us (Korean American Angelenos). Many of us grew up stuffing our tortillas with bulgogi, kimchi, and the likes far before Roy Choi turned the concept into an empire. I remember when I was growing up, we always had tortillas in our pantry. Tortillas and sandwich bread slices were like our rice alternatives. Have marinated meat left over? Throw them together in some tortillas along with some kimchi and whatever else was available that tasted good with it. Putting them together just made sense. 

In the work kitchen, tacos are one of the overly consumed items that we live off of. Tortillas are cheap and versatile, making it a practical item for busy restaurant staff on the go….you know, the ones that are either too hungry or too busy feeding others that they hardly have the time to maintain food sustenance. As much as I love tortillas, after living off of them days at a time, there are times when I just naturally get sick at the mere sight of them.

Once I’ve gone through a reasonable tortilla detox period, I am ready for them tacos, tostadas, tortilla chips, and more all over again. Heck, it’s not like I have too many options readily available at all times, especially when I am so unbelievably-out-of-my-mind crazed with hunger that I would eat almost anything in front of me.

The fellow that used to make me lunch every day had recently left us. No one probably felt his absence more than I did. Without someone to prepare my meals on queue at the end of an exhausting, behgorage-inducing lunch service, I was likely to fall into that unhappy zone. 

I jokingly made a cooking schedule for the kitchen team to go around taking turns cooking for me to make up for the estranged cook’s absence. Here is an example of one.... this is more of a recent one. The one I made the previous week listed Korean tacos on the schedule. lol

While in a rational, nonhungry state, I was texting Efren, my Tuesday guy, suggestions what to make for me that day. You might recognize Efren’s face from a previous post. If not, here he is again... This is Efren...

For random reasons, Korean tacos came to mind. I was kind of joking and curious what he’d say.

Me: Make me Korean tacos. 

Efren: Korean tacos? I am no Kogi chef.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The first blog post of 2016 ~ Holiday and post-holiday gorging!

There are times when I have no clue what to blog about. And then there are times when I just have too many post ideas and too little time. When idea strikes, I keep note of it so that I won’t forget. 

Here is an example of how I take most recent mumbo jumbo notes for post ideas...

Behgopa is not your typical restaurant review or recipe based food blog, but more about the random food related stories I want to share. I’ve claimed it to be a “culinary blog” and try to keep the posts culinary related, whatever that may be. I guess my blog somehow reflects the randomness of the real me. I wonder about the most random things and ask the most random questions at the most random times. People that have known me for a while don’t even “WTF?”my randomness anymore.

So if you have been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that most posts are not consistently a cut-throat anthology of one focus. I’ve been looking back on old posts and realizing just how random I have been with posts. One day I am blogging about fond childhood memories that a certain dish brings back. Another day, I am blogging about the brutal, soul crushing moments of kitchen life. And every once in a while, there are times when I play “typical” food blogger, recapping my dining experience at a restaurant or sharing about what I’ve made. My blog is seriously all over the place. And I can understand that the lack of focus may drive away some readers. But that’s okay. 

It’s coming close to three years since I have started this blog. The first post that started it all was on “butt space”. Since then, I have tried playing around with various post ideas to find my niche. But the niche was never truly found. I am still a lost soul in the blogosphere. Maybe I’ll never find my true niche. And I am okay with that too. 

So, for those that have stuck with me throughout all my random-lack-of-focus posts, I thank you and look forward to sharing another year of my randomness with you.

I guess I will start off the new blog year with sharing about my holiday gorges. I can’t even say how much weight I probably put on over the holidays.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Le Cordon Bleu schools in N. America are shutting down (finally)!

I was elated to hear the news that the Le Cordon Bleu schools in North America will be shutting down. I first heard the good news from a fellow victim of the school.

Lol...yeah, the text was so random and I was tired. I had a slight brain fart there for a minute. When I saw the words "shutting down", I sort of figured he was talking about...oh I don't know...some random establishment (for some reason, I was thinking a restaurant. He has sent me random texts about some random restaurants closing in the past, so). As rightful as the shutting down of the Le Cordon Bleu schools are, the fact that "lcb" had actually meant Le Cordon Bleu, was a bit of a shocker. It was bound to happen eventually, but I didn't expect it to happen any time soon.

If you have read my long-winded post of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, you know exactly how I feel about that school and what my experience was like there. I won't bore you by revisiting all the reasons why that school is  a joke.

In case you have missed it, I have taken the liberty of uploading the notes, recipes, and PowerPoint lecture notes that we had gone through in the culinary program. Yeah, what others have paid $50k for, I am sharing with you for free. You're welcome.

I hate that the articles on Grub Street and LA Times associate the school name with Julia Child, who attended the highly acclaimed school in France. The chef instructors at the real Le Cordon Bleu would probably die in shame to even be associated with the campuses in America, who merely uses the name to enroll students in the "Le Cordon Bleu PROGRAM". In fact, I have met chefs from Le Cordon Bleu of France and they just seem to laugh at the Le Cordon Bleu programs in America and call it a "joke".

The school has been faced with enough law suits (ruled in favor of the students) to further prove what kind of a fraud is being run. It makes me happy that the years of scamming innocent victims is finally coming to an end.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cookie Monster Cake and Korean Birthday Candles

Everyone in my family has a birthday in the fall and winter months, except for me. My dad and youngest brother are October babies. My mom and my middle brother were born in November. And me…I was born in the springtime. We just recently got done celebrating the last birthday of the year, our middle child’s.

Due to life’s unexpectancies, original birthday plans got canceled and/modified a couple of times. In the end, it ended up just being a quiet family dinner. The original plan was an early lunch gathering. My sister in law was planning to do a simple “grill” cook off thing and asked if I could help set up. And my brother requested a chocolate cake.

Well, the plan got canceled due to work related matters. And they decided to just go out for dinner somewhere. But that also got canceled due to not feeling well and such. The only planned thing that seemed to fall through was the chocolate cake that my brother had requested.