Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Miga's Sliced Pork Lunch Special

The lunch special is never as special as the house specialty. When Brian and Justin suggested lunch, I suggested Miga, the newish Korean BBQ place on 15th.

Five years ago, I went to Seoul, which used its varied street food, hot pots, and barbecue to win a spot on my list of great food cities (don't worry Bangkok, you're still at the top). Since then, I haven't been to a proper, authentic Korean BBQ in Philly. While my love for the International House of Smokeless Barbecue will never wane, it's just not the real thing.

Our path to my most memorable meal in Seoul began in a large subway station. We had spent the last four months with the ultra efficient Tokyo transit system and found ourselves the target of much pushing, shoving, and negative vibes in the Korean metropolis. My friend Pierre vented his frustration with some audible questions about the normalcy of our surroundings, prompting one Korean man to stop in his tracks, turn to us and say in perfect English, "You don't like it? Leave!"

What was sure to turn into a scuffle in the eyes of any Philadelphian ended up being a guided tour of Seoul's nightlife, as Pierre and our Korean-American friend made amends and even found some commonality. Of the countless establishments we entered and left, I can now grasp a few through a blurry veneer of years old intoxication. Being me, the one that sticks in my mind most was a tiny, white tiled, bare walled barbecue joint with only three or four tables. Each one had the round grill, that you would find embedded into the table of a slightly classier place, simply laying on its surface surrounded by enigmatic condiments. The proprietor, an old woman, immediately filled the space before us with countless side dishes and plates of raw meat. Our host began emptying these contents onto the grill. The procedure was as follows: grill the meat, some kimchi, and a raw clove of garlic, wrap it up in a leaf if lettuce, eat the whole thing in one bite, and take a shot of soju, sweet Korean vodka. I found it to be true that some of the best meals in life leave you wasted in their wake.

And yet I hadn't even tried the bacon. Those thick, squared off slabs of flesh, cartoonishly striped with fat, sizzling on a griddle, were out of the question, even in my inebriated state. Since then I haven't had the chance to redeem the omission. In for a quick lunch and without the gratuitous time to sit and stuff our faces, yesterday's trip to Miga left this unchanged.

Of the various compartments of my lunch box, there was nothing of note; a few pieces of sushi, some glass noodles, a little salad, etc. The main event, marinated slices of an unspecified cut of pork, presented an issue that previous experiences with Korean beef have presented. Deposits of fat that were at once rubbery and gooey lined each piece of meat. I understand that certain cultures value textured meat, even if that is something that a classic American eater would call a sinewy or overly fatty cut. One may order what appears to be chicken nuggets at a Japanese restaurant and end up with deep fried cartilage. When it comes to these types of texture, I have my limits, and they were reached with Miga's lunch special. Brian inhaled what I couldn't finish.

I'll have to return to Miga for the Korean BBQ some time soon. There was a picture of raw pork belly in their window and it enticed me.

1 comment:

  1. You gotta hit Little Korea (Olney/Elkins) park for real Korean food...