Fire Chicken or Fried Tilapia

Amber and I visited the Seoul Food Meat Company.The interior was stylish and relaxing with rope lights hanging from the ceiling. The place is popular with Panthers fans as well as Georgia Bulldogs and it’s located adjacent to Let’s Meat Kbbg (where I went yesterday and gorged myself near to bursting with pork belly, butt and pork tongue). Wonder what happens when the Falcons come to town?

The menu was simple and interesting. We pick the meats and the sides and everything is shared. Amber ordered the fried tilapia with sesame seeds with tempura sauce and corn on the cob with parmesan cheese. I ordered the smoked brisket and the fire chicken – kimchi hot and smothered in mozzarella cheese – couldn’t go wrong.

Drinks came out before we could say “soju.” Been the elder in the table (actually, I was at least twice her age) I assumed the obligatory role of swirling the green bottle, then pouring the shots with both hands for the two of us.

“To our new friendship,” I beamed.

Then we both emptied our shot glasses in unison, savoring the nutty, sweet potato taste.

While I drank my soju straight up, Amber insisted on sipping her clear, colorless alcohol spiked in strawberry. She claimed the traditional beverage tasted like gasoline. I don’t know what gasoline taste like, but I’ve certainly ingested diesel once or twice – been splashed in it many times when fueling my truck.

I don’t think soju taste bad at all, but I understand why she wants it to taste even sweeter. Actually it was mild and fairly neutral with no after taste. It has a higher alcohol level than beer, but usually less than vodka. The benefit of soju is that there’s low alcohol level, about 20%, so you’re not feeling the after taste. So you’re drinking a lot of it, before it sneaks up on you. Soju definitely goes where vodka doesn’t dare enter.

That’s why it’s the staple of Korea, and now has become the most popular drink in the world.

“I bet you didn’t know that,” I mentioned to Amber.

“Really, I would have thought it was the margarita with a lime wedge. Everyone loves Jose Cuervo.”

When the order came out, it was clear that they had made a mistake. It was supposed to be a whole fish and fried. But instead the dish resembled morsels of chicken smothered in cheese and hot sauce. Sampling the dish confirmed that it was poultry not seafood. We alerted our server who rushed over and whiffed it away like it was spoiled meat. What came back was just the brisket and we waited a good 20 minutes before the tilapia came out. By that time the brisket was cold as luncheon meat.

Amber didn’t like the fried fish with sesame seed and tempura sauce. It tasted ok to me, but it was she, not me that was hungry and needed nourishment since she had a long drive home to Greenville.

So we returned the fish and ordered the fire chicken instead. Dang they should have let us keep the chicken in the first place.

“Next time, get the wings,” suggested a patron sitting at the table next to us. “They’re the Bomb!”

Overall, I was impressed by how Charlotte is expanding into a world class city with a wide variety of ethnic food. The Queen city’s impressive skyline is growing by the day and there’s so much to see and do here (Charlotte is known as  the Queen City because it was named for Queen Charlotte, King George III of Great Britain’s wife.)

And Amber was sad to return to Greenville.