Running commentary on the things I've seen, the places I've been and what I've done in my measly years. It might help some, entertain others or bore everyone (including me). Regardless, let's get this started...
i haven't had any one-on-one face time with Kpopper in a long time. yes, i saw her for my birthday party (which, as you know, i can only hazily remember) and at Oppa's birthday party, but it's just not the same. so i was super excited to spend some QT with Kpopper on July 3rd.
here's how it went down:
[TEXT MESSAGE FROM KPOPPER] you wanna go to nrb?
[TEXT MESSAGE FROM KPOPPER] we an buy mgl & beer.
[TEXT MESSAGE FROM KPOPPER] and bring it.
if you're wondering what "nrb" and "mgl" mean, you're not alone. i was the recipient of these texts and didn't figure it out right away. in Kpopper text-language, "nrb" means norebang (the korean word for karaoke) and "mgl" means makgeolli (korean rice wine). i figured out the "mgl" right away but it took me a good 15 mins to decipher "nrb." and googling the term didn't help.
we made a whole day out of it, "day" meaning i got to Kpopper's house around 2:30 in the afternoon (i was supremely late. my bad). first off was a round of shopping at Woodbury Commons, which i haven't been to in a year, maybe more. the weather was amazing so it was just nice to be doing something outdoors where i can pretend i'm getting a tan and being active. i'm still regretting not buying these shoes. it's been tormenting me...
Not EXACTLY this pair, but very similar.
after the shopping spree we headed out for my first meal ever in Palisades Park aka Pal Park for koreans and people born in NJ. since we'd eaten a late lunch, we weren't particularly hungry so we opted against korean bbq and instead went for naeng myun, figuring it had been a hot day and cold noodles would be refreshing and light. silly me.
You Chunin Pal Park is pretty famous for its naeng myun. so i wasn't surprised Kpopper brought me here without me even suggesting it. we both decided on the mool naeng myun which is the standard noodles in cold broth. when you sit down at the table, the server brings you a big thermos and 2 cups. however, don't be fooled into thinking there's water or hot tea in there. it's actually filled with a savory hot soup. while it feels weird to drink it when there's no food on the table, it makes perfect sense once the naeng myun appears. alternating between hot and cold is somehow comforting and delicious.
in addition to the noodles, Kpopper suggested bindae duk which are korean mung bean pancakes. i'd never ordered them before, instead sticking to the tried and true haemul pajeon or kimchi pajeon. however, i'd recently watched an episode of Running Man where the mission was to round up the top late night snack foods, and bindae duk ranked within the top 10, so i was definitely intrigued and glad to try it. the bindae duk at You Chun came out piping hot and was crispy on the outside but still very chewy and soft on the inside. so so good.
although the prices at You Chun aren't exactly cheap, $10.95 for the standard sized mool naeng myun, the portions are ginormous. i barely made a dent in my bowl, causing Kpopper to mock me and suggest i order the petite size next time. i brought the leftovers home (which made Kpopper's car super smelly) and ate them the next day. surprisingly, the noodles and broth held up well, remaining chewy and maintaining their texture, which isn't usually the case when noodles have sat soaking in soup.
next on the Pal Park tour was a stop at Coffee Prince. in korean this place is clearly called Coffee Prince, modeled after the korean drama series. but if you look carefully on the wall, you'll see that in english they translate it into Tiramisu Cafe. weird. regardless, the cafe's actually really nice and if i was an unemployed writer/student that lived nearby, i would definitely make it my base camp. plus, the server was a tall, good-looking asian guy (honestly, he was probably korean given where we were, but i don't want to assume. you know what they say when you do that).
we got a prime seat near the giant, floor-to-ceiling glass window overlooking Broad Street, which turned out to be a more entertaining spot than i'd anticipated. across the street, directly at my eye-level was an apartment with it's blinds open and lights on. at first i'd just glanced into the apartment and wondered what those people were up to tonight. they were all sitting around the dining room table, just hanging out. one guy had his foot hanging out the window while he reclined in a chair. nothing too interesting. right when our server dropped off our coffees, i saw the guy and the girl in the apartment start making out. hardcore.pressing her against the wall and everything. WHOA! this just got a little more exciting... and then more and more people just started popping up. i was completely mesmerized by the happenings in this apartment and my brain was frantically trying to figure out what the hell was going on. it was like a car accident i couldn't peel my eyes away from. or a good fight outside of a club in NYC at 3 a.m.
properly energized by our latte and espresso, Kpopper and i headed off to norebang. with just the 2 of us. i've never gone karaoke-ing with 2 people. it seems to go against the very spirit of the activity. but i think it works great for Kpopper because she really just wants to practice all the korean kpop songs she's learned. it was a hilarious and impressive sight to watch Kpopper accurately sing 2PM and SS501, especially considering she's chinese. i mumbled and stumbled along the way with her realizing that although i listen to a buttload of kpop songs and can sing along with them in the car, it's totally different when i don't have someone to sing along to who can mask all my poor pronunciation and made-up words.
however embarassing that was, i still don't think i have the same dedication to kpop that Kpopper does to bother to learn the phonetic pronunciation for a whole song. i'll just continue to belt out made-up similar sounding words in the car.