update: video links fixed. Sorry about that!
So today I went to an area of Seoul known as Hwehwa. My mission? To join a friend at a traditional Korean restaurant called Nolboo. You might wonder why I refer to it as a Korean restaurant when, as you no doubt are aware, all the restaurants in the general vicinity are in Korea and so are by default “korean restaurants.” However, not all of them are traditional. Allow me to explain further.
A traditional korean dining experience normally entails sitting on the floor and eating off of a small table. The first time I did this, I have to admit I was very uncomfortable. My calves soon emitted frantic signals of pain and my poor innocent knees began making death threats. However, after a few traditional dining experiences, I have begun to see the merits of eating in such a way. Sitting cross-legged forces you to keep your posture – if you slump over or hunch your back, you will become very uncomfortable very quickly. Keeping my posture straight goes a long way in keeping my legs pain-free, and is probably healthier too.
Anyway, Nolboo has such an arrangement. Not only are there no chairs, there are no tables either. The dining area is a huge, highly-polished floor. The hostess counts the number of people in your dining party and brings out the proper number of cushions. You plop down on these cushions and then you order. The meals at Nolboo come with so many dishes that they carry the whole table (literally the table) out to you with the dishes on it. Like so:
Note my precariously placed knees.
This food is good enough, but what makes this place so memorable is the live, traditional music that is played. My friend and I were sitting right in front of the stage, so we got the full-on view of the performers. Luckily, I had my camera with me, so I managed to snag some videos of the procedings:
In this video clip, two lovely ladies sing a
duet while two other ladies play some percussion.
A truly yummy experience. I quite enjoyed the traditional music, although my Korean friend wasn’t as impressed. “It’s so old,” she said after the fact.