Gourmet 8

Saddened by how far she and Sung Chan have grown apart, Joo Hee exerts her negative feelings into positive working energy. Very perfectional. The preparation for the beef contest at Un Ahm Jung is picking up at top speed under Joo Hee’s hard work to elude any thought of Sung Chan and Bong Joo’s ambition.

Dal Pyung is definitely someone. He measures every ingredient to the thousandth decimal point, it’s surprising that he even gets things done. Certainly, his ultra, über sensitive tasting buds paved half of his roads to quality level restaurants like Un Ahm Jung. They are so perceptive with nuances in taste, that he can pin point exactly what needs to improve in each testing dish, of course, not losing his perfectionist accuracy with each active ingredient.

After some hectic preparation work, Un Ahm Jung presents 12 chiefs with 12 unique dishes for the beef contest.

I know, I know I've Only Included
9 out of 12 dishes for the Dishes
Wath to See the Other Dishes

Remember the store owner that showered Sung Chan with a bucket of boiling water the other day? (Coincidence that this guy’s surname is Kang?) Turns out, this old man’s temper isn’t entirely unreasonable. The local gangster absolutely loves the store owner’s beef tendon.* (alright, TSKS translates it as: 牛膝. I’ve never ever heard of it, so being the diligent recapper that I am, I looked it up. Turns out 牛膝 is the root of Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae. So, it’s a plant. Can’t be what we’re talking about right? Well I can’t say food x, so being the amateur that I am, I’m calling it beef tendon. Because it looks like beef tendon to me. Anyone have a better idea of what it is, feel free to correct me.) The problem with loving the store owner’s cook is that the gangster guy always comes for the tendon. While you can sell your popular dish at a relative expensive price, you can’t only sell the tendon and leave all the other parts sit in the freezer and cross your fingers for someone else to order those. Besides who would want to eat alongside a gangster whose body guards will bust out a gun or knife or fist whenever something is amiss? The store owner politely refuses to serve beef tendon to the gangster guy. The guy gets angry, Sung Chan steps in to help.

He challenges the gangster guy that he can’t even tell the taste apart between tendon and other parts of a cow. If the guy turns out to be able to discern the tastes then Sung Chan himself will provide the gangster guy with limitless supply of beef tendon. If the guy can’t tell after all then he should just shut his yacking trap and stop coming back for food.

Bong Joo comes to see his father after a busy day of work. The old man is curled up in a large blanket, reading and translating valuable cook books. The father and son apologize to each other for their insistence on their diverging ideals of how Un Ahm Jung should be. Then the father brings up Sung Chan again. He laments how his poor baby is sleeping on the streets selling fresh produce. If he, Chief Oh, doesn’t find this precious son, he’d be too ashamed to see his deceased father when it’s time for him to leave this world. Bong Joo says nothing. The father presses on, “If you aren’t going to look for him, I will do it myself!” Bong Joo has no other choice. Someone hand him an Idiot’s Guide for How to Deal with Jealousy.

The challenge starts, starring Sung Chan and the gangster guy. There are three dishes in the center of the table, each featuring a different part of cow with tendon amongst them. The two contestants are to try each dish and decide which is the tendon with their eyes covered. So no cheating by looking at the color. The challenge starts. Each contestant takes a sip of water to rid any residual taste in the mouth and taking term sampling a piece of meat from each dish. Once they’ve tasted all three dishes, they are to determine which contains the tendon. The gangster guy says there are no beef tendon on the table. Sung Chan disagrees, it’s the last dish, he says. Sung Chan is of course the clear winner. He reveals his winning secret: between each dish, rinsing his mouth with just water isn’t enough to rid the aftertaste of the previous dish. However, by adding a few drops of lemon juice, the sourness not only cleanses the tongue, it also aids the tasting process for the next dish.

The gangster guy is furious at his lost and Sung Chan’s blatant mockery of his ignorance, but he keeps his promise. However, he also calls for another challenge. This time, if he loses, he will take care of the beef that’s been storing up in the store’s freezer. If Sung Chan loses, he’d have to pay a price. Sung Chan hesitates, but decides to accept the challenge reluctantly. The topic of the challenge is to taste seven dishes of beef and be able to identify its position in a cow. If Sung Chan misses one, he loses the challenge and has to abide by the gangster guy’s wish. (Wow it’s getting exciting!) The challenge will take place exactly a day after, in the store owner’s restaurant.

Once the gangsters left, the store owner tells the excited viewer the actual difficulty of the challenge. A cow is said to be able to divide into 10 rough parts, each part contains many subregions that total up to be about 30 small parts. To accurately identify seven out of the pool of possibility, the chances are real fat.

Sung Chan is left with a cutting board full of beef, in various size and shape, and trying his best to remember the taste of each. He cuts a piece from one of the chunks and starts to chew carefully. Chief Oh’s words resonates in Sung Chan’s ear: If you can’t eat it like a cow – swallow it, then regurgitate it back up – you will not be able to perceive its actual taste. The image of Chief Oh trying to teach Sung Chan to discern the taste of different beef resurfaces. Sung Chan is hopeful.

Bong Joo receives reports from the detective that the Butcher Kang is still alive. He has a store open on the street Sung Chan sells produce. Yup, he’s the temperamental store owner that spilled Sung Chan water. This man looks difficult, but he had a wife and lost contact with his beloved daughter. Bong Joo decides to start with this man’s daughter.

Sung Chan returns to the store the next day for the challenge. Ajummas from nearby who heard the news of the challenge all gather at the store. Store owner Kang probably hadn’t had so many people in his crummy little place for a long time. Using the method Chief Oh taught him, Sung Chan blindfolds himself and starts the challenge. He gets the first one correct. Bong Joo and Jin Soo come to talk to the butcher, just in time to witness the intense challenge. Jin Soo rubs her eyes to make sure she indeed see Sung Chan sitting in front of her, blind folded and chewing. Sung Chan gets a second correct. He picks up a third piece and chews carefully, Chief Oh’s teaching ringing in his ears. A third correct. The butcher hides a smile while the gangster guy lets out a look of both incredulity and agitation. The ajummas are hysteric. He puts a fourth one in his mouth, chews and says to himself, “What’s this…?” Owner Kang looks worried, the gangster guy is ready to jump out of his skin for Sung Chan’s first wrong. Sung Chan opens his mouth, nothing comes out. “What’s this?” he tilts his head in an inquiring manner. The voice and image of his adopted father appears and he gets another right. The gangster guy is speechless. Ajummas erupt into a explosive clapping mixed with exclaiming. The gangster guy raises his hand to silence them all and proceed with the next piece. Bong Joo watches in silence. Another piece. He guesses it wrong but corrects himself. The gangster guy disappointed raises his right hand to confirm the accuracy of Sung Chan’s guess. One more. Sung Chan gets it right again. The final piece. Butcher Kang watches Sung Chan with eagerness. Sung Chan chews and chews again, tilting his head from left to right. “Uhhh this taste…” he turns his head again, unsure what the piece is. The ajummas start to worry for him. Bong Joo has a finger on his chin, looking pensive. “It’s taking too long.” the gangster guy says. Sung Chan really doesn’t know this time. He gets it wrong. The gangster guy starts to laugh hysterically. In disbelief, Sung Chan takes down the blind fold to look for himself.

Butcher Kang interjects. This piece of meat is brisket indeed (yummy!!), but not quite. Bong Joo has seen enough, he leaves, taking Jin Soo with him. In the car, Jin Soo asks about Kang’s words. Bong Joo simply replies that Sung Chan is right. Unable to withstand the curiosity, Jin Soo asks Bong Joo to drop her off and returns to the site to unravel the mystery. Store owner Kang explains, the meat is attached to the brisket, it takes a fine butcher to separate the two. Now since the problem is on the meat itself, Sung Chan is considered to pass the challenge. As promised, the gangster guy buys all the left over beef in the store and gives them out for free to the ajummas who came to watch. He tells the ajummas to invite whoever is interested to the restaurant for a free meal. (Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?)

By the time Jin Soo returns to the restaurant, the place is packed with customers eating free Korean BBQ. (so want to be there) Jin Soo drags Sung Chan aside to ask him questions but ending up helping him serve the customers. And doing dishes.

The gangster guy pays for the expenses and tells Sung Chan, in a friendly way, that their battle isn’t over yet. He will come back shortly. Turns out the gangster guy is the CEO of one of the companies competing in the beef contest.

Jin Soo asks Butcher Kang if she could interview him, he refuses promptly and asks her not to mention the subject again. Jin Soo is not thrilled. Sung Chan jokes that if she can’t have the interview, she can come and sell produce with him. lol She hands him his chief uniform, given to her by Joo Hee. Sung Chan pauses at the mention of her and asks if she had said anything else to him. Jin Soo tells him she also told him to pay Chief Oh a visit. Because Chief Oh doesn’t have any appetite lately.

Bong Joo invites Butcher Kang to a fancy restaurant to talk business. He tries to offer Kang a place in Un Ahm Jung as well as a possible teaching position. The guy refuses again. “Is it because of your daughter?” Bong Joo asks carefully. Kang gets up to leave, Bong Joo presses, “This contest will eradicate the prejudice the world bestows upon butchering. Through this, your daughter will take pride in you. You’ve been trying to reconcile with your daughter haven’t you?” Having said all that, Bong Joo gives the man a few days to reconsider. He invites the man over to Un Ahm Jung to see for himself. The man softens.

Sung Chan’s royal friend decides to enter the contest as well. He tests his dish by sending it up to the investor and receives recognition. He is happy.

In the kitchen, Dal Pyung is giving a talk on how to taste different foods. He is demonstrating when Sung Chan’s friend runs back into the kitchen gleeful over his recent success, and run into Dal Pyung. Dal Pyung lets go of the pot of food and it flies onto the face of Min Woo’s assistant. Ha. Serves him right.

Bong Joo sits down with the investor for dinner, serving the new creations created by the chief staff. The investor praises the food quality but also slips that the outcome of the beef contest will also decide the direction of his investment. The pressure is on.

Min Woo decides to pay the butcher a personal visit. Why do I have a feeling that this man will be detested by Kang? Min Woo gets all dressed up (yet still unable to cover up his ugly interior) and visits Butcher Kang. The butcher has reached a decision. He appreciates the opportunity Un Ahm Jung had given him, but he declines a second time. Min Woo tears off his mask after hearing the rejection and resorts to blackmail the old man with his daughter’s future at the credit card company, whose biggest client happens to be Un Ahm Jung. The butcher carefully asks if the original intention for Un Ahm Jung is to blackmail him into compliance, Min Woo doesn’t reply but reminds Butcher Kang of the rendez vous on Sunday at Un Ahm Jung. Once Min Woo left the butcher’s place, he calls the credit card company.

The old man goes to see his daughter at her work place. He sends her a package of seaweed. She coldly refuses to accept it. Sung Chan and Jin Soo coincide with butcher Kang on the streets, they return to the Kang restaurant together. The old man gets up to cook them food when his daughter storms in and yells at the old man for “ruining” her life in front of two strangers. There’s some major conflict that needs to be resolved.

Some neighbor called for electrical construction and never informed anyone that they’d be shutting off electricity AND gas. So I was trapped for an entire day without electricity, which entails no TV, no more computer after it runs out of battery, etc etc etc. You get the idea. … and without gas so I can’t even cook myself some homemade extravaganza for fun. Thank God for ipod, books, and a bed. 😀

2 thoughts on “Gourmet 8”

  1. I had beef tendon for the first time yesterday and couldn’t tell if it was animal, vegetable or extra-terrestriral. It took a while to find out what it was using the internet but I think I found that while some might consider it dog food, othes will insist on nothing else in a Chinese restaurant. I’ve had it once, satisfied my curiosity and will never order it again.

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