I happened upon this post on Chowhound earlier today and thought it apropos (I quickly replied, of course):
This often happens anytime you walk into an ethnic social environment whereas you are not of like color/race/culture/etc. of the majority. They look at you cross-eyed, or at least, you THINK they do. Even though I am half Korean, I STILL get this when I walk into Korean restaurants. This past Saturday, I went to my favorite Korean-chinese resto here in NYC…
[Sam, tall half Korean/half Scotch-Irish, enters Korean restaurant with tall Puerto Rican/Dominican Boyfriend who looks Italian]
Sam: (Oh Lord, heeeeeere we go.) Two please.
Waitress: (Whaaaaaaataeez she? She looka whiite. But not alldaweh. Hm. I gibhah chinezeh menu.) Right heyah.
Sam: (Please don’t think I’m white, please don’t think I’m white…) She gave us chinese menus. Dammit. You want a beer?
Sam’s BF: Uh, I’m so hungover, yes…
Waitress: [Bringing bowls of wontons & duck sauce, places them on table] You wanna drink?
Sam: Two OB’s, please.
Waitress: Ok. [Turns to leave]
Sam: Oh, oh, hold on! Can we also have an order of goon mandoo* while we wait?
Waitress: [slight surprise and grin] OH! Okaaaay… [grabs chinese menus off table] I get odah menuz.
Sam: (Booyah. I’m Korean, Bitch. If I weren’t hungover, Idda ordered mool mandoo**! Whatchu gotta say about that???!!) Thank you!
Waitress: [Brings us Korean menus and puts on table. Takes away wontons & duck sauce. Chuckles at Sam and does apologetic bow.]
Sam: Thanks. (Now bring me my kimchee & pickled radish, dammit. I’m hungraaaay.)
Waitress: [Brings OB’s, kimchee, pickled radish, onion, & black bean sauce. Nods.]
Sam: [Nods back.]
The best jajangmyun in the city is at Hyo Dong Gak (51 W. 35th St). To those unfamiliar, it looks like a chinese restaurant in a sea of korean spots. If you’re unKorean, it will be. Like I said, HDG is Korean-chinese, it doesn’t specialize in BBQ or pajaen. This is where you get your jajangmyun and jellyfish fix on.
Please don’t let pushy ajama*** ladies intimidate you. If you act like you know what you’re doing, they’ll respect you for it. They may even tell you so and rub your hair playfully while laughing with you. So, in short, here’s the trick: order something immediately that lets them know you mean BIZNESS. When they come over to greet you/get your drinks, say, “Can I get an order of goon mandoo/bacalaitos/johnnycake/etc. to start?” This will shock the cute darling waiters, whatever their ethnicity, and make them pay attention (OH! She’za KOLeehan!).
I’ve been going to HDG for years and I’d say 50/50, they recognize me. If I go with my other halfie or korean friends, it’s never a problem (haven’t you noticed, Koreans travel in packs???). However, my halfie & korean friends run on hip hop time and are always late so I have to pull the mandoo trick.
*goon mandoo: fried dumplings, **mool mandoo: boiled/steamed dumplings, ***ajama: older woman (sometimes has a negative connotation, like “old maid”, be careful if you intend to use it. If you call a 40 year old unwed Korean girlfriend an ajama, she will stop speaking to you. If she was 67, you could probably get away with it.)
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