Diary of an Autumn Leafer – Seoul, South Korea
From Jeju to Seoul, it was a small hour long flight out to Gimpo, which, as it turned out, was light years away from our hotel. We got into the taxi (really recommend that all your directions are written in Korean, just in case) and it wasn’t long before he was beating up his GPS system because it wasn’t giving him directions. Perhaps not the most auspicious start to the next part of the holiday when the taxi driver goes postal on his GPS system – though we did manage to find the hotel after a fashion and pulling over in alleys to ask locals where this hotel might be.
And, joy of joys, the hotel was undergoing construction (from 7 am to 6 pm!) and had a half-frosted glass door in lieu of a full, private bathroom door. So, whilst you were covered pretty well when on the toilet, it made things really awkward when you stood up and made eye contact, however accidentally, with your roommate. So weird.
Back to the food situation – we were hungry as all get up and, to own it, a little tired of fried chicken and all things spicy with kimchi radishes on the side. Imagine our delight, then, when we saw that we were not more than a few meters away from an Outback Steakhouse! And, if that didn’t work out, another Outback was roughly 3/4 of a mile away from our hotel.
With joy in our hearts and the promise of noshing on something other than poultry, we found what seemed like reliable directions to the closest Outback. We went around the building a few times, looked down the alleys, and after fifteen minutes of perplexed and hangry searching, were left scratching our heads as to where the hell-o kitty this Outback Steakhouse was. After all, the pinpoint had put it right in that building, and the pictures of it placed it as the correct address. Note bene: Google Maps does not work in South Korea. So, it’s not like we could even rely on that.
Well, since neither Jennie nor I were ones to give up on food, we went in search of the second Outback Steakhouse. We followed the landmarks according to a secondary map system, looked at the address on the restaurant website, and tried to find it. Again, we looked up and down the street, up and down the buildings, in and out of the alleys, and even attempted to get into a mall currently under construction just to see if it might be in there.
Needless to say (or else I wouldn’t be writing an entire post devoted to scouting Outback Steakhouses with senseless abandon), we did not find the Outback. It was still in freaking Australia, or something crazy like that.
Deflated but still pretty darn hungry (and hangry. Really hangry.), we roamed around a bit for anything that wasn’t either a local Korean restaurant or a Japanese restaurant, as sushi wouldn’t satisfy the growing hangriness no matter how hard it tried.
Eventually, we ended up in some kind of pretend Texan-ish steakhouse place that had more fried veg and meat on the menu than I’ve seen in a KFC. Drowning our sorrows in a beer and platters of pseudo-American-archetypal fried foods, we came to the conclusion that the Outback Steakhouses on the map could not possibly exist. We had searched high and low, at any rate, and whatever. Perhaps they had closed (two of them near other?!), or perhaps the one was under construction and we couldn’t see the sign for it.
Full of grease, more fried chicken, and beer, we dove into the greatness of a Starbucks latte and some 7-11 snacks and decided that perhaps we were just crazy after all.
But our hangry willingness to accept defeat did not mean we would not try again to find the fabled lost city of Atlantis … I mean, Outback Steakhouse.
This time, Jennie went to Trip Advisor and was chagrined (perhaps, peeved?) to find out that tourists had just recently posted reviews of their dinners at Outback. Like, within a few days of us arriving there – and I believe one had been written just two days before. Pictures were included. Therefore, we knew for certain that these Outbacks must be there, and they must be real!
A second time we traipsed the high and low, the street and the alley, for the first Outback. The website had identified it as being right there, and we even went down the street for several blocks to continue looking.
On to the other Outback. We followed the same pathway, looked for the restaurant in the photograph, absolutely sure that we couldn’t be going this insane. People had just left reviews, for goodness’ sake!
But sweet heaven above, we could not find the other Outback either, even with all the extra maps, photos, and directions we had gathered as part of the research process.
What. The. What.
Now even more insanely hangry and peeved than before, we just gave up, went to another BHC (Better Healthier Chicken) in the Seoul shopping district and some kind of popcorn fried chicken with a cheesy powder sprinkled on it. Oh, my word – Korean fried chicken should be labeled a controlled substance. It’s impossible to stop eating, and you end up craving it forever.
We were pretty sure all the online stuff had been completely made the heck up.
Or, maybe it was a ploy for the Korean fried chicken industry to trap you with its luscious chicken pieces, lip-smacking sauces and magical cheese fairy dust.
So over you, Outback. So over.
On a related side note, Jennie and I were swimming through the sea of humanity known as Causeway Bay one Saturday afternoon, and lo and behold, just out of the MTR stop, was a Hong Kong branch of the elusive Outback Steakhouse.
And yeah, we had lunch there. Just to show it who was boss.
Don’t judge me.
As I was eating, I said to Jennie in a contemplatively philosophical voice, “You know what I could really go for?”
“Some of that freaking Korean fried chicken.”