Not your average bibimbap lunch
Last night I went out for dinner with the Korean family whose daughter I have been tutoring since I moved to Suzhou. Nowadays her English is so good that she doesn’t really need a tutor anymore, but over the years I have become good friends with her family (mom and 2 daughters. The dad is always away working), and since I discovered my love for Korean food I’ve enjoyed numerous dinners together with this family.
Every time we are out somewhere we attract curious stares from other people. I guess they don’t really get our connection. I don’t speak any Korean, the mom doesn’t speak any English, the youngest daughter is 5 and rarely speaks at all and the other daughter is 10 and speaks fluent English, Chinese and Korean. Yep. Bit of an odd bunch.
Yesterday the family took me to a (to me) new Korean restaurant where we ate everything from cold, spicy soup to BBQ and bibimbap. Delicious. I simply cannot get enough of kimchi!
I noticed that the waiters were watching us with curiosity mirrored in their eyes, and in the middle of our dinner the Korean manager suddenly came over and introduced himself. He spoke in Korean to the mom of the family, telling her that I was the first ‘western laowai’ to visit their restaurant and that they wanted ‘more people like me’ to come in the future, however, that they didn’t know how to ‘attract westerners.’
He then turned to me, and asked me everything from what Korean food I like to what Suzhou expat magazines I read (all in Korean of course, the daughter translated). Then it turned into asking me for personal advices of how he could market his restaurant. I was just sitting there, listening, nodding, and answering his questions with whatever came into my mind. When he was finally done he thanked us about 35 times and then sent in free dessert as a thank you!
When I rode my bike home later I couldn’t help but thinking “what on earth just happened?! Since when do I become an expat expert just because I have blonde hair?!” And since when do restaurants perform live market research at the dinner table with their restaurant guests?!
Got to say that people never stop to surprise me over here. And no day (or restaurant visit) is like the one before.