An Argentine Reacts: Korean BBQ
Expats regularly complain that Argentines lack palatal adventure. We went straight to the source to test their taste buds.
When I invited my friend Esteban to help me review BBQ Town, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure, Argentines can be open when it comes to new flavors, but I still wouldn’t use the term “variety” to describe Sunday asados or any weeknight meal in general. By asking one Argentine to try Korean BBQ, was I asking too much? There’s a difference between coaxing your friend to eat peanut butter and shoving chili octopus down his throat. But Esteban is a good sport and I’m a persistent friend. See for yourself what came of our Korean BBQ adventure…
Going into the meal, Esteban warned us of a few things. The first was that he wasn’t a tofu fan. Why? He didn’t like the look of it. But for the sake of science (erhm, this article) he broke his tofu fast and nibbled a bit of the soybean square. Surprised he liked it so much, Esteban needed assurance that what he was eating was, in fact, tofu: “Nah, me estás cargando! Esto es tofu?” (“No, you’re kidding me. THIS is tofu?”) Tofu, 1. Bean curd bias, 0.
Pajeon (Green onion pancake)
Our friend Esteban had a tough time figuring out how to eat this guy. First he grabbed it with both hands like a sandwich, then rolled it like a burrito, and finally finally conceded to cutting it —with chopsticks— exclaiming: “Ya fue! De alguna forma tengo que cortarlo.” (That’s it! One way or another, I’ll have to cut it.”).
Japchae (Sweet potato noodles with vegetables)
The japchae was poked, prodded, and pulled until Esteban was sure they were noodles. After finally trying the stir-fried sweet potato strings, he couldn’t get enough. “Bancame un rato, esto se zarpa en rico!” which we can best translate as “Give me a moment, this is really freaking good.”
Miyeok Muchim (Seaplant Salad)
These seaweed noodles went down so easy, you would’ve thought he was eating spaghetti. “Me gusta!” Esteban exclaimed, “Pero se me complica con los palitos.” (“I like it! But the chopsticks are complicating things.”)
BBQ Town’s oysters are pretty enough to convince any skeptical diner to down these saltwater clams, even Esteban: “Me voy a animar, solo porque tiene buena pinta.” (“I’m going to do it only because it looks nice.”)
Nira Salad (Spicy Garlic Chive Salad)
This far into the meal, we were doing well. Esteban had been enjoying the cold dishes (especially loving the sweet & sour chicken, which he devoured in full) and we were learning fun tidbits about Korean culture and eating customs from BBQ Town’s head chef and owner, Elvis. But one bite of the seaweed salad and Esteban suffered a rude awakening: Korean food pica –and not in the too-much-chimichurri type of way. Suddenly, the poor Argentine was suffering: “Huy cómo pica esto! Traema agua por favor!” (“Wow, this is spicy! Bring me water please!” or simply, “Rachael, I am going to kill you for doing this to me.”)
Mandu (Pork & Vegetable Dumplings)
No qualms here. Esteban ate them all, finishing off the meal and declaring himself “pipón, pipón” (oh so stuffed).
To learn more about BBQ Town, check out our full review here. Otherwise, stayed tuned for more gastronomic adventures as we follow Argentines, camera in hand, through BA’s world of ethnic eats.
Have a food you’d like an Argentine to react to? Let us know in the comments.
Photos by Marcos Casti