This weekend we did a lot of eating out. The reason we chose to eat out as opposed to eat heartily at home is that I was afraid to walk up to the grocery store. The good store is up at the top of a hill. Getting up the hill is no problem – coming down, not so good. It has been snowing off and on for the last week in Oslo with temperatures hovering around freezing. Some days there is snow, some days there is sun. When there is snow, the snow gets packed down on the sidewalks and the streets. When there is sun, the ice and snow start to melt just a little bit and when it freezes again, it all freezes into a nice, smooth surface. This nice, smooth surface will kill me. I am not the steadiest person on my feet in the best weather conditions. With the sidewalks turned to ice cubes, I am a walking disaster. Old ladies with canes whiz past me, clucking their tongues and shaking their heads in disapproval. Children go sliding by, purposefully trying to slide on the slick surface and they laugh. To summarize, I can’t cook because I’m afraid to walk to the store.
Instead, we taxi. Saturday night, Boyfriend took me out on a date. I have recently been lamenting the absence of any spicy, tasty food in Oslo being tired of the endless parade of steamed fish filets and salads. Boyfriend found Nam Kang Sushi as my Korean food solution. Even then, it’s labeled as a Japanese restaurant with its menu predominately crowded by maki, sashimi, tempura and teppanyaki. But if you are patient, and you flip all the way to the back of the hovedretter (main courses), you will find 2 listings for bulgogi. You can have your bulgogi in chicken, pork, or beef form. Bulgogi is usually slices of beef that have been marinated in a blend of chilies, garlic, soy, and sugar. The bulgogi is sizzled on a hot plate placed at your table and you eat the bulgogi with steamed rice or rolled into fresh lettuce leaves with jalapenos and garlic slices. To complement the bulgogi, we got some pan-chan. Pan-chan are small dishes of various pickled vegetables, smoked fish, and other cold and tasty treats meant to be eaten with rice and as a complement to your meal. Pan-chan are the reason I eat Korean food. Depending on the restaurant’s supply that day, you can get lightly pickled cucumbers or radishes, potatoes in a soy and sesame oil marinade, sautéed bean sprouts, tiny silverfish that have been cooked in soy and sugar, and acorn jelly topped with soy, sesame oil and chilies. No matter what the daily selection, a restaurant always has kimchi in its array of pan-chan. Kimchi is a napa cabbage that has been pickled and preserved with a lot of crushed chilies, garlic, and other spices, sometimes fermented fish as well. I love it. It’s tangy, salty, sour, spicy, and on occasion fizzes slightly as it hits your tongue. Kimchi and hot, steamed white rice is one of my comfort foods. Dinner at Nam King Sushi gave my appetite and tongue the jumpstart it needed. If anyone knows of any other Korean restaurants in Oslo, please send it my way! I’m jonesing for a big bowl of bibim bap!
On Sunday, in another fit of nostalgia, we made our way down to Karl Johan where all the tourist action goes down and had lunch at TGI Friday’s. To be honest, I only went to Friday’s in the states to meet up with a girlfriend when our goals were to A) drink cheaply and B) eat massive amounts of junk food. Their drinks, which were loaded with sugar, came in huge glasses rimmed with more sugar. Their bar food was fried and covered in either cheese or sauce, or both. When you are in the mood for junk food, TGI Friday’s was the place to go. Sunday, I was in that mood. We each got burgers. I got the Jack Daniel’s burger. The burger patty was larger than and not as tasty as what I remember and Oslo TGI Friday’s served the sauce on the side instead of in the burger. The fries were too few but salty and crisp. It hit the spot but while browsing the menu, I found the Jack Daniel’s chicken strips. These are battered and deep fried chicken strips covered in that sweet Jack Daniel’s glaze. Calling all girlfriends – when you’re in the mood to eat junk food and drink sweet drinks in excess, give me a ring. Those chicken strips are calling my name.