Little Korea

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The surrounding area of my work place is full with Korean stores and restaurant. I have been craving for  Korean food for such a long time ever since I started watching Korean series years ago. Series like Bread, Love and Dream and Sik Gaek further increased my curiosity towards Korean food. However, I am fussy about the halal-ness of whatever I send into my stomach. Like I have always told my friends; "I may be fat but I am fat with halal food only". Some of my friends' policy are that if they are sure that it is halal then it's OK even when there is no halal sign at the restaurant or if there is liquor sold in the place. Not so for me. For I have to really determine beyond the fact that there is a halal sticker in front of the restaurant. 
I really believe that if Muslim themselves are not particular and very educated about the concept of halal then what more people of different faith. Before I start anything to do with the title of the post, I think it is important to let people know what is halal to me. 
Halal means using meat that has been slaughtered in the name of Allah (loosely called in Islamic manner) and cooked using ingredients that does not contain any liquor (it means ANY, not 1% or even 0.00001% and alcohol is not liquor don't you people learn science?) and does not use any ingredients containing elements of haram (antonym of halal) animals such as pig (pork, bacon, ham, swine, or whatever name you deign to give it), dog (since some people eat dogs so I figure just put it here) and animals that supposed to be halal but haram because it was not slaughtered in the name of Allah. Look here for more specific details. 
The haram elements may still be there in the food if the people in the restaurant used the same pots, pans, cooking utensils, plates, glasses etc that had previously been used with haram foods or drinks (of course there are more detailed explanation to this but I am putting it briefly).This is why I tried my best to avoid eating at the so-called halal restaurant which serve liquor to customers. I believe that if it is readily available; there is no reason why it will not be available inside the food that I am going to eat there. Suppose here is a new chef and he loved to put liqour in the food and he doesn't get it why it should not be included in foods to be served to Muslim customer?
Then there is also the element of cleanliness that is related to the concept of halal such as using the cooking utensils and cutleries previously used for dog food (i.e pet dogs used it to eat, or pet swine etc), and also sitting at tables and chairs previously occupied by dogs and pig. Muslim CAN touched dogs when its dry but they must afterwards washed all the parts that had come in contact with the dog in a specific manner (three part water and one part mud). Therefore I avoided places that allows pet dogs and pigs in. Plus there is chance that their fur or saliva might fly into my food and thereafter making it haram for consumption.
I know that sometimes all this requirements are thought to be fussy or inconveniently sensitive. But lets be fair, everybody can eat halal food but not everyone can eat non-halal food, so whats wrong if we make it halal? A  more academic argument would be that this is just something people had to be sensitive  with considering different faiths and all. I myself observed the fact that  my Hindu friends cannot eat  beef (cow) or that European generally love to consume liquors. 
So let us be in topic now. I finally found this restaurant called Pak Z Kopitiam   in Ampang selling halal Korean food. they massively advertised that they are halal. I  inquired in full details and the Korean manager convinced me that everything is halal. I became convinced when I was informed that the restaurant belongs to a Malaysian Muslim.
For three weeks I have been having most of my dinners in this restaurant because I want to try all Korean food in its menu. This is what I had:

Kimchi Water


chicken porridge
I had eaten many other menus but I didn't upload the pictures. My final result would be, I like it because it has unique taste. I learned that they eat kimchi with almost anything. It was a good experience. 
Except after three weeks I probably wont come again because two days ago I saw two customers brought a dog and it happily pranced on the sofa that I loved to sit and eat. Seeing that the owner and manager is not sensitive like that I had decided to ban the restaurant. But I know some people don't mind it, but not me. Plus this is MY country and here, even non-halal food does not allow pets in their restaurant therefore I find it an offence to my sensitivity when a hugely advertised halal restaurant allows pets inside. Plus I had eaten most of the menus (although I am quite sad that I wont be eating some other that I want to try). Plus I had so many other choice.
Okay, let us move on. I also love shopping in a shop known as Living Life in the area as it sold all household items at reasonable price. By now you definitely had a good idea of my  definition of reasonable price but I repeat: it means price that correspond with quality and cheap. Since I had just moved into the rented room here (almost four months) I had to slowly acquire things that will help my accommodation suitable for me. This is some of the early things that I had bought in Living Life:

Riorox: RM2.50 (my biggest hit)
RM5 deodorizer for home (another big hit)
cute sturdy box for my clothes

I have been a regular patron since a few months ago and now all my household items (in rented room and mostly in my real house) comes from Living Life. I think my place had somehow looked like a Korean place in a way. haha. I have been buying gifts, utensils, mirrors, face mask, house cleaning items, well basically everything including toothbrush here.
I had lost faith in the items sold at regular store around my place because for a difference of RM1 or RM2 the quality is totally mediocre compared to whatever I bought in Living Life. Most of the times the price in Living Life equals that of our regular store for better quality and sometimes even way cheaper.
In Living Life I totally feel the real Korean culture that I always saw in the movie where they greet their customer politely and smiled even when I didn't buy anything. I love the way they said welcome and thank you whenever I came in or out. I particularly love it when they used to said it in Korean but since I am now a regular they usually greet me in English and sometimes excitedly practice their Malay with me (but because I really love it when they said in Korean I had to let them know that, and it was received with a bewildered look. haha).