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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 7, 2005

Nocturnal food carts have evolved in Korea

By Jeff Chung

"Mr Housewife" airs at 6:50 and 8 tonight on KBFD. Suspicions and disagreements abound in this South Korean soap opera.


Will Sam-soon end up with Jin-hun? Last Week's Poll Yes or no? To vote, go here. Voting ends at 11 a.m. Friday. See the results next Sunday. Last week we asked, "Was Jang Bogo's decision to accept Yum Moon in 'Emperor of the Sea' a mistake?" Of the 64 who voted, 41 said yes.


Will Sam-soon end up with Jin-hun? Last Week's Poll Yes or no? To vote, go here. Voting ends at 11 a.m. Friday. See the results next Sunday. Last week we asked, "Was Jang Bogo's decision to accept Yum Moon in 'Emperor of the Sea' a mistake?" Of the 64 who voted, 41 said yes.

You see them all the time in dramas. If you ever visit South Korea, you will see them all over town.

I'm talking about the pojang-macha — literally, "a horse carriage wrapped."

Pojangmacha are food carts that also sells alcohol. It looks like a horse carriage with a makeshift tarp extending out to accommodate a row of seats.

Tented food carts have been around for as long as I remember. They pop up around town in the evenings and stay open till the last customer leaves, then disappear before the sun comes up.

The menu is very simple and meant to complement drinks. For obvious reasons, the tent bar doesn't have a full kitchen, so the menu is simple, such as various grilled fish, vegetable sticks, clams, mussel soup, oden, udon, ramen, etc.

The alcohol list is also simple: domestic beer and the ever-popular soju.

Pojangmacha do not serve cocktails or other mixed drinks. The Pojangmacha is usually the last stop when bar-hopping with friends, clients or colleagues. It's extremely casual, cheap and accessible.

Like Hawai'i's ubiquitous lunchwagons, pojangmacha pop up around offices or near urban street corners.

The food is of fairly good quality, though I do wonder where the proprietors get water to cook, do the dishes and such.

Pojangmacha have evolved with the times. In the Kang-nam, south of the Han river, land prices have shot through the roof. Because of that, a new breed of pojangmacha has developed. Gas stations, car washes and auto-body repair shops — which tend to have large, open spaces — become tent bars at night. The space transforms into a sea of plastic tables and chairs after regular business hours.

Because these businesses often have a proper kitchen in the back, menus here are much more diverse — and so is the price. They also serve various cocktail versions of soju, but not a full bar by any means.

Star-watcher tip: If you frequent Haja or JuJu tent bars, you may run into K-drama celebrities.

The latest trend in pojang-macha is the oden bar.

You can't get cheaper than the oden bar. Oden (fishcake) is always available in large quantities ready to eat — and it's the only thing available on the menu. For a few bucks, you can grab a quick midnight snack.

Want to find a taste of pojangmacha on O'ahu? Check out these two businesses in Honolulu: Toho on Ke'eaumoku Street and Ducky's Bungalow in Manoa.

Jeff Chung is general manager of KBFD, which televises all of the K-dramas. If you have a K-drama question or comment, call KBFD at 521-8066.



(episodes 13 and 14)

6:50 tonight: Mina and Soo-han get into an argument when Mina sees Soo-han and Yoo-jin come home together with children. Soo-han finds the necklace Sun-woo gave Mina on her birthday, but Mina tells him she bought it. Soo-han's father's birthday dinner turns into a disaster.

8 tonight: Soo-han is furious when Sun-woo brings a drunken Mina home. Mina is forced to turn in her resignation, and Sun-woo pleads with Soo-han to send Mina back to work. Mina finds out Soo-han and Yoo-jin have become very close and starts to suspect their relationship.


(episodes 9 and 10)

7:50 p.m. tomorrow: Yang-ja takes Duh-mi to Jindo and tries to force her to live there when she finds out that Duh-mi and Dong-young are getting close. The president comes to the island and asks Dong-young to come back to Seoul and help him. Dong-young encourages Joon-hee to live as Kang-hee.

7:50 p.m. Tuesday: Duh-mi hides the jewels in her hair and is let go by the police, and Bin is also let go. He convinces her to ride with him to Seoul. Dong-young is asked by the president to go undercover as a KCIA agent. Duh-mi goes to Taeul Textile's factory and begs for a job. Mr. Ko shows up and asks what's going on.


(episodes 5 and 6)

7:50 p.m. Wednesday: Sam-soon takes a drunken Jin-hun back to his apartment where she is "trapped" until the next morning. Hee-jin walks in on them the next morning. Yi-young goes to Jin-hun's restaurant to find out where Sam-soon has been the night before and gets into an argument with Hyun-moo, the executive chef.

7:50 p.m. Thursday: Sam-soon bakes a beautiful engagement cake for her ex and Chae-ri's engagement party and tearfully watches the ceremony. Jin-hun finds Sam-soon drinking alone at the restaurant after work and offers to give her a piano lesson. The two have a heart-to-heart talk and get a little drunk.


(episodes 47 and 48)

7:50 p.m. Friday: Jang Bogo returns to Shilla to find out Kim Myung has murdered the king, and decides to raise his army against him. Jang Bogo asks Kim Woo-jing to lead his army and Yum Moon to fight as one of his junior commanders. Jang Bogo's army enters Mujinju, and Yum Moon is ordered to capture Madam Jami.

7:50 p.m. Saturday: Jung-hwa is captured by Madam Jami's men and brought to Madam Jami. Madam demands Jang Bogo to take his army back to Chunghae in exchange for Jung-hwa's life, but he refuses. Madam Jami and Jang Bogo face off at the final battle.