As we left the hotel for a tour of the factory, we noticed the small pool of water outside the hotel had turned into ice. It was rock solid. I'm pretty sure, if there were little elves around in the neighbourhood ... they would have been able to ice-skate on it.
Anyway the factory tour ended in the afternoon and we were back at our hotel by 4pm. Two Korean friends of hubby later came to the hotel and took us out for dinner. We took a taxi and hubby and I were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves at the doorstep of a Japanese Restaurant. My last and only experience of Japanese cuisine prior to this was many many years ago at Hilton Hotel in P.Jaya. What an experience that had been. I vividly remember my clumsy attempts at trying to get sushis into my mouth using chopsticks... and how they often ended falling onto my plate instead... which of course explained why I was still feeling hungry after dinner!
The restaurant was cosy but more importantly it provided us the much needed warmth and refuge from the -12 Celsius freezing weather outside. I really liked the place and was most taken by its wooden decor which was complete with typical Japanese sliding doors and low dining tables. It reminded me of the Japanese drama series Oshin that mom and I used to watch when I was a child.
Our Korean hosts understood our need for halal food, hence ordered an array of dishes which comprised of fish, crab, shrimps and the likes of them. It was a true Japanese gastronomic fare. I was almost hesitant initially to sample the dishes, lest I ruin the obvious meticulous work of the chef who had carefully and delicately placed and arranged every item of food on the big serving plates. Suffice to say, we were in awe at the amount of detail placed on the presentation of each dish to ensure it was aesthetically pleasing to the eyes of the customers.
The highlight of the night was a dish our Korean friends described as "toxic fish"... which I assume was akin to the "fugu" or Japanese puffer fish. In the hands of the inexperienced, whereby the fish is not carefully prepared, it becomes lethal. Our server came in and carefully rolled the thinly sliced fish together with strands of cucumber ( I think). As we popped the mini delights into our mouths (not without many many Bismillahs before that), we couldn't help but recall the fatal incident in Johor a few months back in June when two customers died after eating the puffer fish or ikan buntal. Naudzubillah!
Surviving that... we then proceeded to another amazing dish which had specks of edible gold lightly scattered on the fish. Having worn gold all my life, it felt very very odd indeed having it for dinner! But to my surprise, the gold was hardly noticeable once in the mouth. I'm quite sure these two dishes must have cost a bomb and both hubby and I felt most lucky to be treated to such sumptuous dinner by our Korean friends.
Leaving the restaurant was hard as we knew we'd be reluctantly thrown back into the freezing cold. As cold as it was that night, not a drop of snow was to be seen anywhere in Seoul city. But later that night, we discovered from the local TV that snow had actually blanketed some areas down south. Alas! No winter sonata for me this time around...