Saturday, May 7, 2016

JJampong Gangnam Style

Since the early 2000's there was an influx of Korean students coming to the Philippines to study English. As the number of Korean students increase, the need for everything Korean increased too. When I was still in Iloilo, I saw that a lot of Korean inspired businesses opened to accommodate the needs of the travelling students including the number of tutors, Korean boutiques, grocery stores and of course, restaurants included.

Here in Davao I have tried eating in four Korean inspired restaurants. Of the four that I already dined in, I only can recommend a couple since some are not really serving authentic Korean dishes. Ambiance is of course a factor in choosing a place to eat. You can also throw in the price of the food, the customer service and the variety and authenticity of the food served.

My good friend Jolen Crame invited me to eat in Gangnam in Davao Café and Restaurant one time. I have tried some of the dishes like the rice cakes and the Kimbap. The first thing I noticed about the place is the ambiance. The décor and the lighting of Gangnam is modern, with brick walls and wooden tables. The bookshelves are also amazing (though I haven't tried asking if we can borrow books and read them while waiting for our order).

Tonight, I went back to the restaurant to try their Jjampong. This Korean dish is a personal favorite because it is made up of seafood in a spicy broth. They also give you four side dishes to enjoy while waiting for your order- there was a potato dish, rice cake, a bijon-like side dish and my personal favorite, Kimchi.

So here are my simple observation of that dinner in Gangnam- things that I like and things that they probably need to improve in the restaurant.

I like the ambiance. Lighting is okay, the decoration is nice especially the picture of the coffee beans (though I don't think it was the most appropriate picture to display in a Korean Resto). The plastic tree decors for me are distracting and could collect dust. The framed sayings on the restroom are a nice read.

The food is okay especially the refillable side dishes (though the staff don't proactively inform you that it is). The Kimchi is perfect that I have to ask for a second serving (I was ready to buy another serving, when the staff told me its refillable). It is not very sour and the spiciness is just right. The sauce of the Kimchi is also thick which probably add to the taste.
The Jjampong is so so, the noodles are okay and the seafood added to the soup are just enough. There was squid (3 slices I guess), 1/2 pc crab (with shell), 2 big scallops, and a few smaller scallops (3 of them is shut tight and I was not able to eat them), there was no trace of fish, there was a couple of shrimp on the stew but they're not de-veined, so you can still see and taste the dark gritty stuff on the shrimp. The food serving was ample and for PHP 270.00, the bowl is big enough to be shared by two people.

The service needs a little improvement. I noticed that the person who took the order was not able to relay the orders properly. I ordered one Jjampong and a can of Coke Zero, but the Coke was not communicated well with the service staff. He asked me if I have additional orders and I told him that I ordered Coke and that's the only time that he got me one. They greet people coming in and going out like in those Japanese restaurants and I think this is a great show of customer service skills.

Will I comeback and eat in Gangnam again, I think my answer is yes. Will I recommend I with friends? I think I can recommend them to friends who love Korean food. Though I would probably advice them to bring extra money since the price of the food is on the PHP 200 up range.

Overall, I'm rating Gangnam Davao 3 and a half stars. The restaurant has a great ambiance, delicious refillable side dishes, big serving and a very delicious Kimchi.

photo is owned by the author

Gangnam Kimchi

Side Dishes


Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Dilemma of an Urban Witch

Upon waking up around 9AM, I usually go to the altar dedicated to the House Spirits and offer a quick prayer. Not being able to do the complete Ritus such as wearing a white toga, or doing libations and food offering, I just usually light an incense and whisper a prayer of thanks to the Lares. After my day job, which usually ends around 12 MN, I would face the altar in my room for a daily devotional to the Gods and the ancestors and this would be my usual routine everyday excluding the eight Sabbats.

In the centuries past, our ancestors are still not bound to an 8-5 office job (for some of us- night shift) and are free to practice their Craft all day, every day. Our ancestors breathe magick and treat the Craft as part of their daily routine. They are cut-wives, midwives, herbalists, fortune tellers, journeymen and priests or priestesses. They have been doing this all the time that there are no distinction between their normal daily tasks and their magickal workings. They put magick in all they do- from planting their crops, to harvesting them and even preparing their food.

In modern times, witches are too occupied with their day jobs that it can be challenging to create rituals following the correct time correspondences. It can also be very challenging to gather ingredients to a potion or a satchel. It’s also very difficult to look for places of power in the heart of the city let alone a silent place to conduct your rituals, especially if your house is located in front of a busy highway.

Compared to our ancestors, we modern witches would find it challenging to observe the movement of the seasons. Aside from the light pollution blocking our view of the night skies, some of us living in the metro has all these skyrise buildings blocking the view of the stars. We have lost our close connection with nature with all of the concrete and metal surrounding us. That’s why we witches often times leave the cities to go on a vacation, where we can run barefooted or just hug a healthy trees.

Some of us require a lot of effort to switch from our “mundane daily mindset” to our “ritual magick mode”. Some of us do this by listening to chants (played of course on an iPod or those sleek Samsung Phones) and meditating, holding a crystal, or anointing ourselves with oils and burning incenses (from the health and home area of Gaisano Mall). I switch to my magick mode when I smell (sometimes if my nostrils are clear) Lavender Oil, or reciting a mantra. While our ancestors can easily cast a spell in front of the hearth, we urban witches do a lot of “rituals” first to achieve this state of mind.

Probably, the one thing that I can appreciate as an urban witch is the fact that we became very resourceful. We still can cast spells using grocery items (McCormick Dried Basil anyone?), we dance around a bonfire burning inside a clay cauldron in the middle of a room at a beach resort, we can still map the moon phase using those useful Windows and Android Apps. We also learn to find the things we lack by substituting them with something, especially if the spell require something that we cannot find here in the Philippines. On this age, magick and technology has become partners in achieving a desired goal, ever heard of a USB of Shadows?

As the traditional approach to Magick change with the modern times, the essence of the Craft did not. Whether you are a modern witch or Pagan from the 16th century, the basic foundation of how magick works remain the same. It is as Cordelia mentioned in American Horror Story- Coven said- Intention!

photo from the internet