Deluxe Nachos

Posted: April 17, 2012 in South Korea

Some of you may wonder why it always seems to take so long between updates and to be quite honest, I don’t have an excuse.  What I can tell you is time truly does fly when you’re busy with work and life, as I’m sure most of you can understand.

Plus, let’s be honest, I’m still shocked that there’s anybody that really wants to read any of the crap I have to say anyways.

Regardless, I have posted below a short story from a trek to Seoul that I thought was funny enough to share.  The story and mild language are told to the best of my (fuzzy) recollection.  I apologize in advance for wasting your time.

The Deluxe Nachos

A couple of months back, I made the trip down to Seoul with a friend from Camp Stanley, Ali, to meet up with another close friend from Basic Training.  We’ll call him Adam, well, because that’s his name.  Adam had recently arrived in South Korea at the time and I felt the need to show him the ropes about the dos and don’ts of the peninsula.  In all reality, South Korea should come with an operator’s manual and a Surgeon General’s Warning but that’s a different story for a different time.

We met up on in to the evening at a place called Rocky Mountain Tavern, a Canadian bar that always seems to have American sports (well, hockey) on television and English-speaking patrons at the bar.  Rocky Mountain Tavern is on one of the main stretches of road in Itaewon that is littered with bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops so it wasn’t long before we decided to migrate to another one of my favorite spots, Seoul Pub.

Seoul Pub is a place that really doesn’t have a last call.  If there are people still willing to buy food and drinks at 4:00AM, then they’re still open at 4:00AM.  This came as a heavy dose of culture shock when I first learned of the business practice.  While I have never been in Seoul Pub that late, nor do I plan to be (US Soldiers have a Korea-wide curfew of 1:00AM), it’s somewhat funny knowing that the bar you’re in won’t close at 2:30AM if it just decides it doesn’t want to on that particular night.

The bar was about as busy as I expected it to be but we were still able to grab a nice high-top table in a great location so we settled in for a couple of rounds of drinks and a night of catching up and telling Army stories.  As most of you know, after sitting in a sports bar for an extended amount of time the urge to buy an appetizer or two becomes too much to handle.  We called the waiter/barkeep over and asked for a menu.  The items listed were the standard bar fare: wings, cheese sticks, chicken fingers, potato skins, and…”Deluxe Nachos.”

“Deluxe Nachos” it was.

I say that in quotes because that’s exactly how it read. Now before I finish this story I must explain that, for whatever reason, the Korean versions of these American classics are rarely the same as in the United States.  That’s not to say the wings, cheese sticks, or whatever else is on the menu aren’t edible, it’s just that whether it’s cooking methods, cooking equipment, or source ingredients, something just isn’t the same.  With that in mind, we figured it would be virtually impossible to screw up nachos.  You simply put some tortilla chips on a plate, add some ground beef and cheese, perhaps a little salsa and voila:  nachos.  In fact, most Tex-Mex dishes in America are just the exact same ingredients in different arrangements.  By that logic, nachos for 10,000 won (about $9.00, depending on the day) was our safest bet.

And after about 15 minutes, out came the “Deluxe Nachos”:


Yes, that is exactly what it looks like: a blanket of tortilla chips and generic Doritos — presumably from the bottom of their respective bags — sprinkled with what appear to be peanuts and fake M&Ms.  This is what deluxe nachos are to a stoner who makes a batch after a 4:00AM bong rip.  Between sheer shock and hilarity, we couldn’t compose ourselves quick enough to interrogate the waiter.  It almost didn’t seem real.

After a few minutes of asking, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” we got the waiter’s attention.

Adam: “What the hell is this?

Me: (uncontrollable laughter) “Yeah, what the hell IS this?”

Ali: (more laughter)  “These aren’t nachos.”

Waiter: “Nachos?” (Pointing at the menu and questioning as if to say, “This IS what you ordered, RIGHT?”)

Adam: “Yeah, we ordered nachos but this ISN’T nachos.”

Me: “Yeah, dude, this is a plate of Doritos with some M&Ms sprinkled on it!”

Adam and Ali: (uncontrollable laughter)

Waiter: (awkward chuckle and unsure shrug)

This is the point in the badgering of the waiter that I believe he conveniently forgot how to speak English just to bail himself out, but I knew better.

Me: (in between laughs) “Listen, man, I don’t care what you say, you can’t possibly think this shit passes as nachos?!”

Waiter: (sly smile)

Me: “Yeah, you know exactly what I’m saying.  This is a poor excuse for nachos and you know it!” (laughing)

Adam: “Yeah, uh, we’re not eating this shit, we’ll just have the chicken fingers instead.”

Ali: (hysterical laughter)

The waiter scurried off rather quickly while we continued to compose ourselves and wipe the tears from our eyes.  I think he was just happy we didn’t yell at him.  In fact, we weren’t even upset and how could we be?  Their expectation that this concoction would pass off as nachos was so unfathomable that it was hilarious and made our evening.  Shortly thereafter our ol’ pal the waiter came back with plate of chicken fingers and, well, let’s just say they were manageable under the circumstances.  Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and drive on.

Later that evening we decided to call it a night and had the waiter bring us our tab.  We gladly paid for the nachos for the simple fact that the joy that plate of mixed convenience store snacks brought us was WELL worth the 10,000 won.

In fact, the “Deluxe Nachos” at that price are highly recommended.


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