The traditional hanbok was eye-catching: it was billowy, colourful and completely out of place in a mall. Emerging from the claustrophobia-inducing rotating door of Grand Metropolitan into the lobby, my friends and I were met by smiling woman in a hanbok who handed is a promotional leaflet of a newly opened bibimbap and casual Korean food restaurant. I am not part of the huge number of fans of the Korean wave that has hit Southeast Asia or Korean food, which I find too spicy for my palate, but somehow, for some inexplicable reason, I agreed to try out the new restaurant called Mujigae.
Mujigae, apparently, has a vast and loyal clientele judging from the number of outlets written on the leaflet, excluding Grand Metropolitan in Bekasi. It can only be interpreted as Bekasi locals have actually developed a great fondness for Korean cuisine. The leaflet highlighted menu items such as topokki with yangnyeom chicken, Kimchi fried rice, classic Ramyun and bulgogi. The place was not keeping a low profile. The sign Mujigae is colourful and huge; you can spot it from the other end of the mall. Inside, it was every K-Pop fan’s watering hole: brightly lit with a video wall of Korean singing groups and another video wall of what I understood to be a Korean reality TV. Next to the reality TV was a “picture wall”: you take a selfie or a group selfie from the iPad mounted on your table and within minutes the selfie/group selfie loops into the wall. You are an instant celebrity with your own “billboard” for a few seconds!
What caught my attention were the sea salt drinks that were supposedly a favourite among K-Pop artists. Flavours come in four variants – coffee, green tea, red velvet, and lemon. My thrill was in the presentation and that I didn’t know how to drink it. Coming in a huge glass bowl, the drink is locked in a bottle, which you pull out in full or in little motions to let the drink – coffee, in my case – flow right into the merry mix of little ice squares, whipped cream and sea salt. The combination was a most welcome treat from the scorching sun and the usual ice blended drinks. The sweet- salty taste kept the drink from being too cloying or salty, and kept you sipping every so often in between bites of bulgogi or Korean fried chicken. Every sip was a perfect harmony of refreshing sweetness and saltiness.