Hey, everyone! Welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues! Today’s post is about a little establishment called Aloha Table. I recently went there to celebrate my friend Jasmine’s new job she’ll be taking up in China. I chose Aloha Table because neither of us had been there, and I also had never tried Hawaiian food. It’s located at 364-14, Seogyo-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, and here is their website.
When we got there, it was a little bizarre in terms of its entrance comparative to the sign that advertises the restaurant. If you see the small, overhanging Aloha Table sign, don’t go into the door directly below it since it is a simple cafe that isn’t affiliated with the Hawaiian eatery. Instead walk past it, and you’ll find the exquisite, black lacquered wood entrance complete with tropical plants and tiki torches at night.
We ended up being blessed with beautiful weather at night to enjoy the crowded patio. At first, they said there was no room for a table of two, and then asked whether we’d prefer the inside seats or the outside seats. I voiced the shared opinion that we’d like an outdoor table, and within two minutes, we were seated at a cozy table and within view of the open air grill.
The smell alone was worth the price of admission. There were mostly Koreans there, and when we saw the menu, we could see they adjusted their prices for that reason since Koreans love to spend money on expensive food. That and some of the ingredients are hard to get in Korea. However, I was highly suspicious of the menu when they had pho on it, but no Hawaiian staples like Spam and poi. They had different types of grilled meats (chicken, steak) along with burgers and salads. Either way, we were starving and planned on making the most of our adventure. We started with splitting a pitcher of Blue Hawaii (30,000 W) which made sense economically since the average price of a drink was 9,000 W. The downside when it came out was the fact that the pitcher was smaller than we thought as shown in the following picture.
That and the fact that it tasted like we were drinking juice didn’t really justify the price. As for food, I got a loco moco which is a Hawaiian classic dish that was invented in the 1940s and is extremely popular throughout the Pacific Islands. I thought it was funny because it literally means, “crazy mucus” in Spanish, but my ahi ahi bowl (16,000 W) didn’t contain any bodily fluids thankfully. My dining companion got the spicy pork rib (27,000 W). When they both came out, I felt like I should have got the ribs with how hungry I was, but the ahi ahi moco didn’t let me down. Not only did it have tender pink pieces of tuna, but the avocado, sprigs of green onion, and wasabi all mixed together within the fresh white rice to create a light yet satisfying dinner. The lettuce on top was like a mini salad since it was drizzled with a ranch-esque dressing that didn’t quite possess the same spices like ranch dressing back home. It was the opposite to the hulking plate of ribs on the other side of the table. Not only was there a molehill of meat on the plate but a mini corn cob and a smidgen of mashed potatoes. I didn’t try the potatoes, but the corn was perfectly grilled sans butter. As for the ribs, they were great. Not the best ribs I’ve ever had, but they had a great smoky sauce that is quite rare to find in Korea since Korean bbq doesn’t have any equivalent. They also had little to no fat on them, but they weren’t overloaded with meat on the bone. I could tell that traveling through the American South had spoiled me.
We both left greatly satisfied with our meal but not too happy with the prices. Plus, on our way out we had our picture taken by and with fellow Korean diners we didn’t even know. Why? I have yet to hear an explanation to this phenomenon, but it was an odd end to a wonderful dining experience. So if you want to try Aloha House, remember that you’re getting high quality food with equally high prices, but it’s still a great place to try out.