Let the thirsty think,
What they say in Japan:
First the man takes a drink,
Then the drink takes a drink,
Then the drink takes the man!
– Edward Rowland Sill
As if day three in London couldn’t get any wilder, day four was extra crazy as my friends and I went off to have dinner at an Italian eatery called Bunga Bunga. It’s located in the Battersea area of London which is just south of the Thames nearby the posh Chelsea neighborhood. It was a dining experience unlike any other I’ve had in my life, so I hope this installation of Mastication Monologues can adequately describe the madness that is Bunga Bunga. I’ll also cover my pre-match meal before seeing Tottenham Hotspur play in north London later on in this post.
So, Bunga Bunga. If you aren’t up on your geo-political happenings or history in general, politicians are known as getting things done, both good and bad. In Italy, there is a man named Silvio Berlusconi (former prime minister of Italy) who is one part politician, one part business tycoon, and one part Lothario. That last part is where the restaurant gets its name from because “Bunga Bunga” is a joke that became synonymous with sex parties he threw for his friends and cronies complete with hookers, drugs, and bribes to keep everything hush hush…until recently when all of these allegations came to the surface.
With all of this info in the back of my head, I was wondering what sort of mischief Bunga Bunga had in store for its diners. As soon as we walked in, I didn’t see any saucy vixens, but there was plenty of Italian kitsch adorning every square inch of the walls. We knew it was a unique place when the servers would randomly break into a choreographed dance routine accompanied by pumping Italo-techo music in the middle of the restaurant (much to their annoyance). I kind of felt bad for them since the novelty of it wore off after the first time. Anyway, we started our meal off with three fancy mixed drinks (12 pounds each) that ended up being fantastic and hilarious since they sported names of famous Italians. I got the BungaBunga which was served in the head of a winking Berlusconi. It consisted of gin, Martini Fierro, peppercorns, and grapefruit juice. It was light and spicy with a bitter aftertaste, kind of like Berlusconi’s eventual fall from grace. My friend Ravi got the SuperMario Monti (the prime minister of Italy post-Berlusconi) which was basically gin combined with muddled cucumbers which was cleaner and more refreshing than my cocktail.
As for my friend Bob, he’s a big footy fan, so he went for the Chellsi Balotelli (maverick soccer player who now plays for AC Milan) that had rhubarb vodka, rhubarb puree, cranberry juice, lime juice, and bitters all of which made a sour and strong drink. Fitting for a man more known for his off the field antics and sulky personality. For appetizers, we then got a side of cheesy garlic pizzicato (5.95 L) and cheese and spinach bruschetta (6 L). The former was ok since it was starch combined with cheese, but I wouldn’t get it again since it was a bit too oily for my liking. As for the latter, I liked the addition of spinach to modify the traditional bruschetta recipe, but once again it was extremely oily that kind of put a damper on the meal. For the main course, we ordered three different pizzas (range: 9-13 pounds each). I got the Ruby Loves (11 L); Bob ordered Chef Share-issimo’s Favorito (13 L); and Ravi’s a vegetarian, so he got The Naughty Napolitano (10 L) that had gorgonzola and pears on top. Bob’s and my pizza were brought out on a long board like some sort of meaty centerpiece for a Roman feast. My choice consisted of N’duja soft sausage, salami, and cherry tomatoes. It was tasty with the savory and salty meats but greasy once again (notice a trend?). As for Bob’s side that contained rosemary seasoned lamb and chili, I liked it better because the lamb was expertly roasted and proved to be a lighter, less greasy topping compared to the pork products on my side.
I needed something to cut through the Mediterranean Sea of grease in my mouth, so I got their specialty, Ferrero Rocher gelato, for dessert. It did the trick as my palate was coated in a molto delicioso wave of semi-dark chocolate ecstasy with interspersed crunchy Ferrero Rocher candy pieces.
As the night went on, the place filled up with plenty of party goers as the stage was filled with a variety of performers like a cabaret singer, a magician, and karaoke singers.
NOTE: If you want to go to the discoteca upstairs, make reservations for that in addition to your table. We made that mistake and were confined just to the first floor. Either way, it was a fun time aside from a brief upset stomach compliments of the greasy food. I recommend Bunga Bunga to anyone if you’re looking for a crazy dining experience, but I don’t think I would make it one of my regular haunts.
The following day was a bit rough given that we left Bunga Bunga, got crazy in the Clapham neighborhood, and didn’t make it home until 3 am. Thankfully, it was laid back as Bob and I just spent most of it watching football or soccer in Amurikan. Before watching the League Cup, Bob and I got lunch at a cafe nearby White Hart Lane. While I was contemplating doing the English breakfast that had everything I loved like hash browns and bacon, I decided to go more for a footy classic with a steak and kidney pie with tea on the side. I was disappointed with the pie and tea. The crust was ok, and the insides were coated with a peppery white sauce. However, they were missing a key ingredient: brown gravy drizzled over the top, and the tea looked anemic. As for the pea mash and chips on the side, they were passable. Those were enhanced with the addition of this mysterious “brown sauce” that was in a squeeze bottle on the table that I could only liken to a sweet gravy with a hint of sour aftertaste and a lighter ketchup consistency. This meal was as exciting at the Spurs vs. Cardiff match we saw, but maybe it just required a change of venue. The only highlight was seeing Adam Richman of Man vs. Food fame on the field! At least my last days in London would prove to be much more exciting.
Hey there! So this post is just going to be a quick review of a unique watering hole that I recently tried in Itaewon. It’s called the Bungalow, and it’s located at 112-3 Itaewon-dong Yongsan-gu Seoul South Korea. You have to go to the Itaewon metro stop and go out exit 2. Walk past the Hamilton Hotel, and make a left on the first street on your left. You’ll walk past the Flying Pan on your right hand side, and you’ll make a right on the next road you encounter. Walk straight past Tomatillo, and it’ll be on your left hand side.
I originally was supposed to go here with my friend a month ago, but I was in severe pain from a soccer injury. Sadly, I had to pass since I couldn’t even climb the steps it had gotten that bad. This time around, I was fully able, and walked up the stairs to see what I had been missing all this time. It was softly lit, but there were Halloween decorations everywhere including plenty of flickering candles, skeletons, and bats. We went upstairs, and it definitely had more of a tropical theme going on with the surf shack room that stood opposite our unique seating arrangement. My friend had originally told me that you could sit in swinging beach chairs and put your feet in sand and a pool. Our seats sadly were not big beach chairs, but we got lucky enough to sink our feet in some cool, clean white sand.
It was hilarious watching the Koreans react to the beach room. They would refuse to sit in the sand room if there were other seats available. If they did end up sitting in the beach room, they act out their own version of the kid’s game “The Floor is Lava” as they walked on the furniture to avoid contact with the sand. This show was worth the price of admission, but I also wanted a drink to go along with the spectacle. So, I browsed through their menu which had cocktails, beer, non-alcoholic drinks, and food. Initially, I wanted to get a drink in a coconut, but they were all sold out. So, I went for a Hawaiian Punch (10,000) which consisted of rum and vodka and various fruit juices. A point of interest was the fact that my friend’s non-alcoholic drink was more expensive than mine. I like the cut of your jib, Bungalow. The presentation was pretty good as it was served out of a cup that was designed to look like a bamboo shoot shorn in half, and there was a skewer of pineapple and cherries sticking out of it. Tastewise, it was everything I was expecting from a tropical drink: fruity, sweet, and with a slight kick at the end that reminded me I was drinking alcohol. Overall, the Bungalow wasn’t anything close to lounging out on a beach in Bora Bora with a drink in my hand, but it was a fun experience to have my own sandy piece of paradise within a bar.
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.