On Monday I met up with an old childhood friend. Wait – ‘old’ doesn’t sound quite right, but when you’ve known someone for about 20 years, what other descriptive word works? Over 20 years now! Woah!
She’s in the states for a little bit, and was passing through Albany around lunchtime. When she asked if I wanted to meet up for a meal, I just had to say yes! We settled upon Arirang as our meet up lunch destination.Our dads worked together, we were born in the same year, and it just so happened to work out that our families become pretty close friends. I think her brother and my brother are also about the same age. He might be a year younger though.

My friend, she’s been one heck of a jet setter – we kind of renewed our friendship as adults when I went to mooch off of her futon in Montreal a while ago.

You know how sometimes you’re friends as kids because of your families? Like, your mom hung out with the neighbor all the time, so you became friends with the neighbor kids, but ultimately once you grew up you noticed how different you were and how in any other circumstance you probably wouldn’t have met them or been as good friends with them?

I feel that way with some friends, and can I say – I am SO glad our families were friends growing up because she is so freaking cool. Seriously – all the shit she does is amazingly awesome and it’s so cool to have a friend that just up and studies in Montreal for a few years, heads to Ireland, then starts teaching English in Mexico. (I’m not making any of this up) I’d also like to toss out there that she’s not the least bit pretentious about any of this and you’re just genuinely excited to hear about all the stuff she does.

Ok, fine, enough with the sentimental crap, Albany Jane. Make with the food!

Mi amiga settled on spicy chicken and rice noodles ($7.99). Yum, I like fat rice noodles. They were spicy in a good way, so that I could take the heat (ok, maybe the heat from just a few bites), but the seasonings were great. I’m sure you could ask for more heat if you wanted it. It was a nice to try a Thai version of rice noodles since I usually eat it Chinese style.

I got the kalbi gui – after seeing and reading about them from my awesome and fun Celina, how could I not?

The kalbi gui were $11.99 and absolutely worth it! Thin pieces of beef short ribs grilled to various degrees of doneness. I had some well-done and chewy pieces, and other pinky and less chewy pieces. I liked that. Then again, I grew up liking what I called “The chewy steak”, so take that as you will. But I tend to think that fattier, heartier cuts of beef like the short ribs taste fine when they’re cooked all the way since they retain moistness and flavor. The beef ribs were plated on a rectangular plate, and I love it. I love non-circular plates. Much lurve.

They were flavored so excellently too. Mi amiga was trying to figure out the marinade. We were thinking something along the lines of soy, sugar, sesame oil… the typical ‘Asian’ blend of marinade, but the proportions are where it’s at. Whatever the ratio of their marinade is at Arirang, it is great. I loved it. I could have done with some more scallions since their raw bite went beautifully with the heavier, heartier beef.

The kalbi gui also came with 4 dishes of ban chan – pickled daikon and carrots (sweet, crunchy, refreshing), kimchi (spicy, pickle-y love), some kind of fried tofu nugget maybe? (I couldn’t figure out what this was, but it was interesting and not too bad), and seasoned bean sprouts (sesame seasoned, lightly cooked, and still crunchy). I also got a cute tub of short grain sticky rice. Yummy.

We both also got miso soups prior to our meals. Weird, since neither of us ordered anything Japanese, but whatevs, free soup!

And guess what?! I actually finished my entire meal! This was a good portion of beef, I didn’t feel like I overate or anything afterward. Sated my lunch hunger and left me pleasantly full. I may have left some rice, but rice is usually an afterthought for me and kind of ‘meh’ when faced with just about anything else.

Meals came out pretty quickly, and our server was super nice. I think she noticed we were two gals who were going to catch up (I think that’s as close to ‘ladies who lunch’ as I’ll ever get) and didn’t rush us. The restaurant wasn’t that busy during lunchtime – lots of empty tables, so it was pretty relaxed and quiet. Décor wise – there’s white linen on the table, and nice but minimal décor. Seems like you could walk in wearing jeans (most of the lunch crowd) or something fancy for dinner.

Mi Amiga also totally hooked me up with what she called a belated wedding present. Pa-shaw. Add ‘thoughtful’ to the list of things she is too.

Better yet – it contained all kinds of delicious Mexican sweets. Communion wafer sandwiches of caramel. Liquid-gold caramel filled chocolates. And my favorite, the Glorias – a gigantic nutty delicious caramel sweet. I may need to get my passport yet. Man, Mexico gets caramel so incredibly right.

1 comment
  1. mexicans love their caramel. re: flan, churros, dulce de leche.

    awesome, a Korean place in Albany

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