I had a craving.
And so, I woke up this Sunday morning and packed my purse: I was headed to Seoul. I ate a quick breakfast and stepped outside, then walked a few minutes down the road to stand outside the convenience store and wait for the bus.
The ride lasted 40 minutes and when I arrived in Dangjin, I bought a seat on the bus to Seoul. I had no time to spare; she sold me a ticket for the bus that left in one minute. Before I had time to blink, I was on my way again. Seat number 1. The most leg room. I napped.
When I arrived in the express bus terminal, I wasn’t quite hungry yet. Still, I headed to the metro… the trip would likely take half an hour plus some walking. I’d certainly be hungry after all that. The subway car let out a screech and my trip continued on. For the past two weeks I’d put my craving aside, but now, coming closer and closer to realization, my mouth watered.
I exited the car with the masses of people headed to the escalators and stood as the stairs underneath my feet carried me up three stories. This subway station particularly reminds me of Dante’s inferno… the station is completely circular and the center is empty; you’re able to see each level towering above you. The ceiling is a huge glass dome that lets in the only bits of sunlight inside. Finally, I reached ground level and took a breath of the fresh air.
And I walked. Shortly, I spotted what I was looking for across the street, but the six lanes between me and my destination forced my hand. Jaywalking was out of the question. I walked and walked, finally coming to an underground crossing. I came out the other side and neared my final destination. Excitement crept up. I looked up at the sign; I was there.
Stepping into the restaurant, breathing in the kitchen smell… a small smile broke across my face. I placed my order and sat down at a table, alone. Surrounding couples stared at me… who eats alone? I do, I thought. I eat alone. A server walked over with my basket and asked, number 48? Finally, in front of me lay what I’d been craving for weeks.
I took a huge bite. My mouth filled with flavors I’d missed, reminders of home and cheap college years. I peppered my food with hot sauce and dove in. Within fifteen minutes my meal had completely disappeared. I’d spent well over three hours of travel for fifteen minutes of delicious eating. Every minute was well worth it, I harbor no regrets.
Because sometimes you just really need a burrito.
Actual Details About the Aforementioned Burrito:
A lot of people are fascinated with the burrito I ate in Seoul. I understand, I traveled over three hours for it… was it at least good?
And well, I’ll be honest; the burrito itself was absolutely sub par. It was, no matter how you measure it, a pretty mediocre burrito. No cilantro, no lime. I told them to hold the sour cream and they didn’t hold the sour cream. The rice was an afterthought and it felt forgotten. The spicy sauce was the best part… and it didn’t even come on the burrito. I spiced the food up myself.
But the thing is, when you’ve been craving burrito for as long as I have and when you’ve gone way out of your way to get it… it doesn’t matter. I loved that burrito and I was so content to eat it, crappy composition and all. It was exactly what I needed.
As for the restaurant, it’s a place called Chile Chile Burrito in Itaewon. It’s right on the main drag. As it goes in Itaewon, there were also a million foreigners in there with me… just sitting in the restaurant, eating that burrito, I witnessed a German couple, a Korean couple and a third couple made up of one USA Army guy (I assume) and a Russian girl (I think?).
So now you have the real life, gritty details of my three hour (plus) trip to eat a burrito. No, it wasn’t a good burrito. But that didn’t stop it from being absolutely perfect.