"Huh?" As I stood in the back dining room of Arirang, I stared at the bounty before me: a chocolate frosted cake pipped with the words "Manatees <3 Robyn" and a tablefull of friends I wasn't expecting to see.
"It's Robyn Appreciation Day!" Claire said.
- Oh god, that's my WTF face. ...How does anyone love me? Photo taken by Claire!!!
My confusion lasted for about another 10 minutes. The rusting, ill-maintained machine that is my brain balked at the idea that anyone would throw me a party without any reason. How can people be that nice? To me? Did I do anything to deserve this?
Oh, but there was a reason—it was 36 days until my birthday (August 27)! They pulled the ol' "Throw A Surprise Birthday Party Way Before The Real Birthday" trick. You wanna surprise someone? That's the way to do it.
Accompanied by my staggeringly awesome friends that I do not deserve—Diana, Lee Anne, Kathy, Olia, John, Claire, and Greg—we tore through three bowls of noodles and two pancakes. As I just wrote about Arirang, you can consider this a refresher.
Chicken kar-jeabe: (Karjeabe is a combination of kalguksu, knife cut noodles, and sujebi, torn noodles.) Probably my most favorite chicken-based dish.The rich, milky broth tastes more chickeny than chicken. And of course, I love me some chewy dough flake action.
Seafood kar-jeabe: Seafoody. Alas, I prefer chicken. But this broth is also deeply flavored with briny goodness.
Vegetable kar-jeabe: For our vegetarian friend, Claire! All the goodness of awesome noodles and soup without any meatness. Also, lots of vegetable action consisting of spinachy foodness and carrots and, well, that's pretty much all I can discern from this photo.
Wait, let's zoom out...
Yup, that's our Greg.
Arirang's seafood pancake is my favorite version of seafood pancake anywhere. Crispy, chewy, and chock full of scallion and cuttlefish goodness.
And for the non-seafood lovers, there's also a kimchi pancake. You can probably guess what's in it. The dduk topping was a nice touch.
All that food was just the right amount for the eight of us.
Greg stacked our bowls to make the table clearing task go a little bit faster. If anything weird is happening at the table, you can count on Greg being the reason behind it.
And then when we all felt like our stomachs would explode at the most meager addition of masticated substance, it was time to cut the cake. A most lovely chocolate cake from Sugar Sweet Sunshine.
I ate most of one wedge before calling it quits. My friends hadn't planned on getting such a big cake; it just happened to be the only one that Sugar Sweet Sunshine had on hand. But it was okay; we gave the extra cake to the restaurant. I hope they liked it.
After eating, we took advantage of Koreatown's glaring fluorescent lights with random photos. Such as this lovely look at my lovely group of friends, sans Olia since she had to leave early. [Sniff!]
Or perhaps Greg and me having a...completely normal conversation.
And here's everyone doing something different.
We got a random person off the street to take our photo. Who captured a random person walking into the shot.
Oh man, how I love my friends. I can't thank them enough for giving me such a special Korean food and cake and manatee love-filled night.
32 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001