Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mokpo's "Casual Dining" Restaurants

Wikipedia describes Casual Dining Restaurants as

A casual dining restaurant is a restaurant that serves moderately-priced food in a casual atmosphere. Except for buffet-style restaurants, casual dining restaurants typically provide table service. Casual dining comprises a market segment between fast food establishments and fine dining restaurants (see also Fast casual restaurant).

Family-style restaurant is often a synonym for a casual-dining restaurant, particularly used for chains such as Denny's and IHOP that serve mild breakfast-style foods around the clock. A diner is a specific casual-dining restaurant in the United States that emphasize traditional food such as hamburgers and sandwiches.
The closest American Casual Dinning restaurant to Mokpo is a couple of Outback Steakhouses in Gwangju (most of the Mokponians use the one across the street from Starbucks).

I'm not a big fan of casual dinning restaurants. In a snobby kind of way I see them as the awkward puberty stage in your palate's development, where young boys and girls can learn about the wonderful world of asking for menus and tipping waiters. They allow you to graduate from McDonalds with the training wheels of cheese sticks and fried onion rings to something that’s considered good sports bar food. Now there's nothing wrong with sports bar food, it's just that it's food that you get while polishing off a couple pitchers of beer and yelling at TV screens. Unfortuntely, if you're in Korea, it also happens to be the ambassador food of your home country. Sometime that's a dangerous precedent to set:

Mokpo has at least two Korean causal dining restaurant 그랑삐아또 (aka Gerang Piatto) and 베네치아 (aka Beahneahchia), or as the English translations tell us Gran Piatto and Venezia. The fare is imported western food with Korean twists. Such twists include putting shrimp in the spaghetti and spam in the salad bar. Using kimbap as an economic unit, the average price of a single meal hovers between 10 to 15 rolls. Brief surveys of Koreans that I know consider these restaurants 'too expensive for the food portions' and I tend to agree with them. Venezia seems to be the more expensive of the two and the least appealing choice. And the opinions in the foreigner community are mixed. From a couple of e-mails I received I have this:
It has steak and pizza and maybe some other stuff (been a while since we were there) and a salad bar, and I don't recall the rest of the the entrees. We actually didn't think it was worth the money spent or the time we were in line waiting to be seated either (over 30 minutes on a busy Sat. night). The way they do the steak isn't that great either.
And this:
I like the buffet, but the meals were okay-ish. Pretty much I order the cheapest non-meat thing, then eat bread sticks burritos and fruit all night. But yeah, it's nothing special and is rather overpriced.
But on the flip side I have this from Todd Hurst's 2005 post:
The weekend started right - eating grubs. A restaurant called Venezia. It does fusion food. Hearing mixed reviews, I was a little apprehensive but the big red neon sign had been calling my name since November. It’s hard to say no to neon. I managed to convince Laura and May Lynn to meet me and try it out. One of my adult students told me the food was delicious. It was the kind of place a Korean can go for a juicy hamburger steak.

The food was plentiful and delicious. The atmosphere was what I expected. It was done up nicely, a real classy joint.

The salad bar went on for ten miles, they brought free wine (well, they called it ‘wine’) and my spaghetti could drown Genghis Kahn’s army with the amount of cheese it had.
More information can be found on both restaurants' online menus and I can think it's safe to say that, even with my own food bias, these restaurants are actually on par with their western equivalents of casual dinning. The food is Koreanly okay and the prices are a little high. But at least they don't have flare:


Brian said...

Hmm, can't believe you don't have an Outback or VIPS or anything like that. Then again, I don't think Yeosu or Gwangyang do, either.

Anyway, I notice that when I click on your "Mokpo" feed lately, it only selects one blog. Today it's the tdhurt blog you quoted in your latest article. Last time was another blog I don't read. Just wondering why it's not combining feeds from all of the ones you listed.

j.m. said...

I don't really know about the feed problem. I think I've subscribed to too many blogs and the reader code is struggling; I'm starting to clean up this blog anyway so I'm going back to a normal list.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting to see just how pervasive digital memory has become in our lives. It's like everytime I turn my head, I see something with a card slot or USB jack . I guess it makes sense though, considering how cheap memory has become as of late...

Ahhh... who am I to complain. I can't get by a single day without my R4 / R4i!

(Submitted by KwZa for R4i Nintendo DS.)