The meats were unrelenting.
Seared wagyu rained onto my plate. Then crispy pork belly. Then marinated pork shoulder.
This was the heady experience at Meet Korean BBQ in Seattle, the most thrilling meal I’ve eaten since the pandemic forced us into drive-thrus and delivery apps.
The concept at Meet is simple. First, they set down banchan, a gorgeous array of side dishes and pickled vegetables that will accent your meats.
Then, a server shows up with a huge plate of meats. They fire up the grill in the middle of your table and start cooking.
Your job is even simpler: pair each bite of meat with the right sides, sauces and salts — and eat it before the next course comes out of the flames.
If that weren’t enough, they set down steaming egg souffle, hefty soybean stew and lucious corn cheese throughout the meal.
I spent most of the past 15 months glumly eating beans in the dark — afraid of losing everything from my sense of taste to my loved ones. After all that monotony, it was shocking to be greeted by such a luxurious meal.
I felt preposterously fortunate, and I felt rusty.
I believe my eating habits are just as important as the food itself. If you’ll permit a pottery metaphor, the food is the sculptor and I am the clay. Every bite is defined by my expectations, the particular status of my anatomy, and, most importantly, my presence of mind.
In the stylish dining room at Meet Korean BBQ, I was erratic and confused. I got lost in the egg souffle. I ate all the watermelon radishes before I could pair them with anything. I let my pork belly get cold while I greedily chewed a piece of wagyu down to its molecular components.
These are the mistakes you make when you’ve spent more than a year away from the table. Every blessed day that I am back in a restaurant, I get more accustomed to the speed of the game — I dial in my senses and maximize my ability to enjoy a fleeting moment.
We’re fortunate that so many great restaurants survived this long, brutal pandemic. Now let’s spend frivolously at them like we used to. I’m certainly doing my part.