Ah Lang, a.k.a. Angry Korean Lady.
This place is more than a hole-in-the-wall. This is home of a legend. And with the name “Angry Korean Lady,” how could I resist?
The sign on the door said opening at 5. We were there a quarter-past and the open sign was still off. Yet, we waited outside on the cold concrete stools. After all, that night, we were living to eat.
Rumor has it that Won Lam, the angry Korean lady (AKL) behind the orange curtains, will be leaving at the end of the month. If there was a moment to take in the experience, it had to be now. And I was thankful that Raena, also a virgin to the Angry Experience, and Naea of fatfattycakesdotcom (this makes his second visit) could join me on my once-in-a-lifetime visit to this Imperial Plaza establishment.
Rule no. 1.
Read before you ask. Think before you talk.
And I highly recommend reading the house rules before you do anything else. Step-by-step, the “house rules” will walk you through everything you need to know to not piss off AKL any more than she already is (her words, not mine).
Write down your order clearly and legibly. … Give your ticket to me in the kitchen. If you don’t bring me your order, I won’t make your food. … And don’t waste my paper!
When I really think about it, while there may seem to be a lot of rules to follow, all of them are pretty common sense stuff and easy to follow.
Won will cook for you and bring your food to the table. Everything else is self-serve. She’s the only person in there doing the cooking.
The house rules walk you through how to get your own water. What to do if you want a fork. Where to go to find the bathroom key (and the key even has instructions). You can’t go wrong.
Well, sometimes you can.
Okay, so we wrote the wrong thing on our order ticket. “Hey. I don’t make stir fry shrimp!” Yup, we had to change an order to stir fry squid (not shrimp). Oops.
Bring out the jjigae.
On my first visit to any Korean restaurant, I will order the kimchi stew (kimchi jjigae), just to get a gauge of the flavors of the establishment. The pot came to the table boiling and the spicy aroma filled the space between me and euphoria. The kimchi and fatty pork were perfectly balanced and provided a nice contrast in texture against the firmness of the tofu.
I chose spice level number 4 (supposedly the “standard” heat that most customers are comfortable with), which actually has a kick up front but enough heat to warm the soul on a cold evening. I love spicy, especially when the spiciness adds to the flavors of the dish and not hide them, which this one accomplished quite well.
Also on the table was a well-balanced kimchi-jun, steamed mandoo, and, of course, the stir fried squid and vegetables.
And then someone pissed her off.
A party of 12 showed up at the door with reservations. So they thought. AKL said the reservation was for next week Tuesday.
There was yelling, finger pointing, and, well, more yelling. The f-word followed every other sentence she said. And this was loud enough for us to hear. (I think the party and AKL were somehow related so no blood was shed.)
There was no stopping the guests and AKL gave in and closed the restaurant for the private party. Luckily, we were done with our meal when she kicked us out so she could use our table for a bar.
Literally. She kicked us out.
But she did it with a smile (I saw it) and she was “nice” when she did it. Well, it could have been worse.
In any other establishment, this whole experience would have been a downer. But I quite enjoyed it because I knew there was going to be potential for conflict (and, as you already know, conflict is what makes a story interesting).
Although I know that this will be my only visit while AKL is there, I am glad that dinner unfolded the way that it did.
Angry Korean Lady 725 Kapiolani Boulevard