Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dining DPRK style

At the end of a long day, I went to a North Korean restaurant called Okryugwan. I took a visiting art dealer whose first question was "Do they have food in North Korea?" The Pyongyang original, apparently one of its top two restaurants, has spawned a lucrative chain of overseas branches in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Russia, even South Korea (!), each required to send much-needed foreign cash back to the DPRK government. All the waitresses are North Koreans from, I'm told, elite families.

Strange cavernous atmosphere, and even stranger food. Most of the menu comprised of such delicacies as jellied sheep's heart or cattle's intestines or small birds, but finally we plumbed for the seemingly safe potato dumplings and hotpot. The former were black and the latter had intestines floating around in it but too small to have once belonged to cattle. Perhaps dog.

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