Have you ever been to an “Eat ‘N Tweet?”
I hadn’t either until last week when I visited Han Il Kwan — an excellent Korean barbecue restaurant on Buford Highway — with a trio of lovely social media powerhouses.
With handheld devices at the ready, we all logged into Twitter and Tweeted throughout the entire meal, simultaneously pushing tiny buttons and stuffing faces, fielding questions from followers and lobbing them at our savvy and amused waitress, snapping pictures and knocking back glasses of the warm barley tea called boricha. If anyone had asked me to pat my head or rub my stomach, I think I would have lost it.
My guests for this grand experiment included:
The latter two also blog and Tweet as @blogrollers. For this event I, too, shed the name on my birth certificate and chewed as @jdkess.
We then proceeded to give a blow-by-blow of our meal and our conversation in real time, using the hashtag #eatntweet. (Anyone can read about these goings on on Twitter, even if you don’t have an account. Simply enter “#eatntweet” in the search box on www.twitter.com.)
As none of my dining companions were at all familiar with Korean barbecue, I ordered my tried-and-tested beginners meal.
If you go to a restaurant that uses live charcoal rather than gas, there’s always a great moment at the beginning of the meal. A man comes from the kitchen holding a pan of coals in a pair of those heavy duty tongs — the kind usually reserved for radioactive materials.
“Stepping outside my zone ,” Tweeted @AskWifey.
Before long the table was filled with all the small dishes of salads and kimchi that are called, collectively, ban chan.
Everyone loved the hae mul pa jun — this crisp, savory pancake filled with pieces of squid and shrimp. I Tweeted that I thought it was the best in town, and @AskWifey quickly Retweeted. I do love the way the heated cast iron serving pan not only keeps the pancake hot, it keeps it crisp.
Soon the meats began arriving. I ordered both bulgogi — thin-sliced marinated rib-eye that is stir-fried with onions in the kitchen — and galbi — short ribs that a waitress grilled for us over the coals at our table. We also opted for one order of chicken.
I showed @AskWifey how to roll the freshly grilled beef with some salad and thick, savory bean sauce in a lettuce leaf to eat.
“Korean barbeque gets a big thumbs up,” she announced to the Twitter-sphere.
Before long we were getting questions and comments. Is this as good at barbecue in New York’s Koreatown? I’d think so. How does Han Il Kwan compare to others in Atlanta? I think it’s among the best.
One person just watched us from CNN Center and drooled.
Only these dried fish (one of the ban chan selections) got a thumbs down. “Everything was yummy–except for the tiny, whole dried fish,” blogged @funkidivagirl. “I was brave enough to taste one and no thank you, I won’t eat that again; that tiny fish had the flavorful punch of a very big (smelly, fishy-tasting) fish.”
As the conversation ranged, it all went up on Twitter.
“Okay @jdkess just became my new BFF! He’s a big GoGo music fan! DC in the house!” Tweeted chatterboxcgc.
True: we discovered that we are both Washington, D.C., natives and huge fans of our hometown’s indigenous funk music.
@AskWifey was about to take her daughter to Disney World, and I told her about the time I rode the Tower of Terror to avoid losing face in front of my 10-year-old. Up it went on Twitter.
The meal was a huge hit, and everyone was making plans to return. “I have to get a list of what we ate when I go back with my family LOL,” Tweeted @funkidivagirl.
By the time I left, I was happily full, my fingers were a little sore and my iPhone smelled like barbecued meat. I also had three new friends.
If you’d like to see the meal from another perspective (with plenty of pictures of the four of us at the table), please take a look at funkidivagirl’s blog — funkidivagirl.com.