Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

My 301/302 Dinner & a Movie: How Everything Turned Out

Our 301/302 Korean Dinner & a Movie was just terrific. Serving everything all at once was both a challenge and a pleasure. It's tricky getting all the hot dishes to come off the stove simultaneously, but getting to sit down and enjoy the meal without having to make multiple trips to the kitchen for consecutive courses is so much more relaxed.

The kimchi and pickles were a very interesting flavor complement, the deep fried shrimp with chili mayonnaise stole the show (by far, the tastiest item on the menu), the vegetable pancake was a really nice alternative to the simple stir fry common to so many Asian meals, and grilling the beef, chicken, shrimp and pork at the table was definitely a wise decision. My little electric grill was just the right size for a serving of each of the meat items. I made a plain and a spicy version of each one, and alternated them throughout the meal while we enjoyed the accompanying dishes. For dessert, I sliced up three fresh peaches that one of my local clients gave me and marinated them in rice wine with a tablespoon of sugar. The result was delightful. The peaches absorbed the flavor of the spirits, and the rice wine was infused with the essence of the fruit. Yum! I couldn't find any Korean beer or wine, so we had to settle for Chinese Tsingtao beer, which was the perfect beverage to go with the meal. Everything was simply delicious.

And as a bonus, PBS aired the original version of The Manchurian Candidate. What a timely coincidence for our Korean themed meal. I'd been curious to finally see it, especially since a remake is coming out soon. I also find it too distracting to watch a subtitled film while eating an elaborate meal, so I didn't want to start our evening's feature film until after we had finished dinner. When The Manchurian Candidate was over, as planned, we watched 301/302, a Korean film about two young women who live next door to each other. The 1995 film, directed by Cheol-su Park, stars Eun-jin Bang as a lusty and sensual cook who lives in apartment 301, and Sin-Hye Hwang as a sexually repressed anorexic writer who lives in apartment 302. When the cook tries to entice the writer to enjoy a gourmet meal, her refusal sparks a feud that sends both women spiraling into memories of their tormented pasts. Never having seen the film, it was somewhat of a gamble, but one that paid off in spades. It's not going to be easy writing a review of it without divulging it's many surprises.

The one thing I did not do during the cooking process was to keep up with washing the dishes throughout the meal preparation. So...unfortunately when the meal was over, my kitchen looked like a typhoon had swept through it. Even though I was exhausted from a long day on my feet, I tidied up a little and put away the leftovers before heading off to bed, leaving the dishes for the next morning. But now that it's done, even though it required such great effort, my 301/302 Korean Dinner & a Movie was a relaxed evening of food, film and fun from beginning to end.