Just north of Indian Taste (on Gudun Road) is - wait for it - a North Korean restaurant. By north, I mean, 100 meters up the road; and by North, I mean, north of the 38th parallel. Jiangnan Arirang offers the unique tastes of the mysterious and always controversial land about which the world truly knows very little. Now, I know you’re probably wondering: what could possibly be on the menu? I can assure you, it’s a lot. (No, no rat burgers.) We were treated to so much good stuff that our group was soon raising the white flag in surrender -- stuffed, and satisfied.
The meal started off with kimchi朝鲜辣白菜 (25RMB), which was one of the better ones I have had. We sampled their North Korean Dried Fish朝鲜棒鱼干 (30RMB), North Korean Mixed Salad朝鲜缤纷大拌菜 (48RMB) and sour cabbage soup朝鲜开胃酸菜锅仔 (50RMB). The dried fish was a bit on the salty side, but it all came together nicely with a tall Tsingtao Dark Beer青岛黑啤酒 (20RMB). The soup was my personal favorite, and when the temperatures outside are a little colder, it will really hit the spot. The main part of the meal consisted of kimchi pancake韩式泡菜小煎饼 (45RMB), squid rice rolls朝式米鱿鱼 (78RMB), and roasted pork朝式烤五花肉 (58RMB). This was a DIY style salad-wrap consisting of pork, lettuce, onions, garlic, and sauce, to be assembled as you please. Pan-fried pollock煎朝鲜明太鱼 (108RMB) and squid rice rolls朝式米鱿鱼 (78RMB) topped-off our seafood indulgence. We also tried a rare mushroom prepared in two different styles - grilled Matsutake现烤朝鲜松茸 (188RMB) and Arirang Matsutake pot rice阿里郎松茸石锅饭 (98RMB). I was grateful for the chance to try this mushroom. There were no special side effects worth mentioning. Our total bill was 1068RMB. The restaurant’s unique style goes beyond the food, and we were entertained by their all-female band and dancers. This showcase of North Korean entertainment included high-pitched singing, diners dancing with the band, and some contemporary NoKo soft rock. This amusing cabaret runs every day during both lunch and dinner. Waitstaff are all young ladies from North Korean. Performance show every day during lunch and dinner, 30% till Sept.22, 20% till Oct. 6th. Parking is available on the square, menu is on an iPad with pictures, but no English. And another editor Jack says: My ex claims to have invented the word the adjectival form for the noun as in, “While driving, he maintained a firm crotchal grip on his Frappaccino,” or, “I like those trousers, but, don’t you think they’re a bit too crotchal for a wake?” She is immensely proud of the word, as well she should be, and for a time it was her favorite word in the English lexicon, even though it is not yet an accepted part of it. This is irrelevant to our dining experience at Jiangnan Arirang, but I mention it because her second favorite words are and its cognate position. I do not like the word ‘juxtapose,’ by the way, although I had no specifically ill feelings about it until professors of literature began to abuse it, which of course led to undergraduates using it with far too little discretion in pretentious little essays. But this is As I maintained a paracrotchal hold on my linen napkin and let my eyes survey the premises, it was difficult not to wonder whether there was any unintended, subtextual juxtapositionality about our dining experience. The main dining area is as grand as any banquet hall you’re likely to find in any excellent local four-star hotel in any Tier Two city in China, and the corps of uniformed waitstaff made an immediate and lasting impression. With smiles never a lumen less than radiant, and they were unfalteringly pleasant, efficient, and overflowing with the kind of gentle effervescence you find only with stewardesses in Business Class on a JAL. They all hail from North Korea and will return to the fatherland after a four-month tour of duty. If you arrive at the restaurant an hour or so before opening, you might catch them marching single-file from their dormitory to the restaurant – eyes focused downwards. We learned from our host that, while here at least, they are strictly forbidden from establishing any contact with members of the opposite sex, and that in the event any one girl fails to maintain her absolute and uncompromised NoKo-style chastity, the entire cohort will be promptly repatriated and disciplined upon return. Their wages are lower than that of their local-hire peers, which matters little, as they will in the end see little of their modest earnings anyway. They moved with the lightness of goosedown and the grace of ballerinas, and beamed as they delivered dishes to the table. Their flawless skin glowed, cheeks as red as the top of the Juche Tower, teeth as white as the snow atop the peaks of Kwanmobong. The elephant in the room cast eventually it found a voice at our table of six: In famine-prone North Korea, what counts as contemporary cuisine? I believe not one of us knew what to expect, though none was a stranger to Korean cooking. (Mr Miller lived for a time in Seoul, and was our approximation of an expert on the broader culinary genre. For this review, we happily defer to him.) Each of the dishes was delightful, but I was unable to characterize the taste. With some dishes, the combination of vinegars and wines resulted in a not unpleasant but almost metallic taste. And when the word finally leaped from my palate to my front lobes, I realized that there was in fact no position here. What I was tasting wasn’t metallic; just a little irony.