Tuesday, May 25, 2010

the birthday pig-out at sik gaek

One of my most touching birthday moments ever was definitely last Friday. I walked into Sik Gaek, a Korean restaurant way out in Flushing, and my jaw dropped open when I saw a table for 20 packed with some of my best Filipino friends in New York chorusing, "Happy birthday!!!"

No, this was not a surprise party. I planned the dinner and sent guilt-inducing emails pleading my friends to please get to Sik Gaek on time because it's near impossible to seat 20 people at any other time. Our reservation was at 6:30PM on a Friday night. At the same time as a Mets-Yankees game in, you guessed it, Flushing. Filipinos are notorious for being late, and my friends are no exception. So I really expected that table to be pretty empty when I walked in. I swear, I almost cried when I saw that the table was packed!

Some of them had gone to crazy lengths to get to Flushing on time, which I will not go into detail about since I like keeping my friends employed. I was really touched. And then I got hungry.

So we sat down, immediately ordered, chugged massive bottles of OB beer and descended on the various Korean appetizers laid out for us: fried eggs, Korean-style miso soup, a yummy fluffy egg soup, and a rice cake dish aptly described by Jason as "like Chef Boyardee for Koreans but WAY better."

And then our orders started coming in. There was some yummy sizzling kalbi and bulgogi ...

... and the most delicious seafood scallion pancakes I have ever had! How could it be anything but with pancakes are so generously packed with fresh seafood and thick strips of scallions? Man, now I'm craving for some!

And then, the pièce de résistance. The reason why 20 food-crazy people would trek all the way to Flushing for a meal (other than their sheer love for me, of course). The cheol pan, a seafood casserole with a live octopus and still moving lobster plopped on top, which cooks and um, slowly dies, in front of your very eyes. I have to admit, I felt guilty seeing it, though it doesn't seem like it in this picture.

Here's a video of the dish for full effect:

To be frank, I loved this dish more for the novelty than for the actual taste. I found the taste a bit too briny. I preferred the steamed pot of goodies which landed on the other side. Wish I'd been able to have some of the juicy crab legs, but it's good that I didn't so I'll have a reason to come back!

A really nice gesture from the staff was the two large platters of oysters that they served us, on the house. I was so happy since you know how I do love my oysters. 

Then came the wacky birthday surprises. At some point, our server realized that it was my birthday and she asked me if I wanted to celebrate with birthday cake. Friends of mine had already told me that they get a little crazy here with birthday cakes so I told her, "No thank you, I'm fine. I'll just have birthday beer." Well lo and behold, about 10 minutes later, the lights go off, Korean music starts blasting, the servers come out clapping and blowing noisemakers, a ridiculously huge and crazy birthday hat gets plopped on my head, and I'm presented with ... birthday beer!

They literally taped a candle to a bottle of beer. I loved it! After the spectacle, we settled down and went back to eating and drinking. And then, the crazy music went back on so I looked around to see who else was celebrating a birthday ... and realized nope, it's for me AGAIN! So I got some icing stripes on my face, got to make another wish and blow out more candles. Thanks again to Gretchen and Gi who got the cake!

It came to roughly $40 per person (with them treating me, at that), which amazed everyone since we had ordered a crazy amount of food and drinks. And somehow, at the end of it, there was too much money left over so we decided to get a round of shochu shots for the whole table.

Truly one of the best and most memorable birthday celebrations I've ever had. Thanks again to everyone who came! I love you all to pieces!

Sik Gaek is located at 161-29 Crocheron Avenue, Flushing, NY 11358. Tel. (718) 321-7770

Additional photos courtesy of Bernice Tenchavez and Bong Perez


Pats said...

Woohoo! You guys finally tried it! :) Looks like you had a blast! Happy Birthday again dear! Mwah!

Kaye said...

How great that everyone was able to get there on time!

Tisha said...

"Some of them had gone to crazy lengths to get to Flushing on time, which I will not go into detail about since I like keeping my friends employed."


feroshmomma said...

happy birthday to a fellow pinay that is having a blast & living it up while she is still single... good for you girl!! i so love following your blog because i would like to be like you if i were to go back to earth after i die and live another life...but don't get me wrong, i am happy now, but hey, if i had a chance to, why not?? happy bday again!!!

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