Due to an overestimation of my level of enthusiasm for a style of food Koreans call '쌈' (ssam), which I was introduced to at the Gyeongju 'pension', Korean Mother and wife took me to a meat ('삼겹살') restaurant for lunch, where the food was eaten in the 'ssam' style. Personally, I'd consider this a 'ssam restaurant' then, but that's not what they're called.
The first task when entering this traditional Korean type restaurant is of course, to remove one's shoes in the entrance. The second, and equally important task in this particular restaurant, is to avoid tripping over the gas pipes which run across the floor to the tables. No, they'd never get away with it in the UK.
Within a few moments of sitting down, a large array of side dishes, along with a plate of meat, were delivered to our table. The lid in the centre was lifted to reveal the barbecue pit and the gas was turned on from a control at the side. Korean Mother then very professionally proceeded to start cooking the meat. Apparently, it's normally the women who cook at these restaurants, rather than the men, unlike in Haeundae on New Year's Eve when the men tackled the barbecue while the women were cooking other dishes in the kitchen. Suddenly, a new context is possibly placed on their struggle that night.
As the 'ssam' consumption progressed, I realised that while I might have enjoyed it in the freezing cold of a January evening after a long day of temple raids, it's not quite as appealing a couple of hours after eating Korean breakfast cereal. It wasn't that I didn't like it, but I kept thinking of mandu rather longingly. It's possible that my taste buds were somewhat stunned by my adventurous (i.e. blissfully ignorant) decision to start eating a leek dish ('파채') next to me which turned out to be so unexpectedly spicy I felt my nose starting to run. I didn't get very far with that.
Aside from not tripping over the gas pipes, another important lesson is not to wear anything too nice to this kind of restaurant if you plan on sitting anywhere near the actual barbecue, because those random pops and splashes from the barbecue pit are going to end up finding you. I also found that towards the end of the meal, my eyes were watering from the constant exposure to admittedly low-level of smoke rising from the cooking pit.
Total cost for three people - 16,000 won (about £8.77) - which seems really good value, especially since you can get free refills on each of the vegetable dishes.