The restaurant has an actual Mexican manager and actual Mexicans doing the cooking, which is something I’ve otherwise never seen or heard of in Korea (i.e., despite the recent rise in the popularity of Mexican food, managers and cooks everywhere else are Korean). On the advertisement for the place, near the entrance, they boast about it:
Both Seungbae and Jared speak Spanish well. Seungbae studied it in university. Jared lived in Mexico for two years, and is fluent. He even taught Spanish in the USA. The two of them had been to this restaurant before. Seungbae introduced Jared to it in 2010, from whom I’d listened back then, in awe, about the “real Mexican cooks”.
Seungbae graciously paid for the meal. He had an ulterior motive for the trip, though: He tried, at length, to enlist the support of the Mexican manager for his latest money-making venture, the details of which I zoned-out on a little bit. All I know for sure is that it’s connected in some way with Mexico, and he needs a Mexican contact. The manager was a kindly, portly, soft-spoken dark-skinned man (who I’d have believed were Arab, if he’d claimed to be). He was born in Mexico but he’s lived in both the USA and Mexico at various times. He seemed to lean more “American” than “Mexican”. (Then again, I’ve never been to Mexico, never even to Texas, and hardly ever to California, so what do I know.) He spoke English well, but only fully-relaxed when Seungbae and Jared addressed him in Spanish.
Jared (who was once in the U.S. Army in Korea) says these areas are called “the Ville” by soldiers. (The now-trendy, but once infamous Itaewon neighborhood, in central Seoul, started out the same, as Yongsan Army Base’s “Ville”, but is now something else entirely. The Itaewon of the 2010s has a Muslim atmosphere on the whole, actually, but that’s another story).
In the leisurely two hours or so we were in the Mexican restaurant, I saw perhaps ten groups of foreigners in and out, versus a single pair of Koreans, women in their 20s. The foreigners all seemed attached to the U.S. Military, either as enlisted men/women or contractors.
“lowrider” motorcycle through
the “Ville” outside Osan Air Base
One reminder that this place serves non-Koreans almost entirely: No kimchi at all was served.
The meal was good; seeing the Osan “Ville” was fascinating, riding such a distance in a car in Korea was novel, and the conversation provided by Seungbae (who spoke at length about Korean history and any other topic that came up) and Jared (who always has something interesting to talk about) was pleasant.
It was a good trip. It reminded me of being in the USA.