Thirty Seven Dollars of Disapointment (A Tale of Two Nachos)

My husband and I unfortunately have a ranking of the worst nachos in Seoul. We'd have a ranking for the best nachos but so far the best nachos are the kimchi carnitas fries at Vatos which don't really count. They now have real nachos at Vatos but they're $24.00 and we may be living the comfortable life here but $24.00 nachos are being saved for a day where our despair is so deep and our homesickness so overwhelming that we would pay $100 for nachos.*

The second worst nachos in Seoul are from "On the Border", a TexMex place that I can best describe as like Chevy's but without the delicious salsa and with five extra helpings of terrible. Maybe the American locations are not awful (I'm doubtful) but the Itaewon location is not good. I believe we ordered the Grande Fajita Nachos with a mix of chicken and steak for W19,000 (slightly less than $19.00). The picture showed a platter of chips each covered in meat and cheese with heaping scoops of sour cream and guacamole in the middle. What arrived was... eight chips? Each chip maybe had a third of its surface area covered in beans, cheese and meat. There were two small dollops of sour cream and guacamole in the middle. In retaliation I used half a bottle of Cholupa. I know how hard that stuff is to get here, and how expensive. Take that, On the Border.

The worst nachos, though, the very worst nachos in Seoul (maybe the world?) came from a scotch bar/bistro near our house. Picture this: a cute sign reading "Corks and Taps Bistro and Whisky", a friendly blue wooden door that opens into a basement that's a little Brooklyn meets Dracula meets Steam Punk, an extensive scotch list, and a menu more confused than the decor. We should've walked away when we saw the menu just seemed to be an amalgamation of every Western food the chef had eaten. Pasta and salads and tapas and steak and bar food. We went with nachos because we hadn't been in Seoul long enough to answer the question "how can anyone mess up nachos?" and because we had just moved into our apartment, didn't know the neighborhood yet and had incapacitating hanger.

We ordered our nachos, a scotch Manhattan and a scotch Old Fashioned and then waited. And waited. And then our drinks arrived. They were small and, while not fantastic, better than any cocktails we'd had in Europe over the Summer so our hopes were raised a little bit. But then we waited more. And more. And finally the waiter dropped by to apologize and told us the kitchen had had to turn the deep fryer back on for our chips but our nachos would arrive shortly. Fresh chips! This was going to turn our better than we could've expected. Finally, the food arrived. I hesitate to say "the nachos arrived" because what arrived was a big basket of warm, fresh chips and a small serving dish with three compartments. One compartment held five black olives, the second compartment held one tablespoon of cold nacho cheese goo and the third, most filled compartment held marinara sauce. Not even a good marinara, the most boring, most under seasoned marina you can imagine. Glorified tomato paste. Eighteen dollars. Eighteen dollars for tomato paste nachos.

We ate every last warm chip in that basket and vowed to never return.

*or for a day when Dan is on a business trip telling me about all the Bay Area Mexican food he's eating and I feel the overwhelming urge to spend $35 on nachos and a bottle of Tecate. We'll see which happens first.