With a red-eye flight scheduled to depart around 10 PM PST, I anticipated just enough time to breeze through Koreatown once more and grab a bite before checking out. My early awakening had actually been beneficial to the voyaging process, as it allowed freedom for unplanned detours and room for potential commuting mishaps (not that they happened).
Office workers dressed in freshly-ironed slacks and tall red heels flooded into the Financial District. It was only then that I came to the realization of time: it was Monday morning after all. The scene was similar to weekdays in Toronto’s downtown core, though the vibe I perceived from the West Coast was primmer and slightly more intimidating.
My second time on the Metro platform was met with a mother of two, all clearly tourists like myself, inquiring about whether the train pulling in traversed on the Red Line.
“This is the Purple Line.” I confidently replied with a smile. The first car of the train had displayed so, as did the LCD display hovering above. It was odd to think that someone who had barely explored the city had been asked for directions on her day of departure.
Majority of the GOT7 Just Right USBs could be found, with the exception of Jinyoung (and JB I believe?). Kakao colouring books and exam prep guides were also available.
Awaiting me were two Korean beauty shops, a plethora of empty, unoccupied spaces for rent, and home décor/café/beauty shop hybrid
The menu was compact and revealed emphasis on mini tiramisu pots and purple yam shaved ice. Each of the dessert offerings was inclusive of intricate details and appealing presentation.
Admittedly, they were on the pricier side given its portion size. A solo traveller seldom has the option of splitting costs, so I decided to try a carbonated beverage to alleviate the warming effects of the California sun.
The young man behind the cashier waited a few minutes before dragging himself over to serve me. I guess “POTENTIAL CUSTOMER” did not radiate from my somewhat disheveled appearance. He furrowed his brows at the menu when I requested a Green Apricot Sparkling Water – noting to himself that it was synonymous with 매실 (aka Sour Plum).
“But how can you call me if you didn’t provide an order number nor take my name?” I wondered.
It was later discovered that his definition of “calling” involved peeking over the bar area, lifting my drink in the air, and flatly announcing, “Your drink.”
Suffice to say, I expected more amiable service and a higher degree of professionalism from an establishment of such exquisite décor. In the territory was not a single party that did not speak standard Korean, and as the odd one out, I truly felt the feelings of exclusion.
A few sips in though, I realized it bore a strong resemblance to Yuzu and brought it to the attention of the front line staff.
They informed me that it was indeed Green Apricot (Sour Plum), to which I responded in surprise. As I was about to settle on the beverage and take my leave, the man of manager-like authority stepped in and asked it to be remade.
Honestly, I could feel the bitter glares in my direction already.
The re-made version was intensely sweet, but still very similar to the original in terms of taste. Towards the bottom of the beverage were crunchy blossom bits – something I had initially perceived to be slivers of yuzu peel.