When I was given the opportunity to attend my first The Plate Supper Club dinner, I got nervous and excited all at once. This month the club served traditional South Korean dishes. I didn’t know what to expect from the event, so I decided to go with an open heart and an empty stomach. I was pleasantly surprised by the environment and the dishes.
The moment I stepped into the old church that hosts the Oasis centre, the centre for refugee and asylum seekers in Splott where The Plate Supper Club is held every month, I felt at ease. Unlike commercial restaurants, with their fancy tableware, dining at the supper club was like going for a Sunday dinner at your grandparents’ house. All diners were sat together around a large table, which encouraged us to break the ice and engage in conversation. The people I met that night came from all different cultural, ethnic and social backgrounds. Some were Cardiff locals and some were immigrants. We chatted, laughed and shared food in a safe and friendly space where there was no space for fear or prejudice. Looking around and seeing everyone enjoying their evening, I realised that The supper club truly lives up to its motto: share food, share culture and bring communities together.
Dinner that night was a traditional Korean meal. We were treated to an authentic Korean experience. The flavours and colours of the food were unbelievable. We began with Korean radish rolls with a peanut dipping sauce. The delicious rolls were made of sliced red pepper, cucumber and spring onion wrapped in thin pickled radish sheets. The pickled radish gave some sourness to the roll, while the fresh vegetables brought some crunch and texture. The sweet and creamy dipping sauce was a great addition to the dish. The way that the rice was served was another pleasant surprise. It was cooked to perfection and topped with toasted sesame seeds, which added aroma and gave the plain rice a nutty flavour. The rice was served with home-made Kimchi, which added a splash of rich red to the plate and gave the rice a spicy twist. We were also treated to stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables, grilled beef patties, potato pancakes and pan-fried courgetti. From the first bite, you could tell that all these dishes were made from fresh ingredients and prepared in a way that brought out all the original flavour of ingredients. Korean sweet pancakes and ice cream topped off the meal, which felt like a celebration.
Everyone around the table was amazed by the quality of the dishes. Some commented on the “interesting flavours”, while others said that “the food was fresh, delicious and beautifully presented”. We all seemed to agree that this was a “home-cooked meal made with love”. It was also an authentic Korean experience. One of the diners, who was born in South Korea and has lived in Cardiff for over a decade, said that these dishes were “authentic Korean food, usually eaten in celebratory and festival times”. The meal, he said, reminded him of home.
Food was delicious, but the most memorable part of the evening was seeing how easily diners communicated with each other. They started talking about the food but soon found themselves discussing cultural differences, which brought them closer and helped them understand each other better. Some of them even exchanged phone numbers. By the end of the evening, there was a sense of community, a reminder that above and beyond origin, race, religion, background or circumstances, we can all find a little bit of happiness in flavourful food and shared experiences. After all, we are just human.