Dining solo

There’s this K-drama series I followed a few years ago called “Drinking Solo.” It followed the lives of teachers at a civil service review school. The connecting device for all characters is that they all drink at the end of the day. For what reason you discover as the story goes along.

Of course, the drinks and pulutan depend on a character’s station in life. The popular teacher who is well paid drinks at posh places — beer, wine — and the pica-pica to much is just extravagant. The newly hired teacher from the province drinks beer from a can with chips and crackers; it’s the only thing she can afford.

The show’s plot isn’t that interesting, but the characters are. So, it was worth a watch to detox from the more glossy romcoms that were the rage at the time.

I just realized the other day that like the characters in “Drinking Solo,” I have been drinking solo, too. That is if you count coffee, tea and soda. Of course, the drinks only serve to help you wash down a meal. It really is more like “Eating Solo.”

I used to go out every night with a group of friends for dinner in the ‘90s. Like clockwork, we met up at a restaurant or at a mall, and over a meal, chatted about our day. From there, we would head to our favorite coffee place where for the next hour or two, we would watch people who were on their way home — talking about how they look, how they reminded us of people we knew. It was our way of passing the hours. When the mall lights dimmed one by one and the coffee shop’s staff asked us if we had any last orders, we would start fixing our things and called it a day.

All that changed when we found new jobs that gave us more responsibilities than what we had as reporters. I started desk work at a broadsheet that had me at my cubicle until past 9 p.m. So, I was only able to join my friends on Saturdays. Sundays were sacred for most of them because they devoted it to their families.

This was the time I learned to eat out by myself. After I got tired with our favorite places, I discovered new restos, cafes and pubs to try the food and drinks. I still do it nowadays, particularly on my day off, returning to a mall or food haunt, going from one place to another to check what they have to offer.

It was also a good way of trying out all the restos that people were raving about, those places favored by that people on social media. I was able to discover that most of them were all hype. I learned that I wasn’t interested in food fads. Since I am paying for a meal, I expect to come out with a pleasant experience.

The past two years might have put a damper on my resto hopping, but I just changed format. This time I went online, ordering from all these places I had no plans of going to. I took advantage of delivery services. So, from my office desk, I was able to try all these outlets offering chicken rice, Korean fried chicken, sandwiches and spring rolls. I was also able to try all kinds of sugar-free desserts, although they were quite expensive.

Dining solo isn’t that tragic. I find that I enjoy eating alone, because it allows me to focus solely on the food. Afterwards, I can drag my friends to the place so that they can also try what I found delicious.

Works out all the time.

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