What are they laughing at? Ha! It doesn’t matter, does it, the two good sisters at Good Friend, because of course they are good, even if they’re talking about you. It’s affection for the human comedy is what it is, the big chuckle from the kitchen, their unspoken dialogue, you see all this straight away as you come into this cheerfully lit hole-in-the-wall off the short stretch of mall on the south side of Rox, next to the rundown adult toy shop, surrounded by posters of K-Pop stars and food specials.
Ever-expressive Kim in her pink bandana leans over and vigorously takes you through the menu. She and little sister Koh started Good Friend last July after opening in December as a takeout. It’s one of those handmade places that just is. No professional designers, no service-industry posture. The seamless open front lets you be part of the crowd but not right in it, a passerby while standing still. The samgyetang medicinal chicken broth at 800-yen is the most calming thing you’ve eaten for days. Fall-apart chicken in a ginseng infused soup. It’s more than homecooking, it’s also like being at home, you don’t stand on ceremony, just tell them what you want, read your book, the sisters will give you refills of kimchi or rice, you help yourself to the water on your table. In the lull before closing they sit at the back table planning their new menu of nighttime drinking snacks. Koh tots up the day’s accounts. She says, Customers are increasing, but there’s not a lot of money in it, we are very cheap. Our Sundoubu tofu hotpot is only 680-yen, our bibimba is cheaper.
One thing you know about many Koreans who cook: they tend to be aware of MSG and avoid it. That’s right says Koh, we don’t use Ajinomoto. We just put more vegetables to create more flavour. Why Good Friend? Oh she says, Just let’s all get on. Hahaha. Koreans and Japanese, you know? Let’s play nicely. Hahaha!