CHEAP EATS It was the weekend and my kitten and me were dancing to the Ramones in our pajamas. Coffee sloshing all over the place. Kibble clattering. The phone rang and we let it ring. I already had lunch plans and dinner plans. Why answer the phone?
I answered the phone. Knowing me, it was either my lunch plan or my dinner plan, calling to cancel. So I stopped the music.
Stoplight kept dancing.
On the phone was one of my three-year-old pals. She was upset and wanted to talk, so we talked. Once she had collected herself and was breathing normally I asked, “How’s your mommy?”
“Good,” she said, in her normal little voice. “How’s Stoplight?”
“Good. We were dancing,” I said.
If she had an opinion about them, she didn’t say. For the moment, her favorite bands are ABBA and Harry Belafonte — who isn’t, strictly speaking, a band. We made plans to get a burrito between lunch and dinner, and then she put her mom on. Coincidentally, we too made plans to get a burrito between lunch and dinner.
For lunch, I had a burrito. You will be relieved to learn that it was not the conventional kind. It was another one of those Korean-style kimchi burritos, such as had bewitched, bothered, and bewildered me a few months back at John’s Snack & Deli, downtown.
I haven’t slept well ever since. And I wanted to repay the kind then-stranger who ruined my circadian rhythm, if not life, by introducing me to the kimchi burrito. Interestingly, he’s never had one himself. Just saw the sign at John’s and thought I should know, bless him.
John’s is not in my opinion open on weekends. Nor is it open past six on weekdays, meaning most working stiffs who aren’t lucky enough to work in the Financial District will never know. A moment of silence, for them.
The good news is that the HRD Coffee House, South of Market, also has a kimchi burrito, and is open Saturdays. The bad news is it’s pork, not beef, and it ain’t even a third as juicy as John’s sleep disorder was, as I recall. By comparison, HRD’s kimchi burrito is underspicy and over-ricy. But, come to think of it, underpricey too. It’s only $5.50, and that’s good news all over again. Plus you don’t have to eat it on your bike (or at your desk, I guess) because HRD is an actual place. You know, with tables, chairs, counters, a very fluorescent back room, and college football on TV.
We sat at the window counter, me and my new friend Mr. Wong — not to be confused with Mr. Wrong (my old friend). And we talked about movies, food, and movies about food. He’s a film writer and, I gather, a collector. But he’s in over his head. He’s attended and collected so many movies that he hasn’t had time, in 51 years, to learn how to cook, not even pasta. Check it out, this cat owns copies of my two favorite movies — which are both very, very obscure, and, Jesus, pretty old — but he hasn’t seen either one!
In exchange for teaching Mr. Wong how to cook, I think he’s going to share his collection with me. First thing I’m going to show him how to make: popcorn.
We will work our way up to kimchi, and then bulgogi, and then kimchi burritos because, sad to say, my Mr. Wong still hasn’t exactly had an exactly brilliant and/or life-altering one. As much as we both liked HRD, the place.
And the people.
He finished his. I gave the second half of mine to a homeless person on Market Street.
“It’s a burrito,” I said, “but, get this: it’s Korean!”
The dude, apparently not a foodie, was underplussed.
“So you know,” I said. “A Korean burrito.”
“I’ll think about that,” he said, “while I’m eating it.”
HRD COFFEE SHOP
Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–3 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.–3 a.m.
521 Third St.