I am a big fan of this Korean thing called Suhvisuh 서비스 (Service, for all of those not in Korea). This phenomenon involves copious amounts of free stuff with any size purchase. In the past, I've received service that ranges from the ok to the spectacular. Usually a service gift includes a free sample or two (you will quickly become accustomed to these in the myriad beauty shops across Korea), an extra apple tossed in, tissues, and maybe a small dish of pretzels (which, on another note, are called 쿠키 or cookies here). But then there are days when the little extra bit of service changes the mood of your entire day.
Best Service Ever
The service waffle. My friends and I decided we wanted wine one weekend evening and set out downtown to find this rarity hidden amongst the cheap beers and mixed drinks. Down the road from the foreign favorite watering hold Thursday party, we found Vin. Vin (meaning wine in French) is a cute spot that offers wine by the bottle (though the selection is very limited), sangria (yes!), and snacks. We ordered a pitched of red sangria. It was good, a bit too sweet but still enjoyable. We were having a lovely time just chatting and sipping our drinks. Then the unthinkable happened, one of the servers plopped down a giant waffle smothered in whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and nuts smack in the middle of our table.
"Suhvicuh," he said casually.
We were blown away. As three girls on a Friday night we immediately plowed into this free gargantuan treat. It tasted like cake. A waffle cake! A FREE waffle cake! We polished it off with no problem and vowed to return in hopes that more of these lay in our future. Thus ends the tale of the best service ever.
Most Useful Service
As hinted by the previous category, I really like wine. No. I LOVE wine. And it can be difficult to find good bottles at decent prices in Korea. Enter the saviour of all Westerns: Homeplus. On a routine trip to pick-up a jar of peanut butter and whatever else caught my eye, I stumbled into the wine section (this stumbling happens each time I go to Homeplus). There was a tasting. So I tasted. It was a Spanish red that was actually pretty good and on sale (!) so I tossed three bottles into my cart.
The young sales clerk then hands me two small boxes: a bottle stopper and a wine key. She read my mind! I currently lacked these necessary tools in my barren apartment (to be honest, I planned to use my Leatherman to open up the bottle). So I walked away not only with three bottles of good, well-priced wine but all the tools required to enjoy them.
Most Unexpected Service (a tie)
This story is a short one. I needed a garish color of nail polish to wear for my birthday party (it was Kpop themed). So I popped into a Beautiplex near my home to satisfy my cosmetic needs. After much consultation with the very sweet sales lady, I bought one bottle of nail polish and one color of eye shadow. I maybe spent 6,000\. At the checkout, the lady carefully placed my purchases into a bag. Then she proceeded to show me the other goodies I would walk away with: 2 boxes of cotton pads and a pair of ankle socks covered in pink hearts! It felt like an episode of Oprah's Favorite Things. Granted these gifts weren't of much consequence but I spent 5 bucks and left with socks. Cute socks!
The second unexpected service was yet another waffle. I decided to head downtown one afternoon to finish reading the horrible book Ender's Game at a local cafe. I'd read about one in particular called The Mount Coffee. I ordered a cappuccino and settled in to read the rest of this awful book. Just as I realized I was beginning to feel the initial pangs of hunger, BOOM! On my table, a quarter of a service waffle! With maple syrup even!
I love coffee. So I was pretty excited to discover there is a small yet adorable coffee shop very close to my house. It is called Marshmallow. Now, the first time I visited the cafe I only ordered a take-out cappuccino (I just had x-rays from the hospital next door due to a sprained ankle - I wanted to get home ASAP). The woman who owns the shop is so sweet, she tried to give me cookies (read: pretzels) to go as a bit of service. I politely declined and took my cappuccino on the road.
Seeking caffeination one day afterschool, I decided to pay my nearby cafe a visit. I ordered another cappuccino and took a seat near the window. In a few moments, the woman brought me a tray laden with a bright red cup full of delicious cappuccino and small dish of miniature marshmallows. Ah, the name made sense now! I thought they were a very sweet gesture of service and a nice change from the usual pretzels. But this was no ordinary dish of marshmallows.
The owner then leaned over my table to light a small tea candle on my table. Then she handed me a small pick with a plastic cake topper and instructed me to roast the marshmallows on the tea candle. I was taken aback in a very good way. This was by far the most adorable thing I'd seen in Korea (and mind you, this is the land where even the cows you're about to eat are smiling down at you from a signboard and even the socks depiciting poop (똥) sport a sh*t-eating grin - see what I did there?).
When my Mom visited Korea, I told her about service. At first she was confused but soon embraced it as many a waygookin has. She experienced some serious service when picking up a treat at Paris Baguette. Upon checkout, the clerk handed her an entire loaf of bread! A whole loaf!
This one doesn't really count as service, which is why it is an honorable mention. Shannon and I popped into the newly opened Olive Young store after our Pancake Adventure to pick up a few cosmetic necessities. I didn't need anything so I purused while she did some actual shopping. After paying, however, she discovered a big green box in her bag along with purchases. The box contained a purse size tube of delicious smelling peach lotion, a face mask, a sample of something, and an entire pack of wet wipes. It was a pretty well-sized gift box of things I could actually use. So of course I had to shop some more to get my very own green box of goodies and 30,000\ later, I had one in tow (along with Aveeno lotion, eyelash curler pads, eyemakeup remover, and Werther's originals). Not really service because it was expected but nice and still free!