Strange Dinner Invitation - Should I Bow Out?

I live a block from a mini-mart which I visit frequently. The proprietors are all Korean, and I see the guy that works evenings almost every day either inside the store or while walking by.

Recently, an Asian fast food restaurant opened a couple of blocks down. One of the cooks there is also Korean, and he and Mini-Mart Guy have started hanging out together - I’ll often see the one visiting the other’s business, just chatting.

Well, when they realized they both knew me they thought it was the funniest thing ever. Now they both call me by name when I enter their stores, etc. I tend to be pretty well-known and generally liked at businesses I frequent because I’m generally friendly and not a PITA to deal with. So I am totally cool with this - I think it’s funny too.

This afternoon I popped into the mini-mart and as I was leaving, MMG followed me outside and asked if I’d ever had Korean food. I said no, and he invited me to go out with him and RG on Saturday night to a Korean place in town. I gave a sort of noncommittal answer.

Tonight I stopped in the store on the way home, and both of them were there. MMG said, “Meet us at 11:30 at his restaurant and we’ll take you to Good Restaurant and buy you dinner on us!” He even asked whether I wanted meat or fish, because he has to make a reservation.

Now, both of these guys, while not old enough to be my dad maybe, are definitely older than me. I’m not getting a sleazy/creepy vibe off them, really, and the restaurant we’re going to is within (long) walking distance from my house should things go weird. On the other hand, I don’t generally accept dinner invitations from people I’ve only dealt with in a “business” sense. (Can y’all tell I don’t date much?)

I’m pretty sure I’m being overly paranoid and there’s no harm in letting them buy me dinner; I’m pretty sure that they just realize I like Asian food and want to give me…guidance, maybe, eating their particular cuisine. But maybe I’m missing something. So - go to dinner for the new experience and don’t worry about it? Or rethink and possibly beg off?

can you bring a “chaperone”?

I’m Korean and the whole thing seems odd to me, but then again they probably wouldn’t have made such an invitation to a fellow Korean. A lot of Koreans get a kick out of sharing their culture with furriners. :wink: If you feel you wouldn’t be too uncomfortable I’d say just go and enjoy yourself.

Ooh, a double date now!

Are you a girl or a guy? If you are a girl, no. If you are a guy, I’d take my chances and experience some real locals expertise in Korean food. This could be awkward if they start assuming you are their buddy and you don’t want that kind of relationship.

That’s sort of my inclination right now…I’m thinking that MMG has interacted with me for several years now, and suddenly RG is in the picture and they know that I like Asian food, but that I’m also not very experienced with it. And the invitation wasn’t lodged in the scratches ground with foot “Wanna go to dinner?” kind of way but matter of factly.

I thought of that, but the whole “reservation” part of it makes it awkward to bring someone at the last minute. Plus, the NAB is out of town and I don’t know who else to bring.

I’m a girl. But I would think that if one of them was actually trying to “date” me that I’d have known about it before. I shop and eat alone 99% of the time.

I’d go for it! Sounds like a great chance to try some decent food with people who know what they’re talking about.

Usual precautions apply etc - tell someone where you’re going, what time you’ll be back (and mention that’s what you’ve done).

I doubt there’s anything sleazy… but show me to middle-aged men who wouldn’t like to take an attractive young lady out with them!

If you’re a ‘ballsy’ woman who can keep them in line if they get the wrong idea and you find them funny, I’d say go for it. It could be great fun if they tell you all about the food, introduce you to crazy-sounding Korean dinnertime phrases, challenge you with crazily hot foodstuffs and crazy Korean liquors. Or maybe not; I’ve never met a Korean to my knowledge, and may even be a White Racist in Denial! :eek:

I’m about half-ballsy. :slight_smile: I’m pretty good at keeping guys in line if necessary, but I don’t want it to go there because I’d rather just keep my good relationships with the guys who run my stores.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I don’t drink because MMG knows better. :smiley:

If I go, it should be pretty easy for me to stay on my toes and leave when I want to. As I said, I can walk home if needed. And the recommendation upthread to leave my whereabouts is a good one.

I’m also thinking of making up a later date, although starting at midnight in a restaurant doesn’t make that easy. (Most things close by 2:00.)

If it weren’t Korean food, I’d ask for something to go. But I’ve been invited to Korean restaurants (by Korean gals, no less), and there’s a lot of importance placed on the little side dishes (which they strangely enough almost ignore) but I love them. And the dishes are always too much for me to eat in one sitting, and I’m the only one who asks to take the rest of my dish home. My favorite was an udon seafood soup which was really spicy, and they were shocked that I ate the chilis, but when chilis are in a soup, most of the spiciness is sapped into the broth. (In Koreatown in L.A. there are buffets, where you can get an all-you-can-eat lunch for about $9.00. But they don’t say the names of the things, and you can never really know how spicy something is going to be until you eat it.)

They might ask if you can eat spicy food. (Most Koreans seem to think that non-Koreans can’t eat spicy food, even in Southern California, which is strange considering the prevalence Mexican jalapeños.) If you like spicy things, you can say:

“네. 김치를 먹을수 있어요”

(“Sure, I eat kimchee.”)

But stay away from the soju (a kind of vodka), if offered. Just lots of ice water, instead.

And see if someone can accompany you.

Yeah, he’s also seen me buy the spicy Korean noodle bowl soups. (Like Top Ramen, but bigger and much spicier.)

It really does seem like it’s a cultural exchange effort. And staying away from the Korean vodka is probably a good idea. And giving my location to friends.

Of course, it also depends on how tired I am after work. A friend of mine is having a birthday party the night before. I may be pretty tired.

I’d say go for it! Notice, neither guy was trying to hit on you or ask you out until they realized everyone knew each other. This sounds more like a party than a date. And I don’t think they would try to put a good customer into the shaky position of having to fend off unwanted advances. That could lose them steady clientele. It sounds like they are just being nice. And if they’re not, bring pepper spray along just in case. :smiley:

Yeah, you can use it to freshen your breath after the kimchi. Mmmm, kimchi.

Another thing which may or may not be pertinent…these guys are both first-generation immigrants. Their English is pretty good, but my Korean is non-existant. I’m used to not understanding the people around me, though. (I work with people from many different areas - mostly the Phillipines, but also Africans and other areas/languages.) But it’s hard to have a conversation, though I guess food is something to talk about.

I get the impression that girls do not go out on their own much in Asian countries, and I wonder if I’m sort of a novelty - white girl who’s always by herself, and who seems to be ok with that, and thus is someone fun to take out on their weekly excursion.

(I’m a guy, but) I’d be in on this in a second. In fact, if I could figure out a way to dine on ethnic food with first or second-gen immigrants more frequently I would. (Anybody know any online “food ‘dating’” sites?)

An aspect I don’t know much about of Korean culture, but if it’s anything like Japanese culture, these guys may be looking to be seen out with an attractive girl. Not a bad thing, but some may find it a tad unusual.

I would go, were I in your position.

The eater in me says Go. They have this great pancake deal and all the little side dishes. And if “meat” is an option, it might mean the yummy Korean barbeque. I’m having flashbacks to my boss in the City treating us to this–he was a “host” in the same way the guys sound like they are.

Are you saying they want to take you out at 11:30 PM, or AM ? If you’ve never gotten a creepy vibe, they sound like two fun-loving guys it would be nice to hang out with. If things go badly, do you have shopping alternatives in your neighborhood?

One more possibility – any of these guys have sons? Maybe they’re scoping you out as a possible daughter-in-law prospect.

How could you refuse without giving offense? As long as you meet them at the restaurant, I see no harm in a little cultural exchange. There are worse things in life than making new friends.

Of course, if you get any sort of creepy vibe, I’d hightail it out of there.

Go and have a good time. Be aware they probably have some ulterior motives, but you’re almost certainly 100% safe. They may want their friends to see them entertaining an attractive white girl or practice English on you. It’s also possible they may get a little rowdy after some drinks, but not in a dangerous or weird way. Just be prepared to jokingly and gracefully deflect any “boyfriend” humor that may become hilarious later in the evening.

And learn a few words or phrases in Korean before you go. Even if you get it wrong, it’s good for a laugh. It’s also a good way to keep the conversation going–“How do you say XXX in Korean?”

Come back and tell us how it went!