I personally enjoy having meals with friends and family most of the time, as I think that it’s a great way to catch up face-to-face, especially in this modern era where a large portion of our daily communication relies on instant messaging and emails. Even then, there are times when I prefer to eat alone, and times when I have no choice but to.
I’m pretty sure most of us have eaten a meal alone at some point in our lives. The question is, how hardcore a lone diner are you? Korean net users came up with a nine-level lone diner guide introducing the different levels of dining loneliness. How well can you tolerate solo dining? Gauge yourself after the break!
Level 1: Eating instant noodles at a convenience store
This is something frequently seen in Korean TV dramas, apparently. In fact, salarymen grabbing a quick bite at convenience stores are often witnessed in Japan as well. Have you done this before? I haven’t had instant noodles, but I’ve had oden and ice cream outside a convenience store before. Level cleared!
Level 2: Dining alone at a food court
Very popular in the US, food courts are becoming common in Singapore where I come from, and it’s normal to see office workers having a solo meal during lunch break, after work, or any time in between. Been there, done that!
Level 3: Dining alone at an eatery
Similarly to solo dining at a food court, many office workers have probably experienced this too. I personally quite like this solo dining style, as smaller eateries are usually quieter than food courts, so I can enjoy a quick read over lunch. I’m sure we’ve all been to the likes of Yoshinoya and enjoyed a quick beef bowl solo.
Level 4: Solo fast food
This sounds pretty common too! However, there are probably more students than office workers who hang out alone at fast food outlets, some even have the tendency to make these junk food outlets their second home when the examinations are near. They’re often busy, though, and full of kids, so your loneliness can feel amplified.
Level 5: Dining solo at a Chinese restaurant
You might be thinking, why a Chinese restaurant in particular? According to Zhaizhai News, in Korea, most of the people who dine alone at Chinese restaurants are middle-aged men. Perhaps the environment consisting of lonely men slurping down noodles and fried rice makes it slightly awkward for women to dine alone at Chinese restaurants?
Level 6: Eating at a high-end Japanese restaurant or traditional Korean restaurant
The price is probably a factor that contrasts your loneliness when you dine alone. On top of that, like any high-end cuisine, substantial effort is put into the visual presentation of the meal, and when you’re sitting alone facing a table full of intricate little servings of edible beauty, the whole picture just seems that much more lonely.
Level 7: Having a solo meal at a boisterous American diner
What are you doing staring at generous servings of fries, burgers and pizza alone while the people around you are having fun, laughing, joking and sharing their party food?! You must be quite the high-level lone diner if you can put up with this sort of dining atmosphere. Alone.
Level 8: Dining alone at a yakiniku (barbecue/grilled meat) restaurant
Dining at such restaurants are fun when you and your friends can take turns cooking on the grill, and chit-chatting while waiting for the meat to cook. Being quite the meat-lover, I can totally understand the sudden craving for grilled beef, but the effort it takes muster the courage to step into a barbecue joint all by yourself just makes me lose my appetite. Pros only.
Level 9: Eating and drinking at a drinking tavern, all by yourself
Drinking places such as izakaya in Japan are the go-to places for social gatherings and after-work drinks. As you can imagine, most of the customers visit these places in groups, and have a hell of a time drinking, eating and laughing the night away. If you’ve solo-dined at such a place (or wouldn’t mind doing so)… then respect to you! You totally deserve to be called the ultimate solo diner, putting your stomach before trivial matters like looking a friendless and lonely. Bravo.
Looks like my solo dining experience stopped at Level 4. What level are you? Let us know in the comments section below!