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Korean-style shabu shabu kalguksu
January 6, 2012, 12:13 pm
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Korean-style shabu shabu kalguksu

One of the Korean dishes I miss most from my days in Seoul is “shabu shabu kalguksu,” a Korean spin on Japanese shabu shabu hotpot that involves knife-cut noodles and a spicy leek and potato broth. See excerpt from Eyes in Korea below (and click through the link for more mouth-watering photos and descriptions).

Korean Shabu Kalguksu

My overview of Korean food continues and our target today isshabu kalguksu or chopped noodles.Shabu kalguksu is a very popular dish in Korea. Some people think it is a Japanese cuisine according to the name “shabu”, which is a Japanese word. Others say it is similar to Mongolian Genghis Khan’s meal. Some Koreans also say it is “toryeom” meal originated in Korea. As it often happens, nobody knows the real story for sure, so let’s concentrate on the dish itself.

I often go with my friends to Doul Shabu Kalguksu restaurant which is our favorite spot in Daejeon. Usually we order seafood kalguksu. The ingredients of the shabu kalguksuinclude seafoods, meat, vegetables, mushrooms, noodles and rice with eggs. Furthermore there are many side dishes served at the table.

New York has a Koreatown, so why can’t I find my shabu shabu kalguksu here?!? I may, however, have found a passable alternative at Arirang (my favorite NYC spot for kalguksu, sujaebi, and kimchi jeon) – the chicken shabu kalguksu. I’m checking it out on Monday evening as it purported feeds 3-4 people – which means it probably feeds 6 with sides and apps. I will report back shortly.


Kimbap from E-Mo tastes like Korea
February 28, 2011, 8:20 am
Filed under: Eat | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

When I think of kimbap, I think of my childhood. My mom used to make what can perhaps best be described as Korean sushi sans raw fish (basically, rice, pickles, veggies, and some sort of meat stuffed and rolled up in dried seaweed) for all of our road trips and picnics. It is the quintessential to-go Korean food item. When I lived in Seoul, we’d pick up some kimbap before heading off to the mountains to hike, and they would be just as tasty four hours later as right when they were made.

E-Mo is a takeout kimbap joint in Koreatown, and it’s just about as authentic a kimbap experience as I’ve ever seen in the States. Like its Korean cousins, the ingredients are true to Korea (they even use shisho leaves, American cheese, and canned tuna among other things – just like Korea), there is just a little counter at which to stand and eat, it’s cash only, and the kimbap is inexpensive – $5.50 or $6 a roll, plus 50 cents if you want brown rice instead of white rice – and served with a side of odeng broth.

This is the spicy tuna kimbap – I got mine with brown rice, and it came stuffed with tuna spiced with either sriracha or gochujang, pickled sweet daikon, sesame oil dressed spinach, julienned carrots, and this other pickled veggie that I don’t know the name of in English. It was  good ratio of rice to veggies to meat, though a tad dry, but that’s what the soup is for. If you’re looking for a quick bite or something to go in the Koreatown area, I recommend you give it a shot. This place will likely become a lunch staple for me once I start my new gig in March.

Eat: E-Mo (Koreatown/Midtown West) 2 W. 32nd Street between 5th Ave. and Broadway, New York, NY 10001. (212) 594-1466. Open Monday – Friday 8:30am-8:30pm, open Saturday 8:30am-7:30pm. See menu here – note that they are now also offering odeng ggotchi (fish cake skewers) for $2.50 apiece.

Wonder Girls
October 4, 2010, 9:10 pm
Filed under: Listen | Tags: , , , , , ,

K-pop sensations the Wonder Girls are in Cannes this week to promote their new documentary at MIPCOM. They performed at the KOCCA party on opening night and while the sound was crappy, ya just gotta love that feelgood, upbeat vibe. Check out Wonder Girls – Nobody on YouTube to see what I’m talking about!

Bo ssam at Mandu DC

David Chang has a lock on the big feast format of Korean dining, and bless him for all of his family-style Korean fried chicken and bo ssam (pork shoulder/butt lettuce wraps) dinners at Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Ssam Bar.

But what about those of us who can’t find 6 to 10 like-minded diners? What then? Should we be denied our bo ssam?

Enter: Mandu DC. See how amazing this bo ssam platter looks? They use pork belly and chill it so that the meat is firm to the touch but fork tender, and the fat (largely trimmed) has a pleasant coolness and easy chewiness. The bo ssam platter comes with lettuce leaves (sangchu) for wrapping, spicy pickled daikon radish for a zesty crunchy topping, and ssamjang (wrap dip) for sweetness, spice, and a little funk (from the fermented bean). It’s a truly refreshing summer meal, especially when eaten outdoors on Mandu’s cute little patio.

On the corner of 18th and S in Northwest DC, just off-center from the craziness that is Adams Morgan, Mandu is a lovely gem of a Korean restaurant, perhaps the only of its kind within the city limits. The food here has a home-cooked feel, but with attention to presentation, ambiance, and all of the other things you don’t usually find at Korean restaurants in the States. Sure, there’s great Korean food to be had in Annandale, but then you’d have to find your way out to Virginia, and you wouldn’t even get to have an aloetini! Aloe juice + aloe pulp + soju = delicious x drunk. You do the math.

On weekends, Mandu has an $11.00 Korean Brunch Plate with gimbap (Korean rice & seaweed rolls – like sushi rolls without any fish), Korean omelet, chive pancakes, Korean-style hash browns, and a choice of marinated beef, chicken, pork or vegetables and tofu, all with a side of fruit. They have $4.00 Sojutinis and $4.00 Soju Bloody Marys to boot!

The Mandu Bloody Mary is made with soju, Clamato, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, sriracha, and a cucumber kimchi garnish. It is not for the spice averse, but it will cure your hangover. I felt AWESOME after drinking mine!

Not to be missed at Mandu: the mandu (dumplings) – 6 pieces for $5, the bo ssam – $13 for the platter shown above, the dak jjim (sweet and spicy chicken simmered with potatoes & onions, served with rice), aloetini, Mandu Bloody Mary.

And it gets better… there’s a happy hour! Daily 4-7pm: $4.00 Sojutinis, $4.00 liquor drinks, $2.00 beers, $3.00 mandu (dumplings).

Eat: Mandu (Adams Morgan, NW Washington DC) 1805 18th St. at S St., Washington, D.C. NW (202) 558-1540. Follow mandudc on Twitter.

Kim Jong-Il and Lee Myung-Bak make out at Collette Blanchard Gallery
January 10, 2010, 8:00 am
Filed under: Go | Tags: , , , , ,

I was walking down Clinton Street the other day and stopped in my tracks outside a gallery where a huge bronze Buddha head lay in the middle of a pile of sand and seashells. Behind the Buddha head is a neon sign in hangul, Korean writing, and while I can read the words, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. Maybe my Korean needs some brushing up, or maybe it’s gibberish.

The gallery is Collette Blanchard, the exhibition is “Kingdom Come,” and the artist is SunTek Chung.

Upon closer examination, I find that the Buddha from “The Road is Shorter Than You Think, 2009” is not actually in peaceful slumber on the beach as I had thought at first glance, but has actually been decapitated, veins and muscles and sinew exposed. I could almost see the veins throbbing, even though they were rigid, cast in bronze. My emotions changed dramatically as I walked around the sculpture: from the front of the gallery, I felt serene; from the sides, I was appalled but intrigued. Continue reading

Hachiya soft-ripe persimmons
January 8, 2010, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Cook, Eat | Tags: , , ,

When I was younger, my mom used to get persimmons, or gam in Korean, from the Asian grocery in the winter. It was always a treat because they were expensive, and we only had them maybe once a year. I never took to the hard fuyu persimmon variety; I always preferred the pulpy, almost jelly-like texture of the hachiya persimmon. I would wait impatiently for days until the skin of the persimmon would finally give in, yield, to the poke of my always prodding fingers like a loosely-filled water balloon. Mom would cut off the top, hand us a spoon, and we’d eat the fiery sweet flesh directly out of the fruit like pudding, taking care not to puncture the soft red-orange skin, scraping our spoons against the sides to get every last bit.

I’ve noticed hachiya persimmons popping up at local markets in Manhattan, and while I rarely pay $1.50 for one piece of fruit, the childhood memories evoked a longing for the hachiya that I couldn’t shake. I bought three, and today I ate my first soft-ripe persimmon after many many years. It was bliss. Continue reading

Thank you, David Chang, or I heart Momofuku Fried Chicken
August 12, 2009, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Drink, Eat | Tags: , , , , ,

Upon learning that Momofuku Noodle Bar was going to be launching online rezzies for its new fried chicken dinner (or lunch, as it turned out for me), I was ecstatic. There are few deep fried things in life that I dislike, and the thought of triple fried anything makes me swoon a little. Glowing reviews from those lucky enough to partake in the Momofuku dinner only whetted my appetite, and I suffered three excruciating weeks after making my reservation that I finally got to experience David Chang’s chicken wraps in their full glory.

We were warned before ordering that it was going to be a lot of food. Internally, I scoffed. This little waitress has no idea how much we can eat. Fool. Still, I took heed of her warning and refrained from ordering a la carte right away. You can always order more later.

Joe and Natalia decided to try something new and got the steamed buns with pork, chicken, cucumbers, and shiitake mushrooms. They said it was amazing, although I didn’t try it in order to save myself for the triple fried goodness.

Continue reading