I am so lucky to be living with someone who loves Korean food (and dramas) as much as I do. And maybe a little bit more!
That means that, after having a delicious meal at one of the local Korean restaurants she is more than happy to encourage my exploring the art of home-cooked Korean cuisine. *Hint Hint* There is going to be a series of Korean recipe posts starting soon!
In our immediate area there are 3 Korean places. We picked the one that happened to be open during the apparently odd eating hour of 3pm. It is called Jang Soo Jang. We knew we were in for a treat when we drove into the parking lot and had to navigate through a crowd of Korean college students streaming out the doors. We parked as we surreptitiously spied on the natives of our cultural obsession.
The inside of the restaurant was very minimal and clean. A few Asian decorations here and there, nothing very Korean or distinct. But the menu offered all the variety that the décor lacked. From soups (guk) to noodle dishes to hotstone bibimbap and several Korean beverages I’ve never heard of before, but that Cortney said were delicious.
After much deliberation I ordered the ManduDdeokGuk (dumpling and rice cake soup) over the Jjajjangmyeon which handwritten printer paper signs declared they “Now Served”. Cortney ordered the Dolsot Bibimbap (Hot stone bowl beef and veggies over rice).
Our food came out quickly and the banchan were diverse and plentiful (with one free refill each. Booyah!) My soup was subtly rich and had a slow growing heat in the broth. The mandu were stuffed nicely with ground pork and went with the rice cakes ohsonicely (though I am saddened to report there were only 3 or 4 dumplings in the huge bowl.) The huge portion served to me filled me up to the overflow level and there was still some broth and ddeok leftover.
Cortney JUST managed to stuff all of her bibimbap into her mouth before calling it quits. That didn’t leave us much room for the banchan, unfortunately. Though during our gorgings we managed to spare room for the gamja jorim (potatoes in soy sauce and sugar), the soybean side dish, and the marinated broccoli. Of course there was also the kimchi banchan, but that hardly counts as extra food, now does it? XD The only banchan we weren’t a fan of was what I could only assume was fish cakes or perhaps tofu in fish sauce. Either way it was too fishy for me to enjoy much, though overall it wasn’t unpleasant. That would be a banchan to get accustomed to slowly.
Overall, the service was quick, the restaurant was pleasant, and the food was delicious. While we still want to check out the others in our area, we will be coming back to Jang Soo Jang.