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Monday, December 26, 2011

Korea Roundup 2011: Attention Spice Lovers, These Noodles are for You

If you asked me whether I was a jjajangmyun or jjamppong-kind of person, I'd say jjajangmyun in a heartbeat. But it's rare that you find a restaurant that only serves the latter so I got curious. Both are staple noodle dishes served in Korean Chinese establishments. This place called itself Hong Kong Ban Jeom 0410, and proclaimed itself famous for this seafood noodle dish, usually served in a red hot broth reflecting its heat level.

I had the regular jjamppong that was a panoply of pork strips, mussels, squid, kimchi and zucchini, brought together by an intensely spicy broth that tasted like the sea. The noodles were done just right and helped to balance out the spiciness.

What was interesting was that this joint served variations on the classic jjamppong, namely broth-less stir-fried jjamppong and jjamppong fried rice. Hard to believe no one's thought of that so far, right? The stir-fried jjamppong was basically the same ingredients (except shrimp, carrots, mushrooms and green onions added) as my noodle soup except they were stir-fried and not as spicy. It was excellent and gave jjamppong another dimension I hadn't appreciated before.

No outing to a Korean Chinese restaurant is complete without a taste of its tangsuyook -- deep fried pieces of pork or beef smothered in a salty and sweet sauce (not sweet and sour, mind you). The beef morsels were tender, unlike many joints that skimp on the quality of the meat and mask it with dough and globs of disgusting sauce. The sauce was just gooey enough and had the right amount of sweetness.

Despite it being a lot of food, we diligently finished it off, especially me with my spicy noodle soup, although I think it isn't for the weak of stomachs. It's potent so beware.

It was an amazing deal at less than $4 for my noodles... I predict a rant pending about the quality of jjamppongs in LA.

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