Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Korean version of Chinese at Shanghai Mong

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Korean-Chinese restaurants are usually frequented for a few specific dishes: tangsuyuk, a version of sweet-and-sour pork; jjamppong, a spicy noodle soup with an alarmingly red-colored broth; and jajangmyeon, above, a noodle dish kin to the Chinese zhajiang mien. Typically the sauce for jajangmyeon is gloppier in texture—in a good way—and it is not sweet like Chinese versions that have hoisin sauce in the mix. One of the primary ingredients is a paste of roasted soybeans, which gives the sauce its dark, almost black color; there's also pork and/or bits of seafood, and lots of soft, slow-cooked onions. It's served alongside kimchi, pieces of raw white onion to dip in vinegar, and yellow half-moons of takuan. A person who's only eaten the Chinese renditions of tangsuyuk, jjamppong, or jjangmyeon might find these dishes all very familiar, but also distinctly Korean. For me they are different items altogether.

I had the above bowl of noodles with TL at Shanghai Mong, which is one of the more popular Korean-Chinese restaurants in K-town, and thought it was okay. It satisfied my craving, but in the end it sort of lacked oomph. I think there are better places for this dish out there.
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I enjoyed the boiled dumplings we ordered, though, which were plump and filled with pork and chives. We had gotten them as a side dish/appetizer but TL commented later that there was enough in one order to constitute a meal. He was right—I could have foregone the noodles and happily scarfed them down instead.

11 comments:

  1. You're confirming my most recent K-town experience; I ate the food and thought it wasn't all that. I think I'm spoiled by my proximity to Flushing. :) Next time you have a craving, try this place in Flushing:

    Sam Won Gahk
    144-20 Northern Blvd
    Flushing, NY 11354

    It's good for Korean-Chinese dishes. Here's a blog post about it:

    http://www.roboppy.net/food/2008/02/korean-chinese_in_flushing_sam_won_gahk.html

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  2. Hmm, will have to check it out! There's also a place on 35th Street on the other side of Broadway that I like, but I didn't know the name of it, so didn't mention it. I should figure that out.

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  3. oooh, do you guys know of any other places in manhattan that serve jajangmyeon?

    I love that dish but havent had it much as I usually only have it in queens but hardly ever get down there anymore. thanks!

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  4. A ha, I was thinking of Hyo Dong Gak…I remember liking their jajangmyeon a lot more. Anon, this is near Ktown!

    http://www.menupages.com/restaurantdetails?restaurantid=4111

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  5. i find that it's all about the noodles. once i went to a place in k-town and they served it with spaghetti noodles – travesty! but i've had a very good version with great hand-pulled noodles at lan zhou ("jia jian" noodles) in chinatown.

    Lam Zhou
    144 East Broadway, New York NY 10002

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  6. Anon, I've been meaning to try Lam Zhou for a while now. The noodles you're talking about aren't Korean style though but Chinese, yes?

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  7. @soopling

    they are almost identical. the sauce doesn't have seafood or that many onions, but it's still similar in taste. as for the actual noodles, their texture is great – chewy, sticky.

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  8. all the jajangmyeon i've had here in Seoul seems to be using machine made noodles. I've been curious to try the Chinese version since my common refrain to my Korean friends here is "jajangmyeon is NOT Chinese"...

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  9. Yah, do Koreans even do much of the hand-pulled thing? I've only ever associated it with Chinese noodles.

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  10. Since coming back from Korea I've been in withdrawal from Korean food...I miss it so much! ...any suggestions of good places...? specifically up state?

    And even though Jajangmyeon is not Korean...It grew on me...people kept trying to take me for some when I was in Korea...

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