Thursday, January 12, 2006

the hunt for the perfect t'ang-su-yuk

I asked my students where I could find the best damn t'ang-su-yuk (Korean-style sweet/sour pork) in the area, and they recommended a restaurant called Jeong, located fairly close to campus. I went there this evening and tried their specialty: spicy t'ang-su-yuk. It comes laden with sliced hot green chili peppers, and a few red chilis thrown in.

Verdict: at W11,000 for such a modest portion, it wasn't worth the price, but if we drop price considerations and concentrate on quality, then this dish was certainly a step above the normal fare. It wasn't stellar, though; top honors still go to the Chinese restaurant recommended to me long ago by Charlie the KimcheeGI. That resto, called Myeong Hwa Something-or-other (I never could recognize the third hanja in the name), is a ratty little dive, but it serves the best fucking t'ang-su-yuk I've ever had. The batter is lighter and crunchier than normal, and the sauce is lighter and sweeter than what you'd expect. Charlie wasn't bullshitting when he called it the best. The restaurant is popular, too: almost always crowded, and you're probably going to have to wait a few minutes outside before they give you a seat. People don't go there for the atmosphere (the place is run by large, sweaty, East German-looking adjummas, and the ambience screams "hole in the wall"); they're there for the eats.

So: Jeong scores-- somewhat-- on quality, but not overall value. Myeong Hwa Something-or-other is still the place to beat, and its t'ang-su-yuk is better than Jeong's.



Anonymous said...

where can i find that Myeong Hwa Something?

Kevin Kim said...

It's very close to Samgakji Station. I wish I knew the exit number, but if you go out a certain exit from Samgakji Station and start walking in the direction of Sookmyung Women's University, you'll hit the restaurant (it'll be on your right side) less than 100 meters from the exit.

The restaurant's easy to miss, but the hanja above the entrance are written large. Let me see about getting you an exit number and photoblogging the restaurant itself.

Oh, yeah-- I tried to take my parents there one evening last October, but the restaurant was, bizarrely, closed to new customers as of 7:30PM. That sucked. The place does a brisk business when they're open, though, so it's often crowded throughout the day; I recommend showing up at a relatively awkward, low-traffic hour, like, say, 3PM.


Kevin Kim said...

Unless they also close between lunch and dinner, of course. I should find that out. Maybe that's the secret to getting crowds: restricting the hours of operation.