Whoever said that "too much of a good thing is a bad thing" is an absolute moron. Case in point... Korean food. There's no such thing as too much Korean food. I don't care if my stomach is on the verge of exploding, spicy rice cake doesn't get any less delicious. True story. In continuation of the "where I freeload off of Serious Eats" series (part 1 on doughnuts here), I showed up out of the blue when I heard that the SE gang was going to sample the various restaurants of Food Gallery 32. In my head I figured that a few people would go, we'd each get what we wanted to try, and we'd sit down in a small huddle and talk about our feelings... and maybe discuss the food too. What ended up happening was the greatest shit show ever.
When normal people think lunch... it's a singular dish. Maybe add in a side if you're super hungry/fat. I figured that for people whose lives revolve around food, maybe a little bit more than that was required per person. But to Ed Levine, lunch is nothing to fuck around with. As we walked from stall to stall getting "samples" from each, I started tallying the number of dishes... by the time we reached the fourth (of seven) stalls, I realized the stupidly ridiculous amount of food that was ordered. There were like eight people eating, but for some reason we ended up with about 30 items. Oh snap, shit was on. Forreals.
Just look at that awesome spread. Do you know how many tables it took for us to hold everything? Fourteen. I don't know if you've ever seen 14 tables full of Asian food before, but let me assure you... it's every bit as awesome as it sounds. Anyhoo, instead of making this post informative or something remotely useful, I'm going to hammer you with photos of random foods that I happened to like. I might even tell you where they're from... but I honestly don't really remember that much. I kind of just shoveled stuff in my mouth as I walked around the table.
Pork belly is a good start to any meal. The SE peeps got a few appetizers from Boon Sik Zip, and this was one of them. I'm pretty sure there's no way to really screw up pork and fat, so... uh, this was good? I would eat it again.
SPICY RICE CAKE. Lookit how red and seductive that is. Doesn't it just get you all hot and bothered? These were from the same place. These weren't fantastic (according to everyone else eating), but let's be real here. I am Asian. I like things made out of rice. If you roll it in some sweet and spicy sauce, I really don't have any complaints. Again, nothing out of this world, but I thought it was decent.
All was not peachy. Their soondae (blood sausage) kind of sucked. The sticky rice inside was kind of... grainy, and the outer intestinal casing was really paper-like. Top it off with the fact that blood sausage without sauce is normally bland, and basically I was completely disenchanted with this dish from bite number one. Oh well, can't win 'em all.
Then I moved onto the entrees...
I don't remember eating this, nor do I know where it's from. It's probably for the best. I spy squid or something in there. I would've been scratching for hours from allergies.
Then starts the stuff we got from O-de-ppang!. Yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name, because they're just happy to be there. I thought these were awesome when I first saw them. I mean, I like rice balls in general. When you shape them into small little hearts, it's beyond cute. Mind = blown. I was actually super amped to try these, so when I finally did... I took a massive bite. Big mistake. They're filled with tiny anchovies that are beyond salty. Despite their cute outer appearance, these things taste like crap. Crap that's encrusted with enough salt to give you hypertension. AVOID.
There was also a pork cutlet dish, served too ways. I want to say it was either from Pastel or O-de-ppang!, but I can't say with 100% certainty. Anyway, one was served with curry gravy, and the other with Kewpie mayo. God that shit is like crack. I just want to rub it all over my face in the vicinity of my mouth so I can lick it once in a while. Go ahead, judge me. As for the cutlets... I don't remembered much about them. I had like one bite of each. I wasn't revolted, so I guess they must've been okay. Plus one had Kewpie mayo... there's no way that was bad.
And some spicy pork from O-de-ppang!. Fuck, the one bad thing about eating so much freakin' food at once is that I remember virtually nothing about any of them, but I know that collectively it was awesome.
This was different though. I don't know the exact name, but we got a beef gratin dish from Pastel. You remember as a kid... when you thought that Hamburger Helper was the tits? No? Well maybe that was just me. I have fond memories of that ground beef goop + powdered sauce over noodles. Anyway, this was like Hamburger Helper gone right. They took thinly sliced beef and vegetables, mixed it with sweet and savory bulgogi sauce, melted some cheese into it, and dropped it on a bowl of rice. Holy batman was it good. This might've been one of the only dishes that was completely gone by the end of the meal.
Katsu curry from... somewhere. I remember eating a lot of this actually, but I can't remember a darned thing about it. Meh. That's pretty much all I have to say.
What Korean meal would be complete without bibimbap. This came from Hanok, and it was pretty generic average bibimbap. When it really comes down to it, it's really no more than mixed vegetables and crispy rice. Not bad, but it definitely didn't have anything that set it apart from the versions I've had in the past. They deserve bonus points for their aesthetic element though. When it first arrives, there's a paper ring that sits on the outside of the bowl cautioning that you should be careful of burns. Thoughtful right?
One of the few dishes that was actually phenomenal was the LA Galbi from Hanok. Fantastically seasoned, the beef on these ribs was the perfect blend of fatty, tendons, and just soft-to-the-bone beef. I only got to have two of these puppies, but that's only because everyone else loved them too.
It wasn't quite Black Day yet (exactly one week from now ಥ_ಥ), but I'm down with eating bean paste noodles pretty much anytime. There's something about that sweet and heavy sauce that just sits well with me. I don't even care that it makes my teeth look ridiculous for the hour after, that shit is delicious. Jin Jja Roo's version probably isn't the best around, hell... I know there's a better one at Hyo Dong Gak or Shanghai Mong across the street, but it's definitely not bad considering it's from a food court. Part of it might've been the fact that since we were all taking pictures, no one mixed the noodles until they all congealed together. PHOTOGRAPHER FAIL.
We also got some khan poong gi from there. It's basically fried chicken with a sticky sweet garlic sauce topping. Most of the people said it was just okay, but I absolutely loved it. There's just something about frying chicken and coating it with sauce that I can't resist... case in point General Tso's chicken, chili chicken, orange chicken, sesame chicken - you get the point. While everyone else was walking around the table sampling other crap, I pretty much parked myself next to the khan poong gi and went to fucking town. Killed 75% of the dish solo... super easy.
If you thought that was a buttload of food, you don't even know. After we failed to finish 50% of the food we ordered, Ed began ordering dessert crepes from the place upstairs. Yes, because what I need after stuffing my gut with rice and all that jazz is soft crepes filled with ice cream.
What's the point of this post? Nothing much, part of it is guilt that I've fallen so behind on blogging and just want to get caught up. Another part of it is just to share some Korean food porn. Most of it is just to make you guys jealous. What? My side job is awesome.