Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Black bean noodles (Son Ja Jang)

Jajangmyeon (from Son Ja Jang)

Remember how a few months ago I told you to go to Shanghai Mong to get black bean noodles? That they were the bees knees of black starchy concoctions... that they made me cream myself just at the thought of sauce drenched noodles (maybe this is why Google AdSense thinks I'm writing an 'Adult' blog)? Well I'm sorry. I was wrong. While their version is undoubtedly solid (and delicious if you're also going to get some sweet-ass tangsuyuk), it's not worthy as a destination by itself. To be fair, I also told you it looks like poo, so if you listened to me... there is something wrong with you. Or with me. Who knows? Anyway, to make amends for this - lemme tell you about a tight little noodle shop hidden in the back of generic - which is not to say it's bad - Korean barbecue joint. Tonight... we dine in Hell. This... is... Spartaaa! Wait, no. That's not right.

Looks like a puddle of black

mmm. Look how much that looks like poo. You can't unthink it now!

Tucked away behind the main storefront of Muk Eun Ji is a tiny operation by the name of Son Ja Jang. There are literally three dudes in a glass paneled room bitch slapping the shit out of hunks of dough. There's a certain musical quality that accompanies the punishment they dole out on that dough. A symphony of abuse if you will. After a few minutes, you'll get the bowl you see above. Tender strands of noodle that go on forevertown, with a certain snappiness that seems reminiscent of a rubberband. If there were a bowl of noodles I would consider eating plain, devoid of any sauce or toppings, it would be this one. It is, simply put, amazeballs.

Mix that shit up good

Then you mix that shit all up good. Really fuck it up. If the waitress doesn't offer, ask her to take a pair of scissors to it. Those glorious noodles are far too unwieldy once sauced on for you to tackle without being cut. The end result is this bowl of poo noodles. Shredded hunks of oh-so-fatty beef, sauteed onions, and some sweet-ass sauce of unknown origins (just kidding, it's black bean). The subtle sweetness of the sauce mixed with the richness of the beef blend into a beautiful session of lovemaking with the noodles. It is not sensual, it is straight carnal. No need to mince words.

Those three chilis...

You might look at their menu and think "hey, there's another one that's a dollar more called 'pul' jajangmyeonn. I be that because it costs more, it tastes beter!" Shut up. You don't know what you're getting yourself into. Those three chilis? They are not fucking kidding. The first time I went, I thought that I liked spicy food - that there was no way you could elevate plain black bean noodles to an undocumented level of pain with just the addition of chili oil. I was very wrong. Very very wrong. While it's built on the same platform of delicious bouncy noodles, the sauce is enough to transform a grown man's face into a waterfall of salt water and snot. I've eaten ghost chili cheesesteak, ghost chili hot wings, and more capsaicin than the average person multiple times over, but dear god I couldn't stomach the entire bowl. It is painful going in, and it will destroy your butthole going out. Do not try to prove something here, just get the regular noodles. That's how spicy it is. Me, the cheapest person ever, took a few bites and wrote off those $9 as lost forever.

Fried dumplings

They also have fried dumplings. Don't bother. These just make me sad (and pale in comparison to the glory of the Hypnotoad... by which I mean the jajangmyeon). The skin is uniform in toughness and blandness - and oh there's the a lot of it, and the filling is nondescript and boring. Plus they cost like $8. What an ass-clown deal that is. I could get 40 really good dumplings from Chinatown for that price. Besides, if we're allocating our distribution of carbs, you really should be focusing on the black bean noodles here. Anyway, this here ends my apology post - ignore what I said about Shanghai Mong having killer black bean noodles. Son Ja Jang? That shit's my jam yo.

tl;dr - looking for killer black bean noodles with the finest in hand pulled noodle technology? Ignore the barbecue at Muk Eun Ji and go for the alternate Son Ja Jang menu. Don't get the spicy noodle bowl. You're really just paying an extra dollar to singe some ass hairs. Unless you like that sort of thing. I won't judge.

Son Ja Jang (in same space as Muk Eun Ji)
34 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Claypot Rice (Noodle Village)

So green and beefy

Driven to the brink of insanity and frostbite at home (my dad is very Asian in case you didn't know), I'm making my triumphant return to food blogging - if only to reap the heat being emanated from my laptop's keyboard - to tell you about a glorious bowl of rice and beef, whose flavor can only hope to be contained by an enormous ceramic bowl that is so hot that you'll inevitably burn yourself. Anyway, having recently graduated from college (sort of), I have a certain nostalgia for cooking my meals - start to finish - in a rice cooker. While part of that was due to my laziness and another part was due to sheer ineptitude, there was still something fantastically magical about shoving a bunch o' junk into a blazing hot metal pot and being presented with a debatably edible meal after a bit of entertaining myself (wink wink nudge nudge). It's like the tides, you can't explain that. While I certainly didn't die of malnutrition from my escapades in culinary brilliance, nothing I made was ever all that impressive or flavorful. Usually the meats would come out bland, the vegetables overly mushy, and the rice inconsistent. The premise was solid, the execution was shitty. That is... until I came across Noodle Village late last year. Those bros execute to fucking perfection.

So green and beefy

Look at this shit. Are your nipples hard yet? Is that just me? Maybe it's just because my house is currently 36 degrees... I don't know... I'm not a doctor and I can't tell you these things. What I can tell you is that some facet of my current arousal is due to the photo you see above. A bowl of pure sensuality. A veritable quartet of quartet of flavors - tender, rich, and fatty slices of beef splashed with a hint of sesame oil and soy sauce, a few florets of broccoli and scallion pieces to make it look all healthy and add texture, a blend of lap cheong, mushroom, and fried onions to add another layer to the flavor, and some fluffy-ass rice with an edge so crusty you'd swear it has a sexually transmitted disease. Mmm. Dat bowl. Blend all that shit together and you have a flavor profile so clean yet so complex that you simply can't comprehend why it tastes so good. The components are bland on their own, but when put in a clay pot and fired under pressure, it becomes a masterful piece of culinary work.

Scallion pancake... doughnut?

For some assclown reason, my brain thought a giant bowl of rice the size of a wall clock wouldn't be sufficient to satiate my hunger... so I also ordered scallion pancakes. When they brought this nonsense out, I was ready to flip some tables. What the fuck is this noise? WHY DID YOU BRING ME A DOUGHNUT YOU CRAZY WOMAN?!?

Treasure trove of scallions

Apparently this is just how they do scallion pancakes there. Is this Cantonese style or something? I dunno, I felt uncomfortable with this unexpected twist in my meal. What I wanted was thin and crispy layers of dough dotted with scallions, fried in the fattest of fats. What I ended up with was a pseudo-doughnut with weirdly textured uncooked dough in the middle. Did I finish eating it? Of course - I would never waste carbs. Did I enjoy it? Of course - I enjoy all carbs. That said, I probably wouldn't order it again. It's weird. Stop doing that Noodle Village, shit is cray.


This has nothing to do with nothing. I just think it's incredible that Noodle Village has some sort of dessert called 'INFINITE CREAMY ICE.' That's a bold-ass promise. Nothing in this world is truly infinite, so the fact that a random Chinese breakfast joint is promising a shaved ice dessert with an infinite amount of creaminess is suspect. Next time I return, I shall try it, for you - the readers, and maybe... just maybe, their infinite creamy will make me cream infinitely. Until next time, sweater monkeys.

tl;dr - if you like rice, you should go to Noodle Village. They have a big bowl of crispy rice that comes with meat that is es muy delicious. If Roger Ebert rated things I do, it would probably be worth three tits. Maybe three and a half.

Noodle Village
13 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013