Most weeks, by the time Friday rolls around, I’m beat and like to unwind by eating. (Yes, I know…) Sometimes, like last week, I ring in the weekend with a snack like a cupcake or cheesecake (or both) and other times, like this week, it’s with a whole feast. The kind that makes you look around to make sure no one is watching when you undo the top button on your pants.
Korea town was just a few blocks from where we were, and a couple of restaurants on 32nd street, between Fifth Ave. and Broadway in the most concentrated part of K-Town, were on my to-do list so that’s where we headed.
Maybe it was because of the nasty cold rain steadily coming down outside, but the second we walked in to Kang Suh I felt that we had made the right choice. A great choice. A warm and delicious smelling choice.
The menu was huge, an encyclopedia of Korean eats and sushi. Two asian girls at the table next to us had a dozen different dishes, bowls and what looked like a skillet before them. I wanted to lean over and say, “Hey, would you guys mind ordering for us? Cause your table looks awesome.” But I didn’t. Cause really, that would be awkward.
So after lots of flipping back and forth through the menu, bargaining and strategizing with Flaneur, we were ready when the waitress came by for our order.
We decided to split an appetizer but before it came, a waiter came by with a tray full of small plates which he arranged across our table before walking away without comment.
“What is this stuff?”
“I dunno. Let’s eat it.”
From left to right in the picture, the first dish seemed to be some sort of hot peppers. So hot that Flaneur practically spit his out and said I could eat all them. (And I did.) Next, on the top was some sort of fish bits in a sweet teriyaki style sauce. The plate below it was full of tangy, slightly spicy cabbage leaves. The middle plate had soy sauce with what appeared to be scallions and possibly something else. (Garlic maybe?) Next to it on the top were some mixed pickled vegetable strips. Below it was something that tasted like shellfish and cucumber. (Flaneur’s allergic to shellfish so I never got a second opinion.) Finally, on the right was a broccoli type green veggie. I’m a little unsure about everything because like I said we never ordered it. It just came mysteriously with no explanation. But it was good and that was enough for me.
Next out was our appetizer, the tasty-as-all-hell mandoo gui. Fried to a crispy golden brown on the outside and stuffed full with beef, these things were addictive. Sometimes dumplings are greasy (if they’re fried) or have that rubbery, almost greyish dough on the outside but these had neither. They were pretty perfect if you ask me.
Flaneur’s entree came out first, but it didn’t matter because we /I had decided to split both main courses. Japchae, Korean starch noodles fried with vegetables and beef seasoned in soy sauce came in a giant mound and were delicious. It was hard to keep myself from shoveling it all down my throat in one sitting but I managed to restrain myself.
Next came my pick, which I have to admit was something I chose because it sounded a little unusual, like something I’d never had before: Heukyomso Tang, a spicy stew of black goat meat with pepper, sesame leaves and vegetables served with rice. It came in a black cast iron pot with thick swirls of steam billowing out of it. One of those things that makes people at other tables look over and wonder what you’re eating. With the dreary wet weather outside, this was the perfect thing to be eating.
When we were finally done eating our table looked like a deserted battle field: all empty plates, abandoned chopsticks, stray noodles stuck to dishes, stew dripping over the side of the mini-cauldron. And then there was us, almost panting, bellies full, pants just a little tighter. Although the rain was unrelentling and I could see the wind snapping people’s umbrellas’s inside out, I was prepared to deal with the walk home. I was full and happy, just the way I like to be after my kick-off to the weekend.