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Gahm Mi Oak (Manhattan, NY) – Sul Lung Tang for the Soul

December 12, 2009

I’m a California girl, born and raised. During my entire 24 years on this earth, I’ve lived in a 30-mile radius of Downtown LA my entire life, growing up under the glow of the California sun.

Cold weather? What’s that?

Well, Day One in NYC was a wake-up call for me. Last night, temperatures dropped to below freezing and I was, to put it simply, REALLY EFFING COLD. (Did you know people actually go outside when it’s 29 degrees out? Can you believe that I ACTUALLY WENT OUTSIDE when it was 29 degrees out?!) I obviously needed something to warm me up. Not only did I need something warm, but I had Korean on my mind.

When I think of hot Korean food, two things come to mind: soondubu (i.e. Korean tofu) and sul lung tang (to be described below). Now I eat soondubu all the freaking time – I’ll have it on a monthly basis, if not more often than that. Sul lung tang, on the other hand, I don’t enjoy as frequently. Thus, I figured it was time to give it another go.

For those who are wondering: “Sul lung tang – what is that?” Well, according to Wikipedia (around which my world revolves), sul lung tang is:

“A Korean soup made from the bones of the four legs of an ox, with the front legs giving better taste. It is typically cooked over a period of several hours to an entire day, to allow the flavor to be gradually extracted from the bones. It has a milky off-white, cloudy appearance and is normally eaten together with rice and several side dishes; the rice may be added directly to the soup. Generally, only salt and welsh onions are used as seasoning. Usually, ground black pepper is served with the dish.”

…And that’s exactly what I got. A big bowl of milky broth (rice already added) and a big ole side of their house-made kimchi and pickled radishes.

The first time I had sul lung tang, I didn’t realize that you had to season the dish to your tastes. I just had a sip or two, thought it was super bland and left disappointed. However, this time I knew better and made sure to thoroughly salt and pepper the soup, as well as add a heaping pile of green onions to my mix. The resulting concoction was a lot more appetizing (to the eye and to the mouth), although it still lacked that depth I was looking for. Fear not, as the lack of depth in the soup was entirely compensated (and then some) by their house-made kimchi.

Oh. My. God. Their kimchi is effing awesome.

I ate the whole plate by myself. I was tempted to ask for more but didn’t want to come off as a fatty (I was eating by myself so none of that “My dining companion *cough* me *cough* would really like some more kimchi!”), so I instead I rationed out little pieces to ensure it lasted until the end.

At the end of my meal, I was full and warm and happy. That was, until I left the restaurant and went back outside…then I was just full and happy.

(Man, NYC is COLD!)

Gahm Mi Oak Restaurant
43 W 32nd St
New York, NY 10001
(212) 695-4113

Gahm Mi Oak on Urbanspoon