If you are new to this blog, please feel free to read the pages linked under the Info section on the left sidebar to get a better feel for what this site’s about. The first, “Offal Offal“, covers the genesis of this blog, while the second, “The Offalo“, gives you a little background on who I am. The third, “Coloffalon“, is just a message to all the nitpickers on the internets. :-)
[For reviews of non-offal foods, check out my other blog, The Offalo!]
I know I haven’t updated this blog in nearly a month. I do have some offal-related meals I have yet to review, including a nearly-all offal meal at UMAMIcatessen, and my second visit to Old Country Cafe [Yelp link]. Real life’s just been busy, but I hope to crank those out by the end of the month. Just posting this brief update to keep myself accountable.
[Sorry for the somewhat complicated title... I figure I'd cover all of my bases in regards to the spelling of the restaurant and the dish itself.]
I’ve been quite lax in updating this blog with my offal-related adventures, so here’s a quicky.
I had a particularly severe bout of insomnia one night. Fortuitously, I did not have to go into work the next day, and in searching for a suitable breakfast for my state of being, I came across a place in Koreatown called Han Bat Sul Lung Tang [Yelp; restaurant has no website] that was supposed to be good for curing hangovers (nine mentions on the first page of Yelp reviews), which was pretty close to how I was feeling.
It was half past nine when I dragged myself into the place. The sign on the storefront was strangely rendered in English, with the first two Korean words combined into one, and strange hyphens prepending the final two words. The middle word was spelled “Shul”, which is apparently wrong, as there is no “sh” or “h” sound in the word. Of course, none of this deterred me from entering the establishment.
Three tables were occupied, and the waitress greeted me in Korean. Unfortunately, I don’t speak it, which I made abundantly clear by shrugging my shoulders and looking confused. She switched to English, somewhat exasperatedly, perhaps assuming I was so Americanized as to not be able to speak my mother tongue. She was somewhat correct, except that I am not Korean, and the language I don’t speak (very well) is Mandarin. :-)
The place basically serves two dishes: sul lung tang (or seolleongtang), a soup made from boiling beef bones for many hours until all the flavors and nutrients are extracted ($8.22, or $9 with tax); soo yook, which is simply described on the menu as “boiled beef” ($16.56, or $18 with tax). You can specify the cuts of meat that is served with each dish. For the latter dish, it’s intestines, tripe, and spleen (all three is one choice), or flank, or mixed. For the former dish, it is the same three choices with the additional option of brisket or tongue. This being an offal-related blog, I went with the intestines, tripe, and spleen with my sul lung tang.
The soup came out pretty quick, all milky white and swimming with meat, scallions, and dangmyeon (clear noodles). It was served with bowls of white rice, kimchi, and kkakdugi (radish kimchi). I tried the soup straight up at first. I was expecting a dense, unctuous stock. Instead I was surprised to find it so mellow. No, it wasn’t delicate like dashi, but it was both mild and full of body. This wasn’t a hangover fighter; it was a hangover diplomat.
Next I tried the two kimchi vegetables. Since it’s supposed to be mixed with the soup, I was somewhat disappointed that the kimchi was not as spicy or tangy as I’d have liked, to help season the somewhat bland soup. Instead, it was rather sweet. I threw the cabbage into the soup, along with the rice, and finally went to work on the meat.
The tripe and intestines were, like the soup, rather mild, though the kimchi helped. The most flavorful of the organ meats was definitely the spleen. It had a spongy consistency that reminded me of a cross of cow lung and liver. Definitely an acquired taste, or, uh, texture, but as one might suspect of someone calling himself an “Offalo”, I had no problems with it. :-)
On the whole, I’m glad to have tried my first sul lung tang, and it did get me out of the sleep-deprived funk I was in, but it didn’t have the bold flavors I associate with Korean food. Even the relatively mild kimchi didn’t add too much to the dish. While I knew it wouldn’t be as hearty and flavorful as haejangguk (literally “soup for relieving hangovers”), at least based on ingredients and recipes (I haven’t had that hangover soup…yet!), I think sul lung tang would actually be better at filling a chicken-soup role. I’m not sure I’d seek the soup out unless I thought it was the cure for what ails me.
Han Bat Sul Lung Tang [Yelp; restaurant has no website]
4163 W 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
I just realized that I hadn’t written an offal review in a while, so I’m here to rectify it. Actually, this post will review both an offal dish and a noffal dish. What is “noffal”? Just a silly neologism for non-offal foods.
I won’t generally review noffal foods on this blog—I prefer to do that on The Offalo—but since I’ll only be reviewing two dishes, I didn’t want to break them up into two micro-reviews on two separate sites. Plus one of the dishes is an acquired taste, just like offal often is.
So, a few weeks ago, I found myself in Pasadena visiting with my wife’s family. When my wife wanted to run to the Jo-ann Fabric in Alhambra, I dropped her off and took the opportunity to go to one of the oldest continuously running Taiwanese restaurants in SGV, Lee’s Garden [Yelp; restaurant has no website].
Growing up, I’d sometimes have duck tongue at the really authentic Chinese restaurants in New York or Boston. I’ll generally give the sliced tongue sandwich at a new-to-me Jewish deli at least one try. And of course, living in Los Angeles, I’ve taken to using a taqueria’s tacos de lengua as a measure of how much I like the place.
So when I went to FIG for the first time a little over a week ago for their FIG at Five promotion (nearly everything 50% off, including drinks, when ordered between 5 PM and 6 PM) and saw the Braised Tongue, Tomatillo, Breakfast Radish [$12, $6 for FIG at Five] on the menu, I knew I had to try it.
As I write this at 12:30 AM Saturday night/Sunday morning, I wonder if the people at Animal, which is open until 1 AM, have been able to order foie gras for the past half hour, since it’s now July 1st and the first day that the foie gras ban is in effect. I’m also trying to imagine just how much extra business restaurants serving foie have been doing this weekend. And I’m wondering how many restaurants will pay the $1,000/day fine to continue serving foie.
Mostly, though, I am hesitant in posting this post, wondering if it’s cruel to post a review of three dishes my readers won’t be able to order anymore. Well, I have to cut my teeth on this new food blogging thing I’m doing somehow, and who knows if the ban may someday be repealed, allowing these dishes to come back. So here goes.
This weekend I lunched at Providence on Friday, brunched at Petrossian this morning, and then dinnered dined at FIG earlier this evening. I was solo at Providence, but with my family otherwise, and therefore got to sample a multitude of dishes at the latter two restaurants. However, I will be focusing only on dishes that contained foie gras in this blog, since it is liver, which is offal (and awfully good).
With one week left to enjoy this delicacy in California (legally), I hope this post, as well as my previous post focused on foie gras, will help those of you in the Los Angeles area who want to get a last taste but are having trouble deciding where to go.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Californa is banning foie gras starting July 1, 2012. I’d link to articles discussing it, but nearly all of them are biased toward one viewpoint or the other. I will not get into a debate about it on my blog. Suffice it to say, I do eat foie gras, and I’ll leave it at that.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to hit restaurants that I haven’t been before to have their signature foie gras dishes. These visits have served double duty as I get to have a new experience at each of these places, and I get a few last tastes of foie gras before the ban. A week ago, I had three very different foie gras dishes at three very different restaurants.