I loved Korean so much at Kayagum that I moved up the street for some more at Song Cooks!
This time the highlight of the show is a not-so-fancy dish, but one filled with lots of history, called Army Stew or budae jjigae (부대찌개).
This is one of the few Korean restaurants that have two seating options, you can either sit at a normal table with chairs or go the traditional route and sit on the floor on top of mats. Most visitors opt for the chairs as it is more comfortable for those who have never tried sitting for a prolonged period on the floor.
Personally, I think having a booty helps when sitting on the floor as it provides a nice natural cushion to rest on. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.
♫♪ Because you know I’m all about that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble. ♫♪
Anyway, back to the food.
I tried four dishes, the NuRoongJiTang, Budae Jjigae, Gamjatang and the old school Jajangmyeon.
If you haven’t visited Korean restaurants as frequently as I, here’s my simple translation of all those dishes.
NuRoongJiTang: Rice crispies thrown into a corn starch thickened broth with a medley of vegetables
Budae Jjigae: A collection of the all the canned meat from your pantry thrown into a spicy broth with noodles and rice cakes (ddeokbokki)
Gamjatang: Pork Bones in a spicy broth
Jajangmyeon: Noodles in a thick black soy bean sauce with pieces of pork and vegetables.
This is my first time trying some of the other lesser known Korean dishes and I have to say it wasn’t bad. The NuRoongJiTang is one of the few Korean dishes without the signature gochujang that I would order again as it was still very flavourful. If you remember, I tried a mul naengmyeon at Kayagum and I felt it was rather bland in comparison to the spicy version.
The budae jjigae tasted exactly like what I do to my Nongshim Instant Noodles to get a quick lunch (yes, I eat instant noodles sometimes too). But then again, if you understand the history of the dish, it was never meant to be fancy anyway. Shortly after the Korean war, resources for food were scarce so people had to resort to the American rations to make food. This resulted in a gochujang stew made with hot dogs, ham and the iconic Spam. The budae jjigae at Song Cooks comes with some instant noodles, ddeokbokki (rice cakes), tofu, green onion, jalapenos and kimchi in it as well, making for a very hearty stew.
The jajangmyeon was interesting to me because its flavour profile is very different from most of the Korean dishes that I’ve tried. Interestingly, I’ve had the Chinese zhajiangmian and it’s actually quite different in flavour. The Korean one I find is sweeter and the beans they use differ, making the dish quite unique to the Chinese counterpart. Jajang or zhajiang means fried sauce, which is how the sauce is made before pouring it over the noodles.
From the two visits that I took to make this post, the staff here have been consistently friendly and attentive to making sure you are well stocked in fresh tea and banchan. Definitely a big plus to the environment!
Until we dine again,
-The Piquey Eater