Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hangari Kalgooksu -- carbo overload Korean style

Hangari Kalgooksu

9916 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844
(714) 537-0100

Every cuisine has its own comfort food and to me, a bowl of noodles regardless of region is always soothing on a cold day. Located in Orange County's Koreatown, Garden Grove, Hangari Kalgooksu serves its namesake, kalgooksu, or soup noodles. The restaurant is clean and bright, the clientele, all Korean. At first I felt a tad intimidated by the paper place mat with the menu all in Korean printed on it. I was thinking it's going to be a challenge ordering today. I then took a photo of the menu and texted it to a girlfriend to see if she could make light of it.

When my friends arrived, they were the ones who found the English menu on the table on the other side of the Korean menu. Yes, it's too early in the morning for me. After perusing and discussing, we decided on three items to share... the #1 which was kalgooksu -- seafood noodles in soup, #2 jangtuhgooksu -- noodles with vegetables was what we were told, and #7 ddukmandoogook -- dumplings with rice cakes in soup. A small tureen of kimchi was brought out and believe it or not, it was positively THE BEST kimchi I've ever tasted. Here, they use bok choy instead of napa cabbage and the texture is lovely.The spice was also perfect with just the right amount of kick even my 8 year old was eating it up.

A small plate of steamed barley was brought out for each of us. We ate it with the kimchi and it was delicious. The barley was nutty and textural-wise and while eating it I was wondering why other restaurants didn't serve it like that.

The noodles soon arrived piping hot in earthen bowls. Kalgooksu was quite tasty with slices of king oyster mushroom, shrimp, seaweed, scallions. Ddukmandoogook had dumplings and rice cake ovalettes in it. And while jangtuhgooksu looked the prettiest, it appealed the least to all of us. The noodles were thin somen noodles and were too mushy. It also soaked up a lot of the broth too quickly. We left most of that uneaten. Everyone agreed that the kalgooksu was far better. Mandoo, or dumplings, were outstanding as I was told, since I never got to them in time. My son ended up eating the dumplings and nothing else so I'm certain the dumplings were fantastic. This kid has a palate like no other kid his age.

The noodles are accompanied with a small plate of chili paste which you can add to your noodles at your own leisure. There are also 3 jars of different chili concoctions on the table, including sea salt should you need more to season your noodles. This way, everyone can season their own noodles according to their own taste. I liked the one with the chopped chilis because it was on the spicy side and I love spicy foods.

Hangari Kalgooksu is wonderful for a hearty lunch with family as their portions are large enough to share. Other items on the menu are various tempura, steamed mandoo and fried mandoo. Next time, we'll definitely get a platter of the steamed mandoo and tempura, but we'll have to bring a few more friends along to share in the festivities!


brian said...

usually barley rice was served as poor man's rice. i think koreans generally want to move on from that point of history psychically. but my family likes barley rice a lot, it tastes really good.

siaodofu said...

yeah i love it too! i'm never sure if it's okay etiquette to ask for a 2nd helping