Korean treats: ‘Sundubu-Jjigae’ or soft tofu stew (left) and colorful ‘Bibimbap’ (right). — Photos by Kenny Mah
Thursday 29 Sep 2022 8:29 AM JT
KUALA LUMPUR, September 29 — Hissing and slightly steaming, the two dishes arrive at our table as the perfect cure for a hangover.
A bowl of spicy-red stew with islands of tofu and streams of egg wire. A clay pot of rice topped with a riot of colors.
This is exactly what you want to revive after a night out.
But the sun is shining – it’s late in the morning – and we haven’t been to any cafes to drink. On the contrary, my boyfriend and I had just finished an intense workout at the gym. What we needed was not to revive, but to refuel.
So we find ourselves in Desa Sri Hartamas, after miraculously securing a parking space, and walk to this unassuming restaurant with a big yellow signage: Shin Yangpyung Haejang-Guk.
It’s a Korean restaurant in a neighborhood that has a lot of them, but an encouraging sign, when we walked in, is that the place is almost full already an hour before lunch time. Every patron except us is Korean which should speak to the authenticity of the food here.
Shin Yangpyung Haejang-Guk has big yellow signage, so it’s easy to spot this Korean restaurant.
We are offered a table next to the entrance, with lots of natural light. The servers bring a pitcher of chilled water (I saw a photo of Psy, he of “Gangnam Style” fame, just under the lid) along with the menus.
There are plenty of soups here – from the signature Haejang-guk (beef tripe soup) to the customs pliers (beef soup). the impressive Seonji TeukHaejang-guk (Korean oxblood and special beef tripe soup) tempts us, but it feels way too early in the day for offal.
Instead, the restaurant’s name refers to ? yangpyeong haejangguk or “hangover soup” in Korean. This dish is typically a guk (“soup” in Korean) based on a beef broth. Meat (sometimes including sliced congealed ox blood as in the aforementioned Seonji Teuk Haejang-guk), vegetables and dried cabbage.
Happy guests enjoying authentic Korean dishes in the restaurant.
Sounds hearty and hangover-healing indeed. We’ll have to keep this in mind for another meal, maybe after several rounds of soy sauce. Today the refreshing Korean pear juice is my thirst quencher.
We decide we preferred something less demanding on our systems, especially after strenuous strength training. Which is not to say that we would be timid in our order; to the server’s credit she didn’t bat an eyelid when we announced one item after another.
The server will return soon with the banchan after placing our orders in the kitchen. There is the required kimchi, oh ch (spicy cucumber salad) and chunky kkakdugi (diced radish kimchi).
‘Banchan’ here includes red kimchi, spicy cucumber salad, and diced radish kimchi.
The last two are decent, but it’s the fiery red kimchi made from Napa cabbage that is excellent. This one banchan staple is crunchy and tastes naturally sweet, perhaps from pear juice instead of regular sugar.
Before long, the servers returned with our main courses, the much-needed carbohydrates to replenish our now-depleted glycogen stores. My friends jjajangmyeon (noodles in black bean sauce) is heavenly, the noodles springy and the sauce thick and unctuous.
He tells me it’s no different from the Northern Chinese zhájiàngmiàn, also a noodle dish with meat sauce, and it’s not wrong. The Chinese influence on Korean cuisine reaches far – the yangpyeong haejangguk may have roots in xǐngjiǔ tāng (literally “hangover soup” in Mandarin) – but the Koreans have made every dish to their liking.
‘Jjajangmyeon’ or noodles in black bean sauce (left). ‘Sut-Bulgogi’ or charcoal grilled beef (right).
In other words, Korean food can be comforting for those of us who are used to Chinese dishes, but at the same time feel very different and new.
Surely I haven’t had Chinese style tofu like the one from the restaurant? Sundubu-Jjigae (soft tofu stew). The freshly curdled soft tofu (thousand) sprinkled with a single egg stirred into the spicy and savory-sweet broth made with gochujang (red chili paste) and gochugaru (red chili powder) – every spoon begs for some rice to eat it with.
what is what the bibimbap, the classic hot stone rice dish. Cooked white rice topped with a rainbow of vegetables such as julienne cucumbers and carrots, a generous scattering of gim (dried seaweed) strips and a fried egg (which, funnily enough, has sunk into the rice grains by the time the dish arrives).
Every spoonful of the fiery red soft tofu stew begs to be eaten with some rice from the ‘Bibimbap’.
Our server reminds us to complete the picture with gochujang from a spray bottle before mixing all ingredients well. The crunchy pieces of rice at the bottom of the pot are mixed with the softer, fluffier grains. Divine.
We also need protein, of course. Again, our gym workout has become an excuse for us to have an early and hearty lunch. Every foodie understands this shameless and transparent rationalization of gluttony; it’s an endearing trait… if you’re a fellow glutton.
Like any respectable Korean restaurant, Shin Yangpyung Haejang-Guk has us meat lovers covered. the smoky one Sut Bulgaria our mouths were watering; the thinly sliced and marinated beef is grilled over charcoal.
Enjoy ‘Deji Tteok-Galbi’ (tender grilled pork) with some raw onions, sliced green chilies and ‘ssamjang’ (dipping sauce).
We love how tender the pasties from Deji Tteok-Galbic are, the moist grilled pork that reminds us of Japanese ham bag steak. These are best with some raw onions, sliced green chilies and ssamjang (Dip).
By the time we finish eating, we are satiated and amazed at how ready we are for another workout – if only to return and enjoy more delicious Korean food!
Shin Yangpyung Haejang-guk
40G, Jalan 25/70a, Sri Hartamas Village, KL
Open daily (except Tues closed) 10.30-15.00 and 17.30-21.00