The CHOW Blog rss

Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Han Shin Pocha: Seoul-Style Pub and Grill in Flushing

As Korean pubs go, Han Shin Pocha is about as authentic as they come. Known as Goo Gong Tan to Koreans, this drinking and eating hangout is part of the often-overlooked Korean enclave in Flushing’s Murray Hill neighborhood, east of downtown and a few blocks off the bustling Northern Boulevard strip. E Eto recounts a terrific meal highlighted by the house specialty, charcoal-grilled shellfish. Here’s what his group enjoyed:

- Modeum jogae (assorted clam grill): This is a big heap of regular clams, razor clams, turban (sea snails), chopped seasoned scallops, chopped clams, oysters, and enoki mushrooms–all fresh and delicious–served with udon noodles in seafood broth. Eat the shellfish as soon as they expire and open up on your tableside grill, with a dash of garlicky, vinegary orange sauce if you like, and try not to lose the juices. Save the noodles for last; by the time you’ve put away the shellfish, the noodles will be soft and the tasty broth, containing bits of squid and crab, will be boiling. surly calls this dish “hard-core, down-and-dirty Korean comfort food,” difficult to find in mainstream restaurants even in Korea.

- Sauteed baby octopus and pork belly in red sauce: Spicy, hearty, and accompanied by shiso-like ggae-nyeep (sesame leaf) and slices of chile and raw garlic.

- Goon mandoo (fried dumplings): An exemplary version, filled with pork, chive, garlic, and clear noodles, and pan-fried to perfect crispness.

- Pajun (scallion pancake): Nice and crispy and uncommonly light–and brought to E Eto’s table on the house.

- Jwee-poh (dried fish or squid): Softened on the grill, cut into strips with scissors, this is a common pub bite, great with drinks, served with hot sauce or mayonnaise for dipping.

Other smart orders include gan jang soo yook (soy sauce pork belly), marinated and preboiled, then finished on the grill; al jjigae (fish roe stew); and oh-jing-uh soondae (steamed squid stuffed with sliced blood sausage). Drinks–which flow freely here–include beer, soju, and more unusual offerings like sweet Korean raspberry wine.

The vibe is much like a Japanese izakaya–worn but warm and comfortable–and non-Koreans might find the place intimidating. If possible, go with someone who speaks the language. surly says Goo Gong Tan is modeled on Korea’s po jang ma cha, little dives that operate out of basements and tents: “The menu offerings, the Korean pop music, the graffiti all over the walls, the utter lack of restraint in drinking and eating, the camaraderie, the lack of English spoken, the absence of gringos, the uncomfortable seats–this is truly what it’s like to eat and drink in Korea.”


Han Shin Pocha, a.k.a. Goo Gong Tan [Flushing]
40-03 149th Pl., near Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, Queens
718-886-1328
Locater

Board Links

Han Shin Pocha, Flushing

A Nicer Place for Rice Noodles. Also, More Hunanese!

Guilin rice noodles at Dandan are as good as what you’ll find in Guilin itself, says Chandavkl, who should know, having eaten the stuff three times a day on a tour there. Rice noodle soup with fish fillet comes topped with peanuts and is very good. Not into fish? There are 18 different ways you can get your rice noodle soup, including with spicy beef, duck feet, tripe, and snail meat.

Dandan, it turns out, is actually a new, kind of upscale sister restaurant of Eight Café, another reliable place to get your rice-noodle fix.

In the same plaza as Dandan is another new restaurant, the Hunanese-style Dong Ting Spring. Fish head casserole is good, maybe even better than Crown Cafe’s, says WBGuy. The menu lists a lot of Dong Ting dishes, as well as paper pot dishes, hot pot and Chairman Mao’s braised pork.

Dandan Gulin Rice Noodle [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly Q Noodle
140 W. Valley Blvd. #203, at Del Mar, San Gabriel
626-307-1989
Locater

Guilin Mifen [San Gabriel Valley]
a.k.a Eight Cafe or A Cafe
110 E Garvey Ave., at Garfield, Monterey Park
626-572-7688
Locater

Dong Ting Spring [San Gabriel Valley]
formerly Green Village, Green City
140 W. Valley Blvd. #206, at Del Mar, San Gabriel
626-288-5918
Map

Board Links

Dandan Guilin Rice Noodle
SGV chinese rampage–new restaurants in focus plaza
Dong Ting Spring Hunan Restaurant in San Gabriel Square

A Solid Shanghai Choice

Among the not-so-interesting picks of New York Times writer Mark Bittman, who passed through our town recently, was Chang’s Garden, a Shanghainese spot near the Arcadia Supermarket. The discovery of the century it’s not, but it’s a solid recommendation for Shanghai-style food, says Hailyn.

Preserved pork with leeks is a goodly mound of chewy salted pork belly slices and sliced leeks, stir-fried with strips of moderately hot red pepper. There’s a nice whiff of five-spice, a tang of lemongrass and a shred of licorice root, all of which add up to a delicious and satisfying dish, says Will Owen.

Sauteed eel is actually baby eel–a bunch of them…kind of like spaghetti of the sea. Tons of shredded young ginger and fresh cilantro come on the side and get mixed in. The whole thing comes in a sauce that’s deep, rich, and rather sweet. The eels are pleasantly chewy, not fishy at all.

Dry pork ribs are really good, says ipsedixit, who cautions against the steamed ones–they’re OK, but not as good as the dry ones.

Hot and sour soup isn’t a Shanghai specialty (the real thing is from Sichuan), but it’s better than most, with some actual flavor and not too goopy.

What is Shanghai style is starting a meal with cold appetizers, says Hailyn. Smoked fish, drunken chicken, braised celery, sliced beef and kao fu are all good to try.

If you’re really set on kao fu (braised wheat gluten), a Buddhist temple in Downey makes some of the best around, says ipsedixit. It’s only offered on select Sundays when there are festivities. But the good news is, it’s free.

Chang’s Garden [Pasadena-ish]
627 W. Duarte Rd., at Baldwin, Arcadia
626-445-0606
Map

Buddist Fa Kwang Temple [South LA]
12110 Pomering Rd., at Rundell, Downey
562-927-3945
Locater

Board Links

Chang’s Garden–thanks, Mr. Bittman!

Alert for Southland Southern Bakers

Southern bakers take note, at least one 99 Cent store carries Martha White self-rising cornmeal–THE standard ingredient in cornbread in Tennessee and most of the Southeast, says Will Owen. And if you want good cornbread, pretty much the only way to get it around here is to make it yourself. A 5-lb bag is…99 cents.

99 Cents Only Stores [Pasadena-ish]
140 E. Duarte Rd., at Santa Anita, Arcadia
626-294-1999
Locater

Board Links

Martha White SR Cornmeal at 99¢ Only

Homemade Irish Cream

It’s easy to replicate the popular flavor of Bailey’s Irish Cream at home for a fraction of the cost. Susan627 uses Jameson whiskey in this recipe, which she gives as gifts:

1 cup light cream
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 2/3 cups Irish whiskey
2 Tbsp. Hershey’s chocolate syrup
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Will keep for up to 2 months. Shake before using.

blue room notes that it’s important to serve this very cold, as pouring it over ice makes it watery.

Board Links

Homemade Baileys

Russian Tea with Vodka and Hot Rum Cows for Cold Winter Nights

kittyfood learned this recipe from a Russian instructor several decades ago:

3 1/2 quarts water
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
12 tea bags
1 quart unsweetened orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
vodka

Place cloves in water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags; let stand until tea is strong, then remove tea bags. Add orange and lemon juices and sugar, and stir to dissolve sugar. Add vodka to taste, and serve hot. Better if made in advance and aged 24 hours, then reheated (add vodka just before serving).

JK Grence the Cosmic Jester says the Hot Rum Cow is “perfect for when you’re cold and wet, and all you want to do is curl up in a big thick blanket and fall asleep”: It’s an ounce of rum, a cup of milk, a couple teaspoons of sugar, and a dash or two of Angostura bitters, heated.

Board Links

Hot alcoholic beverage

Salt Caramels

A hit of good salt will round out the buttery sweetness of caramel; hence, the genius of salt caramels!

Mnosyne recommends Little Flower sea salt caramels. They have a buttery flavor that lingers on your tongue. Mildly salty, and good.

Recchiuti makes a Fleur De Sel caramel that’s covered in dark chocolate.

Fran’s Chocolates uses the grey salt from the coast of Brittany in their caramels, and they’re also chocolate dipped. Check at a Whole Foods markets for these, or order online.

French Roast recommends Trader Joe’s salt caramels; they’re making their own this year. The price is good, too!

Board Links

Best Salt Caramels…..

Buttermilk

In the “old days”, buttermilk was the liquid left over from churning the butter. Lovely stuff it was, with flecks of butter floating around in it–a tart thirst quencher when served icy cold.

Today’s buttermilk is made by adding a culture to non-fat or low-fat milk to give it a little tang and thicken the texture. It still makes a good beverage, and is especially nice for cooking. Try it for pancakes, and cornbread. Biscuits will get a nice rise from the acidity in buttermilk.

Buttermilk has quite a long shelf life in the fridge. For those of you who just guzzle it straight, you’ll want it freshly opened. But you can cook with the stuff well past the expiration date. Even though it’s “sour”, you’ll know when it’s gone bad —it’ll get watery, separate, and acquire unsavory chunks of gunk.

Board Links

How can you tell when buttermilk is bad?

The Clone Wars

In yet another development that moves the American food supply away from the pastoral and toward the techno-industrial, the FDA has (tentatively) declared that eating meat and dairy from cloned animals is safe.

Sneaking their report in during the nobody’s-looking-week-between-Xmas-and-New-Year, the FDA says that “milk and meat from cloned cows, pigs and goats, and from their offspring, are as safe to eat as the food we eat every day.”

And according to The New York Times, some of us may have already been eating them:

Some experts say that some products from clones or their offspring have probably nonetheless made their way into the food supply.

Maybe I’m just being alarmist, but the thought of eating cloned meat reminds me of that scene in David Cronenberg’s version of The Fly in which Geena Davis takes a bite of steak that’s been teleported and immediately spits it out, noting that something about it just tastes wrong.

I’m not alone. The Times notes that 64 percent of us are “uncomfortable” with eating cloned meat, 46 percent “strongly uncomfortable.” In fact, 14 percent of women would stop buying all dairy products if cloning was introduced to the food supply.

All of which means that true approval, which has to wait for a (probably quite pitched) period of public comment, is probably a long shot. That will be sad for some famous chefs.

‘Nighty Nightmare

I’ve heard tell that when you watch Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America, you see a more human side to the foul-mouthed celebrity chef as he helps various chefs and restaurateurs get their shiitake together. However, I revel in every crazy insult Ramsay cooks up (“That looks like a dog’s dinner, that does!”) and find sick satisfaction in how he consistently traumatizes the cheftestants and customers on Hell’s Kitchen (“You fat useless sack of yankee-dankee doo-doo!”).

Well, based on a few television-oriented blogs, it sounds as if Ramsay might be gearing up for an American version of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. TV with MeeVee encourages any interested be-kitchened parties to apply for the show:

Look no further—Fox TV and Chef Gordon Ramsay are now casting a new reality show, Kitchen Nightmares. The award-winning chef, culinary expert, and television personality is searching for restaurants in need of resuscitation. Chef Ramsay is offering his world-famous techniques and management secrets to help turn your business into a profitable and lasting success!

Another blog, TV Food Fan, thinks the news of the new show is a bit confusing and isn’t quite sure if Fox is going for a brand-new show or what. Referencing the above piece on MeeVee, TV Food Fan notes:

The piece is a bit vague, but I’m assuming it is an American version since it refers to it as a ‘new reality show.’ Also, it’s a bit weird because they include a link to an e-mail address of the ‘producers,’ but the address is actually owned by a company that helps people get cast on reality shows and their site has no mention of KN (although they do have a call for Hell’s Kitchen 3 applicants).

Scouring news sources and The Futon Critic has turned up nothing, so, like TV Food Fan, we’ll just have to wait for enlightenment.