Budae Jjigae :: Seoul Soulongtang

January 6, 2018

We visited Seoul Soulongtang for the first time today. This restaurant is located at an inconspicuous spot in the middle of a row of shops on the outskirts of Allston. Getting there was tough today with the thick snow accumulations but was well worth the pain 🙂
 
The main dining area is simple and filled with old wooden furniture, so tightly arranged that there is barely space to maneuver between the tables. They also have a korean-style seating area where customers can sit on the wooden floor to dine on the low tables but it was left empty for the afternoon.
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We deliberated over what to order but eventually settled on Budae Jjigae, a specialty dish of Seoul Soulongtang. While waiting for the servers to prepare our dish, we were served an assortment of Ban-Chan (side dishes) to go with the rice. The side dishes were simple, certainly not the best we have had in the area.
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It didn't take too long for the waiter to set up the gas stove and pot of ingredients for our Budae Jjigae. Without knowing the origins of this dish, our first impression was that the ingredients are cheap. It is pretty much a stew made with ham, sausage, baked beans, kimchi, tteok (rice cake), Enoki mushrooms and assorted vegetables. The chilli paste was added at the bottom of the pot, giving the soup base a fiery red color as the stew boils. 
 
Budae Jjigae (army stew) is a post-war creation, interestingly using smuggled surplus foods from the U.S. army bases operating during the Korean war. Food was scarce after the war - the poor civilians who lived near the army bases were resourceful enough to turn the scrounged food, often comprising processed meat into a palatable stew.
 
Our stew turns out to be deliciously packed with flavors! We waited until we were done with all the ingredients before adding in the instant noodles to soak up the flavors.
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We had a lot of fun cooking up and trying the army stew today. It is certainly not a dish we will order on a regular basis due to the processed meats but I'm glad we tried it at least once. It is likely we will come back to Seoul Soulongtang to try other dishes in the future.
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