During this cold winter/spring, and warding off colds and allergies, I've found comfort with the offerings at Bon Juk, the Flushing outpost of a Korean rice porridge specialty chain. Since I do some shopping at Hanyang, it's an easy walk across Northern Blvd to Bon Juk. The rice porridge or juk is unlike the stuff you will find at Chinese juk or congee joints in that Bon Juk's version is most likely made from steamed rice, so that it resembles a thick ochazuke or zosui, or a thin risotto, than the liquified rice in the standard versions of Chinese congee or Japanese okayu. I've tried the items off the left side of the menu, meaning the juk mixed with a few ingredients, like the kimchee and octopus, or the mushroom and oysters, or the samgetang (chicken with ginseng), or the mixed seafood. I have yet to try the more traditional versions of pumpkin, sesame, or azuki bean, which are all on the right side of the menu.
A large serving of juk is served on a tray along with shredded kimchee, shredded pieces of pork simmered in a sweet soy sauce (similar to Japanese buta kakuni), and a hot red sauce made with some kind of seafood base (I'm thinking squid) along with bits of takuwan (pickled daikon) for a little crunch. For a little palate cleanser, there's also a refreshing cold vinegary daikon soup. I'm not sure if there's a correct way to eat the juk here, but I mix in bits of the accompaniments into the smaller serving bowl and enjoy the flavors, making sure to only accent the subtle flavors of the main ingredients. Thus far, my favorites are the samgetang and the mushroom/oyster. The samgetang version is loaded with chicken flavor and this might be what I crave from now on when I have a cold. The mushroom and oysters are plentiful and with the accents of the garnishes, it's more than soothing, it makes for a great meal. The kimchee octopus is nice for a change of pace, but I think I would have a difficult time finishing an entire bowl of it. This would be ideal to share with a few people. The mixed seafood I found the least interesting.
I still have yet to try the abalone juk, and that will likely happen on my next visit. But I probably will go for the less expensive version than the $30 one.
152-26 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11354