Restaurants & Bars 3

Jang Tu, Oakland

km | Jul 30, 2002 07:38 PM

Had dinner at Jang Tu in Oakland not too long ago. It's a nice little place--not fancy, but the inside is clean and new.

Having read in a prior thread (and seen from the sign, which in Korean reads as "Jang Tu Soondae") that soondae (pork blood and noodle sausage) is the specialty here, I thought I would give it a try.

N.B.: I like to think I am not an overly squeamish eater (I eat and enjoy tripe, raw crab, shrimp heads, etc.) but I have not entirely succeeded in matching all of my visceral reactions to my principles (e.g., I can't eat escargots with equanimity).

When I ordered the soondae gook (soondae soup), the server kindly and politely warned me that it was "very exotic", but I assured him that it was what I wanted.

OK, first, and most importantly in any account of a Korean restaurant--the panchan (side dishes). I got six generous dishes, each roughly the diameter of a CD. Kimchi, radish kimchi, white radish pickle, bean sprouts, seasoned seaweed, and what appeared to be pickled onion. Everything was pretty good--I thought the seaweed was the most interesting dish--but I didn't care much for the pickled onion.

So out comes my bowl of soondae gook, accompanied by a bowl of rice. I should point out here that, having never had this dish before, I can't judge it expertly. The broth was robustly thin (it's not one of those stewy soups, but neither was it watery) and sediment-y...I realize that sounds gross, but for those of you familiar with Korean jigae-type soups, you know what I mean. Anyway. The bowl was full of stuff: the soondae, of course, easily recognizable by the clear noodles inside, and what I am guessing was liver, pork hock, and some type of intestine, but cannot identify for certain.

The soondae did not have the texture of any sausage I had encountered before, but then again I have never had blood sausage before. It was soft and noodle-y, with a distinct (strong, but not unpleasant) flavor that I felt I should be able to name but couldn't.

Everything in the soup was pretty tasty (I tried some of everything) but I must admit it tested my limits a bit--I had to consciously not think about what I was eating while I ate.

There was a ton of food, and I hadn't arrived with the most ravenous appetite anyway, so I was stuffed even having eaten only half the bowl. Which made me feel bad when my server came by at the end of the meal, and, remarking on the fact that there was quite a bit left, kindly said that they had other things on the menu that I might have enjoyed more.

Anyway. It was a culinary experience I'm glad I had, though I wish I'd shown a bit more mettle, and I will definitely be back to sample more of Jang Tu's wares.

Jang Tu
3838 Telegraph
Oakland
(don't have the telephone #, sorry)

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