I had been meaning to get me to Buk Kyung in Union for Korean food for some time, based on the repeated recommendations from the board.
So Charles Herbert and I ventured forth on a damp, chilly evening - I was already deadset on applying the radiating hot pot bibimbap litmus test - Charles, having spent time in Korea, was a bit more discerning in considering the various menu choices.
We arrived to a nearly empty restaurant at 8pm - it is very basic decor - the hostess was friendly and wisely sat us against the far wall, nearest to the heat vents. Tea followed by the little dishes - nutty bean sprouts, kimchee, kimchee-style cucumber and kimchee-style "something crunchy might be turnip could be daikon" - all tasty -
I was very pleased with my stone bibimbap - I believe that you can tell the quality of the place based on the variety of vegetables in the bibimbap, especially how many are included that are unfamiliar. Hometown's version had a few - there were carrots and sprouts, but also some sort of wilted, marinated green-ish bean and some seaweed-y pieces - plus beef and the fried egg, sunny side up - mixed all together with some red (miso?) sauce.
The other great thing about stone pot is that the meal changes dynamically as it continues to cook - the veggies get more well-done - the rice crisps and carmelizes - the flavors get more intense - then as it cools, the flavors blend together, beginning to mellow. By the end, all the separate parts become one. Hometown's version came with miso soup (and seconds without request). I was quite pleased.
Charles Herbert ordered a beef noodle soup that I had the fortune of tasting - it looked a little scary - the broth almost the gray color of dishwater to be quite frank - but the taste was outstanding - it was a light beef broth in texture, light on the palate, but the flavor of the beef was very intense and deeply warming and succulent - If marrow were a soup, it might taste a little like this.
There were other curious bits in the soup - some seaweed flakes (?) that initially gave off a marine aroma that made one think that the seafood soup had come out by mistake - Also, some fascinating rice noodle disks - not sure if homemade, but very glutenous and chewy. Charles finished most of a very large bowl.
So thanks again to wonderful chowhounds - Buk Kyung is very good.
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