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Restaurants & Bars

A Cold Night in Ktown - Han Bat Sul Lung Tang and Koo's Sweet Rice Pancake

mrgreenbeenz | Dec 2, 201006:54 PM     2

Boy, it's been chilly (relatively). Been thinking about all those good wintry dishes - root vegetables roasted with duck legs, rabbit stew, split pea...

Apparently the same goes for my girlfriend. Came home from work to find her wrapped in a blanket and demanding sul lung tang. From the look on her face and the chatter of her teeth, I wasn't about to argue.

Off we went to Ktown to the door of Han Bat Sul Lung Tang. Walked into a very brightly lit restaurant mostly full of middle aged Korean men with a smattering of non-Koreans. No menus here. They only serve one item. Like at a pho joint you could get this milky beef soup with any combination of brisket, tripe,tongue, intestine and spleen. And really, would anyone reading this board not get them all? Ban chan came out in a hurry, regular oyster kimchi and a radish kimchi. Very good though.

Moments later, out comes the soup. Served in a hot ceramic pot, the milky broth was freighted with beefy intensity. A plastic container of green onions was brought to the table - it's size and heft suggesting that they be ladled on generously. A bit of coarse salt added to taste. Then the rice gets tossed in, giving the broth a convenient starch to cling to. The brisket was flavorful, tripe well cut, intestine was, well, intestiney. Only questionable ingredient was the spleen. Not having eaten a lot of spleen I'm not sure if it was poor quality or unfamiliarity that turned me off. Kind of like a cross between liver and blood sausage (both of which I like).

Meat parts aside, the star of the show is the broth. Not the kind of delicate beef broth you get from 24+ hours of slow simmering. This stuff was fragrant and milky - the essence of the marrow just barely being released from the bones. A kind of warm you up from the inside goodness. In addition to the scallion garnish there was some chili paste to add if you craved heat. My girlfriend did so - I thought it was kind of a sideshow. The unadulterated broth was clearly the champ.

Satisfied and yet craving something sweet, we popped across the street to the Koo's Sweet Rice Pancake truck for ho-tteok. In the lot of California Market at Fifth and Western. This was a new one for me. A pancake of glutinous rice flour filled with honey, peanuts and cinnamon is fried just long enough for the outside to become crispy while the inside stays gelatinous and sticky. Possibly one of the best street desserts I have ever eaten. Sweet but not overly so. And at $1 a pop you really can't go wrong (they may even throw in one extra for you). Don't worry about eating them right away. We took ours home and they were still piping hot.

All the better to wash it down with a little whiskey at home. Aahhh, that takes the chill off.

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Han Bat Shul Lung Tang
4163 W 5th St, Los Angeles, CA 90020

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