We finally ventured to Chin Ko Gae to have the black goat stew. This was a restaurant that we had tried to visit last year. Unfortunately, they were closed on Sundays and we didn't try again until now.
My wife was very excited that I brought it up because she hadn't had black goat stew in over 10 years. In Korean culture, some families frown on it and others love it. Luckily for me, her family enjoys it in moderation. It's actually called a health soup and I'm a venturesome guy.
Chin Ko Gae is located in a mini-strip mall on a corner (3063 W. 8th St). The parking lot in front is packed and unmanageable. They have valet parking at no cost, but tipping the valet is highly, highly recommended (i.e. give the guy a buck or two and it's worth it). I don't recommend that you look for street parking.
We were greeted at the parking lot by a waitress. We went around 7:30 PM and the restaurant had about 4 other groups. The restaurant quickly filled up soon after so we were glad to arrive before the rush. Many of the groups greeted each other so it was clearly a locals joint. Everyone in the restaurant was Korean, except me. Everyone including the waitresses spoke Korean. The table had a grill in the center and a small placard at the end of the table which contained the menu. Most of the menu was Korean, except won ton/dumping soup as I recall. I saw some standard fares such as beef and noodle dishes, but what one really wants is the black goat stew. The first item on the menu is Yum Seoung Tong [tong is a soup/light broth] = black goat stew. The second is the goat not in the stew that another Hound already discussed.
We ordered the tong for two at $14/person and a Hite beer (large) at $6. They brought out a few panchans such as kim chi (fermented cabbage), cucumber kim chi, kelp, and squid/radish. I enjoyed the kelp, kim chi and squid/radish pan chans. To my pleasure, the kim chi was fermented [uncommon in K-town]. It wasn't the best I've had, but thumbs up for the fermentation. The waitress also brought us bul kim chi(?) (cold soup with a little tang) which served as a very good palate cleanser while eating the spicy goat stew. They also left a jug of barley iced tea at the table. Finally, they gave us a small dish of gochijang (hot red paste) in sesame oil (I believe) and a container full of whole sesame seeds. My wife asked what we did with this because it was different from how she had eaten it in the past. The waitress said that you put the sesame seeds in the gochichang/oil mixture and dip the goat stew in for taste.
Now, they delivered a large shallow bowl filled with goat meat, green leaves and green onions in a spicy red broth. The stew boiled at the table and stewed the veggies. I later discovered that the green leaves were in fact sesame leaves. My wife said the stew contained the entire plant: the leaves, the seeds, and the oil. That's what I call a good use of a plant! We ate the stew by wrapping the goat meat pieces in the veggies. I tried dipping in the sauce a few times, but the stew broth made the goat plenty spicy. After the failure of dipping in the sauce, my wife decided that the stew needed sesame seeds and poured the sesame seeds directly into the stew. This made a difference and made the stew broth taste better. I'd recommend this approach.
The waitresses were attentive. They refilled our barley tea jug and gave us more veggies when we needed them. The waitresses thought she recognized my wife, but we had never been to the restaurant. My wife thinks that a past white boy from Chowhound came with a Korean friend and the waitress thought we were the same people. The waitress also told my wife to explain to me that Korean restaurants keep re-filling dishes at no charge due to their generous nature unlike American restaurants. The waitress brought my wife another bowl of bul kim chi soup and more veggies in the stew. The waitress asked us halfway through whether the broth was too salty and we interpreted this as a request whether we desired more broth. We didn't request it since it was fine to our taste. We finally finished all the goat and veggies so that only broth remained. At this point, the waitress asked whether we wanted the rice now. They place the rice in the broth at the end. We were too stuffed so we passed.
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. I don't recall being wowed by the goat meat flavor but I did like the broth and mixture of greens/goat meat. I'd definitely go back if my wife gets the craving. I'm not going to push it because I have a big list of other restaurnts to try now that I found Chowhound. :)
For the non-Korean speaking people, I'd suggest you just go or get a Korean friend. Don't be afraid because the waitresses are polite. Not all of them are friendly, but all of them are attentive. Order the first item on the menu and enjoy. Remember that anything you see, you can get more. You'll definitely need more veggies because there's a lot of meat in the stew. Also, use the bul kim chi to clean your palate and cool your mouth. I'm not sure why another Chowhound didn't consider the stew spicy, but that Hound must have a good spice level or they toned it down for a non-Korean.
Finally, we noticed that there is a second goat stew/health soup to go restaurant next to a huge C-rated BBQ place. It has white wooden slats across the windows so we couldn't see inside. Strange that two goat stew restaurants are so close to each other. Has anyone tried this place and how does it compare?
Good luck and enjoy Hounds!