I finally stopped into a sollang-t'ang restaurant that I'd been eyeing for some time. It's very good. It's called E Moon Oak Sullangtang and is located on Western and I believe 8th. It's catty-corner from the northwestern corner of Koreatown Plaza. Or, it's a couple doors down from the Western Ave location of BCD sundubu.
My friend and I each had a bowl of sollang-t'ang which was quite good. The accompanying kkaktugi was also quite good; as good as any I've had in America. The same goes for the sollang-t'ang. There are a few other dishes on the menu that I'm very interested in trying after this initial experience. Has anyone tried anything else there?
For those who don't know exactly what sollang-t'ang is, it's a big bowl of soup. It consists of a milky-white beef broth with thin slices of beef and noodles. Very simple. From there, the usual way of eating it is adding salt a little at a time to taste. 'To taste' are the operative words; it shouldn't be just thrown in haphazardly. Also, add green onions as desired and put the accompanying rice into it. At E Moon Oak, bowls of sea salt and green onions may or may not be on the table. If not, then, of course, just request them. Sollang-t'ang is intentionally made blandly so the diner can season it in just the right way, according to individual taste, so that he or she can enjoy the subtle flavors of the broth. I suppose that the kotch'u-jang on the table could also be added, but that seems strange to me, in part, because the crucial accompaniment to a bowl of sollang-t'ang is kkaktugi, which is the variety of kimchee made with daikon. I've definitely never tried, but I've heard it's difficult to make good kkaktugi, not only due to seasoning and proper pickling procedures but also due to the selection of good daikon, which is either a crapshoot or a tough skill to master. The E Moon Oak kkaktugi is a touch heavy-handed, but as mentioned earlier, quite good on the whole. Indeed, kkaktugi is essential to the good sollang-t'ang experience, and at this place, the two combine very favorably. Nappa cabbage kimchee also accompanies the sollang-t'ang and it too is quite good.
I'm very interested in checking some of their other offerings. Kom-t'ang, which is pretty similar to sollang-t'ang, is made from ox tail and is a bit pricier -- the former is nine-something, while the latter is six-something. I'd imagine it's at least on par with their sollang-t'ang, but since they are quite similar, in future visits, I'd be happy with the house classic, especially on my budget. I'm more interested in checking out their su-yuk (soo-yook), which is one of my favorites. My singular experience in LA was downright awful, so I haven't tried again. Su-yuk is stewed tender slices of beef and vegetables in broth that arrives at your table in a round, shallow "pot" atop a gas burner, a la Korean barbecue. The Morangaks (North Korean naengmyon place on Wilshire and Alexandria) in South Korea have good su-yuk, and I was disappointed to find that it's not on the menu in their location here. In spite of my earlier disastrous experience (read: extraordinarily tough), I'm thinking that E Moon Oak's su-yuk is worth a try since it specializes in dished with stewed beef. Finally, I'd like to check out their yukkaejang, which is a very, very spicy take on sollang-t'ang. Once again, beef broth, slices of beef, but this time with green onion and other vegetables and loads of ground red pepper. Though I like spicy foods and handle them well, I think that the level of spice borders on excessive, so I only have it when I'm in the mood.