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rice cake soup

rachel hope | Sep 2, 200012:58 AM

Yesterday, a cold and cloudy afternoon, in an Asian food court near Cal (Berkeley) -- where I am accustomed to eating adequate if junky cheap Asian lunches -- I stepped into a cubbyhole I had not previously visited, and discovered Seoul on the other side! A short bar and a window ledge with capacity for no more than six or seven people. I took the one empty seat. All the customers were Korean (I think), reading Korean newspapers, speaking Korean, slurping their homemade noodles really loudly. The place mainly serves soups (and a few rice plates). Each soup is made to order so the wait is pretty long. And many students came in and ordered soups to go while I was waiting. I had the "rice cake ramen": a very spicy (beef?) broth in an enormous bowl filled with rice cakes (chewy silver dollars, mmmmmm...), ramen, seaweed, spinach, scallions, fish cakes (mmm....), and I don't know what else. On the side a dish of kimchee which I dipped in the soup with my chopsticks (very good that way). Lunch was a minivacation. When I left my mouth was tingling and warm and the cold and clouds didn't bother me any longer. I want to go back every day and try all their soups. The only thing the kitchen produced while I was there which I didn't want to grab away from its rightful ownerwas a fried rice plate topped with an omelette and then literally covered in bright red ketchup, accompanied by a sprout and cabbage salad over which the cashier/cook's helper squirted copious amounts of what looked suspisciously like mayonnaise.

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