Yesterday was a good day.
Holly and I had an errand in the City, so for lunch we finally made it to Rosamunde for their weekly burger. They were better than I could have imagined: dense, juicy, flavorful and unbelievably fresh. And four bucks for a half pound cheeseburger? With grilled onions? Wow.
I wondered again, why is it so hard to make a good hamburger? But watching the craftsmen at Rosamunde was an inspiration and a testament to the value of Keeping Focus. It's just not as easy as it looks. They all know what they're doing and they do it well and work well together. We ate our burgers next door at the Toronado where Holly had a $2 glass of wine and I had a $2.50 pint of guinness.
While I was waiting for our burgers I saw two chowhound types return their baskets and say "See you next week!" with resigned euphoria. I know those people, I thought to myself, I just don't know who they are.
I can see how we'll have to find an errand to run in the City every tuesday.
Later that night we were with our friend Matt and we decided, at long last, to give one of the new Korean places on Telegraph a try. We chose Seoul Gom Tang II, at Macarthur + Tele, based on reviews that I read on this board.
Seoul Gom Tang specializes in two things: soups and cold glass noodle dishes. The hostess, who was quite pleased that we had heard of, never mind liked, kim chi, explained to us that they only do two things because that is what they know and they wish to do them well.
The table is set with two crocks of housemade kimchi, one of cabbage and one of big half-moon daikon slices. Both are rich, mature and delicious. Also we were brought a dish of fresh "made that day" kimchi. Half of this was a fresher (and nutty, somehow...sesame oil?) cabbage, and the other half was a fantastic and heretofore unknown-to-me cucumber kimchi. Little bright green pickling cukes in a spicy chile paste. They were so wonderful.
We ordered the cold noodle with spicy hot sauce (Bebeem Nang Myun) and a big order of KimChi soup for all three of us. We perhaps could have ordered one un-spicy thing, but...o well.
The cold noodle was the slippery glass noodles, in this case so fresh and chewy they kinda tasted like spicy gummi candy. This noodle dish was laced with crisp vegetables sliced paper thin and had a lovely cool freshness and clean spicy taste.
The kim-chi soup was one of those cook-at-the-table affairs, a bubbling pot of vegetables and big fat soba-like noodles in a deep red broth.
The soup was visually compelling. The noodles were piled in the middle of the bowl, surrounded by vegetables tofu in the broth. On top of the noodles were little bunches of white slender mushrooms...enoki? they looked like little noodles themselves.
Our hostess offered a bit of the broth to Holly to taste. She explained that they do not cook this soup with salt (makes sense when you're using preserved vegetables as a base) and prefer to salt it at table to the diner's preference. Holly proclaimed it in need of just a little salt, and our hostess gracefully complied.
The soup was delicious. Very spicy and rich, with slices of porkbelly floating in the mix and explaining the source of such a densely flavored stock. Vegetables ranged from crunchy-fresh to soft and pliable. One standout was the sliced shiitake mushrooms, which had a great snappy texture and were fully infused with the intense flavor of the soup. The fat soba-like noodles, too, were extremely delicious and satisfying.
All in all a wonderful meal with kind and gracious service and delicious, well-crafted food. At the end I asked if we could please get some of the little cucumbers to go. Our server happily complied and returned with a pint of the cucumbers (!!!) as well as a pint of the cabbage and a pint of the daikon. I asked that it be added to the bill but they refused.
The total ticket here, including two big beers, was $47.50. We brought a bottle of wine, for which they apparently do not charge corkage. (Nor do they offer corkscrews, so bring your own.)
Seoul Gom Tang II
3801 Telegraph Ave (at Macarthur)
Note to bicyclists: Tell the nice security guy in the parking lot that you are eating at the restaurant and would like to park your bike in the lot. We were permitted to lock to the lot fence, in the guard's view. Very secure.