I took a day off right after the New Year, for the purpose of going on a short eating road trip to LA and the OC with two of my friends, MrS, and the entity that is known as the EatingMachine. We started at Mei Long Village, for Xiao Long Bao, and a few Shanghainese cold dishes. Next it was off to Food Cabin, for more Xiao LongBao, Shengjian Bao, and other assorted dishes. Lucky for us, "DaMachine" was running smoothly, easily eliminating any possibility of leftovers. On the way back, we decided to stop for a "real meal" in the area of Garden Grove Icall Koreatown South. I had written down a few listings in my "black book", but Mr S, pulling from his Korean roots dismissed my list, brought out his cell phone, and went off on a speed dial frenzy. The consensus, was for Hwang Hae Do..... which was one of the places on my list! Ha!
Hwang Hae Do looks quite humble in comparison to some of the newer and more fancy restaurants in the area. And boy does this place love its photos, posters, and fliers.
The interior is "old wood rustic", with the ever present Plasma Television going strong.
Hwang Hae is a province in North Korea, so if the name meant anything, this would be North Korean inspired food. I had written down the dishes that I wanted to try at Heang Hae Do, and looking down the list, after all the XLB, I crossed off the mandu, but had something else in mind. And MrS, after chatting with the really nice lady, came to the same conclusion. And, of course it was one of the items on the myriad of flyers posted everywhere around the place.
After Mr S placed our orders in Korean, the panchan arrived. There were a few items, I enjoyed, the baechu kimchi (Napa Cabbage kimchi) was very good. And I don't recall seeing dotorimuk (Acorn Jelly) much in San Diego. But most of it was pretty mild in flavor.
Pretty soon a metal "pan" of sorts was placed above the BBQ brazier. The pan had a "moat" of sauce encircling it.
It was Yook-soo Bulgogi($18.99/order - minimum 2 orders) time! A huge platter of thinly sliced meat, onions, scallions, and mushrooms arrived, and was piled on the top of the pan.
For ease of use, part of the meat was portioned off on a bowl placed on the table.
While the rest remained on the platter, table side.
Sheesh, do ya' think this was enough? And what is even more impressive.....this was only 2 orders, and came with rice, and 2 beers (OB).
For those who have never had Yook-soo Bulgogi, I think I can best describe it as a Sukiyaki like dish.
This broth was mild and balanced in flavor, just lightly sweet. There are places in San Diego that make this, but most versions are much too sweet and heavy. The meat was good in quality, soft, and almost melted in your mouth.
And while we were waiting for our meat to cook, MrS had ordered us Mul Naengmyun, the classic North Korean cold buckwheat noodle soup dish.
The tangy broth, even when tempered with liberal doses of vinegar sent my tastebuds into overdrive. It was a nice foil to the meat, and was a very effective palate cleanser. Even with all the meat, I managed to finish my entire bowl. Yes, we each had an entire metal bowl. In case you're interested there's an interesting post on Naengmyun in Pyongyang which can be found here.
As if to add the "cherry on the top", at the end noodles are placed in the meat infused broth.
After all of that food we had earlier, I can't believe we finished everything in fine fashion. Total damage, 2 orders Yook-soo Bulgogi, 3 Mul Naengmyun - $62.
The service was efficient, the lady was very nice. Not much English spoken, but there are all those posters everywhere....
Hwang Hae Do
9567 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92842