Over the last month or so, with all the rain and wind, Korean food just seemed so warm and comforting. So far this year it seems that we've been hitting up Hal Mu Ni (Grandma's) quite often. I thought I'd do another post to go with my first post, showing a few other dishes.
Of course there's panchan. Nothing fancy here, but most of it is fairly solid.
The young ladies working here are sometimes not the most efficient in terms of motion and service, but they are very nice, and do handle some of the details.... such as providing little containers of Cho Kochujang, or other sauces when we have leftovers to take home without having to request them. Perhaps that's what keep us coming back.
The Bulgogi ($11.99) here is served sizzling on a hot cast iron plate.
The meat was just tender enough, and thought the marinade for the Bulgogi ran on the sweet side, I enjoyed the dish. Enough so, that I've had it a couple of times so far. By itself or in combination with a soondofu dish. We also found this to be a little less oily then the typical Korean BBQ served on a sizzling plate. As comparisons are concerned, this has head and shoulder better, in quality and flavor then the Bulgogi at Chon Ju Jip.
Speaking of Chon Ju Jip....... one of my favorite local food blogs is Kirbie Cravings. One of Kirbie's posts included the Dolsot Bi Bim Bap from Chon Ju Jip. Frankly, the Dolsot Bi Bim Bap at Chon Ju Jip is terrible, mainly due to the fact that it is served on a metal plate instead of the usual stone bowl. This means that you never get the great crust provided by a stone bowl. It doesn't help that dolsot is literally the name of the stone bowl/pot. In Kirbie's post it became apparent that the recommendation had come from a list of "50 things to eat in San Diego before you die." Well, here at Hal Mu Ni the Dolsot Bi Bim Bap ($9.99), like most other Korean Restaurants in San Diego, is actually served in a dolsot:
After eating stuff like sannakji and dduk, I've become convinced that textures are of supreme importance in Korean Cuisine... from that creamy oyster combined with the firm mu kimchi you bite into when having bossam, to the varied crunchiness of different panchan... finally to the crisp texture of the rice crust combined with the rest of the Bi Bim Bap. As Bi Bim Bap goes, this is not bad.... the Bulgogi has flavor, there's a raw egg hiding below the nori providing richness to the dish. The only negative item that really stood out, was how weak the Cho Kochujang (the sauce) tasted.
One evening we sampled the Kimchi Chigae ($7.99):
Like just about everything here, it arrived bubbling so wildly that expect it to overflow. If you order this, be prepared..... this was pretty sour, salty, and there's some fatty pieces of pork floating around. As Kimchi Chigae goes, this is ok, though the Missus loved how sour it was.
When this arrives at your table, you know what's coming next, right?
During one of our meals, the young lady working brought us small bowls of bone soup:
Which led me to order the Seolleongtang(Sullungtang - $7.99).
Lest you think this boiling cauldron is not very hot, see the photo to the right. I just couldn't get a photo without steaming up my lens. At first I thought the scum floating on the top of the bubbling broth would be a problem, but it was not. The soup was full of slices of beef, and had the usual mild beefy flavor. The appropriate addition of sea salt brought the dish up, and made it into comfort food for the Missus, who ended up eating a good amount of it.
The Missus has often told me about Her Parents or Grandmother making bone soup to provide calcium for the family, or as a tonic when She was ill. So it goes without saying that once a spoon of this made its' way into Her mouth, She'd want more..... comfort food....
One evening I order the Spicy Galbi Jjim ($14.99).
I have mixed feeling about this dish.... I had hopes of getting the same wonderfully tangy-spicy sauce that I had with the Galchi Jorim. And that was delivered, with the addition of some beefiness. The thick cut ribs were much too tough, and very hard to eat though. I'll probably order this again in the future to reassess.
The only dish I've had here that I haven't enjoyed was the Haemul Pajun (Seafood Pancake - $12.99):
As you can tell, Hal Mu Ni has become a regular stop...... the prices are in line with other similar restaurants in the area (i.e. Chon Ju Jip), and we think the dishes are prepared adequately. The young women working here have always been nice. The interior may still look like a steam table Chinese fast-food joint, but the food is definitely not.
Hal Mu Ni Soon Dubu
4425 Convoy St. #217
San Diego, CA 92111