It had been a while since I'd visited Halmouny, our last couple of visits were less than stellar and the Missus hated Her Seolleongtang. After over a year and a half, I wanted a dolsot bi bim bap and decided to revisit Halmouny.
The place looked virtually the same, now with a lunch menu, but I went with the Dolsot Bi Bim Bap which is not on the lunch special menu.
This was quite good; the best I'd had in a while, the rice nice and crusty after a couple of minutes in the dolsot; the cho-jang had that nice combination of spicy-savory-sour-sweet that enhances any dish. I was more than satisfied with this.
The panchan on the other hand was fairly pedestrian. The baechu kimchi was especially salty and not very pleasant.
I did enjoy the meal enough that I returned a couple of weeks later to try something off the lunch special menu.
I went with the Ttukbaegi Bulgogi something that I'd had here before. I really didn't enjoy it too much, but wanted to see if it had improved.
It was nice t see that the whole array of panchan, be it ever so humble was included with lunch specials. The Ttukbaegi Bulgogi however didn't fare as well.
When I tried the Ttukbaegi Bulgogi before, it was way too sweet. This time it had hardly any flavor at all...perhaps a dash of soy sauce and a faint sesame oil flavor. The meat and everything else was fine, but man, this was bland.
During this visit I noticed that all rice was now served in a dolsot....stone pot. There's now some nice crusting action going on here.
Which all leads up to tonight......the Missus was craving Korean food, but not really BBQ. Did I dare mention Hal Mu Ni? And yet, I thought why not?
We both ordered dishes that we'd had before....and had been very good one time and not so good another. One really funny thing is that the Missus now knows that panchan is traditionally meant to be consumed with the meal and is not an appetizer....this understanding sure has made our meals in Korean restaurants much smoother.
The Missus decided to order the Seolleongtang, a favorite of Hers, but was one of the items that had us stop coming on our last visit here together.
I usually grab for the sea salt on the table whenever we get Seolleongtang, but this was well flavored and didn't need any help. The beef was tender, with a good bovine flavor. The Missus also enjoy the dolsot bop, which She let sit until She was half done with the Seolleongtang. By this time the rice had developed a nice crust. The Missus was given water to make Nurungji, but decided to pop the crusts into the bone broth. She also saved some up because I ordered this:
Man, this was good, better than the first time I had this here. The gul, steamed pork belly was moist, oinky and mildly sweet. This almost got Ed from Yuma doing the delici-yoso dance during a visit with hime two years ago. Had he been here tonight, it would have been a full on electric bugaloo...... The jokbal, pig trotters were nicely prepared, a symphony of textures, mildly sweet and savory, with a background anise flavor. Though we prefer lettuce as the delivery system, the napa cabbage did alright. Well, Ms "I don't eat pork" developed Her own way of eating this. She'd get a piece of meat, lay on a good quantity of ssamjang, that wonderful fermented bean-chili paste they make inhouse here, place a slice of raw garlic and jalapeno on top, making Her perfect bite. I'm more of a purist using the spicy, yet refreshing mul (radish) kimchi and oyster mixture along with ssamjang and cabbage leaves. i'm not a big fan of the salted shrimp dipping sauce though. We actually went through two dishes of ssamjangand two dishes of sliced japapenos and raw garlic....needless to say, there would be no public interaction for a good amount of time after this meal.
This turned out to be one of the better meals we've had in a while. With (hopefully) cooler weather coming up, I'm sure we'll be visiting for the soups and stews. I hope the days of inconsistency is a thing of the past here.
Grandma's Tofu & BBQ (Halmouny)
4425 Convoy St.
San Diego, CA 92111