Make Sure You Get the “Korean” Menu at Hyo Dong Gak
I was really really into Lunch’er Jamie’s profile last Tuesday… but probably for different reasons than some of you. My interest was particularly piqued by the mention of her choice for “best Midtown Lunch” around: the special noodles with brown sauce at Hyo Dong Gak on 35th btw. 5+6th.
I’m a big fan of the craziness known as Korean/Chinese food, mostly for the jjajangmyeon (or “noodles with brown sauce” as it is called in English.) While usually a restaurant that serves multiple kinds of Asian foods under one roof is a big red flag, Korean Chinese food is a different animal. It’s a hybrid cuisine with certain dishes you can only find at Korean Chinese food restaurants (like jjajangmyeon.) Most people consider Shanghai Mong (on 32nd btw. 5th+B’way) the go-to Korean Chinese food place in Koreatown. But with this kind of endorsement from Jamie, I knew I had to check out Hyo Dong Gak.
The weird thing is I had actually walked by Hyo Dong Gak the other day, and didn’t see noodles with brown sauce. Turns out I was looking at the wrong menu.
The trick is, they’ve got two menus: a typical Chinese food menu, with dishes like beef with broccoli and wonton soup, and a “Korean” menu. If you are white there’s a fifty fifty chance they’re going to automatically give you the standard “Chinese” food menu.
Once you end up with the Korean menu, there are three choices of noodles with brown sauce- actually there are four if you include the seafood version. I, of course, prefer the standard version, which has pork. I’m not exactly sure what the difference is between the three standard versions (there was a bit of a language barrier), but from what I could understand, they put a ton of raw onions into the “special” Peking sauce. So it has a stronger onion flavor. Maybe there is more meat as well? But I can’t be sure of that… and I’m also not sure why it’s $1 extra. As for the “Special Brown Special Peking sauce”, I have no clue what that’s all about. It may or may not be a combination of ground pork as well as chunks of pork (the “special” only has chunks.) If anybody knows, put it in the comments.
Anyway, Jamie recommended the special, so I ordered the special (to go). Ordering this kind of dish to go is probably a mistake, because by the time we made it to the outdoor seating area in Greeley Square (5th Ave. and 33rd) the noodles had kind of congealed into a block. Of course that problem is easily fixed once you pour the brown sauce over and do some serious mixing. It comes with kimchee and pickled yellow radish (standard) but according to Jamie, if you eat in- sometimes you have to ask for it (and by “you” I mean us white people.)
I can’t say for sure if it’s better than the version at Shanghai Mong, but it’s definitely good- and for $7.75 the price can’t be beat. Decent amount of pork, love the onions, and a really good amount of food.
I met Danny from the blog Food in Mouth there, and he ordered the Szechuan style tofu with beef, off the lunch specials menu ($8.95). A huge portion, it came with rice, kimchee, and pickled radishes as well. He also asked for it extra extra spicy, and they certainly delivered. I don’t know if it was as good as the Ma Po Tofu at Szechuan Gourmet (on 39th btw. 5+6th), but it was pretty damn close. All in all a great lunch, really good lunch prices for Koreatown- and a great option for jjajangmyeon. Just make sure you get the right menu.
- I love Korean Chinese food and am looking for a new option besides Shanghai Mong
- Great version of jjajangmyeon (nooodles with brown sauce)
- Lunch specials for under $10 can be hard to find in sit down Koreatown restaurants
- I like Korean food. I like Chinese food. Keep them seperate!
- The noodles with brown sauce is not made to travel
- If you are white, sometimes you get the wrong menu- and have to ask for the kimchee
Hyo Dong Gak, 51 W. 35th St. (btw. 5+6th), 212-695-7167