Make Sure You Get the “Korean” Menu at Hyo Dong Gak

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.

Hyo Dong Gak

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.

Hyo Dong Gak

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.

Hyo Dong Gak

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.

Hyo Dong Gak

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


  • “but according to Jamie, if you eat in- sometimes you have to ask for it (and by “you” I mean us white people.)”

    So you mean that as long as you AREN’T white that don’t have to ask? I mean for the rest of us that are not Korean OR white?

  • ?? interesting the ad below your post is for “The International Korean Dating Site”
    Do these ads look for key words in your post? Anyways, wayne will be delighted.

  • @mamacita: i was served up a different ad, for “ewha womans university,” also in korea, tho’.

  • While getting my pork in the brown sauce appeals, I prefer to dip my noodle in something more …spicy. After all, cinco de mayo approaches….

    I prefer to not get involved with tofu. Too pedestrian.

  • I get the ever-popular “I cured my wrinkles” ad

    Does Korean-chinese fusion food really do that? I mean, cure one’s wrinkles?

  • Korean/Chinese fusion food?….whats that… a ladradore run over by a Tank?

  • the diff between the jjajjang and gan jjajjang is that the gan jjajjang is made in smaller batches. The regular jjajjang is scooped up from a big pot throughout the day. Supposedly it’s fresher and the flavor profile is more consistent. Traditionally the gan jjajjang is served with the sauce on the side while the jjajjang is served with the sauce on top of the noodles (I guess that doesn’t apply to “to go” orders).

    That being said – I really don’t taste the diff… you can try it once to see if there is a diff, but I tend to just get the regular version and save myself $1.

  • I did some research on this, and here are the differences between the various types of jjajangmyeons:

    K-058: “Jjajangmyeon” – You know what this is.

    K-059: “Gahn-Jjajang(myeon)” – The commentator above generally got it right, but the biggest difference between this and the regular jjajangmyeon is in the preparation of the sauce. For Gahn-Jjajjangmyeon’s, you’re not supposed to add starch and water to the black bean sauce and prepare the sauce as ordered.

    K-060: “Uni-Jjajang(myeon)” – In this instance, all of the ingredients (e.g., pork, vegies) are finely minced. (To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever tried this menu during my 20+ years living in Korea.)

    K-065: “Samsun-gahn-jjajang(myeon)” – Basically, gahn-jjajang(myeon) with three (or more) see food items, such as shrimps and sea cucumbers. (“Samsun” means “three seefood”.)

    Also, for your information:

    K-062: “Jjampong” – It’s a spicy seafood noodle soup. This is another popular Korean Chinese food item.

    K-062: “Gochu-jjampong” – “Gochu” means red pepper. So, this is an even spicier version of K-062.

  • Jja Jang Myun, being my favorite dish ever, I had to comment for the first time EVER!

    Korean-Chinese is different from chinese food in Korea. Probably all of the dishes captured in the screen for the Korean menu don’t really exist in real chinese restaurants. Having lived with an Indian roommate in college, I know that there’s even Indian-Chinese cuisine in India, so go figure! Oh, yeah, and my current Ghanian roommate told me that there was a chinese restaurant even in Ghana at least ten years ago.

    Having said that, going back to the weird translations for different dishes:
    as Will said, the second dish with “special” sauce -Gan Jja Jang- costs more because it supposedly is “stir-fried” right before the waiter brings it out so the vegetables in the sauce have not been boiling with the sauce and thus taste more “fresh.” But again, I with 20+years of tasting, can’t tell the difference.
    The third dish with double “special” sauce is where the ingredients are chopped really fine so you don’t really have to chew. Supposedly easier with kids.

    Hope this helped you overcome the “language barrier”!

  • I’m a cracker bitch, and my bitch is a korean lesbian. She got the menu with dog! How come I didn’t get the dog infused menu?? Life’s not fair when you a crackah bitch!!

  • I get a stretch marks ad, but that’s probably because I’m white. :)

  • Since everyone’s playing that game – I got a “plan your diabetic menu” ad…

    I lurve chajeongmyun Korean-Chinese style… I’m not a fan of the Shanghainese style one cuz it’s spicier (in my experience). Man, I remember the days of Uncle King’s on Roosevelt Ave in Flushing… $4.75 for a big bowl of that stuff and it was good. I’ve never been able to find a replacement for that…

    BTW, if you ever go into an Asian supermarket and go to the instant noodles section, “Chapaghetti” is basically instant chajeongmyun… it suffices to sate the craving at home, though it’s not wonderful.

    I will have to try this place… wonder if I’ll get the Korean menu or not. :) Thanks Zach!

  • Yvo!! You should have posted this yesterday! I was at Hong Kong Supermarket in Brklyn Chinatown. I just ended up getting the Neoguri brand noodles and some baby bok choy to add in. I have no idea about this stuff, I need your help!

  • Sorry Mamacita… if you ever want a semi-knowledgeable guide to an Asian supermarket, holla… I’ve been considering doing a video guide for non-Asians cuz I think they’re so great (now that I’ve gotten over my fear of Asian grandmas hitting me or running htem over when they’re in my way) and CHEAP! But I can’t read any Asian language so my knowledge is limited too =T

  • Yup totally had a grandma hit me in the ass with her cart because I was idling too long in front of the veggie stand. It is daunting! LOL. We most definitely need to meet up for a lesson in Asian food, maybe afterwards we cook some of this grub and document it!

  • Ate here today for the first time. Being 2 white guys we were given the chinese menu and had to ask for the korean menu. I had the spicy seafood soup which was very good and huge portions for $8. The steamed dumplings were also very good. I saw a lot of the noodles with brown sauce being served and I think I will get it next time. It looked very good.

  • ate here the other day, got the 2 dishes listed. the black sauce noodles were (imo) not tasty in the least. the sauce was like a black sludge, and the noodles were kinda chewy. it was fun cutting them with a pair of scissors though, heh.

    the tofu dish was delicious, although not really good enough to go back for.

    just one man’s opinion!

  • These are some great tips even some midtown locals don’t know – thanks for the review and the note about the 2 menus, Zach. Plus the comments outlining the difference between jjajjangmyeon and gahnjjajjangmyeon are really good to keep in mind.

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.