With Winter Approaching Gahm Mi Oak is a Great Splurge Lunch
With baby and the wife in tow (she got the day off today!), I headed down to Koreatown for a leisurely today. Normally I am a $10 and under kind of a guy, but I think if you have to work on a holiday you should be allowed a little bit of a splurge. So, with that new rule guiding me I decided to hit up Gahm Mi Oak- one of the nicer (and more unique) Korean food options on 32nd btw. B’way+5th Ave. The menu is pretty small, and almost everything on it is over $10, but if you’re looking for something completely offal- this is your place. Gelatin of cow knee? A soup made with ox bones? Raw oysters and pork belly? It all sounded great to me… but I was there for one thing and one thing only. Soon dae! (Korean blood sausage.) Ever since I had Woorijip’s version, I’ve been craving a solid hot version from a restaurant- and all the Midtown Lunch commenters seem to agree, Gahm Mi Oak’s is the best in K-Town.
The normal size version costs $13.95 (there is a larger for $20), and comes with more than just the sausage. From left to right, there was also liver, slices of what I’m thinking might have been heart, and stomach lining. The sausage, not surprisingly, was far better than Woorijip’s prepackaged version. It came nice and warm, and I really liked the dipping sauce (tasted like miso.) I think Korean soon dae is a great gateway blood sausage because not only is it stuffed with Korean noodles but it doesn’t have as strong a blood taste, or the mushy pudding texture, of a French blood sausage. (I prefer the French version, but I could see how blood sausage virgins might find this stuff easier to eat.) The rest of the offal was just boiled, and served plain, but that’s what the salt, dips and chili peppers were for. I couldn’t believe how tender the stomach was, and the meat that I think was heart was delicious. If you’re into liver, that was good too.
For those who aren’t into the nasty bits, Gahm Mi Oak is probably most famous for their Sul Long Tang. Both (Lunch’er Pabo, and Robyn from Serious Eats had great things to say about their version.) A milky looking Korean soup made from ox bones, it comes with rice, noodles and thin slices of beef. It’s a perfect winter time soup, with a unique but completely mild flavor. Just don’t forget to add salt and scallions, or it will be way too bland. If I had grown up eating this soup, I could imagine it being incredibly comforting. It’s probably why on a cold day like today 90% of people in the the completely full restaurant were eating the Sul Long Tang. And, at $9.22 it’s technically a Midtown Lunch!
Oh… can’t forget about the kimchi! Another dish that Gahm Mi Oak is known for, their version comes free with your meal (naturally) and is clearly homemade… a point they hammer home by cutting the fermented cabbage and radish for you right at your table.
All in all it was a great lunch, although not the typical Korean fare that most Americans have become comfortable with. I’d also recommend going there with a bunch of people. Even though their menu is incredibly small (there are only about 10 things you can order), most of the stuff is far better shared than eaten alone.
THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I like super authentic Korean food, and am looking for something different than your standard bibimbap and bulgogi
- I love Sul Long Tang! The perfect soup with winter approaching
- Blood sausage, liver, stomach and heart is my idea of a delicious lunch!
- Fresh and delicious kimchi!
THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Pricier than your average Koreatown lunch
- Where’s the bulgogi!?! Must… have… bulgogi.
- Boiled squid? Ox bones? Cow knee? Blood sausage? No thanks!
- Banchan is one of my favorite parts of Korean food, and Gahm Mi Oak only gives you kimchi
Gahm Mi Oak, 43 W. 32nd St. (btw. B’way+5th), 212-695-4113