Kunjip’s Kong Gook Soo Will Cool You Down, But Not Much Else
Last week I got an email from Tasting Table alerting me to a special summer dish at Koreatown favorite Kunjip. Kong Gook Soo is a Korean soup I had never encountered before consisting of a ground soybean broth, cold noodles, and cucumber slices. Tasting Table called it “air-conditioning for your insides.” I’m a glutton for air conditioning and new, unusual dishes, so I figured I’d stop by to get a taste.
It’s one of three special summer options, and even though it’s the cheapest one ($10.95) it’s slightly out of ML price range. But you still get all the usual banchan (free appetizers) so it was certainly filling enough for a mea. But was it tasty enough to warrant the splurge?
The waiter told me I had to add salt. Even if he hadn’t prepped me, my tastebuds would have screamed for the seasoning. The soup on its own (without a generous sprinkling of salt) was very bland. It had some nice textures with the springy noodles and the crunchy cucumbers, but aside from a slight cereal sweetness from the soymilk and a sesame seed here and there, it had absolutely no flavor.
My instincts told me to find some hot sauce to add into this. There was none on the table so I asked one of the waitresses who looked at me funny. She said I shouldn’t add hot sauce to this soup, only salt. I guess that’s the traditional way to eat this cold soup. So I added even more salt. And the soup was silky and cooling, but did not feature the bold intense flavors I usually expect from Korean food. It was very delicate and refreshing, but I wouldn’t say it was terribly flavorful.
And at over $10, I can’t say it’s really worth it for me. But if you are a kong gook soo fan and it’s a brutally hot summer day I suppose this is the lunch for you.
Kunjip, 9 West 32nd Street (btw. B’way+5th), 212-216-9487