Moo Dae Po 2′s Duruchigi Shovel is a Lunchtime Steal

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After this epic Thai Town crawl w/ Jet Tila yielded some pretty great finds, I felt pretty comfortable tagging along with Food Republic’s Jason Kessler a few weeks ago for another Asian food crawl, this time through Koreatown. While I can’t relate to his feelings about Asian food (I thought loving Chinese food was part of the genetic makeup of Jews, like a culinary tay-sachs if you will), the dude is a good guy and I will never turn down an excuse to eat four lunches in succession.  And while I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of stuffing my face in K-Town (with the help of guides like The Guru, Mattatouille and @samkimsamkim), it’s always nice to see a neighborhood from a new perspective.  And most of all I hoped that maybe I’d end up being introduced to something completely new and cool.

Well, if you read Jason’s post then you know that it didn’t quite turn out that way. Our Korean food guide was no Jet Tila, and Haus is no Bhan Kanom Thai.  But there was one thing that we tried on our first stop, that kind of blew everybody away.  It’s called duruchigi, and at Moo Dae Po 2 they serve it to us in a giant shovel.  Of course always being skeptical of organized media eating, I returned last week to see if this “shovel” existed for real people.  Or if it was just some kind of PR mirage rolled out for the big guns at Food Republic…

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You probably haven’t been to Moo Dae Po II, unless you’re a 20-something year old Korean who enjoys feeling like they’re in a dance club while they gorge themselves on AYCE Korean BBQ. The meat is fine, and their special seafood daenjang is tasty, but the banchan is not exciting at all (unless you love macaroni salad). And while the place might be a scene at night, during the day the cavernous hall feels weird and empty.

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But the shovel is real! And during lunchtime it’s just $8 per person.  You can order the dish solo, and they’ll cook it in the back and bring it out to you already done.  But if you order the lunch special with at least one other person, they’ll bring the whole thing out in a giant shovel that cooks on the burners in the middle of the table.

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You get to pick any two meats from the list above, so we went with pork belly and brisket. Underneath the meat is glass noodles, rice cakes, scallions, carrots, sesame leaf, and jalapenos, in a puddle of red pepper paste sauce (gochujang).

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As the whole thing starts to cook you mix it all around with the tongs, and end up with this ridiculous shovel full of delicious sweet and spicy Korean stir fry.

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But wait. There’s more. Don’t eat the whole thing. Once you’re down to the final third, call the waiter over and tell him you want what’s left made into fried rice.

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Out comes the rice, scallions, seaweed, and kimchi, and voila…

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FRIED RICE. Did I mention this was only $8 per person!? (And this is the amount of food they give you for just two people.) Moo Dae Po is notorious for their horrible service, and they didn’t disappoint. On the plus side, while they ignore our pleas for fried rice, the stir fry got nice and crispy, making for some amazing crunchy bits in the finished product.

Moo Dae Po II is far from being “an essential stop on your bulgogi crawl”, but I will definitely be back for that shovel.  I’m sorry for ever being mad at you, PR company organized Koreatown crawl!  You may not be as cool as walking around Thai Town w/ Jet Tila, but being introduced to duruchigi made you all worth it.

Moo Dae Po II, 3014 W 7th St. 213-381-9990

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