If somebody asks me what my favorite cuisine is, I will always answer: Korean Food. It is what I grew up with and I take great pride in the complexity of the cuisine. There is one restaurant on K-block (w 32nd St between Broadway and 5th) that I will never ever get sick of. It is a restaurant that I think of when I am having a difficult day at work or when I am crammed inside the subway pushed up against door. Their menu is not extensive - in fact it all fits on two separate corners of the placemat which does double-duty as their menu. They do not have the charcoal pits at each table where you can cook kalbi or bulgogi (korean bbq). But they have the chicken soup of my childhood -- sul lung tang. You use beef bones to make the broth, and you add slices of beef brisket, rice and some noodles. Simple enough -- but nobody makes sul lung tang as flavorfoll as gahm mi oak. Here is the sign of the door, since the english on it isn't too prominent.
The second most famous thing after sul lung tang at gahm mi oak is the kimchi. I tend to be very skeptical of restaurant kimchi or mass-produced kimchi -- you just can't beat the effort and the labor that people put into their home-made kimchi. I think my grandmother's kimchi is the best in the world -- and I have yet to taste anything that is even close to tasting as good as hers. Gahm mi oak kimchi is at the very top among restaurant kimchi and it comes pretty darn close to home-made kimchi. They bring it to you like this:
And they cut it up for you at your table:
It is just right in terms of ripeness, it tastes fresh and it is seasoned well. I really hate kimchi that is too spicy -- but this kimchi has just the appropriate amount of punch. If they sold their kimchi separately, I would go twice a week and buy some from them. It is that good.
And the sul lung tang, the reason why we're here:
Sul lung tang never comes out seasoned for you. There is always salt, pepper and green onions at your table and you add them to your liking. I take one bite and I'm immediately transported to all the days I was sick and my mom would bring me a piping hot bowl of sul lung tang to make me feel better. This is my comfort food, and for that, Gahm mi oak is my favorite restaurant on K-block