Gahm Mi Oak ~ Orderinny

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gahm Mi Oak

When the weather is below freezing, and wind chill just makes it worse, a crunchy, cold salad can be a very unappetizing meal. Instead, what I crave for lunch on those winter days is a steaming bowl of soup to ward away the chills. And when I happen to be in the vicinity of Ktown, I visit Gahm Mi Oak for a bowl of seolleong tang.

Gahm Mi Oak is a nondescript looking place on the ktown strip, but its menu distinguishes itself from the other 20 or so restaurants packed on the same block. Instead of the usual gamut of menu items, Gahm Mi Oak's feature a scant dozen or so dishes and a brief survey of the diners will reveal that hardly anything else is ordered besides the ubiquitous bowl of sul long tang. And instead of an array of banchan as is customary at most Korean restaurants, the only side dish served here is a generous plate of homemade radish and cabbage kimchi retrieved straight from its pickling pot. But I am not complaining, as the kimchi is one of the best served in the city, tart yet sweet at the same time, and not so unpickled that the radish tastes raw.

And now the seolleong tang. Admittedly, the white, almost opaque ox-bone broth is not for flavor junkies, but the broth is boiled for such length that it assumes a rich beefiness that does not require a heavy handed approach on spices. All it needs is a sprinkling of salt and some chopped scallions to enhance the taste. And the excellent radish kimchi is a great accompaniment for the soup. Because of the bone marrow that inadvertently seeps into the soup, the broth achieves a thick consistency that does not require additional fortification from milk (unlike fish head noodles in Singapore, where vendors pour cans of evaporated milk to achieve the white milky goodness) And unlike the fuzhou noodle soup made with pork bones, grease is minimal here. Both rice and noodles reside in the broth, and some thin slices of brisket floating on top of the broth complete the soothing dish. So simple, with such humble origins, but so satisfying. I eagerly drink up, slurp the noodles and finish up my rice, and I allow myself the luxury to recede into a warm fuzzy haze of food coma. Finally, with the next bowl of seolleong tang planned, I bundle up, make my exit and face the bitter cold.
Gahm Mi Oak
43 W32 St (Bet 5th & 6th Ave)

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