Gahm Mi Oak, a Korean restaurant on 32nd St between Broadway and 5th Ave in NYC, specializes in a long-simmered, white ox-bone soup called sul long tang. According to my foodie friend Ray, who introduced me to Gahm Mi Oak, they also make some of the best kimchi that can be found in Manhattan. And they're open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Their menu used to be written entirely in Korean, but it now includes English translations of the dishes.
The sul long tang is the dish most people come for -- we saw steaming bowls of the soup on nearly every table in the dining room. But there are a selection of other dishes too -- including the standard bi-bim-bap and also a variety of dishes featuring interesting animal parts: beef knee, beef tongue, and pig's ear, just to name a few.
The addictively spicy and delicious housemade kimchi, which includes cabbage and chunks of daikon radish (kak-tu-gi) fermented with hot pepper and other seasonings. The server brings a whole cabbage to the table in a ceramic crock, presents it, and then cuts it with shears into more manageable pieces. The kimchi was perfectly spiced, complex, crisp, and with a wonderful tanginess from long fermentation (the Korean term for this is eigun, which indicates that the kimchi is "well done" -- ie, has acquired a distinctive taste from the long fermentation process).
Bin-dae-duk: Sprouted mung bean pancakes with scallion and carrot. Crispy on the outside, tender and fragrant within, and an ideal foil for the spicy kimchi.
These long green peppers are served with a wonderfully rich and savory miso paste for dipping (below, right). I'd never tried this combination before, and it's fantastic. The flesh of the peppers is mild, but I learned the hard way that the seeds really pack a punch!
Garlic soy sauce (left) for dipping mung bean pancakes, and rustic miso paste to eat with the green peppers.
The sul long tang is served unseasoned. At each table there is a bowl of sea salt, black pepper, and sliced scallions so you can dress up your soup to please your palate.
This is it, the star of the show: white ox-bone soup. The collagen and gelatin extracted during the long simmering of the bones creates a stock that is incredibly silky, rich, and full-bodied. The stock is laced with thin strips of beef brisket, rice, and rice noodles. Simple and perfect in every way, a universal comfort food. Some say this soup prevents hangovers. It can probably cure just about anything else, too.
An open portion of the kitchen faces out to the dining room, and this is where magic happens: ox-bone stock simmers in enormous cauldron-like vats. I tried to take a photo of one of the simmering cauldrons, but that didn't go over too well. So you'll just have to go head over to Gahm Mi Oak to see them for yourself!
A big thank you to Ray for hosting our dinner at Gahm Mi Oak!!!