Hadongkwan is great for gomtang
At a going-away party recently for a close friend, needless to say, everyone got drunk. I was one of the few who reached the “extreme drunk” zone. When I woke up the next day, the only thing I could think of was that I desperately needed to cure that hangover, and fast.
Immediately, Hadongkwan came to mind, a homey restaurant that serves one of Korea’s best gomtang dishes, or a hot soup of oxtail and leg bone with rice, guaranteed to help chase away my lingering drunkenness.
At Hadongkwan, the broth of the gomtang is clear and made from simmering leg bones for a long time. Later, with slices of beef brisket and boiled intestines are added on top. The restaurant says it uses only hanwoo, or Korean beef, from a single provider and has been doing so since it opened in 1939.
Some people confuse gomtang with another hot beef soup, seolleongtang, made by simmering oxtail and assorted bones until the broth is rendered milky white. Seolleongtang is usually served with thin wheat flour noodles.
The restaurant’s traditional atmosphere matches its bowls, chopsticks and spoons all made of brass, a nice touch missing in many other restaurants because brass is more expensive and harder to clean. Moreover, place settings made of brass have the ability to hold heat for an extended period of time, another reason behind the success of the Hadongkwan gomtang.
When my soup arrived, it came with a huge bowl of diced scallions. The bowl is passed around and I picked up a handful and placed it on top of my soup. Scallions are common in Korean cooking and with gomtang they are used to rid the soup of the fishy smell due to its considerable amount of beef and slices of cow’s internal organs.
I have been a customer of the restaurant since I was young, but had not been there for quite some time. Needless to say, the Hadongkwan gomtang did not fail me.
A great part of the hangover from the night before seemed to fade away with my first taste. Without an ounce of miscellaneous grease, the flavor of the soup was rich, but the aftertaste subtle.
The slices of beef brisket were tender and the intestines chewy and juicy. The side dishes of cabbage and radish kimchi were ripe, and their ripeness complemented the clear soup.
Hadongkwan is a 73-year-old restaurant that dedicates its menu to gomtang, but customers can order special gomtang that contains more meat and sliced cow’s organs and a separate plate of boiled beef slices.
The price for the basic gomtang is 10,000 won ($8.70) and 12,000 won for the special gomtang with extra meat.
By Lee Jee-eun Contributing writer [email@example.com]
Hadongkwan is open 7 a.m to 4:30 p.m. every day except the first and third Sundays of the month. The restaurant is located near the Euljiro Station, line No. 2, exit 5. (02) 776-5656.