Chinese Korean Fusion Delight
If you think you know Chinese food, you might think differently after exploring Korean Chinese noodles and hot soups at Han Joong Kwan.
For centuries, Chinese chefs have been masters at perfecting dishes that spanned their rich historical and geographical terrain. This mastery has also applied to adapting their cuisine to other countries' food eccentricities.
Chinese American food, the kind you find in take-outs and fine establishments across America, is quite different, for example, from Chinese food routinely found in England. In the same manner, Chinese Korean food has its own twist. It blends the spices of Korea with a Chinese approach to cooking and food presentation.
Han Joong Kwan features some of the best Chinese Korean food in Ellicott City because of the thick, fresh noodles that are a staple in most dishes. This type of noodle is rumored to be the variety that was sampled by Italian explorers traveling in the East -- a happy encounter said to have sparked the pasta craze for which Italy is known.
Of course, the noodles in both styles of cooking can be quite different, but when you eat a bowl of Ja Jang Myun and compare it to a heaping bowl of spaghetti, you might see how they inspired one another.
Ja Jang Myun is a hot noodle dish served with thick wheat noodles that comes with black bean sauce to be stirred in. You can get the Ja Jang Myun with seafood or pork and it becomes more unique the more ingredients you include. It's incomparable to almost anything else, with its undertones of soy sauce, black bean, onion and nutty oils.
It is a childhood favorite in Korea, but it's a hearty and satisfying dish for all ages.
Because this is Chinese Korean food, the side dishes (bahnchan) are limited compared to most Korean fare. The traditional bahnchan for this type of meal includes dahk qwang (pickled daikon radish), cut onions that you dip in concentrated black bean sauce, and some kimchee. I suggest splashing a bit of vinegar onto the pickled radish and eating that with the Ja Jang Myun. The vinegar bottle is usually on the table, and it may clue the staff that you know how to eat Korean food the right way.
Great starters for the meal are Tangsu Sokoki and Kanpoong Sae Woo. Both of these dishes are large but meant to be shared as an appetizer before the noodle dishes are served. Tangsu Sokoki is battered and fried beef served in a tangy sweet and sour sauce. Kanpoong Sae Woo features battered and friend shrimp surrounded by a hot sauce that is also sweet and spicy.
Pineapples are often used in both sauces, creating an amazing taste sensation when paired with the fried chunks of meat or shrimp. You might want to order one of each if you are with a large party because one dish often means a chopstick battle over the last piece.
I also recommend any of the Tchamppong soups that come in large bowls containing a heaping serving of noodles. The soup is red pepper-based and spicy, but you can ask for a milder version. Slurping the soup on a cold day is just what you may need to warm your spirits or soothe frayed nerves after a stressful week.
One caveat--don't wear white while doing it.
To get more information on this Chinese Korean fusion, call 410-461-1099.