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On Dong, Mandarin Restaurants


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#1 skchai

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Posted 02 May 2004 - 01:54 PM

On Dong Restaurant
1499 S. King St.
Honolulu HI 96814
947-9444

Chinese food as served in Korea can be divided into three different cuisines (at the very least). At the highest price level is the chunghwa jeongshik, which consists mostly of rare delicacies such as sea cucumber, abalone, and pine mushrooms served (usually) in bland, gloppy, cornstarch-laden sauce that seems to be a parody of Hong Kong-style banquet dining. At the lowest level, you have ramyeon and the like, which is really a Sino-Japanese carryover from the colonial days. In the middle, you have what most Korean people think of as "Chinese food": Northern-Chinese influenced, Koreanized cuisine consisting of noodle dishes such as cchajangmyeon and cchamppong, as well as simple dishes of fried meats or seafood in spicy and / or sweet sauces.

The usual history is that this last style of cuisine arose in Seoul during the early to mid part of the 20th century among hwagyo, Chinese (or in some cases Korean-Chinese) immigrants from the border regions between China and Northern Korea, as well as from Shandong Province. Given their background, they brought with the an array of flour-based dishes that were soon adopted for Korean tastes and ingredients. Cchajangmyeon is the prototypical "sauced noodle" dish, made with fermented bean sauce, while cchamppong is the prototypical "soup noodle" dish. Other popular Sino-Korean dishes include kkamppunggi, fried chicken served with a spicy garlic sauce, nanja wanseu, fried meatballs served in similar spicy sauce, and rajogi, a somewhat softer dish of boneless chicken. All these dishes are typically named in transliterated Mandarin rather than Korean pronounciation of Chinese characters, which accounts for the copious double consonants (now that I've further transliterated it into English, that is).

Ondong Restaurant (Andong Banjeom to its Korean customers) is a typical Sino-Korean restaurant along the lines of thousands of others in Korea and throughout the areas where the Korean diaspora has settled. Like most Korean-run Chinese restaurants in the U.S., it offers a full line of Sino-American standards such as sweet sour pork, beef broccoli, etc., but if your're interested something different, go directly to the parts of the menu that say "House Special" and "Cookery List". You'll know it's Korean-run if the first thing they offer you are little plates of raw onion with black bean sauce, as well as pickled radish and cabbage kimchee.

We always order cchajangmyeon when we go there, since the kids love it, like Korean kids everywhere. In fact, I think they actually did a poll that showed that cchajangmyeon is the #1 most popular food of all among Korean kids, playing the same role as pizza or hamburgers in the U.S., and curry rice or tonkatsu in Japan. Better make sure they aren't headed to any public gathering after the meal, though. While Northern Chinese cchajangmyeon tends to be brown, and based upon soybean paste, Korean cchajangmyeon is based upon black bean paste, and will turn the front and sleeves of your kid's clothes pitch black as they dig into it (though it does come out in the wash).

At Andong, the cchajangmyeon noodles and sauce come in separate bowls so that you can mix it together yourself; I guess it gives you a better view of the ingredients before you mix them up.

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The black bean paste has been combined with soy sauce, beef broth, malt syrup, and cornstarch, which in turn have been combined with stir-fried chopped beef and seafood with onions, garlic, small chunks of radish, etc. Good cchajangmyeon noodles are supposed slightly chewy - not because al dente, but because they've been kneaded to the point there the gluten holds up under boiling. Somehow, small slivers of cucumber are the standard garnish in restaurants everywhere.

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Once you mix things up, the noodles start to look pretty scary, but the sauce is addictive, with an very high savoriness level provided by the large amount of fermented black beans (and sometime enhanced with MSG) offset by the sweetness provided by the malt syrup. It goes down very easy, and it's not hard to bolt it down very quickly if you're not paying attention.

Not so for cchamppong, the other of the two pillars of Sino-Korean cuisine. I must confess I have no idea what Northern Chinese chhamppong is like. However, I can say that that Korean chhamppong is nothing the Nagasaki champon, another adapted version of the original. The Nagasaki version is made from a pork bone broth, while the Korean version is made from a seafood broth made red-hot by generous amounts of Korean chili. The broth is usually so spicy it'd difficult to do more than sip small amounts of it at a time from your plastic spoon, held in your left hand, while you manage the noodles with your chopsticks in your right hand.

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The "chunks" inside the broth include a lot of stuff - cabbage, onion, green onion, tree ear fungus, carrot, chili pods, squid, tiny shrimp, and octopus, in addition to the chewy noodles. Like cchajangmyeon, cchamppong can either be thought of as a full meal, or as the finale to a more substantial meal including separate entrees. In the latter case, the cchajangmyeon and cchamppong play the role of starch in the meal, and plain rice is rarely eaten along with them (unless it is used to soak up the extra sauce that remains after all the cchajangmyeon noodles are gone).

As in Sino-American and Sino-Indian cuisine, the Sino-Korean cuisine is heavily populated by entrees based on battered, deep-fried chunks of something in thick sauce, even though such kinds of foods are pretty much absent in traditional Chinese cooking, whatever the reason. I don't know why this is, I guess deep-frying tends to make just about any kind of food accessible to the outsider. One thing that can be said in favor of Sino-Korean fried-and-sauced foods are that they usually not as candy-sweet as the kind you find in Sino-American menus. Even the Sino-Korean version of sweet-sour pork, tangsuyuk, is typically higher on the sour than sweet, and lacks the garish red food coloring of the Sino-American version.

We decided to order kkamppung ojingeo, or fried squid served in spicy garlic sauce. Here is it is, particularly crisp and with minimum cornstarch, just as it ought to be. It's interesting that mid-range Chinese cuisine in Korea tends to be much more restrained with the use of cornstarch than high-end cuisine, but that's just the way things are:

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If you're not into deep-fried food or noodles but want to explore the Sino-Korean culinary universe, one very representative dish is buchu japchae, stir-fried Chinese chives and beef, which are typically served with small steamed buns. You can also order wang mandu, larger version of these buns, filled with a very Korean mixture of ground beef, bean thread noodles, and onions.

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Ondong / Andong is located on King Street at Kaheka, close to the Ke`eaumoku area that passes for K-Town in Honolulu. There are two other Sino-Korean places in close proximity; I'll try to review them at some point when I get around to it. The best way to find parking is to enter via Kaheka, going into the parking lot that the restaurant shares with Plumeria Barbershop (sponsor of unintentionally funny commercials on the Korean radio stations) and the Honolulu Futon Company. It's validated parking during the day, but free at night. The entrance is on the opposite side of the parking lot, but you can get in directly by cutting through the narrow, hallway-shaped kitchen. The chefs are used to it so the more or less go about their business, but make sure you don't knock over bowls of marinating pork or get splattered by hot oil in the process.

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#2 kokimotonyc

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Posted 07 May 2004 - 01:47 PM

On my last trip to Honolulu I went to this place. My wife, who happens to be Korean, loves Korean Chinese food, which is easy to get when we go to Seoul, but is not so easy to find elsewhere. As a consequence, she often craves jjajja-myun and a sweet-sour pork dish, and is unable to find it other than in very unfulfilling packaged varieties. Fortunately, my high school classmate discovered this place, and kindly took my wife and me to get her fix. I have found similar places here in New York City, but none so far has been as satisfying as Andong Restaurant on King Street.

SK has provided a virtual compendium of what to order at this fine establishment, which offers a great niche product that is very difficult to find. Please visit it! We will, of course, visit it when we come back to Honolulu over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

On the topic of hard to find food, the friend who introduced me to Andong has searched high and low throughout Honolulu in vain to find a dish that is rather ubiquitous here on the East Coast and also in the Midwest. The dish is a Chinese dish called General Tso's Chicken. I am utterly amazed that my friend, who happens to be Chinese, cannot find this dish in Honolulu. It consists of fried pieces of boneless chicken, with dried chilies and broccoli. It's spicy and very good, although I assume it is not very authentic Chinese. Does anyone know where one can find it in Honolulu?

#3 skchai

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Posted 10 May 2004 - 01:36 AM

Thanks for the nice comments on the review. Glad your wife enjoyed eating there!

Regarding General Tso's chicken. You're right that it's very hard to find in Hawai`i. I haven't really been looking for it, but I'll start to scan menus from now on. . . It seems that the popularity of the dish in the U.S. began in New York and spread westward. There was a thread about it in the China forum a while ago:

General Tso's Relatives

Sun-Ki Chai
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#4 ryanozawa

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 01:23 PM

Wow. This place is right down the street from where I live, and I've never been there. Recognized the sign instantly, though! I wish i knew more about Korean food... I'm pretty indiscriminate in my dining choices in that genre. I've been to Yakiniku Seoul at the corner of S. King and Kalakaua a few times, and liked it, and Han Yang in Kalihi whose name escapes me at the moment... but I wouldn't know "good Korean" from Yummy BBQ, to be honest.

What I like about both is the almost frightening number of "little plates" of other things that come with your meal. At Han Yang? My friend an I can barely finish half of them. I wonder if they recycle? Eep.

Here's a review of Han Yang. Seven side dishes!

Edited by ryanozawa, 13 May 2004 - 01:30 PM.

HawaiiThreads.com - Let's talk story!

#5 PakePorkChop

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 06:12 PM

It appears that General Tso's Chicken emerged from the Hunan restaurants in America that are found primarily in the eastern U.S. of A.

Hunan cuisine being a close cousin of Szechuan cooking, just go to Maple Garden, the Szechuan restaurant in Honolulu, and voila! General Tso's chicken!

I am told that the dish is known by other names in China because General Tso's methods of quelling insurrection was not exactly p.c. and therefore not appropriate for culinary memorialization.

As for the seafood soup, I've seen it spelled jampong for the Korean version and champon for the Nagasaki version. As far as I can tell, neither word has a meaning in either language other than as a reference to Chinese seafood-topped noodle soup.

The Nagasaki version is said to have been invented by a Chinese restaurant owner for hungry students. The Japanese say that "champon" is derived from the Chinese word for "let's eat". The Fukienese Chinese dialect would pronounce "let's eat" as "chapon" or "japon", so that explanation is quite plausible.

It would then seem that Koreans returning to Korea after eating Champon would ask for it in Chinese restaurants back home, the vast majority of which are owned and operated by Chinese from Shandong province.

The Shandong people do not have any dish called Champon but they do have a dish call sou ma min, which is made by first stir-frying seafood, vegetalbles, and other ingredients before adding the mix to noodles and topping everything with a broth. That dish, Koreanized with, what else, chile is what is served as Korean
Jampong.

Thus, you can find this dish (sou ma mein) in Honolulu at the Mandarin Restaurant (with James Liu, the father of Shandong Cuisine in Honolulu), Eastern Paradise, and Wang's Garden. It is also found at the Peking Restaurant, which is Korean owned and operated, under its Korean name, jampong.

And I don't believe you can find it at a Korean restaurant in Honolulu because, after all, champong is a Chinese dish invented in Japan!

For another view of sou ma mein, see:

http://www.hawaii.rr...oownoodles2.htm

#6 pake

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Posted 13 May 2004 - 09:29 PM

Speaking of Maple Garden, if you ever go there, you gotta try the Tungpo Pork. There's a nickname - "Beautiful Lady's Rolling Bottom". It's a pork belly dish that you have to order the day before, like their Peking Duck. Takes a long time to prepare. Braised and steamed for hours. It is so delicious!

#7 kokimotonyc

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Posted 14 May 2004 - 04:34 AM

Thanks for this information, PPC. I will have to tell my friend. This friend ate so much General Tso's chicken when he lived in St. Louis that he I believe he is solely responsible for getting Col. Tso elevated to a higher rank. This other dish with the pork also sounds like something you would get at the Szechuan restaurants here in NYC. Sou ma mein sounds good too. Must try it! SK - thanks for the thread on the General as well.

#8 skchai

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 01:44 PM

Mahalo to everyone for your lively posts on this thread!

Have been to Maple Garden dozens of times - it was my father's favorite restaurant. Was back there again last night. It was a banquet-type thing, so I didn't have a chance to check the menu for General Tso's Chicken. But we did have the fried chicken legs in spicy garlic sauce, the tea-smoked duck, as well as the Tungpo Pork. Even my wife liked the tungpo pork, even though she usually hates pork!

Thanks for the info on the sou ma mein. Will have to check it out. Eastern Paradise also serves cchamppong, so it will be interesting to see if it's the same or different from their sou ma mein!

Sun-Ki Chai
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#9 Jason Perlow

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 01:56 PM

Oh man do I love Korean Chinese.
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#10 herbacidal

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Posted 17 May 2004 - 12:12 PM

Oh man do I love Korean Chinese.

Is there anywhere in NY Metro that has it?
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#11 Jason Perlow

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Posted 17 May 2004 - 12:18 PM

Oh man do I love Korean Chinese.

Is there anywhere in NY Metro that has it?

In Jersey there is a quite a few places. Palisades Park I know has several, and there's a particularly good one in the shopping plaza in Ridgefield where Han Ah Reum is.

I would imagine there's a few in Flushing, as well as at least 1 on 32nd street in Manhattan.
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#12 jschyun

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Posted 17 May 2004 - 01:24 PM

Oh man do I love Korean Chinese.

Mmm hmm, me too.

One time, we were in Seoul, at a fancy restaurant, and my uncle turns to us and asks us what we would like to eat. Suddenly, my baby (at the time) brother yells out "jajangmyun!" My mother was mortified. Everyone else had a good laugh.
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#13 tanspace

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Posted 15 June 2004 - 01:35 PM

As for the seafood soup, I've seen it spelled jampong for the Korean version and champon for the Nagasaki version.  As far as I can tell, neither word has a meaning in either language other than as a reference to Chinese seafood-topped noodle soup.

The Nagasaki version is said to have been invented by a Chinese restaurant owner for hungry students.  The Japanese say that "champon" is derived from the Chinese word for "let's eat".  The Fukienese Chinese dialect would pronounce "let's eat" as "chapon" or "japon", so that explanation is quite plausible.

It would then seem that Koreans returning to Korea after eating Champon would ask for it in Chinese restaurants back home, the vast majority of which are owned and operated by Chinese from Shandong province.

The Shandong people do not have any dish called Champon but they do have a dish call sou ma min, which is made by first stir-frying seafood, vegetalbles, and other ingredients before adding the mix to noodles and topping everything with a broth.  That dish, Koreanized with, what else, chile is what is served as Korean
Jampong.

--

And I don't believe you can find it at a Korean restaurant in Honolulu because, after all, champong is a Chinese dish invented in Japan!

That's an interesting story on the Nagasaki version of Champon. I don't know the real history behind it, but chances are it is derived from the Shandong version of Chao Ma Mian. Chao Ma Mian (mandarin pronounciation) == sou ma men == jampong: they all basically mean the same dish which came from Shandong.

However, I don't think this dish is invented in Japan. Champon may be invented in Japan by Chinese, but the original Chao Ma Mian has always been a Chinese dish (and spicy) - and the Koreanized version made by Chinese from Shandong is not very different from the original.

-t

#14 skchai

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Posted 16 June 2004 - 02:47 AM

Welcome to eGullet, tanspace. You've got a great eating site there - I'll definitely use it as a reference next time I'm in San Francisco (this August).

How champon got to Nagasaki is kind of a mystery to me. There has been a substantial Chinese community in Nagasaki since the early 17th century, but given Nagasaki's geographical location, it seems more likely that they would be from Southeastern China rather than Shandong. Perhaps this would explain why Nagasaki champon is so different from the Korean cchamppong or the original Shandong chaomamian. But then, why the similarity in names between the Nagasaki and the korean dish? Any insights you could provide on all this would be appreciated. . .

Sun-Ki Chai
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#15 PakePorkChop

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Posted 19 June 2004 - 07:03 AM

Aloha, everyone! Just got back from Zhu Sam Guo (Pearl River Delta), with eats in Hong Kong, Zhuhai, Sanxiang, Changan, Punyu, and Shenzhen. Gained five pounds in eleven days!

With the Champon/Jampong history, I have to go with the narrative evidence and hypothesize that the dish originated in Nagasaki. This hypothesis projects that Koreans exposed to the dish in Japan then requested the mixed seafood noodle dish from Shandong restaurants in Korea and were provided with Sou Ma Men, a very similar dish, at that point then dubbed Jampong.

For some exploration of the subject, go to:

http://www.worldrame...on/Champon.html

#16 skchai

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Posted 21 June 2004 - 01:46 PM

PPC, Welcome back! We're all envious of your lifestyle. . . . Please do let us know more about your experiences in the hotbed of Chinese culinary culture!

Your hypothesis about the origins of Champon make a lot of sense to me. By the way, the owner of worldramen.net, "BON" is a former eGullet forum host.

Sun-Ki Chai
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#17 skchai

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Posted 12 July 2004 - 12:14 AM

Mandarin Restaurant
725 Kapiolani Blvd.
Honolulu HI 96813
808 593-1188

Mandarin is another popular Sino-Korean restaurant, with a menu that's pretty similar to Andong. We go to both places quite a bit, and so I thought I would included it in the same thread, not so much for comparison purposes, but to give you guys a glimpse of additional facets of Chinese cuisine as South Koreans know it.

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The secret to knowing that it's a Sino-Korean restaurant, even before looking at the menu, is the fact they'll plop down plates of kimchi and raw onions in front of you as soon as you sit down. The black stuff on the right is pure, unadulterated fermented black bean paste for dipping the onions.

The cchajangmyeon and cchamppong are in the standard format, in fact, they are so similar to the On Dong versions that I won't bother to include pictures here. Indeed, Sino-Korean restaurants everywhere are remarkable in the precise uniformity that you find in the cchajangmyeon and cchamppong - it's like they're all working off the same recipe. When I was housesitting with the kids in Seoul a couple years ago, we ordered cchajangmyeon takeout or delivery three times over the course of about 10 days (not my idea, exactly) from three different places, and it was really hard to tell the difference. I suppose it's because Korean customers view these two dishes as standard representatives of the Chinese restaurant experience, have very precise expectations of what they're supposed to get, and won't accept the slightest deviation. Chefs might experiment with the meat dishes, and they don't even have to offer vegetable dishes, but tamper with the noodle dishes and they'll go out of business. By the way, cchajangmyeon and cchamppong are the two most frequent foods that you find delivered to homes in urban South Korea - they're like the Korean version of delivery pizza, challenged nowadays only by pizza itself. If you've seen the cult comedy classic "Attack on the Gas Station", you'll know what I'm talking about.

PPC, (perhaps) you'd be happy to know that cchamppong is listed as "sou ma men" in English (and Chinese characters) on the Mandarin menu.

Anyway, I will show you some of the meat dishes that you can get at Mandarin - with very short descriptions.

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Kkamppunggi - spicy fried chicken in garlic sauce. It's the more commonly-eaten variation of the kkamppung squid that we had at Andong.

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Tangsuyuk - the Korean version of sweet and sour pork. Note that while the sauce here is almost as gloppy, it's not the same fuschia color that you find in American sweet n' sour. In Korea, sweet and sour beef is also very popular, since some people look down on pork as a "low class" meat. The Mandarin's version is very crisp (perhaps they do the water chestnut flour thing?) and, refreshingly, actually has some sourness to it - and the kids still gobble it up.

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Nanjawanseu, on the other hand, is something not remotely like anything you'll find in a Sino-American restaurant. It's a made from giant pork meatballs (sort of like those you find in Lion's Head) that have been deep-fried until crisp, then put in a not-so spicy, but somewhat garlicky, soy-based sauce.

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Cheon'yubyeong (pan-fried green onion cake) is actually more of a pure Northern Chinese dish than a Sino-Korean adaptation, but you do frequently find it on Sino-Korean menus. This one is filled with huge amounts of green onions mixed, interestingly enough, with some scrambled egg.

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It's on the ground floor of the futuristic-looking 40-story Imperial Plaza on the corner of Kapiolani and Cooke Streets. The customers are not so much the residents but the workers at the nearby office buildings. There's validated parking in the Plaza garage if you come through the business parking entrance around the corner, or you can look in vain for metered spots on the Cooke Street side facing the restaurant. The mirrored glass is great for seeing your own dorkiness before you walk through the doors.

Sun-Ki Chai
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#18 skchai

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Posted 06 August 2004 - 10:05 PM

Here's some more Sino-Korean food from yet another visit to Ondong Restaurant (Andong Banjeom)

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As I mentioned, the surest sign that you're in a Sino-Korean restaurant (besides Korean on the menu), is when they give you kimchi plus raw onions with black bean sauce as your "amuse". Andong even throws in some yellow takuwan pickled daikon (called dakuwang in Korean).

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This is rajoyuk, deep-fried beef in a spicy sauce. It's de-chickenized version of a more common dish called rajogi, since as I mentioned my wife doesn't like chicken. It's also somewhat similar to the kkamppung dishes such as the kkamppung squid shown above. In fact, I could never really figure out the difference between rajo and kkamppung, other than that kkamppung usually has a little less sauce. . .

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This is the Andong version of Korean-style sweet-sour pork, tangsuyuk. Notice how similar it is to the Mandarin's version - tree ear fungus, carrots cut into slices, and green onions. Andong again throws in one more thing - Chinese cabbage, but otherwise it's a standardized recipe here and everywhere in Korea.

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O.K., now for something a little different. This is the buchu japchae - stir-fried Chinese chives with dry-fried beef. You traditionally eat it by stuffing it into steamed buns, though rice is fine too. . .

Sun-Ki Chai
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