Korea’s Answer to Pho

Before Pho, There Was Han Bat Sulung Tang

Sulung Tang - Korean Beef Broth Soup with meat slices

Sulung Tang - Korean Beef Broth Soup with meat slices

Ggakdugi - Daikon flavored with ginger,red chili pepper,salt & other ingredients

Ggakdugi - Daikon flavored with ginger,red chili pepper,salt & other ingredients

Baechu Kimchee - Spicy Cabbage

Baechu Kimchee - Spicy Cabbage

Before Pho infiltrated every corner of Koreatown(Los Angeles), every local K-towner(Koreatown resident) enjoyed a bowl of Sulung Tang @ Han Bat Sulung Tang(Located @ 4163 W 5th St., Los AngelesCA 90020). Sulung Tang is a broth that is cooked with bones(usually with ox tail) for several hours. It’s sort of like Daikokuya(located in Japanese Town Los Angeles) but Daikokuya is made with pork bones.

You can order the regular Sulung Tang with brisket but they also have a mixed one with liver, stomach, brisket and intestine for the daring.

The last time I came here was a year ago after a long night of Soju(Korean rice liquor) and beer. I remember my head was pounding, body dehydrated, cold sweats from alcohol poisoning, stomach turning and breath stinking like an old sweaty pair of underwear.

Master Tip For You Drinkers

Sleep + Hot Shower + Smart Water(water w/ electrolytes) + Alleve + Pepcid AC  + Han Bat Sulung  Tang = Excellent Recovery

Remember this combination. You can thank me later.

[back to the blog]

As soon as I walked in Han Bat Sulung Tang, I saw all types of people. Hungover ones. Grandpas and Grandmas. Ajushis and ajumas(korean term for middle aged people). Kids with their parents. They all have come for the same purpose. To get their fill of this delicious beef broth. I just sit down at any table without even being asked to be seated. This is how it is for most mom n pop restaurants in Koreatown. You just sit down and wait for your server. Or you can call out “Ajuma!”(A term that Koreans call the female servers) or “Yuh Gi Yuh!”(meaning “Over Here!”).

As I look at the menu posted near the cash register, I notice the mixed beef broth soup. I don’t even read what the ingredients are because I feel a bit adventurous today. Hey, if Andrew Zimmern from Bizzare Foods can eat stomach and intestines in Korea, I can up it a notch & throw in some liver. Take that Andrew!(By the way, I love your show. Much respect. I bow down to the other things you eat.)

Alongside my bowl of Sulung Tang comes kimchee, Ggakdugi, and chopped green onions. There is a procedure to all of this. Read on.

Sulung Tang Procedure

  1. Add salt and pepper to desired taste. (Be careful with the salt. Since it is good quality salt, a little will do the magic)
  2. Take several spoonfuls of the sauce from the Ggakdugi and put it in the broth.
  3. Add the chopped green onions.
  4. For more spice and flavor you can add the red chili paste but honestly you don’t need it.
  5. Add the bowl of rice.
  6. Eat a spoonful of the rice with the meat and take a bite out of the Ggakduji or Kimchee.

The brisket was delicious. The stomach was good also. The intestines were okay but I don’t really like the gushy stuff inside the intestines. Took a bite out of the liver but once again, I still do not enjoy eating liver. As I scraped the last remaining rice I had left into my bowl of soup, the server asked me “Would you like more rice?”. I must have looked so hungry and poor because her face had a look of concern. Her face basically read: I’ll give you more rice and I won’t charge you because you look so hungry and pitiful when you scrape your rice from the edges of the metal bowl.

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!!!!!!!! She has no idea that I was raised as a child not to waste any rice. I believe this is where my OCD developed. I made certain that not a single grain of rice was left in my bowl. I made absolute certain that when someone saw my bowl, they would think it was a new one.  Or maybe I just did that because I’m a gluttonous pig. OoooooOooooo glutinous rice. Focus thehungrydude, focus!

[Back to the entry]

After I ate most of the cow parts & rice, I downed the rest of the soup by grabbing the bowl with two hands and pouring it down my throat. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! This is what I was craving for. This is exactly what I needed on a hot 90 degree California day.

One interesting fact about Koreans: They suggest that you eat sulung tang or any other hot korean soup on a hot day to cool yourself down. They say that you sweat out the heat in your body. Personally, I don’t buy it. I end up getting more hot and crank up the AC. But hey, our Korean  grandparents and parents grew up thinking this way so maybe they are right in some odd way. Like how they make me go get an acupuncture or take herbal medicine. I don’t want to knock these medical methods but I don’t think I feel any different from using Western methods or Eastern methods. Anyways, back to my food entry because this can become a heated debate and I don’t want that. 🙂

[Once again, thank you A.D.D. for the side tracking moments in my entries]


Experience: 5 stars

Taste: 5 stars

Price: 4 stars – It cost only 9 dollars but it is more expensive than Pho. Hey, still under 1o bucks though.

[the end]

Til next time, ciao!

“I eat to live to eat again!” – thehungrydude


6 responses to “Korea’s Answer to Pho

  1. Duuuuuuuuuuuuude. talk about drool. this place is only a few blocks from my place too. i should go here more often. esp mornings after partying.

  2. chrisisstarvin

    You “dudes” are making me hungry, and I’m stuck here in BFE valencia, the land of sparse quality food and barren deserts.

  3. Hi. The thing about eating hot foods on warm days makes sense because this was from the days before ACs and all of the creature comforts we have today. It makes you wonder why Pho would have been so popular in a hot Southeast Asian country like Vietnam, or all of the spicy things along the equator.

    It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s pretty damn smart! For sure, as modern people, we might not need it because of all of the conveniences we have.

  4. well put Bri. I was WAITING for someone to comment on that. 🙂

  5. I don’t go to Han Bat Sulung Tang anymore ever since I found a worm. To make it worse, they didn’t apologize and told me that it was totally normal for worms to be found in their kimchi and radish kimchi.

  6. thehungrydude

    hahaha thats so gross.

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