Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stinky Soup

Tuesday for lunch, David, Aksana and I met up with some of their friends at a restaurant specializing in CheongGukJang 청국장, otherwise introduced to me as stinky soup. The restaurant we went to is a chain of restaurants that specialize in this soup and it is known for it's healthy cuisine. I have not met a Korean dish I didn't enjoy but was sure that I was about to end that record. How could something referred to as stinky be tasty?? 

As we got close to the restaurant, David asked if I could smell it yet. I wasn't sure until right when we got to the door, then the odor hit me. It was a familiar smell that I didn't realize belonged to this soup. I wouldn't say that "stinky" is the first word that comes to mind, but it does have a peculiar scent. We walked in and after a minute, I could no longer smell the soup. We got a semi-private room for our lunch and sat on the floor while the Korean in our group ordered for us. 

Then the show began. Dish after dish after dish started arriving. There was so much food and no soup to be seen. I was curious, and was told that first we start out eating some pork wrapped in different types of lettuce and enjoy the side dishes. Then they will bring out bibimbap and then the soup. Bibimbap and soup?? There was a spread set for a king on our table and the main characters hadn't even made an appearance yet. 
My dining mates, starting the feast
We enjoyed all the kimchis and banchan (side dishes) then the bowls of rice arrived for our bibimbap. Finally, the boiling soup arrived. I was served first since I was the only one who had never had it yet. It looked delicious and I had opened my appetite with all the side dishes. 
Our table with all the items, minus our photographer Shing
Just like every other dish I have had here, this one did not let me down. It was rich and thick and savory. I couldn't believe this was my first time eating it here. Surely, it won't be the last. 

After we finished as much as we could, and peeled ourselves from the floor and walked outside, the scent really hit me! The whole time in the restaurant I hadn't noticed it, but once we were back in the fresh air it was all around me. They told me that for the rest of the day my skin and clothes would smell like the soup. Small price to pay for such an incredible feast. 

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