November 23, 2010

Another totally offal day

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It's no secret that I like offal - the internal organs of animals.  I find many of them absolutely delicious, and whenever they show up on a menu they are often the first things that catch my attention.  And I've gone around looking for some of these things in the past...

A Korean friend had brought Joon Ko House to our attention, and mentioned a particularly delectable dish.  I had called ahead last week, and confirmed that the item is usually available starting on Tuesdays until they run out.  So I made plans to go for lunch today.

After waiting for a table for a little while - and I rarely wait for tables at restaurants - I sat down and asked for soondaeguk (순대국).  It's a family-run restaurant and the service was excruciatingly slow, so I waited patiently for my food.  It took them a while just to bring out the banchan.

I did a double-take when my soondaeguk arrived.  It was red.  I had always had it as a milky broth without a trace of chili, so I was puzzled when my pot looked like kimchi jigae.  But there were plenty of goodies from a pig inside the bowl, though...  Delicious pieces of soondae (순대), liver, small intestine, stomach, large intestine...  It was a bit too spicy for my taste, but still good.

For dinner I met up with a couple of friends at Hakata Ichome Horumon (博多一丁目ホルモン).  I was pretty happy with my first time here a couple of months ago, so I jumped at the chance to come back.

We were greedy, and decided to order a whole bunch of stuff - almost the entire beef offal selection.  In fact, we ordered the entire digestive tract of the animal... For once, I was able to have all four chambers of a cow's stomach:

rumen (上ミノ) - stomach #1.  Pretty chewy, and we added some onion relish on top while grilling.

reticulum (千枚) - stomach #2, commonly known as manyplies.  Lovely as always, and marinated in miso.

omasum (ハチノス) - stomach #3, commonly known as honeycomb.  Deliciously marinated in miso.

abomasum (ギャラ) - supposedly unusual to find this as the fourth stomach is typically not eaten.  Pretty chewy, too.

large intestine

small intestine - our favorite, since it was oozing fat and other goodies during the grilling process.

skirt steak - actually the diaphram muscle.  I have to say that this wasn't the freshest beef... tasted like it's been around for a few days...

beef tongue

beef liver - noticeably tougher veins compared to calf's liver. 

We also enjoyed some pork belly from some Japanese pigs which fed on sweet potatoes.  My friend was very excited about seeing this on the menu, and made reference to the Japanese movie Tampopo (タンポポ).

Finally, we had the beef offal hotpot that I had last time.  It was really delicious, as the milky fat of the intestines slowly cooked into the broth.  It was also a welcome change as the pot was full of vegetables, something that was glaringly missing from the first part of our meal.  Once again the thinly sliced chili peppers made the dish by providing the spicy side of flavors.

The three of us were pretty stuffed... that was an impressive line-up of offal - one that isn't likely to be repeated in the near future.

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