Autumn’s chill has arrived. That for me means indulging in a lot more soups and stews both at home and when I dine out. If I have to give up the warmer summer weather for something, this isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Seolleongtang is a Korean ox bone-based soup that is simply decorated with other ingredients such as green onions and thin slices of beef brisket. Its something I enjoy when I want to change things up and go for something that isn’t spicy when out for Korean cuisine. I might have mentioned this in a past post, but I’d recommend this for any Korean food neophyte, as the milk-like colored and cloudy/creamy broth is fairly tame but packed with flavor when cooked right. For those that may feel it doesn’t haven enough substance, here’s a thing I do: jump the accompanying bowl of steamed white rice right into the soup.
This spartan and clean establishment is nestled inside a smallish strip mall that is situated off Kingsway and near the popular Cho Sun restaurant. With the conflicting English and Korean text that I see on the signage as well on the internet, I’ll refer to it by the two main names I’ve seen attributed to this business: Seolleongtang and Urijp. Its hours are limited in the evening, with a posted piece of paper noting they are open 10am-8pm and closed on Sundays. Parking is pretty much limited to the lot directly in front, as I’m not sure you can park along Kingsway in the evening hours nearby.
Similarly, the menu is straightforward and basic, and also hung on the walls in some dark wooden frames in both English and Korean. Hot pots and soups their major focus. On this evening, we tucked inside just thirty minutes before closing, but the quiet older woman was accommodating when we ordered right away their house specialty and namesake. Don’t expect any fancy table service, as it really felt like you are stepping inside someone’s house and getting a homemade meal straight out of the kitchen. In fact, as our meals were being prepared, the windows facing the street started to cloud up with condensation, that’s how “open” things were in this single room that was directly connected to the cooking area.
Bubbling hot, the pots are brought out on a tray on wheels. A small bowl of sea salt is set nearby, which is crucial to seasoning the broth to one’s own preference. Even for those not inclined to take in much salt, you really must add some otherwise you won’t enhance the inherent richness of the liquid.
How would I rate the seolleongtang here? In a cinch, I’d say the broth was perhaps under developed and watery. Could have used some more dedicated cooking time with the bones to build up the flavor more within. There really are no shortcuts here and its easy to pick up when some are made or the quality of the bones used to create the soup are less than ideal. I’ve had better versions of seolleongtang elsewhere in town for sure. I might come back to check out other things on the menu, but this will be far down my list of potential repeats for now…