I’ve been wanting to eat at Tang 190 ever since it opened. Naturally, it took me about a year to get here because I could never find anyone to come with me until now. I finally managed to gather four of my friends together for this meal. I love Korean food and especially Korean soups and stews. Tang 190 specializes in exactly that and more.
Most people who are well versed with Korean barbecue will know that an array of banchan (side dishes) are provided alongside the meal as accompaniments. Traditionally, soup or stew restaurants will only offer kimchi and kkakdugi (marinated napa cabbage and cubed radish). At Tang 190, there are a few more including seaweed, potato salad and baby bok choy kimchi.
One of the most ubiquitous Korean soups is Sul-Long-Tang ($8.49), a broth made using beef bones. This beef shank soup is simmered for a very long time creating a milky finish from the bones. The soup is served with thin sliced beef steaks and Korean vermecelli but contains no salt. The diner adds the sea salt on the table according to his or her own preference, along with scallions and red chili paste.
Yuk-Gae-Jang ($9.99) is spicy beef soup I’m very familiar with. When I lived in Hawaii, I would eat this several times a month and the one here is very good. Filled with with pre-marinated thin sliced brisket and vegetables. My favorite are the brown bracken fern floating around the rich, hearty broth. It may look super spicy due to its deep red hues, but it isn’t really.
I’d never eaten Cabbage Galbi-Tang ($9.99) before, and I enjoyed it immensely. I’ve had galbi-tang before, but this particular one also includes Napa cabbage dwengjang (soy bean paste), making the end result deeper and more flavorful. Really lovely!
The traditional Gal-Bi-Tang ($10.99) I’m familiar with is a brothy back rib soup with chunks of back ribs with green onions, dried jujube and egg toppings.
This soup is already seasoned and a little dish of pickled chilis and daikon marinated in a tart soy sauce is provided for you to dip your rib meat with. So delicious!
We all agreed that Nak-Ji-Dol-Sot ($11.99) was one of the best non-soup items on the menu. Although the menu says calamari rice plate, traditionally, it is octopus which is used in this rice dish. Served in a shallow stone pot, the heat creates a crispy crust on the bottom of the rice which is my favorite part of eating bibimbap.
Jab-Chae ($10.99), a stir fried noodles dish is often provided as part of the banchan (side dishes) selection. Here, it is a menu item. This was decent, but not to the point where the price justifies a vegetarian noodle dish.
Another traditional Korean dish is Bo-Sam ($19.99), or pork and kimchi wrap.
Slowly simmered pork loin slices are served with slightly pickled Napa cabbage, seasoned turnips with a side of soybean paste and fermented shrimp sauce. Dip the pork into either or both of the condiments — I like both — then add some turnip shards, wrap in the pickled Napa cabbage and eat. So good!
The weakest dish of our meal was Gal-Bi-Zeem ($13.99) or short rib stew. Usually, the meat falls off the bone and the result is a rich, thick, intensely flavored outcome. Here, the meat was not tender enough and the entire dish lacked the deep, rich flavors I associate galbijim with.
We were stuffed at the end, but very satisfied indeed. I can’t wait to return again and savor the soups again. What would make it better is if I can gather a bunch of people to go with me so we can share everything! That’s the only way to eat Korean food, actually, ANY kind of food!
14121 Jeffrey Road
Irvine, CA 92620