Sunday, June 23, 2013

Kun Jip

Thursday after class our Korean professor took us to Kun Jip for lunch. Located in the heart of Korea Town, this nifty little restaurant was designed to mean it's name, "Big Home".

We got there around 1pm, just in time for the lunchtime crowd. I didn't notice this at first, but the line started from inside the restaurant and almost out the door.

There were signs of disgruntle (in Korean) as we (a party of 8) walked past the queue. We did have a reservation with the owner of the restaurant, who happened to be a friend of our professor.

You could sense an atmosphere of good, hearty food as you walk past the diners. Albeit rushed by the wait staff dressed in florescent orange, everyone seemed to have an abundance of food on their table. Even the monks pictured below were having a great time - eating a bowl of beef soup (gasp!).

We were seated by an ahjuma who asked us where and who we were. I was able to use most of the Korean we learnt in class to respond =)

It was uber busy at the restaurant, and since we were seated next to the kitchen we could see the onslaught of waiters and chefs literally running in and out of the kitchen, knocking patron's chairs and screaming out orders as they went past.


The panjae were dished out promptly after we were seated. There were plenty of them - mostly pickled cucumbers and veggies. I've always marveled at how good Koreans are at pickling and marinating things for efficient usage of food.


I had trouble deciding between the Duk Mandoo Guk (Rice cake + dumpling soup) and the Bukuh Kongnamul Guk (dried pollack and soy bean soup). Actually, I really wanted to try to Boo Dae Jigae (sausage, spam and veggie casserole) as well. At last, my classmate recommended me to try to the Duk Mandoo Guk, and she would get the Boo Dae Jigae and let me try some. That was very nice of her =)

I really enjoyed the soft chewy rice cake slices. The mandoos (dumplings) were a little meh, without much flavor as in Chinese dumpling soup. The meat inside the dumplings tasted a little limp and lifeless, so it was hard to figure out what exactly was inside. The soup though was very nice and mild, yet flavorfully seasoned without the spices that always go into the soups.

Kam Ja Tang

One of our classmates was gleaming over the menu, and asked the waitress, "What are spicy prok bones?" Everyone cracked up, we were like, "Uhhh.. that would be pork bones with potatoes (as pictured above)." (He also took out the potatoes and mashed it on a separate plate, which I found pretty amusing). 

Ji Gae

This was a tofu ji gae that came with a bibimbap combo. I was really impressed at how their jigaes continuously boil throughout the entire meal, which provided warmth beside the large air conditioner that we were sitting beside.

Tofu and Ramen Ji Gae

One of our classmates ordered this dish, which looked really, really good. Especially the ramen inside the boiling cauldron of spice. 

This was a soup whose name I don't know that our professor ordered. The veggies inside looked like it was grown on the mountains.

Hae Mool Pa Jun

They gave us seafood egg pancake on the house. It was very soft (maybe a little too much so towards the mushy end), and you could actually see the seafood like the shrimp and the octopus ring above.


The way I judge a Korean restaurant's traditional-ness is by its kimchi. The kimchi at Kun Jip was actually made in-house, with a distinct spice but not overwhelmingly so. It carried a twang of sweetness towards the end which made it pleasant to chew. I really liked this kimchi.

Dried seaweed

Another fave panjae of mine was the dried seaweed, which was compressed and air dried until it became thin shreds of salty seaweed pieces. This would taste very nice in congee.

Cinnamon Tea

At the end of the meal (when everyone was rolling over their stomachs from stuffing ourselves), they served some refreshing cinnamon tea. It was in a metal tin cup filled with ice, which provided a nice contrast to the spicy dishes that we had been munching on. Quite refreshing.

For the price and portion, Kun Jip does the job (it was around $15/person for lunch including tips). Food is pretty hearty and authentic. But if you're looking for somewhere quieter, probably choose a spacier restaurant (heard they have a sister restaurant as well).

*** (3/5)

Kun Jip
9 West 32nd Street, NY

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