Long-time readers of this blog know that bulgogi is one of my family’s favorite dishes – and it did get to the point that I ended up learning how to make it from scratch as opposed to ordering out or preparing what passes for instant bulgogi in the frozen deli section of the local supermarket. (I swear: all the chopping, mincing, pureeing, and marinating makes the end result totally worth it.)
Sometimes, though, it’s pretty hard to scare up the energy to do all the work that comes with prepping a bulgogi meal. Thank goodness for Korean restaurants like Kaya and Bulgogi Brothers; at least I know where to fly whenever a craving hits! Kaya, in particular, has added a new bulgogi variant to its menu – one that pretty much pulls out all the stops and is perfect for feeding a hungry family: bulgogi jungol.
Jungol (joon-gol) is, essentially, the Korean term for a one-dish meal, somewhere along the lines of a hotpot. It’s a close enough approximation of a familiar Japanese dish: sukiyaki. Marinated beef, fresh vegetables, and mung bean vermicelli (sotanghon) are cooked on a hotplate at the table, basically stir-fried with some soy-and-sweet-rice-wine broth to moisten things up.
Kaya’s spin on bulgogi jungol features a mix of thinly-sliced prime beef, vermicelli, enoki and shiitake mushrooms, leeks, sweet white onions, and bok choy. The resulting dish is good and hearty, slightly sweet with a deeply umami character with regard to the flavors. It is the perfect thing to eat on a cold, rainy afternoon with one’s family.