Photo-Restaurant Review: Piyang Kong Halmoni's Creamy Tofu StewWednesday, March 17, 2010
Piyang Kong Halmoni, on the back street of Seolleung's main drag has North Korean Style Food. Everything is homemade and made in house. When I think of North Korean cuisine is a bit saltier and without the spice you find in typical South Korean cuisine. Piyang Kong Halmoni's food has zip to it. It's got an essence of spring in each side dish (banchan) and in their main dishes.
Here is a vegetable banchan. There is a plethora of fresh spring greens here in a spicy, soy, garlic, fish sauce mixture. The vegetables have crunch because the sauce is mixed in with the fresh greens and not fermented.
Here is their fried tofu banchan with a sweet chili sauce on top. Notice the golden brown on the tofu. You can tell that this restaurant emphasizes quality because they are using fresh oil to fry the dish. If they didn't, the tofu would have a darker color. The tofu here is firm, let soft. It crumbles, yet stays together. It's a mystery on how they achieve this perfect texture, but they do. I had a chance to talk to the halmoni (grandmother) and she said it's a secret. But she did hint that it's about the quality of beans she uses to make it.
Here is a perilla leaf banchan. This is one of my favorite dishes. The grandmother serves all of the dishes in larger bowls and then gives you tongs so each person puts a portion of their banchan on a separate plate- there is no cross contamination allowed. Grandmother is very strict on that (she's a sweety, but she wouldn't let me take her picture).
Here are their mandu. The skin is not too heavy and the fillings are, again, very fresh. There were lots of green onions that were quickly blanched, so they held their crispness. The mandu also had some greaseless pork and mushrooms.
Here is the Kong Biji: The Creamy Tofu Stew. Creamy Tofu Stew sounds better than Tofu Run-Off Stew, right? Well the latter name is what it really is. After tofu is made, there is bits of tofu that are left over. Instead of throwing that away, the best thing to do is to make this creamy stew. There are bits of ground pork in there and it adds a savory note to this bubbling cauldron of epicourageous delight. It's awesome on a cold day. These days, since I am trying to lose weight, I'll just have a bowl of Korean stew sans rice and a few side dishes. It has been working and I've lost 3 pounds so far.
Here is the Wild Sesame Dumpling Soup (둘깨수재비) soup. The nutty flavor of the wild sesame mixed in with the soft rice cake dumplings is also an excellent choice.