Since I work about a 30-second stroll from Korean take-out Kofoo, it's easily the place that I eat at the most in New York City. Not necessarily every week, but sometimes three times in a row. Or more. It depends how lazy I am; can't take 10 minutes to make my own sandwich (usually of a boring composition, preferably filled with mortadella)? Kofoo, it is!
Since I have the opportunity to eat there so often, I've given myself the goal of ordering everything on their menu, an easily attainable goal because it thankfully doesn't cover the breadth of a typical Chinese take-out menu. There's kimbap (what I like to call, "sushi on steroids"), rice dishes, noodle dishes, soup dishes, and sides. It's a condensation of my favorite Korean foods, most of which are freshly made and won't set me back more than $10.
Does the name cold, chewy noodles appeal to you? ...Yeah, not exactly as mouth-watering as "fried chicken." Or most other foods. But I hadn't tried it before and, dammit, I had a goal in mind. A goal that once attained would mean absolutely nothing. Like graduating high school.
I didn't know what exactly to expect when I handed over $7 for the experience of eating noodles that possessed the prized qualities of being cold and chewy, but I definitely hadn't envisioned a clear saucer-shaped bucket filled with a tangled mass of semi-white noodles atop a bed of chopped romaine lettuce and carrot strips, topped with buttloads ("buttloads" equating to "a lot") of shredded cucumber and some other shredded vegetable that was possibly radish, with half of a hard boiled egg plopped in the center and sesame seeds sprinkled over everything. The container was barely large enough to contain the excessively huge mountain of noodles and vegetable matter within. I can't exactly say why, but I was kind of scared.
...Scared because WHY IS THERE SO MUCH FOOD IN THIS THING, WHY? NO SINGLE HUMAN STOMACH SHOULD BE ABLE TO CONTAIN ALL THIS.
I figured that the best way to tackle the chewy noodles was to transfer the ingredients in manageable doses into a smaller bowl. They weren't kidding about those noodles; they were way chewy and elastic, methinks because they're made of rice and wheat flour, but correct me if I'm wrong. Pulling them out the entangled mass was a bit awkward, as they would initially refuse to budge, only to fwoop out if i tugged especially hard with my chopsticks. The force of the recoiling noodles led to a number of sesame seeds being flung onto my keyboard and table. (Probably shouldn't eat in front of my computer, but I do it all the time. Someday something will lodge itself into my hardware and make it implode.)
After successfully transferring a baby gob of noodles from the mother gob, I mixed it with salad, cucumber, radishy bits, and what I assume was kochujang, a spicy fermented bean paste. (I need a crash-course in Korean food names, seriously.) After all that work of having to construct my meal, all I could think was, "Oh my god I AM READY TO EAT YOU," and somewhat mindlessly scarfed it down. My stomach wasn't enthralled, but I had this giant serving of food that I didn't want to go to waste. I called it quits after about four bowls (er, but who's counting?), at which point I still had more than half of the portion left.
I plopped it in the fridge. Maybe I would eat it later. Yeah. Maybe.
Three days later after the weekend was over, I did end up eating it for lack of possessing any other lunch. "It'll still be good," I naively thought. But no—after three days of sitting in the fridge, the noodles transformed from lively, springy ropes to brittle, spiritless shells of their former selves. I didn't realize how much I missed those chewy noodles until they were gone. That's the way life works.
I salvaged the noodles by reheating them in the microwave, turning the once cold, chewy noodles into warm, semi-chewy, but not really, noodles. ...Yeah, that didn't really work. But I probably ate four bowls anyway (small bowls, mind you) before convincing myself that I was full. I wouldn't say I was full as much as "not hungry"—there's a difference.
And after that, I still had at least 25% of the original portion left. Possibly more. It was basically THE NOODLE DISH THAT WOULDN'T DIE. I find that unsettling. Like...really, no one needs that many noodles.
I think the Korean name for this dish is jjol myun. While I wouldn't say it was opposite of tasty, it wasn't something I'd feel compelled to eat again either. Not that I should complain about something that fed me for two meals.
By the way, I love most of the food at Kofoo. Read my review on Gothamist and the unappreciative comments from Gothamist users, oh sweet jesus, I hated them. Here's some more food porn of deliciousness from the Church of Kofoo to churn your stomach acids. In a good way, I mean.
- Also a big fan of the omelet rice, except if you eat more than half of this in one sitting, you'll feel like you're in your second trimester.
- Tristan doesn't come with the Kofoo experience. Here you can see the spinach and baked tofu side dishes. Good stuff for when you're feeling...vegetarian-ly.