Monday, August 15, 2011

A fresh take on hand-made noodles

Broad Avenue at downtown Palisades ParkImage via Wikipedia
Dozens of Korean restaurant line Broad Avenue in Palisades Park, above, and some are on the second floor of buildings or enclosed malls, like the one on the right.

Two Korean restaurants, Son Ja Jang and Bunsik Nara, share the same address on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park. 

I walked into the latter in error on Sunday evening, but didn't have to go back out into the rain. A waitress pointed me to a door in the back that leads to Son Ja Jang, a Korean-style Chinese restaurant known for its hand-made noodles.

The simply decorated, L-shaped dining room has only one window -- into the kitchen, and through it you can see a cook stretching and pounding the noodle dough on a counter, loud enough to be heard through a closed door.

I ordered a big bowl of spicy soup with hand-made noodles and seafood ($9.99), and started eating my side dishes, cubed radish kimchi and half-moons of Korean pickles.

Then I saw a waitress deliver two large, divided bowls to men at a table across the way. My waiter said the bowls hold hand-made noodles on one side and seafood or meat on the other, so I know what I'm going to have next time.

My soup had a beautiful, deep-red broth perfectly seasoned with red pepper, and hand-made noodles with shredded vegetables and seafood -- one large mussel, one large clam, a shrimp and several pieces of chewy squid.

This was a deeply satisfying dish and I lifted the bowl to my lips to drain every last drop of the spicy broth. Another seafood noodle soup, labeled "very hot" on the menu, is $10.99, and may be a larger portion.

The noodles were thicker than the hand-made ones at Chinese Mandarin Restaurant, but not as elastic or as chewy. (See post, My order causes a commotion.)

I dipped some of the noodles into a small portion of salty black bean paste that came with my kimchi.

A specialty at Son Ja Jang is jajangmyun -- hand-made noodles bathed in spicy black bean paste with onions and ground meat.

Son Ja Jang Restaurant, 232 Broad Ave., Palisades Park;
 201-944-7777. Look for a sign over a glass door leading
 to doctors' offices. 

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