Crazy Spicy and Garlicky at Son Ja Jang – NYC
If you don’t know, I’m still in L.A. on a mini-holiday (if you don’t know, why aren’t you following me on Facebook or Twitter!!!), but since I love you guys, here’s a post about Son Ja Jang on 32nd Street.
If you’ve walked into Muk Eun Ji in the past few months, you may have wondered why all of a sudden the number of menus have doubled, and there’s a loud thwack thwack sound coming from the back. Well, the reason being is that Son Ja Jang, a jajangmyun restaurant specializing in housemade noodles, is now sharing the space with Muk Eun Ji, and the thwack thwack sound is the sound of noodles being hand-pulled onsite. So whether you want aged kimchi or jajangmyun, you can now order both in the same restaurant.
Jajangmyun (자장면, noodles with black bean sauce) and jjambbong (짬뽕, noodles in spicy seafood soup) are both good at Son Ja Jang because of the springy noodles, but I prefer jajangmyun because in general I’m a jajangmyun person. [For those who can’t decide, jjamjjamyun (짬짜면; $9.99) or the split bowl with both is also available, but I usually stick to one or the other since the dual bowl has less of each and is more expensive.] The jajangmyun ($6.99 at lunch) runs a bit on the sweet side at Son Ja Jang, but that’s not a bad thing. The only bad thing is that by default it has beef in it instead of pork. I guess some people might consider this a good thing, but I prefer pork. Yes, there’s less chance of biting into a blubbery piece of pork fat, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take. In addition, the beef tends to be dry even swimming in the black bean sauce. You need pork.
If you need spice, however, order the buljajangmyun (불짜장면, literally “fire” jajangmyun; $8.99; pictured at the very top) made with lots of red pepper, but only do so if you can take the heat. It even had me seriously tearing. I was never so happy to receive a complimentary yogurt drink for dessert as I was that day. The only downfall to all the red pepper though is that it makes the noodles a bit dry. If you prefer saucy jajangmyun, order the regular. I’ll probably do that next time.
I’ll also probably skip the kkanpoongi (깐풍기, fried chicken in spicy garlic sauce; $17.99). The fried chicken was not as crunchy as I would have liked, and the sauce had so much garlic it had a bitter aftertaste. If you’re going to stink of garlic, you might as well make it count. In this case, my post-meal bad breath was totally unnecessary.
I’d suggest sticking to the jajangmyun. Even with the beef, the bouncy noodles make it worth it. Let’s make it count people!
Son Ja Jang
34 West 32nd Street (b/n Broadway & 5th Ave; map)
New York, NY 10001
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