When you’re Korean and you want to go all out, you go to a barbecue restaurant, but when you want simple, cheap Korean food, you go to a “boonshik jip” (분식집; boonshik literally meaning minute meal and jip meaning house), a casual restaurant specializing in Korean fast food. There’s many boonshik restaurants in New Jersey, but the place my family and I visit most often is Dok Ka Bi (독깨비; goblin in Korean).
The menu is extensive at Dok Ka Bi with some items being better than others.
Soondaegukbab (순대국밥; $10.99), Korean blood sausage soup, is probably not one of their stronger menu items. It had a good heat level, and I liked the generous amount of perilla seeds, but the soondae didn’t taste as fresh as I would have liked. There was a little too much funk that even the green peppers couldn’t mask. Better soondae, although not soondae soup, can be found at Hankuk Jungyuk.
However, the ddukbokki (떡볶이, rice cakes in a spicy sauce; $8.49) — probably the most well-know boonshik food next to kimbap — was huge portion-wise, and most importantly, tasty. The sauce was packing serious heat, plentiful, and not too thick, the rice cakes were cooked through, and there was a good amount of odeng (오뎅, fish cakes).
Also great, especially if you have a large group, is gopchangjungol (곱창전골; $27.99), a large metal pot of spicy intestine stew with wheat noodles that comes angrily bubbling and sputtering on a portable butane burner.
The tiny bowl I was given made it annoying to eat, I have no patience to refill every two minutes, but the stew was rich, spicy, had lots of intestines and also lots of fresh vegetables to balance out any possible funkiness which, unlike the soondae, had hardly any.
The best thing to eat at Dok Ka Bi though is the chicken wings ($13.99 for a small order). These meaty wings aren’t the sauced version made popular by Bon Chon, but these are just as good, or in the opinion of David, even better. The breading is crunchy and amazingly greaseless, the meat moist, and overall, well-seasoned throughout. A visit to Dok Ka Bi is never complete without at least one order of chicken wings. A large order for the extra hungry or greedy is also available for $18.99.
With the prices the way they are at Dok Ka Bi, you can afford to be either or better yet, even eat like a dok ka bi if you choose to.
Dok Ka Bi (독깨비)
374 Broad Ave (b/n Beechwood & Magnolia Pl; map)
Leonia, NJ 07605