chicken kalguksu @ tosokchon kalguksu

Better Korean Noods – NJ

So during a recent lunch with my mom, as per usual, the conversation moved onto food, and she told me Hand Made Noodle House, my brother’s family’s favorite kalguksu (Korean knife-cut noodle soup) restaurant in New Jersey closed. According to the owner, the restaurant couldn’t make money selling $10 bowls of noodles so they revamped into a Korean restaurant specializing in chungukjang (청국장, extra fermented soybean stew) and Korean barbecue. I’m sure this was sad news to my brother’s family, but me, I was fine. Better noodles were always a few blocks away.

Close to Harwood Ave, To Sok Chon (again not related to To Sok Chon in Seoul, but oddly related to To Soc Chon in Fort Lee, albeit with a different spelling), as Hand Made Noodle House did, specializes in kalguksu but better. The noodles are pretty much the same, but the soup, made with beef broth, is a bit more rich and almost creamy in texture. Unfortunately for vegetarians, all four options (chicken, small clams, dumplings, and seafood) come with beef broth. But those who know, that’s where the flavor’s at anyway. So far, my favorite is the chicken, the dumpling is good, and the clam can be bland at times. Seafood, I will eat you next.

pepper @ tosokchon kalguksu

As with most kalguksu-specialty restaurants, banchan (Korean sides) is limited except for some kimchi and spicy soy jalepenos and jicama, but the jicama has a nice crunch, and the bowls of kalguksu are so large, you won’t want for more.

Price-wise, the bowls are similarly priced at around $10 a bowl, but here’s hoping this restaurant survives. Not a bad way to live, but a person shouldn’t have to subsist on stews and Korean barbecue alone.

UPDATE (4/20/14): My mom, the Korean restaurant newshound, told me Hand Made Noodle House reopened in the former space alongside the newer restaurant. Vegetarians & beef dumpling lovers, rejoice!

To Sok Chon (토속촌)
117 Broad Ave (b/n W Harwood & W Homestead Ave; map)
Palisades Park, NJ 07650

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