I have a confession that i’ve never really been a huge fan of blood sausage. While I think it’s admirable to use every possible part of an animal I’ve just never found it that delectable (I know it’s sacrilegious, but I sort of feel the same way about uni – though it does have a much more distinctive taste). Yu Hyang, a non descript restaurant off Olympic Blvd changed my mind about blood sausage. I keep reading reports that this place is closed, but I think they just open when they want to.
Yu Hyang is one of those places you can’t really go if you don’t speak Korean; nothing is written in English anywhere. Luckily I always roll deep with a hungry Asian complement. You order from an Ajhumma (middle aged Korean housewife) that was really quick with service and very smiley.
Yu Hyang is a sundae house (also spelled Soon Dae or Soondae), a dish composed of boiling or steaming pigs or cows intestines with a heritage dating back to the 19th Century, but likely much older than that. What I really enjoyed about this sundae (other than the pronunciation reminding me of the ice cream dessert- ShUN-day) was the fact that it contained rice and soybean paste, which I felt gave it a great texture and taste.
I was really surprised at how fast we ate the entire plate that came to the table. Here was the most traditional way to enjoy sundae – steamed, with generous sides of liver, lungs, stomach, and other organ meats that I can’t recall / identify. The intestinal casing was smooth and richly flavored, with a slight chewy texture.
The banchan quality here wasn’t the highest, the kimchi was extremely ripe and starting to kick off some serious carbon dioxide, which I normally prefer in kimchi stews.
Sundae is thought of as a luxury when ground meats and vegetables of all sorts were happily shoved inside the intestines of pigs and cows. The tradition continued after becoming known as more of a famine food, and was reborn as a popular street food.
We got a nice cauldron of soondae soup with cabbage leaves which i’m sure had kimchi and chive – it contained organ meats (and what I think was a small shoe) as well but I wasn’t able to identify them.
Also on the table was Saeujeot, a salted and fermented condiment made of small shrimp commonly found as an ingredient in kimchi and dipping pastes. I learned that the quality, color, and even cleanliness of these tiny shrimp varies highly depending on the season.
We finished up with some various Jeon, pancake style appetizers or anju (a food to eat while drinking). The Pajeon here made with green onions wasn’t particularly exciting but a good accoutrement to the exciting meat display.
I’m eager to find a place that specializes in Eogyo sundae, or sundae stuffed with the air bladder of a brown croaker (a fish known for a croaking mechanism that involves abdominal muscles beating against the swim bladder). Croaker intestines and parts are also very common in Korean food.
Give Korean blood sausage a try, you also will become a believer.