What happens when you boil a pig's intestines and stuff it with cellophane noodles, barley, and pork blood? Well, you get soondae, of course. And now you know about the specialty of the house at Bayside's newest Korean restaurant To Soc Chun, which also has an outpost in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
As almost the only customer in for a late lunch, the service seemed a little overbearing, but this could also have just been concern for the poor fellow who walked in on some unknown Korean food. My waitress made some good recommendations, and I selected far more than I could possibly imagine eating. Even before those dishes arrived, a presentation of the following arrived:
In lieu of a full complement of banchan, a large plate of kimchi arrived with a small iceberg lettuce salad, as well as herbs and spices to use with the dishes. On the far left of the above photo were chives, and on the far right is crushed green pepper and red pepper paste. Finding the right mixtures of these in the soup is pretty fun. In the middle is a small pinch of salt and a bowl of salted shrimp that is good for dipping in pieces of pork and soondae (below).
Jung-sik refers to a course of food, and the soondae jungsik ($12.99, above and below 3 photos) is a course for one person that includes the appetizer plate above and the soup below. I was told this is a good hangover cure, and also is popular during the overnight hours with drinkers. The waitress will soon come and snip the pork into smaller pieces for you, perfect for dipping.
The soondae itself (below) is slightly tinny as blood sausage can be, and seems very fresh. I would be a bit afraid to order this at the wrong place.
The soup is very mild and filled with more pork and soondae. Add in portions of each spice to get the perfect taste to suit your mood. While it is definitely not the most complex or intense of flavoring, the soup is very warm and comforting. I could tell this would be a good food to be eating after a long night, especially during a colder time.
The other dish ordered when I could not decide between the two was dakdori tang ($11.99, below), a fiery soup with chicken, potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables. After eating half of the other soup, I was not expecting the spice and almost choked after shoving a mouthful in quickly. Once I became acclimated to it, the dish was beautiful, with moist pieces of chicken still on the bone and a very hearty stew.
The menu here is very limited, perhaps "specialized" is a better term. I tried two of the five dishes available in single serving portions. They also do larger casseroles for groups with many of the same ingredients. The menu is good value especially considering all the extras they bring you, and is the same day and night. I can imagine the levels of conversation are a bit louder, but you can come here at 3am just like I came at 3pm, as they are open 24 hours everyday.