“Yukdaejang” is a deep and soulful beef brisket and vegetable soup. It’s also the name of a large South Korea–based chain with some 150 locations, both there and in the U.S. (mostly in California). Having tried yukdaejang at the first Houston outpost, we now understand the popularity: We could slurp this soup until our eyes rolled back in our head. Bone marrow broth is simmered for eight hours, mixed with brisket broth, and then the combo is jazzed up with glass noodles (or tofu or ramen if you prefer), shredded beef, peppers, onions, and a mix of fiery spices. A slightly different ox bone version has hand-crafted mandu (dumplings) and rice cakes (the subtlety reminded us a bit of egg drop soup). To round out the experience, bottomless banchan (condiments) are provided, including kimchi, fried fish cakes, marinated scallions, and blue rice. The entire experience can be transporting. The staff is quite friendly and the setting contemporary, with soft K-pop videos looping on a large screen throughout. And there’s another bonus: the offerings are generous. We had plenty of our side order of steamed pork mandu to take home. On our next visit, we intend to try the bossam (pork wraps), which can be grilled at the table. No liquor license yet, but one is promised.
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Yuk Dae Jang
A popular Korean soup has lent its name to an international chain.