Eating in Barcelona: Part I: La Boqueria and Clemen's Boqueria
Eating in Barcelona: Part II: Merendero de la Mari

To Soc Chon: Soondaeguk in Fort Lee, NJ

Soondae guk

When I put out a request for a restaurant rec in Fort Lee to the nice people who follow the t:e twitter feed and Facebook page (why don't you?), I of course got some excellent feedback. Two of those maniacs suggested Korean places that specialize in soondaeguk. I must admit that I hadn't heard of this soondaeguk until then, but now I can spell it, and think I can pronounce it. What a difference 4 hours makes.

Soondae is a Korean blood sausage, and Soondaeguk is a soup with this sausage as the star. The soup also from what I understand has offal in it (liver, lung?). When this was determined, there was simply no doubt that I had to get this stuff into my body, so off I went.

I'd like to note that every flippin' street in Fort Lee is undergoing repairs. And when the hell did they put this huge building up? No one is consulting with me on these decisions.


If you happened to peek into To Soc Chon today, you would have recognized me immediately; I was the non-Korean guy. The place was filled to capacity (about 36 seats or so), and I got one of the last tables.

I knew what I was getting so reviewing the menu wasn't necessary. I confidently pointed at soondaeguk on the menu ($9.99) and off we went.

First to hit the table was banchan, and what I believe was stuff meant to be used applied to the  soondaeguk.


The salad was very unexceptional and was dressed with what tasted like bottled French dressing. I ate every last bit of it. The kimchi was quite good, with big chunks of some sort of radish along with the cabbage. Some of the kimchi made its way into the lower part of my nasal cavity. This was not preferable.

Blood sausage

Out came the bowl of soondaeguk. I'm not sure what energy source they use in Korean restaurants, or if the laws of physics even apply in their kitchens, because the Korean soups that I've had have been comically hot. Temperature hot, not spicy hot. The heat from this soup urges you to slow down and take a deep breath, because you're not going to be eating any time soon.  It's good that you do take that breath, because you'll get a nose-full of pork coming from this steaming cauldron of porcine pieces.

I was truly hoping that it would smell more porky. Like, crazy porky. But it didn't. Just a pleasant, if not a tad bit strong, essence of pork.

Before adding any condiments I tried the soongaeduk naked. The milky broth was milder in flavor than I had expected, and loaded with some vegetables (mostly scallion, IIRC). And of course it burned my mouth. I sat there for a while, killing time by watching how the other customers were attacking their bowls of lava. It was clear that the condiments were in use here.


There was a red chili paste, chopped green chilis, Korean chives, and a salty sauce which I came to find out had little tiny shrimp in it. This is called saewoojut, I'm told by the internet. Korean fish sauce, essentially. These items really added a lot in terms of flavor and heat and salt to the soup. And some acidity as well, from which I thought it benefited.

The proteins in the soup could very well have been lung and liver. I don't recall eating lung before this, so I can't say with any certainty that what I was eating was lung. If it was, it tasted just fine, like any muscle that I've had. There was no livery flavor, either (thankfully). When the blood sausage is the least strange thing in your soup, you know you've got something special.

The soondae, which is filled with cellophane noodles, had a fun and pleasant spring to it. Very enjoyable. I'd like to try this stuff on its own, with some of that tiny shrimp dipping sauce. I think I'd quite enjoy that you know.

The flavored water was poured before my ass hit the seat, and was refilled without asking. This was a nice touch. Pleasant and efficient service here at To Soc Chon.

Also, you get one of these.


To Soc Chon : 166 Main Street (entrance on Palisade Ave) : Fort Lee, NJ : 201.585.8805 : BYO