Saturday, January 29, 2011

Han Bat Sul Lung Tang

Han Bat Sul Lung Tang serves one of Korea's most comforting dishes: sullungtang. On a cold or rainy day, there's nothing I want more than a hot and hearty bowl of sullungtang.

Sullungtang is a soup made from ox bones. After simmering the soup for a day, or even longer, the soup becomes cloudy and thick. In Chinese, sullungtang apparently means "snowy thick soup," which, if true, wouldn't be surprising. Though it's a relatively simple dish, it's a dish that requires patience. You can't just throw in some ox bones a couple hours before dinner and expect to have a proper bowl of sullungtang. When I was a kid, there were times when the house smelled like beef for days. I would constantly ask my mom to let me have some, but the answer always seemed to be, "It's not ready yet." The few times she did say "Let's eat!" made my appetite surge with excitement at record speed. Those meals never lasted very long.

I was craving sullungtang one day, but because of the whole diabetes thing, I wasn't sure if sullungtang without rice would be as satisfying. Nevertheless, I went to Han Bat Sul Lung Tang with high hopes. Sullungtang is the only thing they make, for Pete's sake.

Rest assured, I wasn't disappointed. Even without having a bite of the rice, I was brought back to those days when I waited impatiently for homemade sullungtang. With this place, however, you never have to wait. Quite the opposite, actually. With humungous vats of sullungtang in the back waiting to get served, bowls of soup reach your table seconds after you finish ordering.

With your order of sullungtang comes a small set of side dishes. Radish kimchi, standard kimchi, rice, and green onions. Each person has his or her own ritual for eating sullungtang, but this is how I've always eaten it:

1. Smell the broth and cry a little.
2. Taste the broth and cry a little.
3. Briefly reevaluate your life.
4. Add one huge scoop of green onions.
5. Add salt to taste (usually about one good spoonful).
6. Add a decent amount of pepper.
7. Add some of the juice from the radish kimchi. I don't like to add too much, but just enough to give the soup a little bit of spice and brightness.
8. Swallow the bowl whole and regret nothing.

Depending on my mood, I either get the mixed sullungtang or sullungtang with brisket and flank. Either way, you're in for a great meal.

The place is small, but the service is welcoming and attentive. You might have a little trouble finding this hole-in-the-wall, but at least you don't have to look for street parking; there's a lot that's three times the size of the restaurant in the back. When you do find this place, you'll probably be in and out the door in less than fifteen minutes. I know on cold and rainy days, the last thing you want to do is leave the house, but the next time the weather's got you incarcerated, make the effort to spend fifteen minutes at this place. It'll be worth it, I promise.

Han Bat Sul Lung Tang
4163 W 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 383-9499

GET: Sullungtang.


  1. I don't think I've ever eaten AT Han Bat, but I've had the sullungtang dozens of times. If you take out, you can eat it with brown rice. I only eat brown rice at home, and it goes great with sullungtang.

  2. Great idea! It might even go well with a few other types of grains. I've become a huge fan of spelt recently, and I think it might go well with a beef broth. Hmmm...definitely going to try both next time.

    Also, I think I just posted in the future...I scheduled this post for tomorrow haha.

  3. I think the only thing that could have made this post even better would have been a photo of you, age 7, sitting behind an empty bowl, burping.

  4. Mmm, sullungtang...I miss this.

    Senior year college, Cho and I would go down to 32nd St to the 24 hour sullungtang place because it was just so cold. Mm, the best!!!! <3 Sadly, no equivalent in Chicago. I weep.

  5. Charizard: I looked everyone with no success...hahaha.

    Janice: Freeze some sullungtang from home haha. Isn't there a KTown in ChiTown? Also, I think I've been to that place on 32nd. SO good, hahaha. Especially at 2am.


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