The jajangmyeon at Beijing Wok & Grill recently saved my life. I ate it the day after my most recent appearance on The Tom Leykis Show, where I drank myself into a giddy stupor, as usual—did I stop at 12 or 17 shots? But I did two things I shouldn't have done: I mixed tequila and cognac, and I ate a big sandwich afterward. No need to go into my suffering that night except to say that I think I finally upchucked the penny I swallowed back in second grade.
My usual go-to food for hangovers are birria or chilaquiles, but I was so faded that the thought of the two disgusted me for the first time in my life. Orange juice was a nice pickup, but I needed something heftier, something to soak up all the booze and resuscitate me, Goku style. And then I thought of jajangmyeon, the classic Korean-Chinese dish that's just meat, leeks, noodles and a black-bean paste. Yet it has become one of my favorite meals for its unapologetic earthiness. I had actually never had the version at Beijing Wok & Grill, always too busy when I stopped by in the past with their many soups, their feathery dumplings, and their trio of fried foods (chicken wings, shrimp and ribs) glazed with a garlic spicy sauce that was as pungent as it was fiery.
Getting to Beijing Wok can be tricky sometimes, since parking spaces in its shopping plaza are as rare as an Angels' victory this season. But I lucked out, ordered it at the counter from an older Korean woman, and waited. My jajangmyeon bowl arrived just a few minutes later, the black bean paste so dark and thick that you couldn't even see any noodles underneath. Salvation: The noodles were sturdy and absorbed the sauce, which is gloriously starchy and equal parts funky and savory. Pork and leeks added crunch; the bowl took me about five minutes to polish off, and my life force was revived. Gracias, Beijing Wok & Grill: Until the next hangover!
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Beijing Wok & Grill, 17431 Brookhurst St., Ste. J, Fountain Valley, (714) 968-5888.