For months now, Myung Dong Kal Guk Su, the Korean knife-cut noodle peddler, has been doing fine at the location previously occupied by Jamillah Garden in Tustin. But recently in an effort to reel in more customers, they installed a banner advertising a lunch special that played fast and loose on what they actually served. "Chicken Soup with Pasta for $7.95," it said. Pasta? Chicken Soup? Surely they're not serving anything remotely Italian or Campbell's-inspired.
Just to be sure, I took this opportunity to revisit the restaurant, whose Anaheim branch I reviewed not long ago. And of course, I was right. The Chicken Soup and Pasta they advertised was, indeed, just a bowl of their signature kal guk su, the first item they list on a menu identical to the one at the Anaheim branch of the chain.
The noodle soup was also an exact clone of the one I slurped. The noodles, thick silken threads of chewiness, slips around like it was coated in a lubricant. The chicken soup is still so starchy it can conceivably constitute a meal onto itself, dotted with thin sliced veggies and a generous helping of soy-sauce-cooked ground pork.
Like the Anaheim branch, every giant bowl comes with three side dishes of refillable pickles and the most intense kimchi ever devised by mortals. This stuff reeks of raw garlic: a wince-inducing, sinus-clearing, breath-fouling substance ten times more potent than Zankou's garlic paste. Eating this Altoid anti-matter plain is inadvisable. The substance is meant to be dissolved into the soup to flavor it, a job it does well since the soup is rather bland in its default state.
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So, as I suspected, the banner-advertised pasta with chicken soup is just their kal guk su. And what's more, $7.95 is the price the charge normally for the dish, lunch or dinner.
Were they really fooling anyone with that sign? Not so much. Though most of the customers that afternoon were Korean, at one point during my meal I witnessed a group of non-Korean business people, whom I suspected came from one of the many offices in the surrounding business park, come through the door. It took them a few seconds to quickly survey the place before they turned around and left. Did they realize that the banner was a ruse? Were they really expecting Italian pasta and chicken soup? We'll never know.