Food Porn: Korean Express

Throughout my career as a UB student desperately trying to avoid Campus Dining and Shops food, I have always returned to Korean Express. The prices, although not awesome, are on par with those of lamentable campus food, and they’re even cheaper than the nearby Arirang Korean restaurant on Flint (way cheaper, actually).

I have always ordered from a small selection of dishes just because I like them so much. Their ramen, which is obviously store bought, comes in this spicy home cooked broth that will make your eyes water in the best way possible. Then of course, you have the option to get it with either egg or rice cakes. While the egg is nice, always opt for the rice cakes. They’re smooth and chewy and they soak up that beautiful broth like little sponges of flavor. I have a tiny obsession with their rice cakes.

My other mainstay, besides their wonderful sushi (and honestly, there’s a lot of sushi on campus. As far as I know, this is the only sushi you want to eat. The Rainbow Roll is my all time favorite, although their shrimp tempura and eel rolls are incredibly tasty as well.), is Duk Mandoo Gook. A traditional Korean New Year’s dish that’s so tasty, I could celebrate New Years at least twice a week.

Start with their broth: not the same fiery orange broth as the ramen, but a clear beefy broth that’s smooth and flavorful. Add some glass noodles, egg, beef slices, scallions, rice cakes, dumplings and some dried seaweed flakes for a topping, and you have this incredibly hearty delicious dish that often suffices for my lunch and dinner. I am too in love with this dish to order anything else most of the time. Eating it is like wading through atmospheres of the deep sea. First you’ve got to mix in the seaweed. Then you dive into one or two dumplings, softened by the broth but not at all mushy, stuffed with beef and scallions and a little slippery to eat. Then you go for some rice cakes; delightfully chewy and the perfect, almost coin size to dip into some of Korean Express’ hot sauce. Here you start to reach the layer of egg strata, cracked right in and cooked by the hot broth so there are thin large pieces of it. Then, the surprise at the bottom is the ocean floor layer of glass noodles, soaked through with broth and clinging to the last debris of pepper before you gulp it all down.

Despite this dream-like bowl of soup, I finally forced myself to order something different for a change. I ordered Soo Don Bu, what the menu described as a spicy soft tofu soup with my choice of chicken, beef or sea food. I went for the sea food.

When I peered inside the familiar Styrofoam pot, I saw the same fiery orange color of the ramen with chunks of soft tofu dotting the surface with a green center of chopped scallions. Digging in, the soup was indeed spicy (it goes well with the pickled radish, which is free if you ask for it), but it was not at all heat without flavor. Well seasoned and vibrant, like each other soup I’ve tried, the soft tofu serves to cool down the heat on the tongue and doesn’t even need to be chewed. It’s silky and pleasant. The seafood was actually a surprise; there was shrimp, mussels, calamari and even scallops, albeit they were all teeny tiny. Teeny tiny though they may have been, they were still delicious and a good meal with sea food is a bit of a weird boon on a college campus.

Breathing fire after I had reached the bottom of the pot, I was incredibly full. It’s just as much of a meal as Duk Mandoo Gook, my old familiar standby.

Korean Express is a good, solid place. I have friends that don’t even go to UB that come to campus just to have lunch there. Although it’s hard to have a bad meal here, I really wish they’d bring back the fish cakes.

Korean Express on Urbanspoon

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