Eastern Paradise - Honolulu (Chinese/Korean fare)
So the other night I had this craving for jjajangmyun (noodles in black bean sauce) and tangsooyuk (fried pork in sweet and sour style sauce). I just went to a great place in Annandale, VA, and after facebooking my adventures, I ignited a sudden craving and realized that I didn't know where to find it in Honolulu. So my bf and I went there and instead of getting what I wanted, I decided to get their jjambong instead since my bf likes spicy soups. Oddly enough, he decided to order hot and sour soup (making me cringe - since it's stereotypical Chinese food fare) and potstickers. I ordered jjambong and tangsooyuk. And the waitress even understood it in the language.
The first thing they brought out was a green cabbage kimchee and chopped onions with black bean sauce. Awesome. Very traditional. The only problem was that the waitress doubted whether she should bring them out. I immediately doused them in white vinegar and started chomping away on the onions (to my bf's chagrin). White vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce and chili powder are on the tables as staples. Perfect for us since we love spices. The kimchee isn't as sweet as kimchee I've had out here (it's sweeter here than on the mainland, blecch, but then so is the soy sauce). It was a nice color and a medium-mild in spiciness. I thought it was decent for kimchee served with jjajangmyun.
So the hot and sour soup came out first... I didn't even take a photo of it. I was so disappointed. The owner was about to serve us and then he realized the soup was too thin so he took it back and brought it out again after some sort of thickener was added. The soup was neither hot (spicy) nor sour. My bf had to add vinegar and chili powder to get the flavors right. I took a few bites and decided not to waste my appetite.
The potstickers came out next. Oooooh, they were awesome. They definitely tasted homemade AND right off the pot. The waitstaff gave us dipping bowls, but my bf complained that they gave no gyoza sauce with them. I told him all the ingredients were on the table and mixed together vinegar and soy sauce and added chili powder. He didn't eat it, since it wasn't labeled "gyoza sauce." (okay, whatever) The potstickers are highly recommended even without sauce. There was a lot of stuffing in them and they were a hearty size. There are only about 6 in an order. They were eaten before I could take a photo.
Next came the tangsooyuk... They had a familiar taste to them. They probably could've used a little more vinegar in them, but it was still good. The pork stayed crisp to the end of the meal and the sauce was perfectly sweet and vinegary. Not too sweet. I loved the occasional cabbage leaves that were mixed in.
Finally, the jjambong came out. The noodles tasted homemade. They definitely didn't taste like store-bought noodles, so if they aren't made in house, they are made locally and fresh. They had a chewy consistency that comes only from fresh noodles. The flavor had a nice seafood base and was perfectly salted. You could see little bits of octopus and mussels and shrimp in the soup. The soup could've been a little hotter in heat (both figuratively and literally). But it was enough to make my nose run and I have an average tolerance for spiciness. It was good enough to go back when I have a craving, but I wouldn't say it was chowhound worthy, nor worth a trek out unless you're craving this particular kind of food. I'd go back for the fresh noodles though. Note: chowhound won't let me add the 3rd photo. :(
Anyone know of any other place that has Northern Chinese-Korean fare?
Eastern Paradise Restaurant
1403 S King St, Honolulu, HI 96814
FWIW, I've talked to several Koreans who prefer the restaurant down the street (On Dong), so it might be worth trying. It's on King right near Kaheka. I've not been to Eastern Paradise, so I can't compare, but I did really enjoy the jjajangmyun at On Dong. The ggan pung gi was also very tasty.
On Dong Chinese Restaurant
1499 S. King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814
well, Tasty BBQ (on Kam Hwy next to Blockbuster's) in Kaneohe is pretty decent... the owners are Korean (surprise!). But this isn't Korean/Northern Chinese fare as it is at Eastern Paradise. It's simple Korean BBQ. However, for Korean BBQ, I would go to Tasty BBQ and I don't often go to "Korean BBQ" style places since they aren't that great here. However, the side dishes (banchan) at Tasty BBQ are pretty decent. I like the Choy Sum, the shredded daikon and marinated seaweed. The kimchee is okay, but often too gingery for my taste. I like their Bibimbap for a quick dinner fix. My favorite is Yukgaejang, a spicy beef soup. Only here, you have to ask for it spicy. I'll get photos the next time we go. It's good for fast food and a quick Korean food fix. Too casual for guests.
There is another place just a block and a half down King (DH), which is almost as good as Eastern Paradise. Sorry, cant remember the name, will add it sometime next week when I get back to Honolulu. Took some friends from Korea there (Eastern Paradise is closed one night a week) and they liked it.