Bon Juk, Flushing
- E Eto May 5, 2009 11:02 AM
During this cold winter/spring, and warding off colds and allergies, I've found comfort with the offerings at Bon Juk, the Flushing outpost of a Korean rice porridge specialty chain. Since I do some shopping at Hanyang, it's an easy walk across Northern Blvd to Bon Juk. The rice porridge or juk is unlike the stuff you will find at Chinese juk or congee joints in that Bon Juk's version is most likely made from steamed rice, so that it resembles a thick ochazuke or zosui, or a thin risotto, than the liquified rice in the standard versions of Chinese congee or Japanese okayu. I've tried the items off the left side of the menu, meaning the juk mixed with a few ingredients, like the kimchee and octopus, or the mushroom and oysters, or the samgetang (chicken with ginseng), or the mixed seafood. I have yet to try the more traditional versions of pumpkin, sesame, or azuki bean, which are all on the right side of the menu.
A large serving of juk is served on a tray along with shredded kimchee, shredded pieces of pork simmered in a sweet soy sauce (similar to Japanese buta kakuni), and a hot red sauce made with some kind of seafood base (I'm thinking squid) along with bits of takuwan (pickled daikon) for a little crunch. For a little palate cleanser, there's also a refreshing cold vinegary daikon soup. I'm not sure if there's a correct way to eat the juk here, but I mix in bits of the accompaniments into the smaller serving bowl and enjoy the flavors, making sure to only accent the subtle flavors of the main ingredients. Thus far, my favorites are the samgetang and the mushroom/oyster. The samgetang version is loaded with chicken flavor and this might be what I crave from now on when I have a cold. The mushroom and oysters are plentiful and with the accents of the garnishes, it's more than soothing, it makes for a great meal. The kimchee octopus is nice for a change of pace, but I think I would have a difficult time finishing an entire bowl of it. This would be ideal to share with a few people. The mixed seafood I found the least interesting.
I still have yet to try the abalone juk, and that will likely happen on my next visit. But I probably will go for the less expensive version than the $30 one.
152-26 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11354
The pumpkin porridge is our favorite. Slighlty sweet and soothing and great after a bad cold when one is slowly segueing into solids...
i thought the abalone version is the standard one? all of the places in LA always make it with abalone
what do you think about the korean version vs the chinese version? i like both, but i find the korean one more bland...its been a long time since i had the korean version, i didnt even realize there were any korean places in ny specializing in it
I would say just the opposite with the style of juk at Bonjuk vs. Chinese style. If I had to compare, then I'd say the Chinese style is more bland. With the addition of the flavorful condiments and the good ingredients in the juk at Bonjuk, this is clearly a different version than your $3 bowl at the Chinese congee joint. And I don't think the abalone juk is the standard. It is one of many versions, but perhaps the most popular. See the linked article for another example of a Korean juk joint.
I'm not sure how Bonjuk serves their jook, but the way my mom made jook growing up, it was definitely blander than Chinese congee, if only in that we seasoned it at the table with roasted sea salt. And ate it the way E Eto describes, the way Koreans eat rice, with bits of banchan. I LOVE wrapping roasted seaweed around jook. Obviously, it doesn't really maintain its form, but the saltiness of it goes so well with rice porridge!
My wife made the point that juk, being a home cooked type of thing, is not likely to draw a great many Koreans out of their homes, especially at Bonjuk's prices (not exhorbitant, not cheap either). To justify this, Bonjuk would have to do something that tastes like, well, "home", if not better. And they do.
My samgetang juk (chicken porridge) was outstanding. As I was nursing a bad cold, the kimchi add-ons were not a good idea yesterday. To my relief, the seasoning was just right. The chicken strands were tender, tasty and plentiful, the consistency of the porridge thick and to my liking. The chopped carrots and scallions, along with the whole plum, made for a very satisfying, well-balanced one-pot meal. The strands of marinaded beef were also tasty and a good compliment.
My wife really dug the kimchi and octopus version, which I dared not sample yesterday, but look forward to trying when my system returns to form.
The pumpkin porridge, which we ordered for the kid, tasted a lot like a pureed soup my wife cooks, only Bonjuk's version contains rice cakes. It's beautifully simple and direct, relying on the natural sweetness of the pumpkin.
The complimentary cold kimchi soup and plum-based tea were very refreshing - perfect for cooling down and/or cleansing the pallette.
Thanks for this, Eric.
I picked the rainiest day ever to conveniently hit this place up.
The octopus and kimchee porridge was very satisfying. It was hot, thick, and had a tiny bit of spice all of which came together to provide instant anti-terrible-weather defense. The prices are murderous, but it's good stuff.
Since our first visit, I've gone back for take-out, so I've had my share of juk for the spring/summer.
I'll add the seafood porridge to my list of favorites at this place. The chunks of seafood are plentiful and fresh-tasting - this one really hit the spot. I'm not recommending the straight Abalone version, though, which, though not bad, doesn't really punch forth the actual Abalone enough to warrant the price. They have a much steeper-costing version, which is supposed to be Abalone porridge worthy of royalty, which I'll wait on until I've hit lotto.
Hope these guys hold out until winter.