The other day, I met with April for lunch at Her Name is Han, which is one of April’s favorite places for authentic Korean food in the city. For lunch, many of the dishes from the dinner menu are available, but at a much cheaper price, so if you’re ok with waiting in line (there’s always a wait for lunch unless you manage to get a reservation in advance), this is a great place to go for lunch in Koreatown.
Last month, April and I had ordered Budae Jjigae as take-out from Her Name is Han, and it was delicious, so when I saw that they had a smaller version on the menu for lunch, I knew what I was having. Compared to many (or all) of the other dishes on the menu at Her Name is Han, Budae Jjigae is among the most unhealthy items, but if you’re in the mood, it’s oh so good. They call the lunch version Mini Budae Hot Pot in the menu, but it’s a decent-sized bowl, and more than enough for one hungry Sanne.
Budae Jjigae (or army stew, as it’s also called) is actually more of a winter dish. Post-Korean War, when food was scarce, locals got crafty by mixing leftover processed foods from the U.S. military bases, like spam, sausages, cheese, and canned beans, with traditional Korean ingredients like kimchi, tofu, and gochujang (red chili paste). This fusion gave birth to Budae Jjigae, which translates to “army stew.” It’s an eclectic fusion of two worlds with a pinch of a time long gone, resulting in a highly unique, and surprisingly delicious dish.