Take a moment and imagine this: it's a cold and wet January evening, and you've decided to walk back to your dorm room or apartment. You happen to walk past East 10th Street. Tired and hungry, you suddenly spot a warm yellow glow up ahead.
As you move closer, the large letters of the Korean restaurant Sobon's sign come into view.
Somebody carrying a takeout bag from the restaurant passes by, and the savory smell of fresh fried rice creeps into the chilly night air. You swallow. Your stomach growls. You head toward the door.
Don’t be disheartened by the simple interior design when you first step foot inside the eatery. Instead, head to the counter and pick whatever your heart desires from the LED menu board. Also, don’t forget the fridge full of cold drinks on your left hand side. Grab a Lotte Milkis, a carbonated Korean milk-flavored drink, or a bottle of aloe vera juice.
Sobon is different than your typical sit-down restaurant in that you essentially bus your own table. You tell your order to one of the restaurant employees. He or she gives you a piece of paper with your order number, which he or she will call once the food is ready.
Remember to check out the complimentary self-serve side dish station by the fridge before you find yourself a seat. I have been in love with the macaroni tuna salad since my first time eating at Sobon. The standard kimchi is also worth a try.
For first time Sobon patrons, I recommend getting the soon tofu stew or galbitang to warm your yourself during cold weather.
The soon tofu stew is made with silky tofu, veggies and seafood all soaked in a savory red stew with the right amount of spiciness. Expect the stew to come out piping hot and bubbling in a serving dish made of black stone with a bowl of rice on the side.
Galbitang, or short rib soup, is a clear soup made with beef short ribs, eggs and rice noodles. Galbitang has traditionally been a luxury dish often reserved for special occasions. Consider trying it to celebrate your next big moment in life.
Warmer days, on the other hand, call for bibimbap. The crispy rice always comes topped with a generous amount of vegetables, perfectly marinated bulgogi beef and a runny fried egg. Add chili pepper paste, called gochujang in Korean, mix everything up and dig in.
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