There Will Be Blood Sausage. Soondae — Korean Blood Sausage. Koreatown, Los Angeles.

soondae
Soondae Bloody Soondae.

There’s a new gold rush on in Southern California. But, what shimmers in the eyes of these 21st century prospectors is not gold or oil. It’s blood — pig’s blood. Splattered all along the Western Avenue corridor and coursing through the main artery of Koreatown are several Korean pig blood sausage specialty restaurants or soondae houses. Each and everyone one of these pig plasma parlors are here to cash in on the blood lust. And there’s a lot of it in Koreatown. Soondae restaurants are very busy. Monday through Sunday, it’s always a good time for soondae.

Soondae, for the most part, is like a standard blood sausage — pork blood and filler are stuffed silly into a sausage casing. But, instead of bread, meat or oatmeal, a thick cord of skinny glass noodle (and possibly a little bit of barley) is worked into the casing. Flavor enhancers like garlic, green onions and undisclosed seasonings are mixed with the somewhat neutral flavored pork blood.

Playing escort to soondae are a coarse chili sea salt and a stinky but sensational fermented micro-shrimp dipping sauce. These condiments really breathe life into the delicate taste of pork blood. The spicy salt brings out the soondae’s sweetness. The stinky shrimp sauce is actually intended more for the pork offals, usually intestines and liver, which come with the soondae plate. But, the shrimp sauce gets soaked up nicely by the noodles in the sausage, so it’s ideal for dunking soondae even though it’s not meant for it.

soondaeguk
Soondae Guk.

Soondae guk is the soup variation of the blood sausage dish. Basically, it’s the soondae platter dumped into a mild pork broth. Steamed white rice can also be added into the broth for an even heartier meal. However, the soondae itself is significantly boosted in taste because of the broth. The glass noodle drinks up the soup until bloated — like Daniel Day-Lewis savagely slurping an imaginary milkshake — and holds it in for a flavorful burst when eaten. Soondae’s multi-layered texture is an appealing aspect as well: the snappy firmness of the casing gives way to the slippery noodles and the mealy pig blood. You feel me?

I sampled two of the soondae houses in the K-town soondae district. One is a street food stall called Cham Cham Cham, located in the Koreatown Galleria food court. The other is Western Soondae in a strip mall about a block or two from the Galleria. The only difference in the two that I noticed was Western Soondae’s tossing in of some bonus pig tongue with its soondae soup.

About a dozen soondae houses sit along and around this area of Koreatown. With names like Han Kook Soondae, Seoul Soondae and Western Soondae, these restaurants aren’t hard to locate. So if you’re lusting for some blood, it won’t take much effort to get some. And if you find yourself accidentally wandering into one of these places, you can be sure...THERE WILL BE BLOOD...um, on the menu. Yeah, I said it.

CHAM CHAM CHAM
(Koreatown Galleria Mall)
3250 W. Olympic Blvd. #314
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Tel: 323.766.8600

WESTERN SOONDAE
543 S. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel: 213.389.5288

And now for Academy consideration, Deep End Dining proudly presents There Will Be Blood Sausage the motion picture.


There Will Be Blood Sausage from eric alba on Vimeo.

Comments

Jane said…
Nobody ever seems to agree with my Korean restaurant selections (especially on Yelp), but here goes.

I LOVE soondae. The best soondae I have ever had was at a sidewalk cart in Korea near my aunt's house. Alas, this isn't Korea.

Second best replacements imho:
1. The soondae place in the Koreatown Plaza food court, not far from Galleria. It's right next to the chicken place in one of the corners of the restaurant. They have more than just good soondae, they also have this extremely delicious spicy goat meat soup. I tend to order a plate of soondae and some of that soup when I go there.
2. This very tiny almost impossible to spot soondae restaurant that's in the same strip mall as Park's Barbecue near Vermont and Olympic. It's sort of at the opposite end of the same strip mall, hidden behind the stairs. They have good soondae soup.
Juliet said…
Ooh! Now I am so hungry! I wonder if any of the Korean restaurants here would make any soondae dishes if I asked.

Loved the U2 pun, as well. Ah, to go back to the 1980s, when U2 made good music.
Anonymous said…
Fantastic! Now that I've acquired a taste for my nation's dish, I'm glad to find them in LA. Now, what about black pudding from UK? Any makers of those here in the states?
Juliet said…
Sorry about the double comment. Just want to add that your kids are so cute!
Soondae is GOOD...but the dish is beneath you, Eddie. Hell, Argentines and English dig in on their own blood sausages--it's hardly a strange dish. GIVE US MORE BEAVER!!!!!!!!!

(And yes: take the last comment in both ways of the double entendre!!!)
Ata said…
We name it morcilla in Spain. The Morcillas are a traditional food over the country.
sarah said…
even my mom, who eats most of the hard kor korean stuff, can't touch soondae.

props to you, eddie. my mom and i give you mad props.
Suh-weet! Never knew the Koreans did budino - I am now officially on a quest. Wonder if there are any places to get soondae in Sacramento?
fressack said…
Germany would be bloodsausage-heaven for You, Eddie.
You guys have been doing it for ages compared to me, and have access to a hell of a lot more weirdness, but I thought I'd self-promote a little and tell you about my amusingly insubstantial column for Madison's (Wisconsin) The Daily Page.

It's called Fringe Foods, and it's been going since November 2007. Suffice it to say, I'm envious of the breadth and width of your food landscape.
margottt said…
Hello! I just thought I'd extend an invitation to a network of Los Angeles bloggers.. It's a great way to get more readers and find new and interesting blogs: http://labloggers.ning.com/?xgi=5mcqS7g
Eddie Lin said…
jane,

this is not Yelp! i welcome your quirky recs with open arms and chopsticks. i would love to one day try your first pick - the street food cart in korea- but will have to settle for your second picks for now.


juliet,

go ahead and request it. i'd bet that they be thrilled by the fact that you even know what soondae is. maybe they'll make it for you just because of that! soondae bloody soondae can be for u2 one day!


anony,

if you live in LA, head over to santa monica to ye olde king's head and order their authentic english breakfast and a side of black pudding. you'll get your blood fix.


juliet,

aww, thanks. you're kids are pretty damn cute too. halfies rule!!


gustavo,

this is one of those dishes where relativity is key. soondae clearly is no big challenge for your daring palate, but for others, like one of the producers of the "good food" show, soondae is unthinkable as food. what's exotic to one is a staple to someone else. a perfect joke to illustrate this perspective -

Q: what do they call chinese food in china?
A: food.


ata,

gotta munch on some morcilla soon! thanks, friend.


sarah,

i'll take your and your momma's mad props...and the soondae on your plate that you won't touch.


hunter-angler-gardner-cook,

i send you off on your quest for soondae in sacramento. may the soondae gods be at your side.


fressack,

you got that bloody right!! man, just because of the comments alone, i'm starting to plan trips to four different countries (so far: korea, england, spain and germany) to try their version of the blood sausage. forget the UN. blood sausage is what really connects the world!


kyle aka the bookpolice,

never put your own work down...let others do it for you. it's easier. anyhow, if you really want to dive into the deep end, you need to get yourself out of wisconsin and to LA or NY. this is the jungle, baby. you have the right attitude. i think you'll love a trip out here.

and thanks for your kind comment.


margottt,

thank you for the nice invite. i will join. LA bloggers unite!
nicole said…
i think the white-ish meat is pig ear.. im pretty sure. =] try seoul soondae if you can. good times.
Rick Vaughn said…
If you like soondae guk, go one step farther and try dinuguan, a pig's blood stew from the Philippines.