Sunday, November 18, 2007
I open my eyes to a hazy foreground. There's barely any light coming in through the windows yet I find it hard to even open my eyes. They feel like they've been sewn shut. I swallow the saliva in my mouth and feel the droplets slowly trickling down no faster than a snail's crawl. My mouth and throat are completely dry as a desert, probably from sleeping with my mouth open. I'm laying on the right side of my face, body sprawled over my bed. My leg's hanging off the bed and I can feel absolutely no blood circulating there. Oh my head. It feels like it's in a woodshop vise cranked all the way. The back of my eyeballs are throbbing with a slight jolt of pain. I can feel the pressure in my kidneys, signaling me to go to the bathroom. But I refuse to. I know what's going to happen if I get up. All the blood is going to tilt inside my head once I stand up, causing me to feel even more nauseous. It's now 7 am and my alarm goes off loudly. I purposely set my alarm to bad music so that I am FORCED to get up and turn it off. But this day, it couldn't be more painful with my hangover and horrible sound of Black Eyed Pea's "My Humps". If I had a gun, I would shoot my alarm clock a million times. I groan in major dis-satisfaction and shut up Fergie. Might as well go to the bathroom too. I stand up with the aid of my bed and feel the blood trickling to the right places, nearly falling. Oh god. I come back and fall back onto the bed. I miraculously find a cup of old water by my bed and kill it. This is terrible. The thought of going to work in the next few hours does not please me. As I lay there motionless in deep regret over last night's debauchery, there are only two words that come to mind:
Han Bat (한 밭 설 렁 탕) is a Koreatown restaurant that specializes in ONE thing: sul lung tang. (I know the korean character for 'bat' is incorrect. Stupid computer won't do the character I want!) Sul lun tang is a soup made from boiling various beef bones, primarily oxtail, over a period of 12-15 hours. The result of the low-and-slow cooking method is a milky white broth caused by the collagen and marrow in the bones. Tonkotsu ramen is made through the same process, but with pork bones instead. There are only 4 meal categories in a day: breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. For me, I've added a 5th meal – this is best eaten after drinking. Nothing is more pleasing than a bowl of soup for me because I'm taking care of two things at once: thirst and hunger.
I walk in at 7:45 am and see a few tables occupied. I've been here about 8 times already and have figured out the clientele. There are usually two types of people that come in here. You've got the older Korean men and women (ah-je-shee and ah-je-ma) getting their breakfast on while reading the morning newspaper. And then you've got the 21-32 year old guys and girls with bags under their eyes, or bed-head, slurping the soup quite rapidly. At this time in the morning, they are more than likely... hungover. Like me.
Han Bat (한 밭) should actually change it's name to Han Go Pa (한 고 바) because of its remedial significance in quelling hangovers. Koreans will get that haha.
This is what Han Bat might look like when you're drunk or hungover. No time to admire the hole-in-the-wall decor. Just eat the food.
This is what Han Bat looks like after you've had their soup. All of a sudden, today is a brand new day.
Han Bat's Hangover Soup: Sul Lung Tang
At Han Bat, they keep things really simple. You only have two options. Either you order the beef bone soup ($8.32 + tax) or you order the boiled beef that comes with wasabi ($16.63 + tax). The SLT comes in a mini black cauldron and is unsalted. You can smell the wafts of beefiness in the steam – reeling your drunk ass in. The broth has a subtle buttery-thickness to it. Some places will add tons of beef flavored stock (dashida) to enhance the real taste of beef bones. For your SLT, you can choose these types of toppings:
-mixed 석 음
-brisket 살 코 기
-flank 양 지
-intestine, tripe and spleen 내 장
-tongue 우 설
I always get the brisket and flank, which is similar to the beef cuts used in pho – my favorite. Rameniac has ordered the spleen before and decided to stick with non-spleen items. I love this soup!
Han Bat brings out the chef in you and lets you customize your SLT with korean salt (similar in texture to kosher, but slightly clumped up), black pepper and freshly-made chili paste. Along with the seasonings, comes the best topping in the world: the tub o' scallions which the server plops on the table. And a bowl of scalding hot rice packed into aluminum bowls.
Normal people do one scoop. I take it to the next level and add 5 monster scoops. I've caught the server looking at me once. She asked me, "You like???" I said, "Nehhhhhh..."
Han Bat Kimchi
I love their kimchi. This is the pasty, thick kind that doesn't have that acidic/carbonated bite which is usually associated with pre-bottled stuff. The server sets this on the table and asks if you want it cut. *Bam* Out comes the trusty old Korean-restaurant gadget: scissors. *Snip *Snip *Snip: on your mark, get set, kim chi!
I can't describe the goodness of Han Bat's SLT. It is such a simple dish that does wonders for those that are sober or drunk. For a total of $11 (tip included), I get a piping hot bowl of beef bone soup, 2 side dishes, rice, the tub o' scallions and a very happy body. Han Bat accepts cash only and is open from 7am - 10 pm everyday. Valet parking available behind the building.
How do YOU quell your hangover?
Han Bat Shul Lung Tang (한 밭)
4163 W. 5th St (and Western)
Los Angeles, CA 90020 (213) 388-9499
And for those that find themselves hungover in NYC... I recommend Gahm Mi Oak. Solid.