Spicy Bibimguksu, chilly spicy housemade chlorella noodles that include a sort of sea algae, from MDK Noodles
Picture: Alison Cook dinner / Employees
Nightfall had gathered a deep blue round its shoulders as I pulled out of the car parking zone at Myung Dong Kyoja, the 5-month-old Korean noodle restaurant within the coronary heart of Asiatown.
For a full minute or so, I ended earlier than turning onto Bellaire Boulevard, transfixed by rank upon rank of blackbirds assembling on the utility wires.
Black slashes towards the blue, the starlings and cowbirds and grackles roosted in near-perfect battle formation. Then one thing would rouse them, and they might rise in intricate murmurations, their tight patterns swooping, synchronous, stuffed with some pure magic.
So I drove house fascinated with the ability of geometries.
Once I unpacked my order, I began laughing. There was geometry once more, proper on my kitchen counter, within the type of essentially the most impeccable, crisply mathematical packaging I’ve encountered in my curbside-pickup wanderings. Sure dishes had an orderly geometry of their very own.
Little pan-fried dumplings crammed with a mince of pork and Korean greens marched three abreast in army rows, their rectangular wrappers as skinny and glazed as laminated pastry. With them got here a wispy cabbage salad tucked in a sq. field patterned with indentations, every grouping as orderly as my pandemic existence will not be.
9798 Bellaire, Suite F
Fats, juicy rounds of steamed pork-and-shrimp dumplings obtained their very own superb crib: every crimped bonnet sitting in its personal hexagon or pentagon, the shiny white plastic container lined with heat-sealed glassine. Once I peeled again the overlaying, the dumplings have been nonetheless heat and delicate-tasting, the shellfish including a refined tone of sweetness to the savor.
In a container of comparable form — a rectangle with rounded ends — coiled a chile-red nest of housemade chlorella noodles, which get their title from a sort of sea algae. This chilly salad was piled with crimson kimchi, swirled with a gochujang chile-paste sauce and topped with an oval of exhausting boiled egg. Tiny sesame-seed orbs rode on high, together with batons of crunchy cucumber as straight and slender because the square-cut noodles themselves.
There was a number of assertive warmth on this Spicy Bibimguksu, the sort that allows you to know you’re alive, however by no means an excessive amount of to deal with. And the inexperienced noodles themselves, whereas mushy and supple, retained simply sufficient chunk. It’s the type of dish that travels properly and retains even higher, a jewel in Houston’s takeout realm.
Myung Dong Kyoja is called for the Myung Dong district of Seoul, and “kyoja” signifies “dumpling,” which accounts for the excellence of the aforementioned pork-and-shrimp bonnets. However one of many specialties for which the family-owned chain, which has a handful of California areas that preceded its new Houston outpost, is the knife-cut wheat noodles, the 2-foot-long kalguksu.
And what noodles they’re. As slippy and slide-y and silky and snappy as you please, in order that while you chopstick a number of strands into your mouth from a bowl of broth and inhale, they snake up like lightning.
You need your kalguksu with a little bit of spring to them, so to pattern them at their greatest, select “raw” while you order your soup on-line for takeout.
Within the MDK eating room, which is open at diminished capability, they prepare dinner your soup noodles to order. However carry them house in a carton of broth, they usually’ll hold cooking and plumping and shedding texture, particularly should you stay a half hour away.
MDK’s cook-it-yourself kits are cleverly packaged, intuitive enjoyable that even youngsters or a good friend feeling puny might take pleasure in placing collectively in minutes. I simply dumped my carton of wealthy, refined rooster broth right into a small pot, freed my tangle of kalguksu from their plastic bag and threw them in with the substances from one other magic sq. field: on this case, layered with three tiny, gingered pork dumplings, floor rooster crumbles and slips of vegetable and wooden ear.
Simmer this only a few minutes, tasting for noodle texture as you go. Then flip it out right into a bowl and let the chopsticks and drops of broth fly. You’ll wish to eat as a lot as you possibly can in a single go as a result of the noodles left within the pot will hold fattening with broth till they grow to be a gloopy (however reasonably scrumptious) mass.
You will get your kalguksu with spicy soup, too; or in what the menu describes as a “mild anchovy broth,” which I’m planning for my subsequent MDK journey.
My sole letdown from the restaurant was a kimchi pancake packed right into a pizza field, the place it steamed and sogged out all the way in which house, till it emerged as a sodden, dispirited factor. I haven’t given up on it but as a result of I froze the triangular slices to pan-fry later, one other of the pandemic-era hacks I take advantage of when all appears misplaced. We’ll see.
And I’m happy to announce that I’m now Houston’s personal Queen of Kimchi. That’s as a result of included with every principal dish I ordered was a kind of fairly white plastic containers filled with the fermented cabbage relish so essential to Korean delicacies.
They’re now stacked excessive in my fridge: so many good squares, their glassine shields agleam, together with two bigger containers of kimchi, pink and the much less regular white, that I purchased as $2 “extras” as a result of, properly, I’m a goose who didn’t perceive this system.
However I’ll sooner or later. I intend to have a relationship with MDK. With luck it will likely be a protracted one, crammed with dreamy kalguksu soup and revivifying chilly noodles and crimped dumplings spurting juice. Perhaps some fermented uncooked skate, too, once I rise up my nerve. And it’s my fervent want to sooner or later sit within the fashionable, no-frills eating room and eat these noodle dishes the second they’re prepared, as civilization meant it.
Within the meantime, I’ll order on-line, remembering that it’s greatest to google MDK Houston, take a look at the right-hand field of Google opinions, map and images on the primary web page of the search, and click on the blue “order pickup” tab. For some cause, I couldn’t get the “order on-line” perform to work on MDK Houston’s website. I’d refill my cart, and my data, then cycle into purgatory, observing an endlessly revolving circle that went nowhere, the geometry of doom.