Dearest Digest Reader,
I feel your pain. At this very moment, as you read with puffy, bloodshot eyes, I want to assure you that I too hurt. I bleed. I weep.
I have a hangover.
In general I get hellacious hangovers, especially the day after St. Patrick’s Day. But as much as I want to believe (oh, I so badly want to believe) in the alleged, hyped curative properties of such “hangover cures” as a fiery bowl of menudo, a greasy Grand Slam brekky platter, or “hair of the dog” concoctions like the Bloody Mary, I know from years, nay, decades of boozing experience that such fantasy fixes are just that: fantasy.
My foodie theory on these hangover cures is that they are in fact merely hangover distractions rather than remedies. They’re a temporary sideshow performed by insanely spicy, ridiculously oily, and sometimes alcoholic comestibles and do not bring an iota of relief from a brutal hangover. There is one exception.
Haejangguk literally translated means “soup to chase a hangover... to the deepest depths of hell.” (Okay, so I embellished the last part.) It’s a Korean hangover soup. Every country needs one and the Korean rendition features a hearty ox-bone broth, a fistful of soybean sprouts, dried napa cabbage leaves, beefy neck bone, and blocks of coagulated ox blood.
Strangely, one of the best places in L.A. to chase your hangover away with haejangguk is a food stall called Galleria Chicken located in Northridge’s Galleria Market food court. The soup here greets you roiling with steamy broth and raging with bird’s eye peppers. This is fighting fire with fire.
All textures are covered, from the nutty and crunchy soybean sprouts to the huge hunk of beef neck bone waiting for you to gnaw and pick at it, every inch full of tender beef, tendon, marrow, and gelatinous joy. Withered strips of napa cabbage have a rough, vegetal intensity.
Crowning the soup are dark red slabs of pock-marked coagulated ox blood. The blood has a deep iron taste with a mealy and gritty feel unlike the smooth, gelatin finish of its pork counterpart. Biting into one is biting into a firm bean curd made of blood—vampire tofu. Who needs a Bloody Mary when real blood is so much more fortifying.
And as far as cures go, with haejangguk you’ll at least have as much fun ridding yourself of the hangover as you did achieving it.
10201 Reseda Blvd., Ste. 102, Northridge