By Felicia Ho ’19
Looking for a quick bite after a long morning of running errands at Costco on Route 10 in East Hanover? Instead of reaching for a mountain of greasy fries from Five Guys, take a minute to walk just a bit further and stop by So Gong Dong (S.G.D.) Dubu Tofu and BBQ.
Once inside, you will be greeted by a simply decorated yet spacious room lined with traditional Korean brushstroke characters on all sides. At your seat, take a peek at the paper table mat to learn more about soondubu, S.G.D.’s prized tofu stew dish, and how it can reduce cancer risk—who knew you could learn so much at a restaurant?
The menu is very easy to follow as it is split into four primary components: soondubu, the tofu stew; bibimbap, a mixture of rice, kimchi, and meat or vegetables; Korean BBQ, a bowl of pork, beef, or chicken; and dishes to share. S.G.D. also gives you the power to choose how spicy your dishes will be to fit your preferences.
For those of you who are just venturing into the world of Korean cuisine, I highly recommend the vegetable bibimbap on a hot stone plate. The rice, egg, squash, mushrooms, bean curds, and kimchi will come out a little toasted on the bottom of the plate, adding a surprisingly pleasant crunch. Do not panic when your bibimbap arrives unmixed! Your job is to mix it all together and add as much gochujang, or Korean hot sauce, as you would like. Then, dig in – even if the dish may be as simple as putting white rice together with cooked vegetables, all the flavors will erupt in your mouth and truly warm you up.
The seafood pancake is a great choice to share with others. Similar to the spring onion pancake in Chinese cuisine, it is a fried pancake bursting with squid, chives, shrimp, and more. Brave the thin shimmer of oil and take a bite—you will not regret it!
Although you cannot grill your own pork, chicken, or beef at S.G.D., the Korean BBQ that is grilled in the kitchen and served in a steaming plate is fantastic. The meat is tender and chewy, melting in your mouth as you let out that sigh of happiness. Be sure to check out the onions tossed in to the plate as they have also been infused with that unique Korean spice and are super crispy.
In addition to the main plates, banchan, little cold Korean side dishes, will also be served with an egg drop soup. Banchan options range from sweet bean curds to cucumbers covered with gochujang. Even if you do not like spicy food, give the kimchi banchan a shot. Rather than numbing your mouth with an overpowering kick, the kimchi, combined with a dash of vinegar, gives more of a gentle nudge.
All items on the menu range in price from around 10 to 20 dollars, making S.G.D. an affordable place for lunch from newcomers to those who eat Korean food every day of their lives. As there are few Korean restaurants outside of Edison, Fort Lee, and K-Town in New York City, S.G.D. in East Hanover has always been a wonderful place for me to indulge in spicy kimchi without suffering in traffic. As the temperatures drop and the wind picks up, save that hot chocolate packet for later and instead look for the S.G.D. sign (indeed, it has several locations nationwide) to warm yourself up with a fresh and spicy bowl of bibimbap or tofu stew.
By Alyssa Chen (VI)
V Yan Hot Pot: one of the joys of living anywhere near Parsippany, where this recently opened hot pot restaurant is located. For anyone searching for authentic Chinese hot pot, a great deal, and a fun group meal, I would highly recommend visiting this local gem located only thirty minutes from Pingry.
First: what is hot pot? I don’t blame you for maybe not knowing; the only time I had hot pot before V Yan opened was in China when I was much younger or at the homes of family friends. Hot pot, according to the ultimate knowledge source Wikipedia (which I think sums up the idea well) is “a Chinese soup containing a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table.”
The main idea—at least at V Yan, where each individual has their own hot pot—is that you cook your own personal soup using raw ingredients. The ingredients added to the broth, which is kept boiling at the table by a flame or by electricity, usually include thinly sliced meat (my favorite is lamb), vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, and noodles. These ingredients are then spooned out of the broth and dipped in a sauce.
Doesn’t sound too appetizing? Before I went to V Yan, I would have agreed with you—in fact, as a young kid trying hot pot out for the first time, I could not understand why people enjoyed it. However, after trying it again in Parsippany, I realized not only that hot pot is delicious and flavorful, but also that it offers a unique and creative eating experience to all who try it.
V Yan in particular offers great deals along with its fresh ingredients and exciting atmosphere. All-you-can-eat hot pot is $22, and the lunch special, which includes a set amount of ingredients, is only $12. Plus, V Yan offers a wide range of sauces to mix and has free ice cream for those who are still hungry after eating hot pot. V Yan also offers cook-your-own BBQ, an option which I have not yet tried. However, I can attest to the quality of its hot pot, and I can guess that the same guarantee applies to its BBQ. I can also attest to the authenticity of V Yan—according to my parents, who have both visited many hot pot restaurants in mainland China, V Yan offers a similar experience with ingredients that are just as good and prices that are often better than its counterparts in China.
I’d recommend getting a reservation before you go—the wait can be long, especially on weekend nights. And, once more, I want to encourage hot pot novices and experts alike to go check out V Yan Hot Pot.
By Alyssa Chen (VI)
Delicious sandwiches and burgers, massive portions, and quirky décor can all be found at Burger/Que of Basking Ridge, a relatively new casual BBQ and burger spot located on King George Road, only ten minutes away from school.
I had passed by Burger/Que many times on outings to Frozen Falls or O’Bagel: in the context of the plaza, the restaurant’s corner location seems to make it an afterthought. A few months after first noticing it, I suggested the spot to a few friends who were in the mood for burgers. It turned out that the little store had a lot more flavor than I had expected, both in terms of atmosphere and food.
The first notable item was the décor. Even before entering the restaurant itself, we passed by a large metal pig sculpture. Inside were paintings of cows and pigs, cute signs, and a hand-chalked menu board, among other little trinkets. The restaurant itself was not large, seating at most around 30 patrons at tables for mostly three to four people. The atmosphere was both laid-back and full of character, from the alternating blue and brick walls to the metal buckets on each table used for holding sauce bottles.
The food was flavorful and filling. We ordered cheese fries as a table; I ordered the brisket sandwich for myself. The cheese fries were topped with two types of cheese and served in a large portion—addicting to the three of us who were there.
The brisket sandwich I ordered turned out to be two of the thickest slices of toasted bread I have seen sandwiching a good amount of fatty beef brisket, onion straws, and provolone cheese. Just half the sandwich was more than enough for one sitting. The meat and onion straws seemed to overflow from the bread—not a negative, considering the excellent flavor and texture of both. The bread itself was probably one inch thick and toasted to a crisp.
My friends, who ordered the BYO (build your own) Burger and the Figaliscious chicken sandwich, seemed to enjoy their meals, too. Looking around the restaurant, I noticed other quirky and tasty-looking sandwiches, such as the waffle burger (a patty surrounded by two waffles).
As Naiyah Atulomah (VI) said, “Their food is so amazing, I don’t care how I look when I eat. By the end, I have food and a content look on my face.”
The only two complaints I might have for Burger/Que are that the portions are too large and the food is unhealthy. Of course, the latter is what one expects from such a burger joint, and the former “complaint” is really just a great deal, considering that most sandwiches cost $10-11 and that the restaurant provides carry-out boxes for those (like me) who cannot finish an entire sandwich.
If you are looking for a break from the usual dry or monotonous meal, or if you enjoy satisfyingly flavorful sandwiches, I would highly recommend giving Burger/Que a visit. A great meal awaits.