Korean-Chinese Primer II
I’ve not been to San Tung so I don’t know what’s good there particularly, so I’ll comment in general on the dishes.
As some have mentioned, the most popular dishes at Korean-Chinese restaurants are the hand-pulled noodle dishes. Hand-pulled noodle is said to be an invention of Shangdongese, who are the vast majority of the owners of these Korean-Chinese places.
Chao Ma Mian (Hot-Spicy Seafood noodle soup) – This is very popular. Seafood usually consists of Shrimp, Squid, and either Scallop or Sea Cucumber. The spicy broth is out of this world. This is my favorite noodle with soup dish.
Zha Jiang Mian (Black Bean Sauce noodle) – This is another favorite. Small cubes of pork, shrimp, onions and Chinese squash stir fried with the sweet black sauce, and you mix this into your noodle. This is my favorite noodle (dry) dish.
The noodle soup with pork & mustard green I believe is probably “Da Lu Mian”. This is a non-spicy noodle soup which has great tasting broth along with slices of pork and veggies.
For non-noodle dishes, here are some that are popular. But depending on the restaurant, they make not make every one of these very well.
Gan Pong (Dry Sauteed) Chicken/Shrimp – like you mentioned, spicy and sweet. If you see liquid in the plate – not good. You can usually get either boned chicken (wings) or boneless breaded chicken.
Tang Cu (Sweet & Sour) Pork/Chicken/Beef – This is Shandong version of the Sweet & Sour dish. But the sauce is very different than the Americanized version, a must try.
La Jiao (Chili Pepper) Pork/Chicken/Beef – This is my favorite dish. Hard to describe the sauce used in this because it is so unique, but it’s got a little kick. Both this and the above dish’s meat are breaded.
Quan Jia Fu (Happy Family) – I don’t order this too often, but if there’s a large enough table, this is a common choice.
Liu San Si (??) – This dish is stirred fried in a light sauce with everything julienned – woodear mushrooms, bamboo, Chinese cabbage pork, shrimp, scallop, etc.
On the cold plate side, the most popular is the Jellyfish plate. It usually comes in a large plate with Jellyfish in the middle, surrounded by separate portions of julienned pork, woodear mushrooms, cabbage, egg, etc. And it is to be mixed together with the accompanied hot Mustard sauce mixture.
As for Shui Jiao (Water Boiiled Dumplings) – I usually never order these at the restaurants because they’re usually frozen. What that does is ruin the skin – and to me, skin is 50% of the dumling! However, I’ve found a very good version, which I’ll post about separately next time. 🙂
It’s definitely not a hybrid of Chinese-Korean. The more accurate way to think of it would be Korean-Chinese food is a “branch” of the main Shangdong cuisine, which also influences the Beijing Imperial cuisine. I have heard that, due to its proximity with Beijing, most of the cooks in the Beijing imperial kitchens were Shandongese, and they strongly influenced Beijing/Mandarin cuisine.
The origin of Korean-Chinese cuisine is attributed to Shandongese who crossed the Yellow Sea to Korea at least as early as the 1900’s. Most of them were from the coastal regions of Shandong (Jinan, Weihai, Rongcheng, Muping, and even some Chingdao (TsingTao), etc.) So when they came to Korea, they brought their food with them. And subsequently opened restaurants to sell these food.
And as usual with most Chinese cuisine, they adopted the dishes and tastes to suit the local taste, and the items I listed earlier became the main dishes that are popoular to this date. So you won’t find these dishes in any other styles Chinese restaurants (Shanghai, Sichuan, Hunan, etc.) Similarly if you see Xiaolongbao in the Korean-Chinese restaurant, it won’t be that good.
A good thing to try next time you’re in one of these places is to ask the owner “Are you Shandong-Ren”? That would probably surprise the heck out of them and maybe even get you a free drink. 🙂