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Have a hangover? The ox blood soup at Tong Tong’s for you 

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper

Tong Tong, 2036 S. Academy Blvd., 591-8585

Despite the plethora of Korean food I’ve sampled, I’ve somehow missed trying Sunji Haejanggook, “ox blood hangover soup.” Which is perhaps why a lot of Americans don’t order the dish, since they usually reach for diner food and coffee after drinking. (“Hey Carl, sorry about the headache and queasy tummy, let’s go get you some ox blood,” said no Anglo ever.)

Tong Tong manager Joanne Lee, whose parents operate the restaurant, confesses she was surprised we ordered the dish. But she graciously walks us through each ingredient as we ask questions, like how does the blood congeal into the rubbery mass? (They buy it frozen like that, from a Denver import mart.)

Break those clumps up into tiny pieces (because on their own they bear sort of a challenging liver taste) so spoonfuls of the delightful, faintly tangy soybean and red chile paste broth are more balanced in flavor. The soup also bears re-hydrated Napa cabbage, bean sprouts and soft beef threads — it’s delicious and surprisingly approachable.

Lee says that 24-hour cafés in Seoul commonly serve the soup to cater to drinkers, and that some days customers mass outside waiting for Tong Tong to open so they can detox with the Sunji Haejanggook.

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