Noodles on the trailing edge.

Too often, restaurant critics ignore restaurants that have been around for ages in search of the new hotness.  While some of the reasons for that are quite solid (especially that restaurants, as a general rule, usually decline in quality as they age), it ignores the fact that people are still interested in and eating at these “senior” restaurants, and they deserve investigation and veneration or castigation, depending.

I mention all this having been to Koreatown’s Kum Ryong/Golden Dragon restaurant last night, which almost assuredly has seen better days.  The menu pages are torn and frayed, three or four of the dishes in each category are crossed out, and the dumpling lady in the window is pretty much a ruse to attract those who would otherwise be hitting up Mandoo down the block.

That said, I enjoyed what I ate at Kum Ryong – the reason I went in, indeed, was the awning-advertised fresh noodles.  Now, I have no idea whether the noodles with special brown sauce ($7) were actually fresh, because I didn’t see them pounded, but there were hints of irregularity in some of the noodles, and they tasted like the genuine article.

I give the restaurant bonus points for serving the noodles separately from the special brown sauce, too, so the pasta didn’t get soggy.  In said sauce, which was a quite dark and a slightly sweet concoction, I found slightly charred onions and nuggets of tough pork.  It reminded me of Sietsema’s description of the noodles at Samwongahk, which closed before I could get to it – I’m not sure whether the sauce could double as engine grease, but it sure looked like someone had used 10W30 in the preparation.

My friends’ choices were less satisfying.  I thought my paralegal buddy ordered his noodles in a hot chop suey soup ($8), but he ended up with a nuclear seafood broth with unshelled shrimp, octopus legs, mussels, clams, and god knows what else.  I liked the broth, which managed to be both spicy and fishy without being disgusting.

I can’t say the same for my roommate’s noodles with chicken soup ($8), which seemed to lack very much chicken.  Given the pervasive mushroom flavor and the predominant egg (which happens to soak up mushroom flavor quite effectively), the taste sensations were less subtle and more like a dull, throbbing headache.  A damn shame considering he had a headache already.  Sorry, dude!

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