For those ambitious foodies traveling to Korea for the first time I would like to recommend that you give soon-dae (순대) a try. The classic Korean food soondae (often written as “sundae” which I personally hate — No, this is nothing like an ice cream sundae) has been around for ages and had its share of lovers and haters even among native Koreans. There are young people who refuse to try soondae for its distinctive smell. For others, it bothers them that soondae is made with a pig’s intestine and blood. Above all, if you do decide to give it a try then it is important that your first soondae is made by someone who knows what they are doing. Making soondae requires hours of effort and knowledge of different cooking methods. Nowadays, authentic soondae is hard to find in a city full of fast foods.
On a Sunday, dad and I dropped by at Taepyoung Marketplace (태평시장) in Jung-gu, Daejeon. An old marketplace is filled with eateries that have been operating for decades. There are reasons that these restaurants survive for such long time. The price is good, the atmosphere is homey, and above all the food tastes amazing. Just like the old times.
Hanmin Soondae make and sell soondae dishes as well as steamed pig’s feet. Dad and I tried a plate of steamed soondae with various organ parts. Steamed organs include liver, tendon, and what seems to be tough muscle part. Hot pots are also available where the soondae and organs are boiled in broth — my personal favorite! For mere 5,000 won you get to enjoy a pot of steaming soup filled with delicious soondae. Because soondae was boiled in soup-bone broth with garlic and green onions, the smell of it is not as strong as that of regular steamed soondae. If it is your first time then maybe starting with soondae gukbab (soondae soup served with rice) is the way to go.
There are many different types of soondae in Korea, but the ones at Hanmin Soondae are plain and simple. The intestines are filled with vermicelli noodles, pig’s blood, and some veggie — classic.
Taepyong Marketplace is located near Taepyoung Ogeori (five-way intersection) in Jung-gu, Daejeon.