Yuk Dae Jang has many different locations throughout North America, but the location we are specifically talking about today is located in Westpark Plaza of Irvine, California. Yuk Dae Jang was the first American outpost of a large Korea-based chain and has five locations in California including in Koreatown, Los Angeles, Gardena, San Gabriel, Buena Park, and, of course, Irvine.
Yuk Dae Jang is known for their spicy beef soup that is served with cellophane noodles called yuk gae jang, so you can see where they got inspiration for their name. Yuk gae jang is a very hearty traditional Korean soup that is full of meat and vegetables, it is extremely comforting with the perfect level of spice added to it to warm you up. On top of this spicy beef stew, Yuk Dae Jang is also known for their bossam which is a traditional Korean pork dish that is made with pork shoulder meat that is boiled in many spices and sliced thinly to be served with a variety of "toppings." These toppings traditionally include, but are not limited to, a spicy radish salad, sliced raw garlic, ssamjang (a Korean spicy sauce), saeu-jeot (Korean style salted and fermented small shrimp), and kimchi. On top of all these toppings, there is usually a vegetable, like lettuce or cabbage, that is used to wrap around the pork along with all the toppings to create one perfect bite with everything in it.
As for my experience, I thoroughly enjoyed their bossam. I have found that bossam is actually quite rare to find at Korean restaurants as it is not too well-known of a dish in America. In America, the typical Korean dishes you would see are usually seafood pancake, kimchi tofu soup, jajangmyeon, cold noodles, and other similar dishes. Korean barbeque is also very popular and can be easily found throughout California. However, this is one of the few restaurants that I've seen serve bossam so I knew I had to try it as I've heard a lot of things about them online. I was blown away by how perfect of a bite it really creates when you put everything in with the perfect proportions. I am generally not someone who enjoys a lettuce or cabbage wrap, but I decided to give it a chance and I am so glad I did because it was absolutely perfect with the lettuce wrap. Something about the boldness of the flavor of their spicy radish salad and kick from the different sauces and toppings really complimented the fattiness and richness of the pork meat. Altogether with the lettuce wrap creates a perfectly balanced bite with loads of flavor but nothing too overwhelming at all. It definitely keeps you coming back and despite how full I eventually got, I found myself going back for more and more lettuce wraps. I found that all the ingredients separately are great, but when you put them together they truly shine and it really doesn't make sense to eat them any other way. I highly recommend trying their bossam if you get the chance to visit.
I also tried their seafood premium yuk gae jang which was definitely a very hearty and comforting soup with the perfect amount of spiciness and not too much which I really appreciate. This is perfect for a cozy day and is especially good when served with rice. They give a lot of seafood, too, and the soup itself is extremely flavorful and rich.
Last but not least, I wanted to try their bone broth so I ordered their handcrafted dumpling and rice cake in ox bone broth. I personally really enjoyed how clean and pure it tasted. It was definitely a milder flavor as they do not season it much and most of the flavor actually comes from the hours of boiling the bone in the broth to really cook out all of its nutrients into the broth. So this dish is actually quite healthy with lots of nutrients and vitamins from the bone that is stewed into the broth and the flavors are not heavy. This is a dish that is often consumed by elderly Korean people but is really great for a nice comforting meal, especially when it is cold out and you want to get all warm and cozy.
There are so many other great options on their menu, I really wanted to try their cold noodles too, but I didn't want to order too much food and not be able to finish it so I held myself back. But next time when I visit, I will definitely try their cold noodles and a couple of their other dishes which all look very enticing.
Yuk Dae Jang in Irvine has a very spacious and plentiful outdoor dining space and is in a very popular plaza with lots of other great food and drink places. The ambiance here is also fantastic, I highly recommend giving it a try, especially if you are looking for some traditional Korean food or if you're just a Korean food lover!
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