Your manager has been yelling at you all day because his manager has been yelling at him all day. You lumber out of your office at 8:30pm, your ill-fitting suit feeling a size too large for your fatigued, slumped shoulders.
Now, you could go home and do chores for your nagging wife but that prospect doesn’t seem very appealing considering that in 11 hours you’ll have to go back to work and do it all over again. Thus, you and your co-workers walk into a side alley behind a laundromat, step in to a wood paneled restaurant, and burn your stress away on soju and spice and fill your belly with meat.
It isn’t a small shop in Seoul, it’s Misung 888, the late night Korean restaurant in a strip mall on Anderson Ln. On most nights, you will find this restaurant filled with Korean ex-pats relieving the stresses of the day.
The specialty of the house is arguably Soju, the Korean distilled rice liquor that tastes of a less alcoholic vodka and bears very little resemblance to the more familiar sake. If I were to name a food specialty, it would be the fiery Kamja Tang (3 sizes $16.99,$21.99, $26.99). It translates to potato soup but is more accurately a Pork Spine Soup. The small at $16.99 is served in a metal pot sitting atop a butane burner, is enough for 3 people and comes with rice and banchan (side dishes). The broth is garlicky, spice-filled, and complex with large chunks of pork bone and tender meat that is easily released with a spoon. Like most Korean restaurants, the main courses comes with a collection of ban-chan.
On this night there is marinated potato, marinated sesame leaves, cabbage kimchi, sliced fishcakes, and sauteed green hot peppers with dried fish. Other specials include one of the better seafood pancakes I’ve had in town. The crisp exterior covers a creamy interior that contains ample amounts of squid, shrimp, and scallions. To pair with my meal today, I choose a yogurt soju, which comes to the table in a metal teapot along with shotglasses. There is a sweet initial yogurt flavor followed by a strong alcoholic attack. It cools the burn from the soup but then reinforces it.
Misung 888 is open until 2am on most days and is a great value in getting a momentary escape to Asia for a fraction of the price of airfare.
Editor’s note: This review was penned by Lix Lix, one of the foremost experts on under the radar Asian dining in Central Texas911 W Anderson
Austin, TX 78757 (512) 302-5433