When I hear about “savory Korean pancakes,” my mind immediately thinks about Pajeon (the Korean savory pancake made with Eggs, Scallions, Flour and a type of protein like Seafood, Pork or Beef), perhaps the most famous type of Korean pancake locally. But then a good Korean friend of ours mentioned a new Bindae-tteok specialist that we had to try, and it was time for a visit.
Bindae-tteok, it turns out, is a Korean Mung Bean Pancake, made with ground Mung Beans, Bean Sprouts, and places can offer variations with Seafood or Pork. The new specialist that just opened, Soon Hee Ga, hails from Gwangjang Market in Seoul, South Korea, established in 2004.
When you walk in, the little shop is clean and modern, and their menu is indeed focused on Bindae-tteok, offering 3 types (Plain, Pork, Seafood). They have a few sides as well, but that’s it.
Pork Mung Bean Pancake:
We opted to try their Pork Bindae-tteok and their Seafood Bindae-tteok on the recommendation of our order taker. The Pork Mung Bean Pancake arrives a glorious, golden brown hue from the pan frying. Taking a bite:
Consistently crunchy in every piece of the exterior! My one disappointment with most Pajeon I’ve tried (Korean Pancakes with Egg, Flour, Chives and Seafood / Beef / Pork) is that almost all of the versions I’ve eaten are soggy and soft on the exterior. Once in a while, we’re lucky enough to find a restaurant that makes it with some crisp-crunch on the exterior, but most of the time it’s oil-laden and soggy.
If this is what Bindae-tteok is usually like, then sign us up for more! Every piece is beautifully crunchy, giving each bite you take a satisfying exterior crunch, before giving way to a soft, fluffy interior of the Ground Mung Bean mixture, mixed with whole Bean Sprouts and in this order, delicious, savory Ground Pork.
The dipping sauce of Soy Sauce, Vinegar and Pickled Onions and Chilies helped to cut through the heaviness. A great pairing.
According to their menu, “Mayak Gimbap” literally means “Narcotic Gimbap” since you can’t stop eating them once you had one. Gimbap (or Kimbap) might be more well-known locally as “Korean Sushi Rolls,” where Rice and Pickled Veggies (and some other ingredient variations) are rolled up in Seaweed, similar to a Sushi Roll.
Soon Hee Ga offers their Gimbap as a side dish, and they are very good! Pickled Radish, Carrots, Spinach is combined with Rice and rolled up with Seaweed, topped with Sesame Seeds. There’s a fragrant note of Sesame Oil in each bite, and the overall taste is light, crunchy (from the Pickled Radish), and a tasty appetizer. It also tasted freshly made, which is a huge plus (many versions at supermarkets, etc., end up with hardened Rice, etc.).
Seafood Mung Bean Pancake:
Their Seafood Mung Bean Pancake really does taste different from the Pork version. The chunks of Shrimp and Squid add a new textural contrast, in addition to the excellent piping hot, crunchy exterior. The Mung Bean batter and whole Bean Sprouts within are pleasant and taste lighter and earthier than those used to eating Pajeon (Korean Egg & Flour Batter Pancakes).
With the arrival of the first U.S. branch of Soon Hee Ga (from Gwangjang Market in Seoul, South Korea), we have a Bindae-tteok (Mung Bean Pancake) specialist that is making some delicious, crunchy offerings. This was our first encounter with Bindae-tteok, so I’m not a connoisseur, but from what we tried, I like them far more than most of the Pajeon we’ve had locally. These Pan Fried Mung Bean Pancakes are consistently crunchy, piping hot, and with a fluffy interior. That alone makes it superior and so enjoyable.
The Pork and Seafood Mung Bean Pancakes are both standout in their own way. They also offer a version without Mung Beans (called “Pork Meat Ball Pancakes”), but our order taker said it wasn’t as good as their OG Mung Bean version, so we held off. Their Gimbap (Korean Rice Rolls with Seaweed) are also tasty and a fun little appetizer / side worth ordering as well.
Soon Hee Ga
1033 S. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
Tel: (626) 461-5039