In sickness we find solace in familiar comfort foods which generally follow themes of soup and starch. For some, that food might be a bowl of chicken noodle soup, and for some, it may be a steaming bowl of rice porridge—risotto, congee, cháo, or for Koreans, juk. Whatever the provenance of your dish may be, the recipe involves a slow simmer of rice followed by plenty of patience, a good measure of skill and a dash of magic.
At Bonjuk in Flushing, the menu is devoted to juk, and although wonderful meat versions are available, the luscious vegetarian yachae juk ($9.95) is no less satisfying for omnivores and vegetarians alike. The dish is built around a fine mince of carrots, onions, and chives and topped with a crumble of toasted sesame seeds and slightly bitter crushed deulkkae garu (perilla seed) to lift the flavors. To interrupt any monotony, it's served with kimchi and a refreshing bowl of vinegary mul kimchi (kimchi water). If you're OK with cheating on your diet, they include a side of jangojorim (salted, boiled beef) for a welcome blast of salt. I'll also note that a single order is comically large—I managed to eat half in one sitting, the other half in a take-away container served as a splendid hand warmer during my wintery trudge back to the LIRR.
Whether your burden is microbial, a new year's goal, or simply a continuation of vegetarianism, here's a dish that accommodates all. To your health!
152-26 Northern Blvd, Flushing NY 11354 (map)