Fry and Fry Again at Izakaya Moku

Japan invades Koreatown, armed with gizzards and Coors Light

One night, we sat and drank our way through some soju and then a carafe of ginseng rice wine while a vat of budae tang bubbled away in the middle of the table. We ladled it out into each of our four bowls, finding in its depths beans, slices of hot-dog-like sausage, kimchi, and something that looked an awful lot like Spam. It was perfect for the moment, and we slurped up the jiggly mung bean noodles that sponged the spicy broth.

This soup, it turns out, has its roots in deprivation, like so many of the word's great dishes. After the Korean War, people had little to eat, so they used what they could scrounge—surplus hot dogs and canned beans from U.S. Army bases. And, yes, Spam. They simmered these things into a Korean stew of chilies and kimchi. The concoction is also called Johnson tang, for LBJ: in tribute or indictment? Unclear, but having a Spam-based namesake beats being remembered for the Vietnam War and pulling beagles' ears.

The pub grub includes Spam.
Jared Gruenwald
The pub grub includes Spam.

Location Info


Izakaya Moku

10 W. 32nd St. (Second Floor)
New York, NY 10001

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: Garment District


Izakaya Moku
10 West 32nd Street, second floor

For more of our restaurant coverage, check out our food blog Fork in the Road

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