Our kimchi jjigae ($13.99) arrives at a rolling boil, a bright orange-red superlative scorcher of a soup, maybe the closest local stand-in for the Chambers of Fire inside Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings
. But before you toss your wedding ring in, know that it’s not that
hot, especially ladled over some rice to mitigate a bit of the chili fire. A tangy sourness leads the flavor, giving way to the fizzy fermented cabbage hunks then bits of onion, silken tofu, chicken (chewy pieces, a bit dry inside), and a handful of compressed rice coin slivers. Add some of the banchan
(the freebie side items) to your bowl to shift the flavor profile a bit — sesame oil here, cucumber crunch there, etc.
We also cool the heat with a plate of jap chae
($6.99), oily, gelatinous noodles boasting bits of delicious pork bulgogi, plus crunchy, half-cooked green bell peppers, white onions and carrot. We appreciate that Happy Time, now 7 years old, includes complimentary, faintly sweet oksusu-bori-cha