Doctors‘ Orders

Doctors‘ Orders

One benefit of having a world-class medical campus on our doorstep is the world of food trucks that have sprung up to feed it. Today, roughly three decades after the trucks began to congregate between the Yale School of Medicine and Yale’s downtown New Haven hospital complex, the diverse spread at the top of Cedar Street spans Ethiopian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Latin and more.

On a recent visit, I walked up and down the block nearly a dozen times trying to pinpoint my cravings. The savory smells were overwhelming, and the meals I spied in the hands of medical students and staff sitting on benches and a low wall weren’t much help, since they all looked tasty.

Ultimately, I let the lines decide. Jung’s Kimchi Corner had the steadiest and most dedicated crowd, and Jung himself looked welcoming as he flipped various meats and veggies on his flat top. He recognized many customers by face and order and was kind to me when he saw I was a stranger. “Take your time,” he said. “Just let me know when you’re ready.”

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Jung’s keeps things simple, with just four main options: Bibimbob, Lunch Combo, Salad and Veggie Combo. I opted for a Bibimbob with Beef Bulgogi ($10) and the Tofu Veggie Combo ($8), wanting to get a feel for both ends of the spectrum. Before I knew it, I had two heavy takeout containers in my hands and was looking for a place to land, opting for the bench-filled courtyard on the southern corner of Cedar and York, where there was more room to stretch out.

The bibimbob was a bomb of tender, well-seasoned meat, a fried egg, Korean rice cakes, bean sprouts and Jung’s own kimchi over sweet potato glass noodles and white rice, with generous sides of gochujang and fresh lettuce. Jung took the time to school me on rice cake production, and one of his regulars chimed in to extol their health benefits (high fiber, low glycemic index). The bulgogi beef was thinly sliced and marinated in a mixture of sesame, ginger, gochujang and brown sugar, hitting a wonderful balance of sweetness and tang. The signature kimchi was tart but only mildly sour and added some light crunch to the dish. The tofu lunch special, more spicy than sweet, had a similar build, minus the lettuce, egg and meat. (Fair warning to those with strict dietary needs or preferences: everything is cooked on the same flat top.) Both dishes were filling and delicious.

Jung’s personality and food shine brightly along the block, but Jung’s Kimchi Corner isn’t the only great option on Cedar Street. When you’re feeling hungry for a low-key lunch on one of these beautiful fall days, here’s my prescription: Head toward the hospital.

Written and photographed by Anna Konya.

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