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Special delivery: In praise of Dong Hae's must-order Spicy Noodle Soup

Dong Hae's been holding out.

Dong Hae's been holding out. Sarah Brumble

It took nearly six months to find this gem amidst Minneapolis’s food delivery scene, but now that I have… I ask you, reader, when was the last time something packed in Styrofoam and plastic proved so wonderful that you broke down in a fit of giggles? Has such a thing happened even once in your lifetime? 

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The first day of autumn is shaping up to be a stunner, but remember a couple weeks back when the temperature dropped, causing the dread of this coming winter to poke out like a rude, depressive turtle? Only a handful of (temporary) cures for that sort of malaise exist, and for me they are: carbs, spice, surprises, and the ocean. 

On the Sunday night in question, stuck in the midst of this never-ending pandemic, my cabinets were b.a.r.e. and (though I may crave one of these, too) a plane ticket wasn’t an option. Too weary to drive to Columbia Heights for Dong Yang, I landed on getting food from Dong Hae (their cousin establishment, in restaurant form) delivered to my doorstep, including this innocent item: 

Sarah Brumble

Sarah Brumble

It checked plenty of the crucial boxes: noods, the promise of chilies, some of the sea for my mouth, and a little discovery because that description could, frankly, mean anything! And as a dumpster, I knew I’d eat it no matter what. 

Still, nothing would prepare me for its unboxing, for there may be no more under-sold dish in the metro area than Dong Hae’s Spicy Noodle Soup. As the contents of the separate delivery containers (thick squiggles in their clam shell; broth, etc. in its Styrofoam quart) collided, my reaction was not unlike this: 

Through maniacal laughter, I may or may not have cackled aloud to no one, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!” as the second-to-largest bowl I own overflowed.

…Because when have you ever had a $14 soup land on your doorstep, only to miraculously dump out HALF A CRAB, too? 

This is what we call a "mid-meal proof pic," which gets sent to friends who appreciate ridiculous, unstaged food. …It just, kept, going.

This is what we call a "mid-meal proof pic," which gets sent to friends who appreciate ridiculous, unstaged food. …It just, kept, going. Sarah Brumble

That half-crab wasn’t the only thing that led to a 15-minute fit of giggles and texting friends dinner pics, though. Each bite revealed bay shrimp, a head-on prawn the size of my palm, a trio of mussels, clams, and so much octopus it might finally warrant a collective noun. Swimming alongside half the ocean were fistfuls of whole chilies, with more ground up to a savory base sludge that was fortified with kimchi, greens, and even more sliced peppers and veggies. 

The result was nothing short of a slurpable, shuckable masterpiece.

Dong Hae’s modestly named soup arrived like perfectly timed proof that astounding dishes remain available for our takeout pleasure…