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Sizzling maeun dwaeji galbi jjim, $15.

Image: Alice Levitt

Until I moved to Houston, eating in the food court of an Asian supermarket was something I did on vacation. I had to wait to go to a bigger city, then plan my trip accordingly. And I mourned that I couldn't bring home leftovers or groceries. My Vermont license plate said "BULGOGI," but there was barely any in the whole state. So I never take for granted that I can leave a doctor's appointment that runs long and drive five minutes to Super H-Mart for dinner.

Every time I go to the market on Blalock, I peruse the menus at Toreore and Misoya, Jumma Food and BiBiJo Express, before deciding on the dish I crave at the moment. Alone in the quiet food court around 8 p.m., I desired spicy comfort. Prescription: Maeun dwaeji galbi jjim, spicy braised pork ribs from Daddy & Daughter.

I placed my order, then requested a honeydew bubble tea at Toreore next door. The construction of the drink had to be the least efficient bubble tea making I've ever witnessed, so I thought dinner would be ready as soon as I was sipping my sweet beverage. Nope. It was another 20 minutes or so before a sizzling platter emerged through the kitchen window. But it was worth every idle moment.

Usually, if I'm served ribs that fall off the bone I'll say they're overcooked, but in this application, tearing flesh from bone with chopsticks and resting the morsels atop my bowl of rice was perfection. The platter assured that the meat remained as hot in temperature as it was from the chile flakes that dotted the sauce. Every bite was a delight of sweet rice, unctuous pork and spicy chile. Though I'm sure it did my cholesterol no great favors, it was just what the doctor ordered. And at least I got some nutrition in the form of free pickled daikon and bean sprouts.

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