Jjajangmyeon is a Korean food for all occasions
Since COVID-19 has become a part of our daily lives, more and more people are ordering food delivery. Chinese food, particularly its version of jjajangmyeon (noodles in a black bean sauce) was the most popular delivery item for Koreans before the outbreak, and it remains so today. In fact, this is a local favorite found in innumerable Chinese restaurants you'll come across in any populated neighborhood around the country.
△ A bowl of jjajangmyeon.
What is jjajangmyeon?
Jjajangmyeon is a traditional Chinese-Korean noodle dish in which minced vegetables and pork are mixed with chunjang (Chinese soybean paste) and sea-soning. The ingredients are stir-fried with starch and water and come out with a soft texture and sweet taste.
Jjajangmyeon was introduced to Korea in 1883 when Chinese workers reproduced their home country's food and added caramel to meet the taste of local Koreans. As a result, Chinese jjajangmyeon has a stronger and saltier flavor than Korea's sweeter version.
Different kinds of jjajangmyeon
Jjajangmyeon is a versatile dish which has been developed into numerous varieties. One variant, ganjjajang, stir-fries the soybean paste in oil without water or starch, making it oilier and more savory. The texture of unijjajang, another variant, is even softer than usual, because the ingredients are ground. One more kind called jaengbanjjajang is stir-fried twice and served on a wide plate.
Whether it's for a rainy day you decide to stay in, or for a time when you have nothing to cook for yourself, jjajangmyeon is there to serve any scenario. It's also a celebratory dish for graduations, birthdays and other wonderful life events.
The renowned dish has been featured in many movies throughout the years. Most recently, and with the most international exposure, jjajangmyeon was featured in the Oscar-winning film "Parasite" through what is now one of the country's most popular dishes: ramdon. So, where are the best jjajangmyeon places around, and how can you make ramdon yourself?
Wanchai is located in Chinatown and is operated by a Taiwanese couple. The restaurant is known for its Peking duck, a dish that makes Wanchai a distinctive location amid the many Chinese restaurants that open for business in the area. Their jjajangmyeon is something to write home about too, and it costs 5,000 won for a plate of it.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Address: 3, Jungang-daero 179-beon-gil, Dong-gu
How to get there: Busan Station (metro line 1), exit 1. Go straight for one minute.
Hwaguk Banjeom (화국반점)
Hwaguk Banjeom is a popular establishment among those who love jja-jangmyeon and has appeared in numerous Korean films and TV shows, including "Nameless Gangster: Rules of Time" (2011) and "New World" (2012). Most recently, it was present in an episode of the new Netflix show "The King: Eternal Mo-narch." Hwaguk Banjeom's main item is ganjjajang served with fried eggs and chopped cucumbers on top. The sauce is served separately, and it costs 6,000 won.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed on the first and third Mondays.
Address: 3, Baeksan-gil, Jung-gu
How to get there: Busan Station (metro line 1), exit 5. Go straight for five minutes.
Geummun is a 30-year-old Chinese restaurant run by a second-generation Chinese owner and chef. This large dining center is popular among the populace and is especially well known for its delicious multi-course set menu, sold to diners at relatively low prices. Jjajangmyeon costs 5,500 won. Set menus range between 30,000 and 70,000 won.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Address: 57, Oncheonjang-ro 119beon-gil, Dongnae-gu
How to get there: Oncheonjang Station (metro line 1), exit 5. Go to the back of Homeplus.
△ A bowl of ramdon.
How to cook ramdon (짜파구리)
· One bag of Chapagetti
· One bag of Neoguri
· 400 milliliters of water
① Put Chapagetti, Neoguri noodles and their seasoning flakes into a medium-sized pot in water and boil for four-and-a half minutes.
② Drain all but 150 milliliters, or two ladles, of the water.
③ Add half of the Neoguri soup powder, all of the Chapagetti soup powder and mix the combination with the olive oil provided by the Chapagetti bag.
④ Fry on low heat for 30 seconds and then serve.
· Tip: If you want to make the ramdon from Parasite, you can put a spoonful of butter in a frying pan and cook striploin steak to medium well. Then, cut the steak into cubes and garnish the ramdon with them.
- Photos taken from the official YouTube channel of Nongshim.