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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Eating 자장면 for Lunch.

자장면 (Jajangmyeon) are wheat noodles topped with a thick, black bean paste. The only vegetables I could identify were sauteed onions and mushrooms. There was also a trace of meat. Recipes vary, sometimes including seafood.

At this restaurant in Suwon, offering a mix of Chinese and Korean cuisine, jajangmyeon will fill you up for only 2,000 W (2USD.) If you're not a fan of spicy eats, I'd recommend this dish. It's mild, but very tasty. Personally I love spicy food, but it is taking a toll on my skin.

Although originally a Chinese dish, the variation familiar to Koreans is only available at Chinese restaurants in Korea. Most Koreans I talk to consider
자장면 to be "theirs."

The carbohydrate-packed meal really does taste like comfort food. It is eaten on Black Day- April 14th: a day set aside for Koreans who have no significant other, and received no gifts on Valentines Day or White Day. I'd choose the noodles over flowers, in a heartbeat!

6 comments:

Jane Milton said...

You know, the best food in Korea, besides Korean food (duh), in my humble opinion, is their Sino-Korean food, or is it Koreanized Chinese? Either way, I love 자장면. Have you tried the 자장면 and 탄수육 (I hope I spelled that correctly) "set?" It's divine and they have it at all food courts. I like the E-Mart one a lot, even though it's not "high brow." You're making me hungry for dinner numero dos! Also, wondering if you tried eating 순대. THAT is an acquired taste (Like blood sausages, but yummier) and it doesn't taste the same in the States. Kinda like bagels being only good in NYC. Must be the water.

Calvin Seung said...

It's really really interesting to see my own culture through a Canadian person's eye. I really miss Korean food. Rather than the big skyscapers, high tech toys, fancy bars and nightclubs, what I miss most about Korea is the kind old Korean folks serving really great hearty street food with Soju. I miss that whole atmosphere and people's jung. I haven't been back there since 1996.

Please keep posting more blogs and especially, some cool food pictures!! Reading your blogs is a great stress relief for me.

Cal,

www.myspace.com/ckjustice

MUD said...

I too enjoy your blogs. I am homesick for Korea and have never been there. May your life be as beautiful as your work. Thanks MUD.

Natasha said...

mmmm that Jajangmyeon actually looks good! I think I just might get some tomorrow.

Sunghun said...

I always found it interesting that this particular dish is considered “Chinese” in Korea while none of my Chinese friends here in the States seem to recognize it at all. I remember having read somewhere that you actually can have it in Korean(!?!) restaurants in Taipei(Taiwan), though. Just in case you didn’t know, there are actually a few quite interesting facts about this dish. According to Wikipedia (Korean), Jajangmyeon as it is enjoyed in Korea now was first made and served by a Chinese in 1905 at a restaurant in Inchon, Korea. One of the reasons why it has become the most popular dish of Chinese restaurants in Korea apparently had also to do with some of the government policies back in the 1960s and 70s concerning the ethnic Chinese community in South Korea. Several laws passed in the 1960s prohibited most of foreign ownership of real estates, thus forcing the vast majority of the ethnic Chinese (which used to be the largest foreign ethnic community by far) in Korea to depend on running Chinese restaurants for their living (70% of them during the 70s!). On top of that, in 1973 as one of the measures to suppress rice consumption the government outright banned any rice-based dishes in Chinese restaurants. It was at a time when shortage of food, especially rice was still a genuine national concern, I guess (though born in 1975 I wouldn’t really know myself). Not allowed to serve anything made of rice, all the Chinese restaurants in Korea had to come up with something else, and that’s when Jajangmyeon ‘established’ itself as THE main dish in Chinese restaurants in Korea. Another funny thing about it is the controversy of what the right Korean spelling of it is supposed to be. Although most Koreans would in fact say ‘짜장면’, years ago the National Academy of Korean Language determined the right spelling to be ‘자장면’ (Jajangmyeon), as the original Chinese dish is written 炸酱面 in Chinese characters, pronounced 자장몐(zhá jiàng miàn), thus ‘자장면’ and not ‘짜장면’.
FYI if you didn't know already...

John said...

i liked the last part of that - i thought it was 짜장면...now i realize why everyone is spelling it 자장면...