11 (Thu) February 2010
at Dongbuk Hweogweo Wang (동북훠궈왕)
-Changsin, Jongro, Seoul, Korea-
Yangjangpi (양장피) is a Chinese dish. The name refers to the glass noodles made of potato starch. Typically, the noodles are topped with sliced pork and seafood (e.g., shrimp, jellyfish, squid), vegetables (e.g., cucumber, carrot, onion), egg ribbons, and a spicy mustard sauce, all tossed together just before eating. Kinda like a salad, served at room temperature and chock full of fresh veggies, while the pork and seafood and certainly the noodles provide substance. Although a popular choice in the Korean-Chinese tradition, I’ve never seen the dish on a menu in Chinese restaurants elsewhere in the world. Maybe it’s just called something else.
Indeed, yangjangpi is one of the Top Seven Most Popular Chinese Dishes in Korea. I’ll describe the others as they come up.
This restaurant, Dongbuk Hweo-Gweo Wang (동북훠궈왕), may very well be my favorite Chinese venue in the city. As the name suggests, it specializes in hweo-gweo, which literally means “hot pot” and refers to the Chinese version of shabu shabu, one difference being the pot itself, split in two, half with a spicy broth and the other mild. Another difference is the main ingredient, lamb, a seemingly unusual meat for a Chinese establishment, but not really. In fact, dongbuk means “northeast” (actually, “eastnorth”), which presumably refers to the northeast region of China that borders Mongolia and Central Asia, where lamb is a popular food source. The restaurant’s other specialty is lamb skewers barbecued at the table over hot coals. But we never get the lamb skewers or the hweo-gweo, just dishes that most customers order as sides. And finally, wang, which means “king.” Although some of these dishes, like yangjangpi, are similar to those found in mainstream Korean-Chinese places throughout Korea, most of the menu items are refreshingly not. It’s all cheap, most dishes around between 12,000-15,000 won, though some seafood dishes run around 30,000. The booze is cheap, too – maybe too cheap, we sometimes wonder.