22 (Tue) February 2011
at Geumseongho Susan
-Namdang, Chungcheong-Nam, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ, Mom and Dad
Geumseongho Susan (금성호 수산) is a Korean restaurant. Specializes in seafood, mostly clams.
On the occasion of my mother’s birthday, today, she suggested a road trip to some famous restaurant on the coast to eat clams. After a 140-km drive through 3.5 hours of traffic, we arrived to discover that the restaurant had already sold their entire daily stock of clams – a common occurrence, or so we were told (“Next time, call to reserve!” – nota bene). Fortunately, they phoned around and found a neighboring restaurant that still had clams. Although we couldn’t compare the experience to the one we had hoped to have at the famous place, we were content with what we got. Even better, they offer day-of delivery service for the same price, albeit without all the freebies, which would still be cheaper than going there to get it, given the cost of fuel and tolls, not to mention time. I have their number, just in case.
Sae Jogae (새조개) is a type of clam. The name refers to the pointy appendage on each clam (jogae) that is said to resemble the beak of a bird (sae). Using the appendage like a limb to scuttle around the ocean floor, they require a lot of space to move around, so they’re not amenable to farming and don’t transport very well or survive in tanks for very long once caught. The clams are generally available only along the western coast, where they’re caught and sold within a day or two.
At local restaurants, the most popular method of eating sae jogae is in the style of shabu shabu: dipping them one at a time in a tabletop hotpot along with various vegetables.
The food was great. I found the clams to have a delicate flavor-texture tandem that was a bit fishy-slimy when undercooked, pleasantly sweet-chewy when done just right, bland-rubbery when overcooked – all within a range of 10 cooking seconds. Initially, we were skeptical about the broth, which appeared to be nothing more than plain water, but the proprietor of the restaurant reassured us that the richness and saltiness of the clams would act as seasoning soon enough. She was right; in fact, we later added plain water because the broth had become overseasoned. The meal included free refills on the vegetables, as well as a complimentary plate of various raw shellfish and other sides. And of course, a Korean shabu shabu meal wouldn’t have been complete without a batch of noodles cooked in the remaining broth at the end. Very satisfying overall.
The cost of the meal was based on the market price of the sae jogae: 50,000 won per kg this evening, fluctuating depending on the season. Each kilogram yields 600 grams of edible meat, according to the proprietor. An order of 2 kg was sufficient for the 4.5 of us. Add 3 servings of noodles at 2,000 won per serving and a couple bottles of soju at 3,000 won per bottle, and the grand total was 112,000 won. Not bad.
(For more details re food, see WHAT)
(For more details re venues, see WHERE IN KOREA)