6 (Tue) September 2011
-Oksu, Seongdong, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ
My favorite gripe about Chinese food in Korea is the myopic focus on a handful of dishes that aren’t really Chinese to begin with: namely, jjajang myeon and jjambbong; 8 out of 10 noodle items on any given menu are variations of one or the other. Some places offer both in one bowl (see 1.352 Jjamjja Myeon). Not limited to noodles, the dishes been adapted to rice plates (e.g., jjajangbab, jjambbongbab). And fried rice always comes with a side of jjajang sauce and jjambbong broth.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy jjajang myeon or jjambbong per se. In fact, I plan to eat jjajang myeon as my last meal on the eve of my execution.
It’s that there’s no effort, not even a thought, either from the restaurant or the customer, to venture outside this framework. Instead of coming up with anything new, or simply going back and (re)discovering the already existing dishes available in the bona fide Chinese culinary tradition, they just dick around with the same two recipes.
Case in point, this hayan (하얀) jjambbong. The “hayan” meaning “white,” it’s like the standard jjambbong in composition only without the red chili, virtually indistinguishable from their own udong (1.242 Udong). Yet another new-but-not-really-new dish in the Korean-Chinese repertoire.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)