9 (Mon) Feb 2015
Ulkeuni Chicken Gizzaed
-Malate, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines-
Try Every Korean Restaurant in Ermita and Malate (17) (see all posts TEKREM)
Surveying the Korean eateries, including those serving Korean-Chinese fare, located in the neighborhoods of Ermita and Malate, nearby work and home. Minimum of 1 dish per place. Currently 45 establishments. Though anticipating that most of the places will be mediocre, I look forward to exploring more of my environment.
Ulkeuni is a Korean restaurant. Specializes in chicken, specifically spicy* chicken, as the name of the place would suggest. Including parts there of, such as gizzard. The place also offers table-top BBQ, though that seems like something of an afterthought. Founded in 1997, according to the signage, though I find that utterly impossible to believe (unless the date indicates when the owner initially started a business, of any kind, anywhere, which is how many Korean restaurants make the calculation to increase the appearance of historical significance), given the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of the restaurant scene here.
In certain animals, including all birds, some fish and reptiles, the gizzard is an internal organ comprising part of the digestive tract. Food passes through the gizzard, constructed of two muscular lobes that rub together to break down the food through the aid of grinding stones/grit contained within. Gizzards are eaten in many cultures around the world.
Chicken gizzards are a niche item in Korea. Typically a simple stir-fry with onions/garlic/chives/chilies, served with a dip of sesame oil + salt, sometimes more elaborate with chili sauce and other components. More likely to be found at old school pubs and street bar tents as accompaniment to booze than in mainstream restaurants as part of a square meal. Not an everyday thing to be sure. Traditionally called, for reasons unknown, “shit sac = 똥집,” though now, for obvious reasons, establishments that still serve it may prefer to call it “sand sac = 모래집.”
Preparation aside, gizzards are inherently unique in terms of texture and flavor. They’re both chewy and crumbly, somewhere between flesh and organ. They taste less like meat, closer to liver/heart/lung/kidney, but nothing like any of them. Easy to see why people either love or hate.
DID YOU KNOW: In Korean, the taste sensation of hot/spicy is most commonly described by 5 terms: (i) “maeun,” the basic adjective applicable under any context; (ii) “eolkeun,” usually refers to broth; (iii) “kal-kal,” usually refers to a broth that’s slightly/subtly hot/spicy, like from white pepper; (iv) “eol-eol,” more about the burn than the taste; and (v) “sin,” derived from Chinese, which isn’t really used in syntax, more as a prefix/tag attached to some product to denote that it’s hot/spicy.
The Ulkeun Gizzaed wasn’t so good. For starters, the sauce was so unbearably spicy – warning: whereas Korean dishes can generally be mildly hot/spicy, an item labelled with any of the adjectives listed above usually tries to live up to the name and often goes way beyond – that the fumes made me cough when the sizzling platter was set before me. The gizzards had a slightly off aftertaste, probably sitting in the freezer too long waiting for the rare customer like me. The rice cakes and bell pepper chunks were okay. Writing about the meal in this post was more challenging than the food itself.
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN PHILIPPINES)