9 (Mon) Feb 2015
Ulkeuni Chicken Gizzaed
TEKREM (Try Every Korean Restaurant in Ermita/Malate).
So long as I’m currently living in Ermita/Malate, a pair of neighborhoods that together constitute central Manila’s closest thing to a Koreatown, and while GMTD was never intended to be a Korean food blog but kinda is, I may as well attempt to eat at all the Korean eateries in the area, including those serving Korean-Chinese fare, and review them here. Currently 40 known establishments. Though doubting the discovery of any gems–in fact, I anticipate that most of the places will be similarly mediocre–the project should be interesting, if only in giving me a reason to get out and explore more of my environment.
17 down. 23 to go.
The following tiers (“Would I go back for more?”) relate to the overall dining experience, including all the dishes sampled, cost, ambiance, cleanliness, and any other factors that may apply, cumulative through multiple visits (if any). Tier 1 (looking forward to return visit):
Tier 2 (okay, but not enthusiastically):
- (11) Myung Ga (5.346 Deep-Fried Okdom) / 2.5
- (2) Royal (5.123 Knee for Ki) / 3.5
- (15) Jung (6.029 Steamed Egg) / 3.25
- (9) Sinsun Seollong Tang (5.328 Seollong Tang) / 2.0
- (7) Bonchon (5.242 Soy Garlic Chicken) / 3.25
Tier 3 (only under dire circumstances):
- (6) Korean Palace (5.205 Haemul Pa Jeon) / 1.75
- (8) Hanchon Seolloong Tang* (5.251 Modeum Suyuk) / 3.0
- (5) Bug Gyoung (5.189 Gganpung Gi) / 1.25
- (12) Sinsun (6.003 Yukgyejang) / 2.0
- (3) Neoguri (5.141 Pa Dak) / 3.25
- (16) Jong Lo (6.034 Sundubu Jjigae) / 2.25
- (17) Ulkeun (6.035 Ulkeun Chicken Gizzaed) / 1.0
Tier 4 (to be avoided no matter what):
- (1) Maru* (5.030 Ggot Deung Sim…) / 1.0
- (4) Kim N’ Chi (5.163 Bibimbab) / 1.0
- (10) Go! Kizip (5.343 Cham Pong Myun) / 1.0
*no longer in business
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 (see for example 4.223 Wonjo Bindae Ddeok), 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 (see for example 6.009 Awful), but nothing like any of them. Easy to see why people either love or hate.
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, given the here-today-gone-tomorrow nature of the restaurant scene here.
**Unless the date indicates when the owner initially started a business, of any kind, anywhere, which is how some Korean restaurants make the calculation to increase the appearance of historical significance (see for example 4.185 Pyongyang (Mul) Naeng Myeon).
*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.
If I continue on with TEKREM, I will do so not merely to add “grapes” to the map (as aptly described by reader EK) but to expand the blog’s coverage of Korean food varieties and challenge myself in the process.
Alas, I’d ordered the Ulkeun Gizzaed in this spirit, but it didn’t turn out so great. For starters, the sauce was so unbearably hot*** that the fumes made me cough when the sizzling platter was set before me–cooling down didn’t help (get it?). 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.
***FYI, 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.
The masochistically gluttonous “Try Every” series: (i) TERRP (Try Every Restaurant in Robinsons Place) (see generally 5.247 TERRP 85 KFC : Original Recipe Fried Chicken…); (ii) TEITY (Try Every Item at Tao Yuan) (in process) (see most recently 6.031 Fried Fish Skin); (iii) TERNWPPD* (Try Every Restaurant in New World Manila Bay Hotel, Pan-Pacific Manila, and Diamond Hotel Philippines) (in process) (see most recently 6.015 Jou Nigiri Sushi Moriawase); (iv) TERSK (Try Every Restaurant in St Kilda) (see generally 5.339 Roasted Squid); (v) TEKREM (Try Every Korean Restaurant in Ermita/Malate) (in process) (see most recently 6.029 Steamed Egg); (vi) TEIBR (Try Every Item at Bistro Remedios) (in process) (see most recently 6.014 Kare Karentang Butot Baka).