It’s “unexpected” as i came in not expecting much as i don’t think it claims to be authentic (cmiiw) and was actually happy to taste how palatable the food is. I came out fully satisfied.
It all began when some characters in the dramas i’m currently watching were either mentioning or devouring jajangmyeon which effectively incited my craving for that sweet black bean sauce noodles. Again. While having a go-to place for that (Legend of Noodles), being adventurous and trying out new place(s) won’t hurt, especially since i recently chanced upon Jjang Korean Noodle &Grill and read good reviews despite its “no pork no lard” label.
Location-wise, it’s within the same area as Legend of Noodles. That place is on Jl. Senopati while Jjang Noodle is on Jl. Wolter Monginsidi, sharing the same lot and entrance as Kambing Bakar Cairo. Take 20 steps up and you’ll arrive at the modest restaurant, hosting only 13 small tables and up to 60 pax — if i counted correctly and math didn’t fail me. The space is rather small for a Korean eatery i guess it’ll be cramped when packed. When we went there for lunch last weekend, only one more table was occupied, which is weird given its scrumptious taste and affordable price point… is it because of competition and/or fasting period?
Nevertheless, it took a while for our orders to come out (maybe because the noodles are all homemade), and they were served one by one. So if you are not sharing, the other parties may need to drool at whosever is served first. Or jump-start with the small bottle of kimchi (which is way too sour for my liking). If you wait diggin’ in until everyone’s out, yours may grow a bit cool by then, unless you order naengmyeon XD
We only ordered noodles and a portion of kimbap (Korean counterpart of futomaki it seems) although Jjang does offer other dishes like bibimbap, tteokbokki, pajeon, budae jjigae, and BBQ selections. The prices are lower than those of Legend, but the portion is smaller. Give and take.
[clockwise: kimchi (free), kimbap 39K, japchae 59K, jajangmyeon 49K]
As you can see, its jajangmyeon is garnished with a spoon of peas, a pinch of thin cucumber slices, and three slices of pickled radish. In the sauce you can find sliced potatoes that i mistook for onions. Taste isn’t too sweet and can be pretty bland compared to other dishes. Noodles are soft although i’d prefer a firmer chewier ones.
Next, japchae and oh my goodness, this is THE BEST japchae i’ve ever eaten in town (for the record, i’ve tried one at Chung Gi Wa, Mujigae, Han Gang, Born Ga, and Kimchi Grandma). The glass noodles are shiny and springy, neither too dry nor gloppy. So are the vegetables. Just look at it — doesn’t the nice combination of colors make it look darn appetizing? Plus, the taste is as delicious as its appearance. I can go through two plates of this by myself. Please keep the taste and texture consistent and i’ll be your loyal patron.
As for kimbap, this is my first time eating the Korean sushi and was quite surprised to find it served warm, possibly because the fillings — egg, vegetables, beef — are all cooked. For 39K per portion, i find the serving really generous as it gives you 12 mouthful slices of the thick-centered roll. I like it with or without the dipping sauce.
[top: jjamppong 59K, bottom: naengmyeon 49K]
Next highlight is the spicy seafood noodle soup aka jjamppong. Its soup gives a different kind of flavor than Legend’s counterpart in that it seems to be seasoned more (see the chili powder on the bowl’s perimeter?) and thus delivers more kick. It’s spicy but not really, salty but not really. The noodle is the same as jajangmyeon‘s. I adore the mini bowls provided in case you’re sharing the dish — they’re cute! — although the tiny size only allows for a couple slurps XD There isn’t nearly half as much seafood as Legend’s haemul jjamppong but i love the soup too much to care for that.
This is also the first time for me to try the cold buckwheat noodles in chilled broth aka naengmyeon. They also serve it hot by the way (onmyeon). I have no other comparison but i think the taste is not that bad — a mixture of tart, salty, and spicy; none empowers the other. However, eating this right after the hearty savory jjamppong is probably an undesirably bad order/decision. I just couldn’t get past a couple slurps >_<
That aside, i had a nice meal at Jjang Noodle. Since it’s halal in a sense, you get beef for most of the menu. Have the dishes perhaps been adjusted to cater to local taste, i wonder? ‘Cuz it is just right up my alley. Would definitely come back for more!
I’m looking at you budae jjigae… ;D
p.s. the 20% discount is still going on until an unspecified date, according to the staff. So, why don’t you take advantage of it?