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[Dongdaemun] The Secret Korean Foodie Life #76 - Pyeongan-do Jokbal-jip (평안도 족발집)






Again, “Pyeongan-do Jokbal-jip” is another place on that Seoul’s “top three” list… and this one even starred on the right show “Baek Jong Won’s Top 3 Chef Kings” (a popular Korean TV show that invites the chefs from the three most famous restaurants for that week’s menu and gets them to compete to choose the best one…) as one of the best “Jok-bal” houses (“Jok” means feet and “Bal” also means feet in Korean… so “Jok-bal must be a lot of feets, but Koreans usually use it to call Pork Feet). So it must be good…



 

Now other than the “top three” list for just about any food possible in Korea, in Korea there are many of these “food streets” that is a street that all the stores call themselves “Won-jo” meaning “The First” or “The Original” and sell the same dish that made that particular region famous for. The most famous ones are “Shindang-dong’s” Tteokbokki Street, “Chuncheon” Dak-Galbi Street and “Uijeongbu” Army Base Stew Street… and alongside these the street we are at today is one of the most famous as well “Jangchung-dong” Jok-bal Street.



“Jangchung-dong” is a neighborhood right below “Dongdaemun’s” prime shopping area. “Jok-bal” was born right here in “Jangchung-dong” where refugees from all over Korea settled down after the Korean war, due to the availability of many vacated houses the Japanese left in this area, and as they started selling food to make a living, a pretty cheap and unused piece of meat – “pork feet” was braised Korean style and sold, which is the legend story behind “Jok-bal” that is told today. So still today, when you come over to the “Jangchung-dong” Jok-bal Street, you can see every single one of the “Jok-bal” stores saying “Won-jo (The Original)” and “Hal-moni (Granny)” “Jok-bal” House with the “Hal-moni’s” photo (not usually smiling…) on the store signage, signaling the sheer tradition and confidence they have in their “Jok-bal.”






And among all those “Won-jo” “Hal-moni” “Jok-bal” houses, we came here to “Pyeongan-do Jokbal-jip,” (“Pyeongan-do” is a region in North Korea, which is where probably the “Hal-moni” here had to migrate from during the Korean war) a “Jok-bal” house that is appraised by many “Jok-bal” lovers to be the most “original.” And as it proves that, despite we were quite early to arrive at 5PM, the store was full of people eating “Jok-bal” along sips of “Soju.” The menu is also pretty simple here – Small, Medium and Large Jok-bal, where a Small is big enough to feed two, and “Mak-guksoo (A kind of cold noodle made with buckwheat and then mixed with red pepper sauce)” is there for people who need a bit more.




Now that we have ordered, back to the “Jok-bal,” simply put, “Jok-bal” is something similar to the German pork feet dish “Schweinshaxe,” but Koreans use a soy-sauce based broth to braise the pork feet for a few hours before cooling it down to slice and serve. The fight for the “Original” “Jok-bal” all starts with the soy-sauce, since a very rich and scentful soy sauce, which at least needs to be fermented for more than 30 years, is needed to make a scentful “Jok-bal,” which is why they all hide and guard their soy-sauce like gold…







Anyways tasting time now, the “Jok-bal” at “Pyeongan-do Jokbal-jip” is as expected, all very tender and juicy scentful pork feet meat – a pefect “Jok-bal.” Usually the outer skin layer is the one with a lot of gelatin and therefore is the tastiest part with a jelly like texture and the slightly sweet a salty taste from the secret soy-sauce and quite often the inner meat part is stiff and dry, just like a chicken breast, since it doesn’t contain much fat it itself. But the “Jok-bal” here was all tender and juicy to the inner meat as well and it was like eating a big jelly. Koreans eat “Jok-bal” by dipping it in salted shrimps to add some saltiness and scent and by wrapping it in lettuce and the usual veggies just like any barbeque.







While the “Jok-bal” here was perfect and perfectly “original” the side-dishes and Kimchi wasn’t at its peak… usually with “Jok-bal” a watery Kimchi “Dongchimi” is served but the “Dongchimi” here was too bland and uneventful, and also the salted shrimps weren’t among the best out there, since the best ones taste slightly sweet while this one was just salty front to end. But even with these minuses, the “Jok-bal” itself is just so good that it is a must go if you are a avid “Jok-bal” lover. Hopefully on our next visit the Kimchi and shrimps are at their best so we can revise this place as our “best” Jok-bal place as well.




​Address

​174-6, Jangchundan-ro Jung-gu, Seoul
서울 중구 장춘단로 174-6




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