Our Hunt For The Best Jjajangmyeon In Town Led Us To This Restaurant
When we think of jjajangmyeon, we think of a black, rich, sinful chunky sauce generously drenching chewy white noodles. Living rent-free in our minds are the numerous K-Drama scenes where gorgeous stars gorge themselves full in a mini-mukbang of these iconic noodles.
Perhaps first profoundly spotted in OG K-drama Coffee Prince in 2007 when Eun Chan (Yoon Eun-Hye) messily yet masterfully slurped her way through multiple bowls with unrelenting gusto, while for some of us, since then, we have fantasized about having that same gastronomic satisfaction in our lives. So how come, in the years that followed, instant jjajangmyeon noodles and even numerous restaurants seem to fall short of that vicarious on-screen experience? Or perhaps, K-dramas have simply overhyped jjajangmyeon? Or perhaps Koreans simply love the local dish in a way we foreigners cannot replicate?
If you've tried the instant packets of jjajangmyeon packaged straight from South Korea, it's clear at least that these noodles are supposed to deliver a strong flavor. However, due to the nature of instant noodles, the satisfaction you get is just not the same, and you still wind up missing the mark. Though instant packets score big on flavor, the noodles are chewy like the original but differ in the curly texture and starchy taste, and the sauce is too readily absorbed, being more sticky than the ideal slippery abundance.
We almost gave up searching for the best jjajangmyeon, but thanks to BTS, we revived our passion and threw in our last Hail Mary. Spurred by BTS Jin and V's impassioned discussion on jjajangmyeon, we ordered a bowl. At that point, all of our prior experiences have been less than stellar, but we took a chance, and like Goldilocks finally finding her perfect bowl of porridge, we've finally found our dream come true.
Red Table's Spicy Seafood Jjangmyeon (P340) was a win we didn't expect.
Red Table finally hits the mark. Whether it's by being faithful to a Korean recipe or cooking precisely to the Filipino palate we can't know for sure. What's certain is that they hit all the flavors. Red Table isn't shy to hit that satisfying salty note: the central flavor of the dish, the main ingredient black bean paste's very character.
The black bean paste's saltiness and inherent complex light bitterness are enhanced with the addition of chewy mussels and octopus, then balanced by the sweetness of a generous heap of caramelized onions, and the freshness of just enough crunchy sliced cucumbers. The sauce, with its cornucopia of textures and boisterous but well-balanced flavor, slips around abundantly every strand of those quintessential white chewy noodles.
The other menu items we tried were also good, the kimchi jjigae (P214), bibimbap (P210), and gimbap (starting at P160), but their jjajangmyeon took center stage.
If Red Table's jjajangmyeon still doesn't hit it for you, then I'm sorry to say, but you have to take your fate into your own hands. In 2007, this is actually what we did, scouring recipes to replicate and adjust to our taste. Yummy PH features a Ramdon recipe you can try which tweaks the instant noodles you can buy, but you can also try your hand cooking it like a local, or like BTS' Jin who summarizes the three main ingredients you need (aside from the noodles): chunjang, or fermented black bean paste, onions, and minced meat. Chunjang is quite easy to find thanks to Korean grocery stores being everywhere these days.
So, next time you're confronted with a strong jjajangmyeon craving because of K-dramas or another Run BTS episode, you'll know what to do. Red Table is available on Grab Food Delivery if you are within their area. You may also visit their branches at SM City San Lazaro in Manila or RCBC Plaza in Makati.
Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!
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