gopchang daechang eomtong at sinchon hwangso gopchang

Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang | Grilled Beef Intestines in Seoul

Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang (신촌황소곱창) | Grilled Beef Intestines in Seoul

Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang (신촌황소곱창) is a Gopchang (곱창) specialty restaurant boasting 60 years of history. Gopchang specifically refers to the small intestine of the cow, and is served here “gui” (구이), grilled on your table in a hot pan over fire. Alongside Gopchang, my other favourites include Daechang (대창, large intestine), and Makchang (막창, the abomasum aka 4th stomach).

I hope that didn’t scare you off!! Now now, before you retreat and press the “back” button, I’d like to say that I previously brought a group of friends to Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang and right up till the last minute, they were unconvinced by the idea. Yet after just one bite, they were converts and remember gopchang as their most memorable (in a good way, yes) meal in Seoul. Matjib, (맛집 which directly translates to “tasty house”) is a Korean word referring to restaurants serving delicious food and Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang is an absolute matjib.

Located close to Yonsei, Ewha, and Sogang University, Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang attracts a huge crowd every night. Gopchang is rich in nutrients and is remarked to be especially popular amongst ladies for its immense amounts of collagen and the associated anti-aging properties. I arrived slightly after 6pm on a Thursday night, and the ground floor seats were fully filled. This was the first time I was led to the basement dining area, and I was amazed to see how large (and really, how immensely popular) the place truly is.

sinchon hwangso gopchang crowded
appetiser of Saeng-gan 생간, raw liver Cheon-yeop 천엽 omasum aka the 3rd stomach at Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang

Upon being seated, we were served an appetiser of Saeng-gan (생간, raw liver) and Cheon-yeop (천엽, omasum aka the 3rd stomach). I eat this every time I visit, and I can still never get used to it. For sure I will say that it is worth eating once to try the taste and texture – after that, you can decide if you want to try it twice.

gopchang daechang and eomtong at sinchon hwangso gopchang
gopchang cooking by the ahjumma at sinchon hwangso gopchang

We started with an order of gopchang (곱창, small intestines) & daechang (대창, large intestines) and were given a side of eom-tong (염통, cow heart). Look at how especially plump the daechang is! Cooking is expertly done by the ahjummas, who will season and slice the items into bite-sized pieces. We anxiously waited for them to crisp on the pan as we stared at the glistening chunks.

gopchang daechang eomtong at sinchon hwangso gopchang

I wish I waited a bit longer to take a perfect picture! This was taken before the beautiful crisp fully developed. Ahhh, what a pity – but I really couldn’t resist getting started!

Gopchang and Daechang both have a characteristically rich and complex flavour, however they vary distinctly in texture. Biting into gopchang, the inner lining contains a grainy texture (somewhat like fried beancurd puffs) and gives a delightful nutty taste. On the other hand, a beautifully seared piece of daechang is crispy on the outside and luscious within.

Dip these delicious bite-sized bits in the sauces provided and top them up with a small serving of chives. That is harmony in a bite.

hwangso makchang

Our next order was makchang (막창, the abomasum aka 4th stomach). Unlike gopchang and daechang, makchang does not bring the “melt in your mouth” sensation but is instead firm. Its texture is enjoyably springy.

ready to cook fried rice at sinchon hwangso gopchang
gopchang fried rice with kimchi and seaweed at sinchon hwangso gopchang

Finally, we asked for their delicious fried rice to end off the meal. Here, the fried rice is not just simply a staple to “fill your stomach”. Alongside other simple ingredients, the rice gets tossed in gopchang oils and every bite is a delight. Leave the heat high and scorched rice will form, giving that extra crunch!

gopchang fried rice is delicious at sinchon hwangso gopchang
sinchon hwangso gopchang shopfront

In the past, gopchang was a cheap nutritional supplement for the poor. Today, gopchang is no longer cheap, but I believe the cost for good gopchang stems from its elaborate preparation. To make delicious gopchang involves a tedious process of thorough cleaning, trimming, and marinating. I assume many will have concerns about unpleasant odours or aftertastes, and I am happy to report that there is none of those at Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang.

신촌황소곱창 Sinchon Hwangso Gopchang

서울 서대문구 연세로9길 31 (창천동 52-148)
52-148, Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Tel: 02-337-2640

North Sea Fish Crispy Cod Fish and Chips

North Sea Fish Restaurant | National Fish & Chip Day!

North Sea Fish Restaurant | Since its National Fish & Chip Day!

“Name me a quintessentially British dish” and many will first think of Fish & Chips. I know my parents do (as do many of my friends) - among the list of “touristy things to do in London”, having Fish & Chips is notably one of them.

Earlier this year, I went with a friend to visit what was recommended as one of London’s best joints but left disappointed by the mediocre food served (maybe it was a bad day). She wasn’t going to have one disappointing experience shape her entire impression, thus we arranged to have Fish & Chips the following day as well. This time, at North Sea Fish Restaurant and that place turned out to be a gem.

Since then, I have brought family and friends for hearty Fish & Chips countless times. With the UK’s National Fish & Chip Day on 1st June 2018, this post will be a celebration for one of the most British of British foods, which I have grown to love.

North Sea Fish Shopfront
North Sea Fish Restaurant Fish Interior
North Sea Fish Restaurant Interior Seating Area

North Sea Fish Restaurant started as a humble takeaway Fish & Chips shop, but it has since expanded to include a charming restaurant as well. The interior is beautiful and comfortable, with my favourite seats being the bench in the corner, between the bar counter and the fish tank. North Sea Fish Restaurant is family-run, and the service staff are always warm and jovial. Interior is dark-wood with warm hues – in contrast to the typically chaotic and rushed Fish & Chip joints, North Sea Fish Restaurant is a place where you can relax and enjoy a meal over conversation. Consistently serving delicious Fish & Chips, the North Sea Fish Restaurant has over the years built a reputation for itself and is a landmark London Taxi Drivers must know as they study “The Knowledge”, the infamously rigorous test required to be a taxicab driver in London.

North Sea Fish Restaurant Fried Cod Roe

Deep Fried Cod Roe – this looks like the typical fishcake, until you slice it and notice the tiny granules of cod egg. The deep fried cod roe tastes quite unlike anything else and gets better with every bite.

North Sea Fish Restaurant hand dived scallops in a creamy shallot sauce

Hand Dived Scallops in a Creamy Shallot Sauce

North Sea Fish Restaurant Deep Fried Brie, served with redcurrent sauce

Deep Fried Brie is one of the best dishes they serve here – I always order it when I dine at the North Sea Fish Restaurant. It is coated in a light batter and has a gooey core. Pair it with the redcurrant sauce, which adds sweetness & tart and it will be perfect.

North Sea Fish Restaurant Deep Fried Brie
North Sea Fish Restaurant Fish for Thought

North Sea Fish Restaurant has over ten varieties of fishes delivered daily, and they have a laminated sheet (titled “fish for thought) explaining the characteristic taste of each kind. I typically stick to the classic cod fish and chips, but the others (can also be served grilled) are great too.

North Sea Fish Restaurant Cod Fish and Chips

Crispy Cod and fluffy golden chips – the perfect combination!

North Sea Fish Crispy Cod Fish and Chips

For 2 people, ordering a few of North Sea Fish Restaurant’s delicious appetisers and then a “jumbo” serving of Fish & Chips to portion and share will be just perfect. The flesh is beautifully smooth and juicy, yet firm enough to hold the shape well when cut. The soft flaky flesh covered in its crispy golden-red exterior makes this Fish & Chips a comforting dish that many people enjoy.  The restaurant’s tartar sauce is heavier and richer than most though. I quite like it, but I can imagine some people won’t.

While Fish & Chips is historically recorded to have originated 150 years ago, the dish is still immensely popular as an iconic British comfort food. Be it dining at a restaurant by the beach, while lazing in the park, or as fast food on a busy day, Fish & Chips is a classic go-to dish for many people in the UK, and I can imagine form a part of many of their fondest memories.

I’m not sure if North Sea Fish Restaurant is the best, but for its price, taste, quality, and location, I am a happy returning customer.

You “batter” try it too!

North Sea Fish Restaurant

7/8 Leigh Street, London, WC1H 9EW
Tel: 0207 387 5892

Cooking Hanwoo Beef at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Majang Meat Market (마장 축산물시장) | 한우 Hanwoo BBQ?!

Majang Meat Market (마장 축산물시장) | 한우 Hanwoo BBQ?!

Noryangjin Fish Market attracts hordes of tourists every year, and is consistently a highlight for many people visiting Seoul. Having enjoyed my experiences there, I went on a search for something similar – to buy high quality but wholesale, and then have them cooked on the spot. For the foods of the sea we have the market at Noryangjin, and for the foods of the land there is the equally fantastic, yet relatively unknown market at Majang (마장).

Entrance to Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

As a meat market, what else to better welcome you than a greeting cow and pig?

Majang Meat Market is the largest meat market in Korea, and boasts that it sells fresh meat arriving every hour from all over the world. Of course, many come here for Hanwoo 한우. This cattle is native to Korea – it is a source of national pride and is regarded amongst locals as the premier beef.

Majang Meat Market buying meat

Majang Meat Market is the real deal – meats hang from everywhere. Actually, not just meat because we also saw loads of intestines, lung, heart, stomach, and uhm…. Wind pipe? How do you even eat wind pipe? Someone please enlighten me.

Expectedly, this place also smells like a meat market. So be prepared for that.

assorted cuts at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

The Majang Meat Market works like this – you first head to the stalls to buy whatever beef or pork you fancy. Then, you can get referred to a restaurant where you will have your BBQ party.

You can choose to order part by part, or just go along with a platter. Prices are overtly displayed, but that doesn’t mean that they’re non-negotiable! Beyond talking prices, you can also ask the store owners for more meat. They’ll throw some in.

Hanwoo Korean beef platter at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea
Korean bbq at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Restaurants are typically on the second floor, above the stores where you buy meat from. For about 5,000KRW per pax, you get your banchan, salad, and the barbeque necessities.

Cooking Hanwoo Beef at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea
Cooked Hanwoo Korean beef at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Upon hitting the grill, the beef sizzles and gives off a heavenly aroma. I was already excited to have a taste, but the smell took this anticipation to a whole new level.

This simple cooking is the perfect way to taste their brilliance, look at these nuggets just glowing under natural light. First savour them on their own, then try another bite with a dab of salt. The texture is beautiful, they cut like butter and melt in your mouth.

Being well marbled, I would expect that Hanwoo 한우 might not be suitable for the BBQ flame. Since the oil might lead to a messy fire that will spoil the cooking. Remarkably that didn’t happen, perhaps this was already thought through in the grill’s design.

One issue though – the previous time we visited, eating too much beef became cloying. My mum had a fantastic idea. This time, she brought some Korean fruits to go along with our meats. The restaurant staff were happy to help wash and cut them.

Cut fruits pears and strawberries at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Strawberries and Pear.

Pork tenderloin for bbq at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Pork tenderloin. We got some pork too for variety.

Beef on bbq at Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Majang Meat Market is a great place to taste Hanwoo 한우 and have fun while doing it. I love Korean BBQ for how social an activity it is – it is always filled with interaction and plenty of laughter.

Although the beef was delicious, it is surely not the best. Firstly, famous restaurants probably have first dibs on the best beef. Secondly (also, more importantly), how can my grilling skills compare?

I will never forget my first bite of Hanwoo 한우 at Mingles.

Beautiful Stream scenery near Majang Meat Market Seoul South Korea

Post lunch, we took a short walk around the area. We strolled along the Cheonggye Stream (청계천), which was beautiful.

Ahhh, I love Korea. 😊

Majang Meat Market 마장 축산물시장

Address: 40, Majang-ro 31-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 성동구 마장로31길 40 (마장동)

Ganjang Gejang soyce sauce crab seoul korea

진미식당(Jinmi Sikdang) | My Date with the Rice Thief

진미식당(Jinmi Sikdang) | My Date with the Rice Thief

진미식당(Jinmi Sikdang) is a restaurant specializing in 간장게장 (ganjang gejang). I was sceptical upon realizing that this was raw fermented crab, yet at the same time I was inexplicably curious. My dad exclaimed that this is a test, because “if my stomach can take this, I can eat anything”.

Ordering was a simple affair. So simple, that there was no ordering. Upon being seated, the staff, like clockwork, progressively brought out the side dishes.

Following which, came the star of the night.

Ganjang Gejang soyce sauce crab seoul korea

My eyes lit up with my first taste of ganjang gejang. Yes it was raw, but it wasn’t fishy. Being uncooked, the meat was smooth and silky. The flesh was delicate, extremely exquisite. Its natural sweetness was accentuated by the soy sauce marinade. The greatest joy came from the roe, which were as robust as roe can be.

Ganjang Gejang soyce sauce crab seoul korea

Eat it alone, mix it in rice, or wrap it in their different varieties of seaweed.

It is obvious that ganjang gejang demands intricate preparation, precisely striking the harmony between subtlety and flavour. While the menu is limited, it is evident that serving one dish is good enough, if the restaurant can make it this delicious. We visited near closing time on a weekday night, and Jinmi Sikdang was fully packed.

진미식당 Jinmi Sikdang

Address: 186-6 Mapo-daero, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Phone: +82-2-3211-4468

lobster roe and tomalley at Noryangjin fish market

Noryangjin Fish Market | Key takeaways from buying seafood

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale | Lessons from the Fish Market

The Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is huge. More commonly referred to as the Noryangjin Fish Market, it boasts to be the largest food consumption site in Korea. I love this place so much that I visited 6 times over our 7-day trip. Because what is cholesterol, right?

Today, there are two sections to the market. One side is the historic old market, while the other side hosts a new building built under its modernisation project. Whichever you first take step into, it is surely seafood heaven.

Noryangjin fish market
noryangjin fish market seafood selection
old noryangjin fish market

At the Noryangjin Fish Market, there are plenty of the favourite lobsters, crabs, and prawns. Many kinds of shellfish are also available and it was fun to try the different varieties. Venturing further into the unknown, there are sea pineapples and sea intestines. The sea pineapple is at least still cute, but the sea intestines are one of the weirdest looking foods I have seen (Search for “Urechis unicinctus” on Google, you must). I couldn’t even tell if they were fish, plant, or worm.

seafood selection at noryangjin fish market, fresh seafood in seoul
sashimi noryangjin fish market
fresh clams at noryangjin fish market
sea pineapple at noryangjin fish market

That’s the Sea Pineapple!

What are prices like at the Noryangjin Fish Market?

Seafood here is probably always cheaper than that in Singapore, but even then, some days are better than others. Prices fluctuate with demand and supply, and we visited at a time when the Chinese (largest group of tourists by nationality) shunned South Korea due to the THAAD missile row. It was obvious that the stall owners were very hungry for business.

Many stalls have Chinese-speaking workers. In addition, there are plenty of Chinese-speaking middle men working for the restaurants who will be happy to help with your purchases. Thus, buying seafood at Noryangjin will be a breeze for many Singaporeans. Still, take your time because there is so much to see and even more prices to haggle.

After you are done with your purchases, you will be referred to a restaurant. Generally, you can have your food served sashimi, steamed, boiled, BBQ-ed or stir fried. Cooking is pretty basic. While the preparation is nothing spectacular, my meals at Noryangjin were nonetheless enjoyable.

king crab at noryangjin fish market

What's good to order here?

cockles at noryangjin fish market

Throughout our trip, we kept repeating orders of these cockles. They taste so good. There are varied sizes, we got some monstrous once but those are difficult to eat. These were bite-sized, and this size is perfect. Sinking your teeth into their plump flesh, the rich juices just burst out.

spoon worm sashimi at noryangjin fish market

Sea Intestines Sashimi

sea pineapple sashimi at noryangjin fish market

Sea Pineapple Sashimi

sea urchin sashimi at noryangjin fish market

The stallholders shared that Sea Urchin isn’t as big a thing in Korea as it is in Japan. Maybe that’s why these were so well priced (although that could also be because those served here weren’t as delicious). For some really really good sea urchin, I highly recommend the luscious sea urchin cold soba at Mimi Myeonga in Gangnam.

For many restaurants at Noryangjin, sashimi items are served without that additional service fee. However, because preparing sea urchin is a hassle, they may charge for these.

clams at noryangjin fish market

Stir fried bamboo clams. On top of the king crabs and lobsters which are the typical tourist “must orders” at Noryangjin, these bamboo clams are similarly something you must absolutely get. They can be stir fried in a spicy Korean sauce, or in a non-spicy version with vegetables. Both are absolutely delicious. The table next to us saw us eating these and immediately went to order some for themselves!

steamed lobster and crabs at noryangjin fish market

Steamed Lobster and Flower Crabs

Flower crab roe at Noryangjin Fish Market

Beautiful, aren’t they? Flower crabs are so misunderstood. Many people think of them as the inferior cousin of the King Crab and Mud Crab, but these tasted so sweet.

lobster sashimi at noryangjin fish market

Over our trip, we got to try the different cooking styles for lobsters. Here, it is shown with its body served sashimi while its head was steamed.

lobster roe and tomalley at Noryangjin fish market

Look at that roe and tomalley, I enjoyed these even more than the lobster meat.

sea cucumber sashimi at Noryangjin fish market

Sea Cucumber Sashimi

Unexpected takeaways from the fish market

I had a tough time deciding whether this post was to be under the category of “food”, or “experiences”. After thorough thought, I believe a visit to Noryangjin is not just about the food, but is only complete with the browsing, engaging, and lots of haggling. I didn’t just leave with happy taste buds, but I gained 3 important lessons from the fish sellers here – the kind of stuff you learn at business school. Let me end my post with these.

  1. Big Bait. Lure you in with cheap lobsters or king crabs. Then add a bit more to the prices of all the other items you’ll proceed to buy from them.
  2. Build Rapport, Find a Connection. Workers who spoke mandarin would reiterate that we’re both Chinese, and that we are all family in this foreign land. They say they will not join the Korean stall-owners to rip off our tourist money, they say our prices are already very cheap!! The way they put it sounded so assuring.
  3. The Pity Trick. This pits your compassion against your cheapskate attitude. We were in full on haggling mode, then the lady went “ohh I bought this at 47,000 won per kilo, please at least let me sell it at 52,000 won. T.T”. And it worked, because I promptly said “all right”. For all I know, she could’ve bought the entire thing for 30,000 won.