I promised to write about this last week, so I’m a little behind schedule, but here is my long-awaited post about jja jang myun (짜장면). For my first taste of this Korean Chinese dish, I went to Jin Heung Gak, known in English as Mandarin House, which was recommended by reader SKFK (sorry, Young, you recommended Dragon, but SKFK got in ahead of you). Since I was meeting a friend for lunch, we chose to go to the main location at 8th & Berendo so she’d have an easier drive back to work afterward. Actually, we did this two weeks in a row. I told you I found these noodles addictive!
Jin Heung Gak is a popular place. Both times we managed to get a table without a wait, but the place was definitely hoppin’. The noodles themselves were delicious, not to mention cheap. For about $6 you get the monstrous portion below.
The plate you can see on the side is the kimchee plate. On both visits we went through two plates of kimchee. Here are the noodles after mixing:
I swear they give you 8 oz. of noodles, if not more. The noodles are cooked just right, and there’s an abundance of onions and veggies in the black bean sauce. On the side, in addition to the kimchee, you get a plate of onions and yummy crunchy pickled yellow things (radishes?).
I’d been warned to wear something dark because the sauce will splatter, and it definitely does. On our repeat visit my friend and I noticed we had both wisely chosen to wear brown!
JJM is great comfort food (read: it’s mostly carbs). I’m told it’s what Korean girls eat on Valentine’s Day if they don’t have boyfriends to go out with.
My only complaint about Jin Heung Gak is that as soon as they see you’re not Korean, they automatically assume you want a fork. On the first visit, when there were actually three of us, one Korean and two non-Koreans, we were given three sets of chopsticks and two forks. On the second visit, when we didn’t have a Korean in the party, we were given two forks and no chopsticks. I was forced to ask for chopsticks in my broken, poorly accented Korean. Okay, if I had asked in English I’m sure they would have understood me, but I figured it was a good time to use Korean and play with the assumptions they had made about me based on how I look.
I actually find the fork issue rather amusing. However, please note the offending silverware does not appear in either photo above.
On the first visit we also ordered water dumplings, which were okay, but I figure from now on I’ll just stick with the JJM. Given the portion size, it’s not like you really need anything extra. The servers can be a little flighty since the place is so busy, so it’s a good idea to know how to call them in Korean. The shopping center where Jin Heung Gak is located has a small parking lot, not sure if it’s valet or not, but both times I found street parking on Berendo.
Jin Heung Gak/Mandarin House
3074 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005