I love Koreatown in the springtime…

Wherein I blog about all things Korean in Los Angeles

Jja Jang Myun April 22, 2008

Filed under: restaurants — Raven @ 1:02 am
Tags: ,

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
(cross-street: Berendo)
Los Angeles, CA 90005

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10 Responses to “Jja Jang Myun”

  1. JT Says:

    I would love to take the honor for this post. Wasn’t I the one who got you thinking about having to eat JJM? Or am I imagining things again? The pics look awesome, btw. 🙂

  2. Raven Says:

    Glad you like the pics! They’re making me hungry for JJM again…

    Research reveals that Young Kim suggested I try JJM, you were shocked I hadn’t tried it yet and warned me to wear something dark, and SKFK suggested I go to Jin Heung Gak. So it’s a shared honor. 🙂

  3. SKFK Says:

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the experience. I’ve never actually eaten at that particular Jin Heung Gak, but I’ve had meals delivered from there many times so I knew about the quality (and the quantity) of the food. Speaking of quantity, my coworker and I had pork fried rice delivered from JHG today at work for lunch, and neither of us could finish the humongous portions we got. Based on past experience, I know that I’ll have to skip dinner tonight.

    “Yummy crunchy pickled yellow things” are indeed pickled radishes. It’s actually a Japanese side dish, so I’m alway amused that Koreans somehow chose to make it a mainstay at Chinese restaurants. It’s called danmuji in Korean, but many Koreans simply call it by its Japanese name, takuan.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takuan

    As for the girls eating jja jang myun on Valentine’s Day, close but not quite. You probably know that in Korea and Japan, Valentine’s Day on February 14th is the day girls give chocolate to guys, and White Day on March 14th is the day guys give white candies to girls. In Korea, April 14th is supposed to be Black Day, where single guys and girls dress in black and get together to eat jja jang myun to commiserate. I read that according to one survey, Chinese restaurants in Korea report that sales of jja jang myun go up by 30% on Black Day.

  4. Raven Says:

    Yeah, I skipped dinner both times! How was the fried rice? There are a lot of delicious-sounding things on the menu in addition to the JJM.

    That’s funny that the Japanese radishes ended up at Korean Chinese restaurants!

    Thanks for the correction and info about Black Day. Interesting.

  5. JT Says:

    You are correct Raven… JJM is my winter food… now with the weather heating up in NYC, it’s time for MNM, or mool naeng myun… I’m sure you’ve tried that since you’re such a fan of the BBQ.

  6. Raven Says:

    Oh yes, MNM is one of my faves. My friend Bon V. (she comments here sometimes) and I have an ongoing dispute over which is more tasty and refreshing, mul naeng myun or dongchimi guksu. I maintain that the honor belongs to MNM.

  7. SKFK Says:

    Fried rice is pretty good, but then again I like pretty much any food as long as it’s edible, so I may be a wrong person to ask about such things. They also give you a small bowl of jja jang sauce with fried rice, so you can mix them up together. The portions are even bigger than jja jang myun, especially in case of single-meat fried rice. The more expensive combination seafood fried rice (I think they call it “three fried rice” in English menu) comes in more manageable portions, though.

  8. Raven Says:

    More expensive = smaller portion. Hmm. Something’s off here. 😀

    I’m actually a fan of big, cheap portions. After all, a big lunch keeps me from having to cook dinner.

  9. Bon Vivant Says:

    Aaaahhh! My stomach!

    Looks like I picked the wrong day to catch up on your blog 🙂

  10. Raven Says:

    Oops, sorry! I gather I should hold off on sending you the photos I didn’t use here.


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