Recently, for the first time in maybe five years, I ate jajjang myeon. Jajjang is a black bean sauce covered noodle dish served in South Korea and is referred to as "Chinese food" much like Sweet and Sour Chicken is referred to as Chinese food in America. I hit up Koryo Ja Jang on the corner of 43rd and Telegraph where a slew of other Korean joints reside.
The proprietor seemed surprised by my rejection of a menu and I was floored by what was put in front of me.
I felt like I was back in Mangmi-dong, my old 'hood in Busan. While most Korean food often isn't the same (or good) as back in the Republic, I'm sometimes really impressed by how respectable some Korean dishes are here in America. Take note Thai restaurateurs! Mind you, I don't really love this dish, but everything was just how it should have been. Strangely neon pickled radish, raw onions, a fermented black bean sauce for dipping and kimchi. I washed it all down with wonderful barley tea. While jajjang is not huge on flavor and will taste the same whether you are at the peak of health or suffering from a massive head cold, the deliciously chewy wheat noodles provide a lot of comfort value.
It's really quite amazing how tastes and smells can really take you to another place and awaken long forgotten feelings or memories. This meal briefly made me lose all track of where I was. You can imagine my severe disappointment upon stepping out onto the austere telegraph road to make the slow walk home.
Koryo Ja Jang
4390 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609