And I repeat…hmmm….
On Friday the 18th I met up with my friends 지희 (Ji-hee) and 희연 (Hee-yeon) for supper and studying. They recommended me trying a very popular Korean dish called ‘족발’ (jokbal – pig’s feet). Since I’ve decided to be game for anything while I’m here, it was off to Hongdae Kaljok!
Hongdae Kaljok was very easy to locate, being a few shops in to the left of the main street in 홍대 (Hongdae). According to the card there are two locations in that general area. I can’t remember what shop was on the corner, but the next time I’m in Hongdae I’ll take a look and write it here.
Once seated Ji-hee ordered us the 갈족 (kaljok) set which was a mix of two words –> 갈국수 (kalguksu) and 족발 (jokbal). Kalguksu is a type of fresh wheat noodle and reminds me immensely of the kind we used to make from scratch at home and let dry over the chairs and door frames. Jokbal as I mentioned before is the prepared pig’s feet. I’m not sure of the whole processes, but the feet come to you in nice thick slices to be eaten.
As we were waiting for our jokbal we busied ourselves of preparing the kalguksu. On one side of the table there was a stove element. I’m not sure if it’s propane/electric or whatnot, but these are very common in Korean restaurants. They brought us a large steel pot filled with broth, about half a dozen clams, and a sprinkling of green onions. They put in on the element and set the flame a burning. Once the broth started to boil we put the noodles in and waited for them to cook. The best part about this restaurant? We got unlimited kalguksu!!! Every time we ran out, we simply motioned to the servers and said 이거 더 주세요 (igeo deo juseyo – please refill). Though occasionally they simply came around with a new bowl of noodles and the huge kettle of broth to refill our pot.
Once the jokbal arrived, I was given a crash course in how to eat the beast. Ji-hee took up one of the leaves in her hand, grabbed a piece of the meat with her chopsticks and dunked it in a sauce that consisted of tiny salted shrimp, and then proceeded to wrap it in the lettuce and popped the whole thing in her mouth.
There was a variety of different sauces that you could try. Besides the salted shrimp one (새우젓 – saeujeot), there was also a soybean paste based one (된장 – doenjang) that I’ve seen commonly along side samgyeopsal, and a watery lemon one that Ji-hee had said she had never seen before, but it was both of our favourite from the selections. Outside of the dipping sauces, there was also sliced raw garlic and green chili peppers (고추장 – gochujang).
Now, I’m never been a fan of the taste of fatty meat…as a child if the bacon was too rubbery I would peel off the layers of fat and only eat the meat…a practice I’m ashamed to admit recurs more often than not. So eating a slice of jokbal consisted eating a piece of at least 1.5 x 1cm of thick fat, it didn’t really appease my appetite. But I would be damned if I didn’t try it once!
…and it wasn’t for me. The taste is rather strong from the pig fat and the texture turned my stomach. I think Ji-hee and Hee-yeon had a fun time laughing at me trying to swallow the large piece of meat/fat. After that, Ji-hee was constantly searching for the pieces that were more meat for me and putting them on my plate ^^ I felt a little bit like royalty.
So, final conclusion? I don’t think jokbal is really my thing, but I would definitely go again even if it was to pick out the meaty pieces and gouge myself on kalguksu (which was awesome and I can get a single serving for 4,500원!). The grand total for a meal that stuffed all three of us, plus a bunch of leftovers for Ji-hee’s 개 (kae – dog) was 11,000원 each.
Till next time!
P.S. If you are in Korea and want to ask to get your leftovers packed up, call over the servers and say to them: “푸장 하 주세요” –> Pujang ha juseyo.