It’s a dish we often hear in Korean dramas and variety shows, perhaps as commonly as ramyeon, samgyupsal, and bibimbap. And as we watch our Korean stars mix in the creamy sauce with their chopsticks and slurp the noodles deliciously, we can’t help but crave for it too!
Jjajangmyeon is a delicacy said to have a Chinese origin (from zhajiangmian), but over time it has become authentically Korean. It is made with black bean sauce, pork chunks and vegetables over firm noodles, and many consider this as a full meal and comfort food. It’s also the food single Koreans eat on Black Day, observed on April 14 for those who are not in a relationship and did not receive chocolates on Valentine’s and White Days.
As Korean pop culture becomes more prevalent in the Philippines, KStreetManila visits four restaurants in the metro and shares its objective take on this Korean favorite!
Gaja Korean Kitchen
8445 Kalayaan Ave., Makati
Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Though known for its speakeasy, Gaja Korean Kitchen is one of the few non-KBBQ restaurants in Makati’s food hub, Poblacion. The restaurant serves classic Korean dishes with a twist, though its jjajangmyeon (P320) is not as adventurous as the other food items on the menu. The twist, probably, is the poached egg on top of the noodles and mixed vegetables.
P. Noval near UST Campus, Sampaloc, Manila
Opening Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (except Sundays)
Don’t be fooled by its Greek-sounding name; Santorini is actually a haunt among UST students looking for Korean food. Its jjajangmyeon (P200) is simple, filled with bits of pork and a few vegetables. Its serving is quite big, and it’s good for sharing with a friend.
Jang Ga Nae
8137 Plaza Ortigas, Jose Escriva Drive, Ortigas, Pasig City
Opening Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
One of the better-known Korean restaurants along Escriva Drive, Jang Ga Nae is one of the go-to places of both Filipinos and Koreans craving for Korean food. The jjajangmyeon (P300) is different from what you’d expect because it has a little bit of spiciness to it. One order is good enough for two people (but it can be maximized to three people if you’re all small eaters). It also comes with a free side order of kimchi whether you order it for dine-in or take-out.
Sa Chun Sung Restaurant
8101 Pearl Drive, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day except Tuesdays
Hidden on the second floor of Pearl Drive, Sa Chun Sung offers two types of jjajangmyeon: original and spicy. Both serve about two to three people (depending on your appetite) and at P250, it seemed reasonable enough. Now onto the meal: the noodle has a nice, thick consistency. You have to eat it while it’s freshly cooked, otherwise, it will be sloppy. It tasted authentic at best but lacked saltiness, and the sauce’s consistency is not thick enough. For a better experience, eat it with pickled radish to add more flavor.
Manna Korean Restaurant
Terraza Dasma, Dasmariñas City, Cavite
Opening hours: 10 a.m to 10 p.m. daily
Located down south of Metro Manila, this restaurant offers not only unlimited KBBQ but also various Korean dishes, including jjajangmyeon. For P280, its serving is enough for two to three people, depending on one’s appetite. The noodles are chewy, though the strands lack thickness. Still, the sauce is rich and generously filled with meat and veggies.
Which restaurant is your favorite jjajangmyeon place? Let us know in the comments!
Aya Ople, Bea Mandac, Clara Palma, and Irish Valdez contributed to this article.