Jjajangmyeon 짜장면 And Korean Black Day 블랙데이
The taxi uncle articulated like a tourist’s guide, his running commentary on the historical sites en route to The Shilla were awesome! By the way, Asians like to call older man as uncle and ladies as aunties as a show of respect, nothing to do with relations. I drifted to La La Land in between his updates. The ride lasted forever and my heavy lids surrendered. When the uncle finally announced that we were entering the compound, I grudgingly opened my eyes to a surreal vision of spectra grandeur. The hotel’s main building was still a good distance away on the upslope. The real estate seemed to belong to an ancient era. The Silla Dynasty?
We have arrived….
The hotel staff wasn’t exactly surprised when we checked in. It must have been around 3am by the time we reached The Shilla, but they were expecting us. See my earlier post The Bonding Tool @ The Shilla, Seoul for more photos of the hotel.
The rooms did not fail to impress but the most beckoning facility at this hour were the beds. Soft and warm. Ah yes, sleep. We needed to hit the sack! An hour passed… Perhaps, two. Ryan and Valerie went for their appointment. It was a new beginning for them. Blessed darlings did not wake Vanessa and I. We were left in suspense of our consciousness for another couple of hours.
We needed breakfast and what did we fail to eat last night? Jjajangmyeon 짜장면!
Jjajangmyeon is a popular noodle dish mixed in with black bean sauce made of chunjang (춘장 – salty black soybean paste), usually but not necessarily minced pork and vegetables. You can only find it at Korean Chinese restaurants and not native Korean eateries.
The most obvious reason that Jjajangmyeon can only be found in Chinese restaurants is because this dish was introduced by Chinese merchants but the flavour had evolved over time to suit Korean taste. Accordingly, the first known Jajangmyeon was served from a restaurant in the Chinatown of Incheon, called Gonghwachun 공화춘, in 1905.
Background: Enough said about Valentine’s Day, we all know what that day means. White Day, which falls one month later on the 14th March, is observed by Japan, China, South Korea and Taiwan. It was first celebrated in 1978 in Japan, started by the National Confectionery Industry Association, as sort of a “repayment day” to Valentine’s Day on the grounds that men should pay back the women who gave them gifts on Valentine’s Day. Hmmm… Are you thinking what I’m thinking? 😉
Korean Black Day 블랙데이, which falls on the 14th April, is a special day where singles who did not receive any presents on Valentine’s and White Day get together and have these Korean Black Bean Sauce Noodles a.k.a. Jajangmyeon to commiserate each other. O…Oh!!! Ironically, we had this dish in the midst of the pre-wed photography session but what the heck, I didn’t know this tidbit of Korean food culture then! Anyway, the couple didn’t get a chance to eat it. Only Vany and I had the pleasure of slurping up the gooey goodness 😀
I do not have the contact for this Jjajangmyeon shop as the photographer’s assistant helped us order. Do not be fooled by the plain looking dish. They were very delicious and cheap!
There are two versions of Jjajangmyeon, the standard version which we devoured and the seafood version shown in the last photo which we tasted at Incheon airport on our way back to Singapore. The one from the airport was lousy. It’s the sauce that is most crucial in this dish.
Happy 4th July to ALL my American friends 🙂
P.S. I’m traveling this afternoon and will catch you in a bit. Happy weekend!