The journey from Texas to Seoul is long and tiring so on arriving our friend and owner of The Seoul House always takes us somewhere good for dinner. Food with friends is an important part of Korean life, and ‘have you eaten?’ is a recognised greeting among family and friends. Located near Times Square Mall, Yeongdeungpo Underground Shopping Mall as well as a 24 hour Food Street there’s no shortage of places to eat near where we stay. This trip Ken chose Myth Jokbal, part of a small franchise group with other restaurants in the more touristy areas of Hongdae and Myeongdong.
Tired and jetlagged as we were it was pleasant for Ken to take charge of ordering, but if you remember to greet the staff upon entering and point to the photos on the menu you shouldn’t have any problems. Jokbal means ‘pig’s leg’ although it is often translated as ‘pig’s trotters’. Jokbal is boneless and more from the calf/hock area so there is plenty of meat. Part of the appeal for many is the soft chewy skin and fatty bits. These contain a large amount of gelatin and is said to be good for many things including your skin.
Since it goes well with alcohol Ken ordered beer and soju so he could teach us the best way to make ‘somak’. It is more than just mixing the two together, and we had fun hitting the chopsticks just right to make the drink fizz without foaming over the top of the glass.
The Jokbal arrived on a plate piled high with meat and garlic. The smell alone was enough to make my mouth water, and it looked really good too. Other things were brought to the table including the ingredients for us to make our own soup, as well as a large salad and side dishes.
Thankfully Ken took charge of the soup, which actually turned out to be fairly easy to make. Just put the noodles etc into the broth, although you might need to ask for help if you’ve never turned on one of the table top burners before.
We also received steamed eggs as an extra side dish. They were soft and fluffy and delicious.
Laughing at my ineptitude with chopsticks and catching up on what we’d been up to since we last saw each other we had a really delicious meal. The meat is usually braised with spices, such as garlic, ginger, and even sometimes cinnamon, and black pepper. It also may have soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, leeks and onions added, but since each restaurant has their own secret recipe I can only say that the end result at Myth Jokbal was very tasty. We even ended up ordering a second plate.
Jokbal is considered to have many health benefits such as being good for the skin, the liver, and for removing toxins for the body. It is also eaten as a remedy for a hangover.
So if you’re up for trying something perhaps a little out of your comfort zone I can recommend a meal of Jokbal. We went to Myth Jokbal 11-11 Yeongdeungpo-dong 3-ga, Yeongdeungpo-gu about a block or so from the train and subway station, but there are lots of Jokbal restaurants in Seoul with a specific Jokbal street in Jangchung-dong. There are also lots of recipes online if you want to try making it yourself, or if you’re fortunate to live in a big city like NYC you can find Jokbal restaurants here in the States.
Have a great day everyone.
Photo credits to Elle Marzec.