Jjajangmyeon: What Is It, Taste, and How To Eat?

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Korean cuisine is becoming more popular all over the world due to its versatility and healthiness. There’s lots of noodles, veggies, sauces, and meat in Korean dishes. One dish that represents all of that is jjajangmyeon, but what exactly is it? 

Jjajangmyeon is a Korean meal consisting of meat, seafood, vegetables, noodles, and more. It’s topped with a thick sauce that gives it more flavor. In general, jjajangmyeon tastes salty, sweet, slightly bitter, and unmani. Currently, it is one of the most popular dishes in Korea.

The rest of this article will cover what jjajangmyeon is, how to eat it, and a brief conclusion.

What Jjajangmyeon Is

Jjajangmyeon (짜장면) is a noodle dish from Korea. Its first variant came from China in a restaurant known as Gonghwachun (공화춘). 

Jjajangmyeon was first served in Gonghwachun in Incheon Chinatown, and it was run by an immigrant from the Shandong province.

Nowadays, Gonghwachun is a museum for jjajangmyeon. The dish first came about in 1905, and it’s evolved over time. 

The dish, in Chinese, is called zhájiàngmiàn. Jjajangmyeon is a variation of it, but they have several distinct qualities that make them unique from each other.

Jjajang, also spelled jajang (자장), comes from the Chinese word zhájiàng. This word means fried sauce, and the myeon (면) part of jjajangmyeon means noodle. 

Quite literally, it means fried sauce noodles. The noodles themselves are very thick and made from wheat flour.

There’s also the sauce that gets put on top of the noodles. It wouldn’t be jjajangmyeon without the jajang sauce. 

It’s made with stock, soy or oyster sauce, meat (normally pork), seafood like shrimp or squid, vegetables, and other ingredients like garlic, scallions, and ginger. 

Along with getting a sauce, it also gets side dishes and other toppings. Koreans love to put a fried or boiled egg, scallions, and or blanched shrimp on top of the noodles. 

As for side dishes, jjajangmyeon goes well with sliced raw onions or yellow pickled radish (danmuji – 단무지).

Where To Buy Jjajangmyeon

In South Korea, it’s easy to find jjajangmyeon. They’re sold in restaurants, especially those specializing in meat, seafood, and or noodles. 

Since those three food types are very popular in Korea, you’ll be able to find jjajangmyeon almost anywhere.

Unfortunately, street food is reserved for more snack-like foods. That means you’re unlikely to find jjajangmyeon for a cheap price on the streets. 

Your best option is to go dine somewhere or get takeout. It’s best when fresh, so if you can, try your best to get it dine-in or make it yourself.

Outside of Korea, it can be difficult to find it. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. For starters, there’s always Korean restaurants. 

Jjajangmyeon is a popular choice both in and out of Korea. That means that you’re likely to find it at your local Korean restaurant.

With Korean products high in demand, you’ll see Korean restaurants that sell their goods to make a higher profit.

If you don’t want to dine-in at a Korean restaurant, try ordering takeout, delivery, or buying packaged jjajangmyeon that they’re selling.

If none of those options appeal to you, there’s still two more left. Making it from scratch, and buying packaged jjajangmyeon from your local grocery store

You can find frozen, premade jjajangmyeon in the freezer aisle of the store. Ask a worker if you’re having trouble finding it.

There’s a chance your store won’t carry packaged jjajangmyeon. In that case, you can make it from scratch by getting a recipe and the proper ingredients. 

Be sure to get what you need for both the jjajangmyeon and the side dishes you should serve with it.

How To Eat Jjajangmyeon

It’s not a complex meal, but it does have many different ways you can eat it. You should try it on an official or unofficial holiday like Black Day, with a bunch of side dishes, and or as delivery since it’s a common delivery choice.

Eating Jjajangmyeon On Black Day

Black Day (블랙데이) is South Korea’s opposite of Valentine’s Day. Every year on April 14th, Black Day occurs for the single people in the country. 

Although it’s primarily observed in South Korea, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your own celebration for it in other countries.

Jjajangmyeon isn’t meant to be a fancy dish. That’s why it’s a common choice for singles on Black Day. 

However, Black Day isn’t the only day that jjajangmyeon is popular. Any time someone is graduating, jjajangmyeon is a trendy choice for the students and their families.

If you’re celebrating a holiday, whether it be official or not, you should try something new by having jjajangmyeon. 

Since there’s so many variants of jjajangmyeon, you can serve several kinds of flavors of it and get your friends and family involved in the taste testing process.

Eating Jjajangmyeon With Side Dishes

A common practice in Korean culture is to serve meals with side dishes. Side dishes have their own name. They’re called banchan, 반찬 in Hangul. 

Their purpose is to compliment a meal, and the best part about them is that many Korean restaurants give you free side dishes.

If you’re interested in trying a bunch of new foods all at once, you should make or order side dishes with your jjajangmyeon. 

The small portions make it so that if you don’t like it, you’re not wasting much food, and the smaller the portion, the cheaper the food is.

Some side dishes that go well with jjajangmyeon are as follows: kimchi (김치), Korean dumplings (mandu or 만두), freshly cut onions, and or seedless cucumbers.

Eating Jjajangmyeon As Delivery

Although most food is best when it’s fresh out of the kitchen, jjajangmyeon is one of the most popular delivery choices in South Korea. 

The reason why is because it’s an oily dish that gives you energy after a long day. Koreans commonly order it after they move houses.

Order it from the closest Korean restaurant you can find. Most will have no problem going long distances to deliver. Once you have it, either alone or with company, try it and see if it gives you back your energy. 

Another perk of ordering it as delivery is that it’s cheap. In Korea, the average price of jjajangmyeon is 6,000 won for a smaller portion ($5.30), or 10,000 won for a larger bowl ($7.61). In other countries it’ll be more expensive, but not by much.

Conclusion

There’s a dish named jjajangmyeon in Korean culture, and it’s a popular noodle dish. 

It comes from the word jjajang, which means fried sauce, and myeon, which means noodle. It’s a meal popular both in and out of Korea, and it has a salty, sweet, slightly bitter, and unmani taste.

This Korean meal dates back to 1905, where it originated in China as zhájiàngmiàn. The dish itself gets sauce and toppings on it like a fried or boiled egg, scallions, and or blanched shrimp. You can buy it both inside and outside of Korea from multiple different places.

As for eating jjajangmyeon, there are quite a few options you have. This is a dish used for both official and unofficial holidays like Black Day. 

Try eating it on a special day, eating it with many side dishes, and or eating it as delivery since it’s an extremely common delivery meal.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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