Jangsu Galmaegi in Mapo-gu, Seoul: Korean Charcoal BBQ

No trip to Korea will be complete until one has Korean BBQ. Despite the availability in Singapore, KBBQ in its Homeland is still an essential experience. Jangsu Galmaegi Grill House was highly recommended by our hotel. Quite honestly, I did not think the food was out-of-this-world BUT this charcoal barbecue house ensured the pork was super fresh! My nasty pork trotter experience in Gwangjang Market earlier in the day was quickly dissipated. While the food was not as memorable, the experience sure was!

I thoroughly enjoyed Jangsu Galmaegi for a different reason. The Korean BBQ experience was strikingly different from Singapore. From the egg-ringed BBQ (which I found out after returning is available in Singapore O_o), to the copious amount of meat and Korean alcohol, and the wild time with the Ajummas serving us; my KBBQ experience was unforgettable. Despite the language barrier, the Ajummas were patient, maternal and efficient. Quite frankly I do not recall the exact cut of meat we had. The short menu was in Korean and the Ajummas just pointed to each of the four items and held up two fingers signifying two portions. We replied her with an “O.K.” sign.

The hotel receiptionist kindly reserved with the restaurant my large group of 20 diners for us. Upon arrival on the second floor, we were greeted with this super neat table settings.


From the above picture, one can see a kettle. Naturally we assumed it was water and my older colleague promptly took out his medicine. However when I poured into the glass…

It was beaten eggs! They would be used for the omelette ring around the plate for the meat.

At the same time, Kimchi was added into the beaten eggs to be cooked together. This ensured a flavourful omelette.

We did not have to lift a finger when it came to cooking the meat. The Ajumas were unintrusively standing around ensuring all meat were cooked to perfection. The BEST part was the hot plates were changed frequently. Even before it turned black from the meat, she would swiftly use a metal thong and replaced with a brand new plate. I was in awe of their efficiency! All our pieces of meat felt so clean.

Very soon we were wrapping pork chunks in red-leaf lettuce leaves — along with spicy bean paste, shaved scallions and kkaennip, an anise-flavored leaf, similar to Japanese shiso, and Jalepeno. My favourite green was the kkaennip. With a slight peppery taste, it was a refreshing leaf paired with the heavy meat. The Jalepeno was so spicy! And like a true Korean, we stuffed the whole thing into our mouths. No tiny bites for us.

Another memory of this place was the smoke! It wafted up from our small, round metal barbecue tables, turning the air so opaque and oily. The first thing we did upon leaving was douse ourselves with perfume. The second thing we did? Grab a cab for street food in Myeong-doing despite being over-stuffed.

Dinner at Jangsu Galmaegi was a memorable experience but not satisfying. Upon returning to Singapore, I found myself googling good KBBQ places in Seoul… Oh man… looks like another trip needs to be planned…

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