seoul, south korea

an incheon afternoon

It’s shocking how quickly two weeks can go by when you’re having fun.  Before we could say “haemeul pajeon”, we had reached our last full day in the Motherland.

For convenience and ease of travel, we stayed at the Hyatt Hotel right by Incheon Airport.  It was, unofficially, our honeymoon, so we sprung for a really nice room and got the Honeymoon Package for a little bit of indulgence, which included a $50 voucher to use for hotel dining and a small gift package of L’Occitane products.

Our plan was to venture out to Chinatown in Incheon, which happens to be the only official Chinatown in Korea, for a taste of authentic jjajangmyun (짜장면), Korea’s famous black bean sauce noodles that we have the Chinese migrants from Shandong to thank for introducing.  My parents told us that the jjajangmyun from Incheon is like nothing you can get anywhere else.  Well, that must mean that this jjajangmyun has got to be magnificent.  Like “unicorns bursting forth from marshmallow clouds” magnificent.

Little did we know that actually getting to Incheon Chinatown from the hotel would be quite the hike.  We had two options – by subway train, which meant having to make at least 5 connections with the one-way trip taking over an hour, or the bus that would take us right to Incheon Station (located across the street from the Chinatown gate), in about an hour.  We felt more comfortable with the subway system, but the 5-connection business was too much thinking for that day, so we opted for the bus.

chinatowngateAn hour later, we arrived at our destination. We collected a map from the information kiosk outside of Incheon Station and set off through the gates to explore the area.

Chinatown itself isn’t too large, but it’s quaint with a lot of restaurants and shops.  Since we didn’t do any research on jjajangmyun restaurants, we basically picked one at random.

exteriorHere’s the lucky winner!

interiorBeing 3:00pm, the place was empty.  Not exactly a normal dining time.  I quite enjoyed the kitschy decor.

tangsooyookWe started with a small order of tangsooyook (탕수육), Korea’s version of sweet & sour pork.  The beautifully crispy and tender pieces of fried pork were covered generously with a sweet and sour sauce that was actually quite unfamiliar to our palates.  Not that it was bad; it was just different, but in a good way, like the Incheon tangsooyook is also unlike the tangsooyook found elsewhere.  It just had a more robust taste, if I can call it that, and it wasn’t as sweet as I normally find tangsooyook.  Whatever they did with it, we both really enjoyed it.

jjajangAnd the verdict on the jjajangmyun?  Truly like no other jjajangmyun we’ve had so far.  Tender, thick noodles were covered in a rich black bean sauce that wasn’t overly greasy (as some black bean sauces can be) and seasoned to perfection.  So this is what Incheon jjajangmyun is all about!  It’s hard to describe – you really do have to taste it for yourself to understand.  This was an amazingly tasty, satisfying bowl of noodles.

jjajangmyeonmuseumWe were so enamoured by the jjajangmyun that we tried to visit the Jjajangmyun Museum (yes, there is such a thing!).  But luck was not on our side and the museum was closed that day.  Sadface.

stairsSo we wandered over to these beautifully painted stairs…

parkgate…that eventually lead us up to this gate…

park…and just like that, we were transported to Jayu Park (자유공원), which means Freedom Park, in honour of General McArthur.

statueHere’s a quick history lesson as per the Visit Korea tourism website: Jayu Park, or park of Freedom, has held its name ever since October 3, 1957 when a statue of General McArthur, who led the Incheon Amphibious Landing Operation during the Korean War, was erected at the summit of Mt. Eungbongsan.  I think that’s pretty cool.

trioI don’t know who these happy guys are, but they’re super cute.

We strolled around the park for a while, admiring the view and taking in the relative quiet and calm.  Around us, groups of older folk were gathered together, exercising and enjoying each other’s company.  It was a nice way to walk off our meal and enjoy this beautiful park.

mandoo2On our way back, this particular mandu stand caught our eye.  Apparently it’s a popular mandu that’s cooked in a tandoori-style oven.  Mark even remarked that he remembered seeing a Korean variety show featuring these particular mandu.  The different fillings available were sweet potato, pork, pumpkin, and sweet red bean paste.

mandoo1So of course we had to take a few back with us, for research purposes.  We got the sweet potato, pork, and sweet red bean paste.  I found them to be really dense and heavy, but it might’ve been because they had cooled significantly after our return trip to the hotel.  The fillings were nice, however.

We wanted to return early the next day before our flight to eat more jjajangmyun, but it was raining and the wind was awful.  Alas, we did not make it out to Incheon again to savour one last bowl of jjajangmyun, but we will always have these memories of spending one fine afternoon in Incheon.


4 thoughts on “an incheon afternoon”

  1. This may seem really weird/ironic given that we live in China, but I really miss the Korean-style-Chinese food! I was having the hugest hankering for jjajjangmyeon the other day…and while its a wildly available food here, it just isn’t the same as the Korean stuff. Luckily, the sweet & sour pork is the best I’ve had anywhere in the world. And yes, Chinese people DO actually eat it, hahahaha. I was amazed!

    1. I think I know what you mean about the Korean-Chinese food! It really is like its own separate cuisine. But I’m actually surprised that Chinese people eat sweet & sour pork. I bet it’s nothing like the bastardized version that we get here in the West, though!

  2. I rarely leave a response, however i did a few searching and wound up here an
    incheon afternoon | eat to the fullest. And I
    do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be only me or
    does it look as if like some of the comments look like
    coming from brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are posting at other social sites, I’d like to keep up with everything new
    you have to post. Could you make a list of every one of your public pages like your
    twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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