On the spectrum of exotic traditional Korean dishes, gobchang veers towards the more adventurous end. But then again, what else would you expect from cooked intestine? For the uninitiated, gobchang comes in multiple varieties. But if you’re new to this dish, you’ll want to go with fried or grilled gobchang.
Grilled or fried, gobchang has a fatty and meaty flavor. And when dipped into salt or garlic-y sauces, it is the definition of savory. I have yet to taste a grilled gobchang that wasn’t incredibly full of flavor. The semi-chewy texture takes some getting used to, but it’s a wonderfully beloved dish that pairs well with a late-night beer or soju.
Jeongob (jun-gob) in the Jongro-3ga neighborhood is famous for their stir-fry style gobchang. It isn’t just the playful atmosphere of the neighborhood (although it helps). The entire street is a huge party and the outdoor seating gives you a front row seat to it all.
When you put in your order, the gobchang is cooked on a huge griddle far before you ever gets to your table. It’s worked into sauces, vegetables and cooked perfectly by someone who knows what they’re doing. Each table is set up with a gas grill, but it’s only there to keep your food warm while you eat.
When the gobchang does reach your table, it’s covered in a pile of shredded cheese. After they prepare a torch (and you fumble with your phone’s camera app), they unceremoniously flambe the dish right before you. It crackles and bubbles while the melted cheese makes a mess of itself. Then, you’re ready.
Is there anything that doesn’t taste better after being smothered in cheese? Maybe that’s the American in me talking, but it’s true. The cheese is nice and gooey, tossing another flavor in the bouquet. It makes grilled gobchang (an admittedly exotic dish) more accessible and lowers the bar for beginners.
Two servings are enough for any couple. Especially if you plan on going for round two at another joint in an hour or two. So we recommend the Cheese Veggie Gobchang (치즈야채곱창) for two (29,000 KRW) and a soju to round out the flavor.
Jeongob is a local hotspot in a neighborhood of hotspots. Weekends are packed and, honestly, so are weekdays. If you’re walking in around 9 PM, expect a wait for an outdoor seat. But I promise, it’s worth it.
For anyone who hasn’t had gobchang or isn’t used to greasy foods, we’d suggest caution. Gobchang tends to be incredibly greasy (which is part of its charm). But it can be too much for some to handle. And for those who decide to take the plunge, it is a delicious treat.
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