Andongjang (安東莊)

Friday, 26 February 2016

I've always wanted to try Korean Chinese food when we were in the country, but it was never our intention to visit Andongjang (안동장) or 安東莊, nor was it on my list of "restaurants to go". However, it turned out to be the most perfect place to eat black bean noodles (jajangmyeon 자장면), sweet and sour pork (tangsuyuk 탕수육), and spicy seafood noodle soup (jjamppong 짬뽕) all at once. (We actually ordered the non-spicy version of the jjamppong when we were there.) FYI, Andongjang opened since 1948 and is the oldest Chinese restaurant in Seoul.

I loved everything, even the side dishes. The jajangmyeon noodles were cooked well and the black bean sauce was flavourful. The non-spicy jjamppong was also good, but I realised after we had ordered the dish why it's better with a bit of heat. But the highlight of the meal was definitely the tangsuyuk. The only variation of sweet and sour pork I've ever had is my dad's—called gu lou yuk 古佬肉 in Cantonese—which I do like, but it's not as good as its Korean version because even when the tangsuyuk at Andongjang was drenched in sauce, it still managed to retain its crispiness.

In general, the main differences between the two are as follows: tangsuyuk consists of thin, long pieces of fried meat while gu lou yuk is less battered and more cubed. The sweet and sour sauce in gu lou yuk is commonly red in colour, while it's almost clear in tangsuyuk. (When it first came out, I was like: "Did they give us the wrong order?") The former dish also contains greens (like peas and cucumber) which are not used in gu lou yuk (red and green bell peppers are preferred).

Maybe I wasn't actually looking properly, but I was quite surprised how hard it was to actually find (Korean) Chinese food in Seoul—like you have to actually seek one out. But other than the food, what I really liked about the restaurant was the atmosphere and service. I think we were the only tourists there when we visited, but you know a restaurant is a good when most of the customers are older locals. We were also served by a kind, old man of a Chinese background, who spoke so fluently in Korean, but still had a strong Chinese accent when speaking in Mandarin. #amazed

Andongjang (安東莊)
124 Euljiro, Jung-gu, Seoul
서울 중구 을지로 124

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