Friday, January 29, 2010

Makchang - Seoul, Korea (Gangnam Station)

If you can read Korean, you will see that the sign clearly says Makchang, which means large intestines in Korean. Now, Jung and I decided to eat in Gangnam one day by ourselves and up until this point, we've either eaten at places I've tried before or places my mom or other family members have taken us to. This time we decided to just roam around and pick something on our own. There were literally rows and rows of restaurants on every street and somehow we ended up here ... by accident, of course.

We were walking down one of the BBQ alleys and couldn't really decide which one to try. They all looked the same. So we decided to base it on a place that looked pretty busy. Jung's been wanting to try to eat at a pojangmacha place, a tented restaurant where they sell drinks and grilled meats. We saw a tent with lots of people inside, didn't see the sign at all or care to look at it, and went in. In our defense, I would just like to point out that it was cold so we didn't look up at the sign and this picture was taken after our meal. =)

The lady brought out some side dishes. Some chives, kimchi and some doenjang paste and sesame seed oil and salt to dip the meat in. She asked what we wanted to order, I asked her what was good and she said the spicy pork and the grilled beef were the most popular dishes. So we ordered one of each. We looked around and observed the crowd amongst us and they were all young and looked to be enjoying the food. We patted ourselves on the back for picking a good place on our own.

Here's what came out. Jung and I both looked at each other and said, what the heck is this??? Then we looked outside the tent and saw the sign and realized where we were and then started cracking up.

Apparently, makchang gui (grilled large intestine) is a popular delicacy in the Daegu region of Korea and clearly other patrons of this restaurant were big fans. I'm not a very squeamish eater, but my imagination gets the best of me sometimes and when I start to visualize what part of the animal a particular dish is from, I get a little nervous. We could have just paid for our meal and left right there, but Jung and I decided to be good sports about it and try it.

I tried the spicy pork intestine first thinking, I bet I won't even taste anything because of the sauce. Wrong ... it was very chewy and the seasoning had a weird aftertaste, which didn't help my cause. So I tried the beef intestine instead. Chewy again but with pockets of fat that seemed to squirt out when you chewed. Umm ... this was going to be more difficult than I imagined.

In the end, we tried our best, but probably in the first time while we were in Seoul, we actually had leftovers. We also had some mae hwa soo, a plum wine, which was quite tasty. It's kind of on the sweet side, as you can gather from the floral motif, and reminded me of elderflower liquor.

We talked to my mom afterwards and told her what happened and she got a good laugh out of it. I told her we weren't the biggest fans of makchang, but she said that it can be really good if it's grilled till it's crispy. I think something was wrong with our grill because we couldn't get the pieces to char. We both had no idea so we ate it while it was still on the chewy side, but cooked - thank God.

I told Jung that this counted as my Andrew Zimmern moment of the trip and that I was off the hook for the rest of the trip. He's been on my case the whole time about trying bun daegi (cooked silk worm cocoons), but after this meal, he seemed to have dropped the issue all together, to my relief. Phew.


  1. next time we're in seoul together. we're eating bundaegi. no excuses

  2. 막창 actually means "end of intestine." It's still part of the large intestine, true. But more specifically in pork it's rectum, in beef it's the 4th and final stomach.

    Anywho, I'd recommend asking for scissors and cutting it up real thin. Then cooking it to a crisp. Makchang is actually my favorite food this way :)