27 May

I am proud to say that other than dog soup, I have never hesitated to try new food that I encountered in the past of my life. Two years ago, when I first traveled to Korea, I had a taste of a noodle dish called “Jajjangmyeon”, and since then, jajjangmyeon has became my favorite kind of noodle.

  I met up with a Korean friend during my stay in Seoul, and she  suggested my family to go to a Chinese restaurant after hearing that I had kimchi and Kalbi for every meal. At first, I was really reluctant, thinking that I would rather have kimchi again rather than something I could easily get at home. However, we still paid a visit to the Chinese restaurant because she insisted. When we got to our destination, I was really surprised by how “Chinese” the Chinese restaurant was. The banner was in Chinese characters and the interior was decorated with red lanterns hanging on the ceiling and Chinese calligraphic painting on the walls. It was more like what you can see in a movie rather than a restaurant. However, as we read through the menu, we found there really wasn’t anything familiar other than “Jajjangmyeon” which sounded pretty much alike and shared the same kanjis with “zhajiangmian” , a typical kind of noodle you can find everywhere on the street of China and Taiwan..Had no idea what the other food would be , we chose to go for the jajjangmyeon recommended by my friend.


After a long wait, our jajjangmyeon was finally brought on by the waitress. It was served in a white ceramic bowl with egg noodles covered with glistening, thick black sauce and some cucumber strings on the top. Frankly, I felt a bit disgusted by its gluey appearance at the beginning, but as soon as I took the first bite, I had fallen in love with its indescribable taste. The sauce was sweet and salty at the same time, with sauteed onions and ground pork that even made it better. And the noodle itself was really chewy that one just can’t stop having one bite after another. I was completely satisfied with the taste, yet more startled by the fact that it does not resemble anything like the Chinese Zhaijiangmain even they do share the same ingredients such as grounded meat and cucumbers. I was even more astonished later when I learned that Jajjangmyeon is acknowledged as one of the national food of Korea and was even chosenone of the top 100 Korean cultural symbols when it
 is fairly clear that this dish was originated from Chinese food. But when I rethought about it, I could understand fully why although it was served in a Chinese restaurant but at the same time an authentic Korean cuisine.

Chinese ZhajiangmianChinese Zhajiangmian

To me, what makes up an authentic cuisine is more than just the taste and the ways of preparing it. The location or settings of course are other important facts to add up a dish’s authenticity. However, the most indispensable element would be  people whom were involved in the process of preparing, serving and eating. In my opinion, food is more than what to sustain human life and to suffice our taste buds. Every dish has its cultural and historical background. And that is also the reason why I believe only the indigenous people who understand the culture of where the dish is from could produce the most authentic cuisines.

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