There are a few rules I keep when I blog:
(1) I almost never ever use the word “authentic” because if you go to Thailand, you’ll eat hundreds of variations of pad thai. “Authentic” means there can only be one version. But I will use “authentic” on Jangwon Restaurant.
(2) I almost never return to a restaurant because there are so many new restaurants to try and I’m not rich, so my resources only allow me to eat at a place once. But I went to Jang Won not once, not twice, but 6 times.
Panjeon (spring onion pancake, $11)
To tell the truth, there is nothing very special about JangWon. It is run by a Korean family, and on weekends, you can see their teenage daughter helping out. But there is just something so comfortable, so inviting in the casual restaurant, like I am their guest, invited to a meal in their sanctuary, into their home.
The food is consistently good and authentic. There, I said it. The food hasn’t yet given me the tears-welling-in-the-eyes orgasm that some ambrosial food give me. I mean “authentic” in the sense that it evokes nostalgia in me and brings me back to Korea. Not just Korea, but rural Korea, folk villages where food is simple, rough around the edges, without subtlety, but nevertheless, tasty and satisfying. Even the decor on the walls is bucolic–I recognized that the masks hanging on the wall are from Andong Village, Korea, where I visited.
I use the word, “authentic,” by which I mean there is a “feel” of Korea, but in fact, many dishes tasted different from what I had in Korea. The kimchi soup ($14, with canned tuna $15) had giam chai, salted vegetables, which made it spicy and salty, and appetizing. The mul naengmyeon (cold noodles, $15) had slices of pear, which gave it a fruity tang.
Another dish that was quite different was dak bokkumtang ($32), the spicy chicken stew. It had an intense and pleasant sweetness so the spice came only as an aftertaste.
The best dish was so galbi (short rib, $26), with an option of them bbq-ing in the kitchen or you bbq-ing yourself at the table. It was marinated so thoroughly that even the lettuce (additional $3) couldn’t deter the sweetness. Another bbq meat, jumulleok ($32, prime steak) was decent too.
I spent different amounts on various occasions. The cheapest was about $18/pax, ordering only a bibimbap, and the most expensive was about $50/pax. But even when I was paying $50, I thought it was worth the experience of escaping into a rural haven.
Jang Won Korean Restaurant
44 Mosque Street #01-01 Singapore 059522
T: 6532 6949
M-F: 11.30am-2.30pm; 5.30-10pm
Weekend & PH: 5-10pm
Rating: 3.562/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.