Jajangmyun (자장면) is one of the national foods of Korea, you will not find one Korean person who doesn’t like it. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the idea.
The said tasty noodle dish is Chinese in origin. However, it was created with Korean people’s taste in mind, by Chinese restaurateurs, in Incheon. This is why Koreans call jajangmyun Chinese food and Chinese people call it Korean food.
So, is San Tung Chinese Restaurant (산동 – Mountain East) Chinese or Korean?
San Tung is definitely Chinese, with true Chinese food offerings, but they also make the best Korean jajangmyun in California.
You can order two different types of jajang sauce – wet (regular) or dry (gan-jajang). More specific, they serve wet or dry 삼선 자장 samsun jajang, meaning that the sauce has the three seafood ingredients – squid, scallops, and shrimp.
The flavor of San Tung’s jajangmyun leaves nothing to be desired when compared to the authentic Korean ‘Chinese’ restaurants back in the motherland. Everything from the consistency of the sauce, savoriness, just the right amount of sweetness, not overly greasy, and even the preparation of the ingredients… it’s a home run!
The only knock against this ‘oh-so-close-to-perfection’ dish, is that the noodles are still the machine extruded or hand cut variety. Jajangmyun connoisseurs will tell you that the best jajangmyun is with 수타면 sutahmyun (hand pulled – table beaten noodles). I’ve been disappointed with a few places that I have tried, in the Bay Area, that serve sutahmyun jajangmyun. Mainly their sauces have been severely botched in someway.
The other main attractions are the 간풍기 ganpoongi (dry deep-fried soy garlic chicken) and 물만두 mulmandu (steamed/boiled potstickers). The chicken wings are double fried, for extra crispiness, then sauced in a soy based sweet spicy sauce. You can also order the diced boneless breast meat if you don’t like wings. This marvelous concoction at San Tung is some of the best you will find anywhere. So much so, that my friend who travels all around the US, for his work, stated that San Tung’s ganpoongi is the best he’s ever tasted. My frequent visits to the Los Angeles area, the epicenter of Korean-American culture, can back up his claims.
So, my quest continues for the perfect magical unicorn jajangmyun, the dish with the perfect jajang sauce over some great sutahmyun…
[googleMap name=”San Tung Chinese Restaurant” description=”San Tung is on Irving St in between 11th and 12th Ave, in the Sunset Area”]1013 Irving Street San Francisco, CA 94122[/googleMap]