A Legendary Pioneer in Famed Jokbal Neighbourhood
Jangchung-dong Jokbal. The combination of regional and culinary references had become a dictionary term itself. As Chef Park Chain-il reminisces in his best-selling book “Hundred-Year-Old Restaurants”, pig’s feet was not something that you would cook at home. For most Koreans, their first jokbal encounter usually happened at a jokbal restaurant. The oldest and most well-known joints are cluttered in Jangchung-dong, Central Seoul, to form their own Jokbal Town.
Pyeongando Jokbal House is the pioneer who started it all. Owner Lee Gyeong-sun is almost treated like a celebrity, appearing in popular graphic novel “Sikgaek” as herself, the master of braised pig’s feet. The restaurant is featured countless times in all forms of media, but a visit during lunchtime on a weekend would surprise you. No line-ups. The place is quite empty with employees relaxing and chatting. Because jokbal is considered a late-night snack, usually as a side with soju, the place is packed in the evening more so than daytime.
Located next to Jangchungdong Stadium, the old joint had been favoured by star basketball players in the 80’s. Nowadays, professional basketball is not as popular as it used to be in Korea, but grandma’s secret recipe is still drawing the crowds.
Jokbal has become so popular in recent decades that numerous franchises and factory-made jokbal brands appeared in market. Many of them using the title “Jangchungdong” to promote themselves. Rest assure, the pre-made, chain restaurant stuff is no match to the authentic, daily-braised pig’s feet. The meat is tender and has nice herbal aroma. The best part, skin filled with collagen, is jelly-like and melts in your mouth.
The Humble Secret Behind Authentic Jokbal
There are many tasty jokbal joints around Seoul, most of them fairly new in the industry. The young chefs go through hundred of taste-testing and settle with complex recipe. A recipe that may include dozens of Chinese herbs, in attempt to reduce the distinct odour that pig’s feet have. Surprisingly, Pyeongando jokbal’s secret is simpler than imagined: soy sauce, ginger, green onion, and onion.
According to Heo Young-man’s “Sikgaek”, the true secret behind the famous jokbal is the broth. They always use a little bit of leftover broth from the night before to brew a new broth. In a sense, the broth here is more than 50 years old.
Grandma Lee’s know-how on enjoying jokbal? She advises not to wrap the sliced pig’s feet in the lettuce. Back in the days, leafy greens were not provided at jokbal joints. A new trend settled in, but she still believes that best way to eat jokbal is to just lightly dip the soft flesh in salted shrimp or dwenjang sauce. “You are not supposed to wrap the meat in lettuce. Enjoy the meat as is. The nutty, greasy flavour of jokbal is optimized when it stands alone.”
Pyeongando Jokbaljib 평안도족발집
62-16 Jangchungdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Nearest Subway: Dongguk University Station (line 3)