You might already know that jjajangmyeon is one of Korea’s favourite Chinese dishes, but do you know its origins and the reason for its immense popularity in Korea?
We went to Chinatown in Incheon out of pure curiosity, to see how the Chinese in Korea live. I think it is always interesting to see how your own culture is adapted and shown in other countries. That being said, even Chinese culture in Singapore has its differences from that in China.
In any case, the Chinese food in Korea is already pretty foreign to us. Jajangmyeon is one of the food that looks slightly different from the 炸酱面 (zhajiangmian) that Chinese eat (which we don’t really eat in Singapore anyway). Tangsuyuk is also different from the 糖醋肉 (tangcurou) that the Chinese usually eat (I know this as sweet add sour pork, at least in Singapore). Food is, indeed, a very good reflection of culture and lifestyle habits. If you want to know a bit more about Chinese food in Korea (sorry because I’m not an expert on this), you can read a Wikipedia page on this.
*UPDATED: This location was featured in Suits!
The museum is pretty small, with only 2 storeys. It was also a tad hard to find – we walked a few rounds around Chinatown to locate this. Admission is really cheap as well, with a 1000won ticket giving you access to more than one museum!
Here’s an overview of what the museum offers (taken from KTO’s website):
[Exhibition Hall 1] History of Chinese Immigrants and Jajangmyeon
[Exhibition Hall 2] The Beginning of Jajangmyeon
[Exhibition Hall 3] Gonghwachun Guest Room of the 1930s
[Exhibition Hall 4] The Jajangmyeon Boom Period
[Exhibition Hall 5] Jajangmyeon, an Iconic Symbol of Today
[Exhibition Hall 6] Gonghwachun Kitchen in the 1960s
[Special Exhibition] An exhbition hall for special features and events of the museum
Unfortunately, this museum is not as tourist-friendly as you would expect it to be. The signs are written mostly in Korean and Chinese, with English only available for certain headings and titles. I guess they’re probably targeted at Koreans themselves, the Chinese population in Korea, and Chinese tourists. If you’re not proficient in Korean and Chinese, you might have to resort to guessing what the exhibits mean.
sometimes you don’t even get Chinese descriptions on signs 😦
I’ve got to admit though – the food looks extremely realistic in this museum.
Jjajangmyeon appears way too often in portrayals of the old days in Korea (case in point: Hot Young Bloods). I still have no idea why the statue of the guy on the right has his mouth wide open though.
Chinese food in Korea is also synonymous with delivery. Just in case you are mistaken, you can actually eat Chinese food in Chinese restaurants (usually opened by, of course, the Chinese) but when one mentions order-in in Korea, the first things that come to mind are jjajangmyeon and jjampong.
Our visit ended with this display of instant jjajangmyeon. Besides jjajangmyeon, there’s also jjajangbap (myeon = noodles, bap = rice). I guess it shows how seriously the Koreans take their Chinese food, and I think it’s interesting how it’s so well-loved by the Koreans.
Although we spent just about slightly more than one hour in this museum, I really enjoyed the visit and came out feeling a bit more knowledgeable (haha). It wasn’t too crowded because we went on a weekday afternoon, but it is likely to be more crowded on weekends, as we saw quite a number of Koreans (yes, you read that right) sightseeing in Chinatown. Most of the museum visitors were also Korean, so you’ll likely be expecting a sizeable crowd on weekends.
Individual – Adults 1,000 won / Teenagers 700 won / Children 500 won
Group – Adults 800 won / Teenagers 500 won / Children 400 won
[Combination ticket (via combination ticket system) – Incheon Open Port Modern Architect + Incheon Open Port Museum + Jajangmyeon Museum]
Individual – Adults 1,700 won / Teengagers 1,100 won / Children 800 won
Group – Adults 1,300 won / Teenagers 800 won / Children 500 won
※ Combination tickets can be issued at any of the museums above.
09:00-18:00 (Last admission 17:30)
Address: 56-14, China town-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon
인천광역시 중구 차이나타운로 56-14 (선린동)
Incheon Station (Chinatown) (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 1.
Turn right and walk approx. 50m.
Cross the street and walk into the street on the right.
Walk approx. 100m and turn right.
Walk approx. 90m and look to the left.
For more information, visit KTO’s website here.