For me, Korean cuisine extends way beyond Korean barbecue. This culturally rich cuisine has stemmed from a long history dating back to the Manchurians and has influences from Chinese and Japanese cuisines.
Jang Mo Jip, which means “mother-in-law’s house” specializes in sullungtang, a beef soup traditional prepared using beef bones, brisket and offal. It simmers for hours (sometimes over night) in a cauldron, giving it its hearty, milky white consistency.
A Korean friend introduced me to it about four years ago when I told her I wanted pho and she goes “I’ll take you to sullungtang! It’s the Korean version of pho“.
In fact, sullungtang requires just as long a cooking process as pho, one in which the broth is left simmering for an extended period of time, often, overnight until the broth becomes extremely flavorful. And just like pho, it is the broth which is the selling point.
House soup (설렁탕 $6.99) or sullungtang is served with your choice of glass cellophane noodles or rich noodles and topped with sliced beef brisket. I prefer the glass noodles because I like its chewy consistency over the ‘flour’-based alternative.
Traditionally, sullungtang arrives with condiments on the side which you then add according to your taste. There is sea salt and scallions but I also like to add a dollop of chili paste to spice things up.
Unlike Korean barbecue, where banchan (side dishes) are plentiful, only two types are served with sullungtang — kimchi and kkagdduki (cubed daikon kimchi).
The reasoning behind only two banchan is that they have to be marinated to such perfection to hold up to the simplicity of the sullungtang. A hard feat to live up to, but they pull it off with such fanfare because everything is made fresh in-house, including the other banchan served with other menu items.
There are several places in Garden Grove which serves sullungtang, but Jang Mo Jip has one of the best. This is the kind of stuff I love to eat for breakfast on a nippy morning.
Besides sullungtang, Jang Mo Jip also has a wide variety of other traditional soups and stews on its menu. One of the items I’ve tried is Kongbiji (콩비지$7.99) and it is here I was introduced to it for the very first time. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s available anywhere else in Orange County (please let me know if it is).
Essentially, it is a ground soybean stew using okara, the pulp of soy beans ground very fine. Pork adds flavor to this otherwise vegetarian dish. It is seasoned with their house spicy soy sauce blend which makes it not only very flavorful, but so nutritious and hearty you don’t even need rice (even though it comes with your meal) because it is so filling on its own.
Okara is widely used in Japanese cuisine and I used to make little soybean cakes with okara adding bits of vegetables in there to feed my son when he was little. They’re my take on rissoles which uses potatoes and meat.
Besides soups and stews, they also serve Haemul Pajun (해물파전 $9.99/$12.99), a seafood and scallion pancake I love, but not often prepared well.
The one here is crispy on the outside and remained crispy until our meal was over. It is a little thicker than others I’ve had (another favorite is from Soonwon Galbi in LA’s Koreatown) and the dipping sauce is also very appealing.
If you like octopus, Nakji Bokkum (낚지복음 $11.99/$14.99) is definitely something you should order. I love this dish with steaming hot rice. Octopus is sauteed with vegetables such as yellow onions, zucchini, carrots, scallions and gojujang, a Korean red chili paste. It is slightly sweet and not spicy enough for me, but so addictive.
Pork Belly Bossam (돼지보쌈 $15.99/$19.99) is one of those treats you want to share with a bunch of people. The finest cut of pork belly is poached and then sliced and served with Napa cabbage, and dried daikon kimchi.
It is eaten as a wrap so you assemble it by taking a piece of Napa cabbage, a slice of pork belly and top it with the daikon, pick it up and take a bite.
I can’t explain how decadent this tastes and I’m not a big fan of fatty meats, but the pork belly here has only thin layers of fat, which is why I say it is the best cut of pork belly ever!
The menu here has slowly been expanding after they moved locations from the small hole-in-the-wall to its current, more spacious address. They have added an item no other Korean restaurant carries — Seaweed soup (미역국 $6.99), or better known as “birthday soup”. Every time I make my way to Jang Mo Jip, it is to eat sullungtang, but I guess my next visit I must make it a point to include this soup in my meal. Maybe I should go on my birthday, that way I will have NO excuse not to order it!
Jang Mo Jip
9816 Garden Grove Blvd
Garden Grove, CA 92844