Friday, September 14, 2012

ジャジャンハウス (Jyajyan House in Okubo)

ジャジャンハウス

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Korean-style Chinese food in Japan. That sums up Jyajyan House in Okubo.

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Okubo is Tokyo's Korea-town, for those out of the loop. But like the Yokohama China-town, it has taken on an uber-touristy feel. With the boom of K-pop fandom in Japan (I'm looking at you mid 30s to 50s Japanese housewives!) the place is a bit of a madhouse these days. I'm talking fleets of tour buses at noon on a weekday.

There are plenty of Korean staples. Yakiniku, bibimbap, and chijimi shops along the whole block. There are even a few places to get ramyeon, that Korean cousin of ramen.

Most Korean noodle spots here use instant noodles. Not interested.

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Apart from the kimchi, this isn't very Korean***. True to the sign on the shop's door, this is Chinese with a Korean twist. The noodles are hand made on site, lamein style.

***I shouldn't make assumptions about Korea, since I know very little about noodle culture there. According to a reader's comment, this combo is quite common in Korea, and is maybe the quintessential Korean-Chinese noodle dish.

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Probably the number one item on the menu is the double plate of jyajyamen and champon. The champon is chock full of strange seafood bits. Strange by a Western standard. But, remember, this is Korean-style Chinese food in Japan. That's a lot of east.

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And, they deliver.

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東京都新宿区歌舞伎町2-32-17
Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukicho 2-32-17
Closest station: Shin-Okubo

Open 11:00-3:00am

4 comments:

heller66 said...

"Not very Korean"? Au contraire, mon frere. "Jjamjjamen" or the combination of Korean style champon and Korean style ja-ja-men is the most quintessentially Korean dish there is. It is as Korean as Japanese curry is Japanese, wherever it may have come from originally.

I am Korean-American so I went through a weird love hate relationship with Korean-Chinese food where it was my favorite food, then I rejected it as a crappy bastardized and inferior version of authentic Chinese food, then learned to accept it as something I liked, whether it was authentic or not. Having said that I can't stand the Korean-Chinese food in Shinokubo, it is just too expensive . . . the best jjajjangmen I ever had was in a hole in the wall in Kyongju, it cost 2,200 won (about 150 yen). Even in the US a good bowl costs around $5, Shinokubo shops are such a horrible ripoff.

Brian said...

Thanks so much for the comment. I had no idea that this combo played a role in Korean cuisine. Interesting that the Koreans would take these two totally different noodle dishes and serve them side by side.

1200 yen for this combo was high, even by Tokyo standards. Shinokubo gets a lot of business these days, so it makes sense that prices would be high.

heller66 said...

Yes. I don't live too far from Shinokubo and I do like it (and there is quite good Korean food there) but the weekend crowds there are completely insane. I rarely go . . . the Japanese have driven me out of Tokyo K-town, how ironic.

I was unnecessarily harsh but I think you can understand that the point of things like jyajyan is that it is good and CHEAP. It isn't something like Basanova ramen where you can consider it beyond simply price. Expensive Korean Chinese food is an anathema, like a Korean restaurant that charges for kimchi. Sigh. I love Japan but so much of their "Korean" culture is an affront to actual Korean culture.

Dennis K. said...

Hey Brian, hope you're doing well. I see jajangmyeon in a lot of Korean fast food stalls, wondered about it but never tried. I've actually heard in the past that it's a dish so etched into the culture that some often don't know about the Chinese origins!