Man Chun Hong is another place that has been on my list since 2006. Not being a giant kimchi fan, Korean places tend to keep getting leap-frogged by other cuisine in the area. This Sunday morning, we were heading up Buford Highway and I read a few Yelp reviews on the way. Everyone was raving about this menu, as the chef was Chinese-born, but raised in Korea, and how that led to interesting takes on Korean dishes.
And they were all talking about one particular dish – jja jang myyon (or jjajangmeyon / cha chiang mien – depending on where you see it written).
First to arrive was the compulsory bowl of kimchee, giving away the Korean nature of the place, despite the Chinese looking interiors – except for the giant plate glass window which looks into the kitchen, you’d think you were in any nice Chinese restaurant. Ignoring the kimchi (which sat on the table like the elephant in the room), we waited instead for the hot and sour soup for two.
It arrived steaming and was excellent. Sweeter than most that I’ve had, and without that fishy taste that ruins a bowl for me, it was perfectly spicy and sour. If hot and sour soup is the litmus test for a good Chinese (in this case Korean-Chinese) restaurant, as it is for me – like salsa in a Mexican place – we were in store for a good meal. We ordered two entrees, to share. The first to arrive was the empress chicken.
Empress chicken is a spicy chicken dish in a sauce that is mostly soy sauce, sugar, white vinegar, garlic and cornstarch. This is a traditional Sichuan dish and one of my go-to meal choices in a Sichuan restaurant. This version was very good.
And the second entree is where the jja jang myyon comes into play. A slightly chewy noodle is topped with a thick, salty, sticky black sauce of fermented black beans, filled with onion, pork and dried shrimp and julienned cucumber. It arrives in two bowls, which you mix yourself.
One of the big selling points about this dish at Man Chun Hong is that they make (and pull) their own noodles. I did not see this happen, but it took long enough for the dish to arrive that they could have been. We combined the bowls and here’s the result:
How was it? Salty, chewy and fairly tasty. Umami-filled. We had enough food when we were done that we thought we’d take the left overs home, so we asked for advice about warming it up as we left. The guy behind the register said that we should heat up the sauce on the stove, in a pot, and warm the noodles in the microwave. We said that we’d already combined them and he just shook his head…