Our journey back brought us through Sinsa station, the station around Gejang Alley. An area known for restaurants specializing in ganjang gejang, raw crabs marinated in soy sauce. It was a bit early for dinner though. So what to do. Stop by of course. Early meant no crowds and no need to make reservations (luckily I was correct).
The place was easy to find and very close to the SMRT station. Inside the place was nice. A bit modern with a touch of tradition. That being, cubed sections of tables with, my favorite invention that should be in every restaurant, the help button. Awesome. We were seated immediately. It was 5pm, not too many tourists yet. They would soon line up after we finished our meal. We couldn’t quite figure out who was serving us. It seemed like whoever we could get a hold of would help us out. But there wasn’t any one person checking in on us. I guess it was really busy. Still, that shouldn’t be an excuse. Anyways, just a minor drawback. We got our food in a timely manner.
One thing to note was that they only serve female crabs. Best way to guarantee there would be crab roe. However, on this day they only had small. I was disappointed until we actually started eating. Small would be the best size because this was the first time I’m trying this stuff. A bit of a risk committing to large.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the whole experience, full of first time eats.
Pro Ganjang Gejang (프로간장게장)
Seoul, South Korea
Verdict: Definitely try this place out if you don’t want to take any chances. This place is a tourist spot though. Expect crowds.
You can say this was our filler, the rice dish. Though this was nothing to cast aside. Once you mix the ingredients, the egg and crab roe really give the rice a nice boost of flavor. I had to ask for another bowl of rice to be the actual filler as we polished off this dish.
Live octopus. Yep, I had to try it. If you won't like something squirming in your mouth, this might not be for you. It was okay for me. The sesame oil has a bit of salt and that adds a bit of flavor, but nothing that keeps you in awe. It's all about the texture which is firm, chewy, and a bit hard to manage if it sticks to your teeth. On that note, it was certainly fresh and I can't imagine this dish being prepared any better.
Here's the staple dish, raw female crab marinated in soy sauce, carefully prepared so each bite gives you a taste of the roe, innards, and of course the crab meat. It's a bit difficult to describe the texture. Soft yet it held its continuity. So one bite a slurp will get most of the meat out of the soften shells. In all honesty, my first bite had me at "wtf?" It was chilled and the texture was way off what I expected. Only after I continued did I start enjoying it. And yeah, it started to get addicting real quick.
Up next was the spicy version and this my friend was my favorite. It was delicious. Spicy enough to make me wish for a beer without overpowering the crab meat. One thing I do appreciate was how it masked that raw crab smell. I know that's what one would expect. It's just that minus that scent makes this all the more pleasing.
Yes, it doesn't look too appealing. But if you're a fan of the tomalley, you can imagine the taste of this. Mixed with the Korean chili paste, the tastes was brought to a whole new level. Most of the grimy flavors get subdued by the sweet heat. Might not be what you want. For me, it was good!