As I confided some time ago, I usually try to avoid writing reviews about bad places. I mean, I should take it like a man and move on, shouldn’t I? Usually I move on, but this, this horrendous experience eating budae jjigae has been indelibly and forever etched in my mind as not only one of Korea’s, but also the universe’s, worst foods.
Though I appreciate the history of budae jjigae (dating back to the Korean War), and can understand why this ‘army base stew’, incorporating American food (like spam or hot dogs) in a Korean traditional spicy dish, was popular, if not precious in the aftermath of the devastating war, it is a mystery for me why this stuff still survives today. Its list of ingredients sounds so wrong from the start: ground beef (the only acceptable forms of ground beef are in hamburger patties & chili), baked beans (okay… I guess), garlic (I like garlic so this is a pass), green onions (green onions are present in all kinds of Korean soups, it’s unavoidable), tofu (it basically is tasteless), some veggies (I strongly disagree with the Korean way of cooking everything (say, meat and vegetable) in a huge pot at the same time, the result is usually well cooked protein, but the greens become something mushy and eventually disgusting), tteok (why?), macaroni (why oh why????), sliced hotdogs (ew), ham (aka. Spamalot, aka. the most horrifying thing on a supermarket’s self; sorry if I sound mean, but I won’t back off), processed cheese (read: gooey plastic), instant noodle (equally health-damaging as processed ham & hot dog but less disgusting, maybe), and as a shroud hiding the terror that lies beneath, a generous amount of gochuchang is added. Understandable. Sometimes you have to deactivate your tastebud to survive a horrible meal.
I still bitterly remember the friend’s and I’s first and last time trying budae jjigae at 공룡 부대찌개 (Dinosaur Budae jjigae; I know right, even the name sounds wrong). I had read about budae jjigae before, and still remember being disgusted solely by reading its ingredients. But while homo sapiens may not be a political animal, he is certainly curious… and so I have always been curious as to what this thing would taste like. The friend was equally curious… Before we knew it, we found ourselves seated inside the restaurant:
We chose the first item (dinosaur budae jjigae) 7000 KRW/per head:
And this is how a 14000 KRW pot looks -.- You can detect all the ingredients I listed above:
The friend and I ended up only eating the veggies, the ground beef, the tofu & the beans. It was 14000 KRW, and no matter how badly we wanted to get our money’s worth, we just couldn’t stuff anything else into our mouths. I could use a wide variety of harsh words here, but hope that you get my point. Maybe it’s just the two of us, as other customers seemed quite happy with their pots (and there must be a reason that Spamalot is everywhere in Korea), but budae jjigae tops our food black list, and I doubt if there exists any worse food not consumed out of necessity.
공룡 부대찌개 is a chain and so far I have seen 3 branches in Sinchon, Yonhui-dong, and Hongdae. This is the review for 공룡 부대찌개 in Yonhui-dong. If you are still curious about what budae jjigae tastes like, simply go to http://map.naver.com and search for 부대찌개 (budae jjigae).