I like Seoul and all its diverse ranges of food and cultural venues, but soon enough new places start running out and sadly so does my creativity when it comes to choosing a good one to hang out. In addition to my pent-up frustration, the weather is at its worst these days (raining mornings, wet snow and blowing winds etc.) which makes every Friday aka the only time of the week I have a full day off a problem. This weekend, in order to celebrate non-existent Thanksgiving in Korea aka a reasonable excuse to get out of Seoul, I headed to Incheon and spent the day walking around Korea’s only official Chinatown.
This post is pretty personal what with my face plastered all over on photos, trivial complaints and cat-centered stories so…you have been warned.
Incheon’s Chinatown is located at the very end of subway’s line 1 – a usually crowded line that for some reason is especially filled with old people and depressed individuals. It took us more than an hour and a half sitting in a train to finally get there and I’d never had more fun riding a subway before. By the time the train was approaching the final stop, all of the cars were empty save few lone sad-looking people sitting here and there who gave zero attention to the outside world, which was the perfect opportunity for me to take pictures the way I wanted for the first time inside the train lol. And before you look at the pictures, I’m SORRY you have to see this.
Chinatown was empty like a dead city when we arrived despite the fact that it was a sunny and beautiful Friday afternoon. I know I’ve always stressed how I hate crowds with a burning passion, but it was a bit unsettling to see a place that was supposed to burst with people and noises so deserted, so lazy. Besides all of the buildings looked incredibly fake and half-assed. Chinatown of all other places I’ve ever been to has never been like this, which makes this experience both strange and surprisingly discouraging to me
We looked around for a while before our stomach growled desperately for food. Being in Korea’s Chinatown means you have two options for food: Chinese jjamppong and jajangmyeon. No offense but I think Korean jajangmyeon is really bad. And by saying Korean I mean it’s the Korean version of the dish that I dislike, not the food itself. It’s overly greasy, artificially sweet and as uncreative as one dish can be. So to sum up the purpose of this trip, you could say I only went to Chinatown for the Chinese fried sauce noodles Zhajiangmian. There were too many restaurants, some looking incredibly imposing and some humble thus the price also varied quite differently. In the end we chose the restaurant we saw first and also had the cheapest price lol. I didn’t take picture of the restaurant but it was the one really close to the entrance with a huge poster of a chef holding some dish and SBS used to film here so you could see the advertisement visibly pop out right next to the chef’s face.
We had 2 bowls of zhajiangmian (4000 KRW) and a basket of steamed Chinese dumplings (4500 KRW).
The most interesting part of eating zhajangmian is probably the part where I mixed up the noodles and the sauce. It created a kinda really…funny sound, like when you squeeze the bubble wrap or walk in mud and they make funny noise? This sound though was, for the lack of a better word, wetter and made us laugh while mixing the noodles.
Although there was a really significant difference between this dish and the jajangmyeon I’d had before, I thought it wasn’t that oh-so-amazing kind of delicious. The sauce was less thick than that of the Korean one. The noodles were moist and silky. Still, I wouldn’t eat it in the next 5 years or so.
Without the chili powder I believe I couldn’t finish a bowl of grease like this. A little boost in spice really made all the difference.
The dumplings were quite juicy and nicely steamed, which made the skin soft but not to the point soggy. Most importantly though, each dumpling was filled with full of meat and nothing else.
After that we stopped by a famous pie shop in a corner (you’ll see it right away when you get there) and bought this pie just because it looked like mooncake to us. The pie had different fillings such as nuts, pumpkin. Mine was black sesame.
And then I saw them…
A cat family with a mother and her four little children!!! And if you think I’m not going to stop doing whatever I am doing to look at them then you don’t know me at all.
This buddy (left one) was my favourite. The baby just stood there, taking short naps and being super chilled with my phone camera’s sound. It barely moved around like others. Little had I known it was a runt :(.
Some more touristy pix
The trip to Chinatown was as uneventful as it was boring and disappointing so it’s up to you whether or not to check this place out really. As for me, Korea’ Chinatown has been officially listed in my personal book of never-to-return places.