>> Jeunju Restaurant | Eat the World NYC

12 May 2017

Jeunju Restaurant


In Korea and amongst foreigners with an eye (stomach) for gastronomy, Jeonju is a city well-revered for its culinary traditions. Three quarters the way south from the North Korean border to the southern coast, the western city was recognized by UNESCO five years ago for its place in the cultivation of talented chefs. Part of this decision is about their traditions of home-cooking styles and recipes being handed down through generations over thousands of years.

Here at Jeunju Restaurant in Murray Hill, Queens, a small snapshot of this practice seems to be alive and well. The mother and head chef Eunhae Bae is from Jeonju (the spelling differences are just a product of transliteration), and now works with her daughter Sophie who runs the place and loves to tell customers about the distinct styles they employ here in their Flushing restaurant. A picture of mom is on the awning with "Since 1985" underneath, but it seems that this particular place has been open since 1999.

As a group of three, we knew that the gam ja tang jeon gol ($37.99, below) would be enough and left our order at that. A course of ban chan arrived as in any meal, and we started snacking on the fresh plates to ease our hunger.

Ever since Chris Hansen's 2011 gamjatang article introduced me to the dish, I have kept an eye out for places that serve this stew made from the back bone of pigs. His article was specifically about Geo Si Gi, a Northern Boulevard restaurant that we still consider the best place to find it.

When the stew arrived, it was noticeably less red than all other versions previously sampled in the area. As if seeing the question on my face, Ms. Sophie immediately started telling us about her mother's use of ample amounts of sesame in their gamjatang recipe. This creates a much sweeter rendition, and definitely gives their stew a uniqueness.

It is also possible to order a single portion of gamjatang here for $10.99, but this would sadly come without the casserole presentation that makes it more enjoyable and fun. Solo diners are encouraged to enjoy the other house specials like dda ro gook bab, a spicy beef stew, and sam gae tang, an herbal chicken soup.

A plate of sliced green peppers arrives on its own, allowing each diner to prepare their spice levels once the stew is ladled into their individual bowls.

Besides generous hunks of pork neck bones and tender meat, the stew is filled with potatoes and cellophane noodles, while flavored by the sesame, onions, radish greens, and perilla leaves.

Our group of three came nowhere near finishing the stew and had healthy portions for home. The price tag makes dining as at least a group of four very economical. Come at night when the place is busy and bottles of soju will be emptying fast at raucous tables of hungry Koreans. While alcohol is no requirement to enjoy gamjatang, it definitely makes a wonderful meal while drinking.

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Jeun Ju Korean Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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