Samgyeopsal in Yokohama
Famous Korean BBQ: Samgyeopsal
I’d like to introduce you to one of the most famous Korean BBQ dish, the “Samgyeopsal”. Today’s adventure will be the one I tasted in Yokohama.
Yokohama is the birthplace of Omurice (Omelette made with fried-rice) and it houses Japan’s largest Chinatown.
There are so many delicious foods in this huge place so let me introduce them to you one by one.
I went to a Korean restaurant there yesterday so today, I’d like to talk about a specific Korean dish: the “Samgyeopsal”, which still remains in my stomach as I write these lines.
Well, now it’s pretty much digested so it’s not much of a Samgyeopsal anymore.^^
Yokohama is famous for its Chinatown but it also hold a Koreatown. But I don’t mean to introduce you to Korean restaurants from Yokohama’s Koreatown. Sadly, I don’t like much the Korean food there.
Food in there makes me feel a bit lonely. Maybe the day will come when it’ll have changed. If it ever does, that’s when I’d like to introduce them to you.
I don’t mean to say is that Korean the food from Koreatown is that bad but personally I wouldn’t recommend it to others.
“Samgyeopsal” is a Korean dish and means “pork belly meat”, which is the meat normally used for Bacon.
“Sam gyeop” means three layered, and “sal” means meat or flesh.
In human anatomy for exemple, they are the muscles connecting the chest and the pelvis.
Such as external oblique, internal oblique, and Transversus Adbominis.
In Japan, they call these parts “Buta-no-Baraniku”.
The famous Korean grilled beef dish called “Galbi Gui” is a cut from the cow’s spare ribs. Once some of the unneeded fats from the ribs removed, it becomes a delicious spare ribs BBQ.
It’s a very popular Korean BBQ.
So “Galbi Gui” is the most popular Korean beef BBQ. Beef “Galbi” (ribs) are the part that confines the beef’s belly.
So Korean are most fond of both pork’s and beef’s belly parts.
On the other hand, and don’t be surprised by what’s following, in Korea the pork’s hind legs or hamstring (the parts used to produce Ham) are not popular at all!!
Why on earth do Korean love pork’s belly so much more than the other parts?
The reason is because Koreans sacrificed everything to “the export (growing industry and economy boom)”during the dictatorship rule in Korea.
Why am I talking about this so seriously? Plz, let me tell you.
During the 1960’ to 1970’s Korean government promoted the breeding of pigs, but unfortunately they were not meant for Korean people, it was for oversea exports.
Korean produced pork and exported the expensive parts such as hamstring and tenderloin so most Koreans couldn’t eat those parts. Well, some people may enjoy to eat them but most of them still can’t.
Instead, the remaining parts would be consumed in Korea. They were not expensive nor good parts.
The pig’s parts which Koreans can eat are the shoulder for Spam, the feet left over from hind legs for ham, the skin, the head, the spine, the internal organs of pig… and there are one more left…
Yes, pork’s belly for Bacon.
How Korean eat these parts….
Well, Humans become wise when they want to eat delicious food.
We can try everything to be able to eat something more delicious.
The shoulder have to be cut as thin as possible and grilled. They have some fats with the flesh and it’s enjoyable as grilled meat (Pork Bulgogi).
The pig’s feet… well…
Feet are the smelly parts, aren’t they? So Korean eliminate the smell from pork feet, boil them with miso and soy sauce, add a whole garlic and ginger and a pinch of cinnamon as well.
Sometimes we can add coffee too.
Boils it well and reduce the temperature, you finally obtain a unique taste from tendon, cartilage and its skin.
The harmony obtained from boiling pork feet is amazing.
The texture of flesh and fat, cartilage and skin are combined together when you chew it.
It is called “Jokbal”.
In Japanese it’s called “Tonsoku” and Yakiniku restaurants serves it as well.
Korean boil the pork’s back and spine to make the soup and boil lots of vegetables and potatoes together. It is called “Gamjatang”.
Grilled pork skin is a precious food which brought comfort to the hard workers in the past.
They enjoyed them with Soju.
Nowadays, people enjoy it for its unique taste. Mostly grilled.
There are many ways to eat the meat from the pork’s head and organs in Korea.
It would be too long of a story if I were to tell you all of these in details, so I will just limit myself to talk about typical Korean cuisine.
They are “Sundae” (Korean blood sausage) and “Gukbap” (Soup with rice).
And of course our dear Samgyeopsal.
Samgyeopsal was using the best meat part available to Korean at the time.
The good parts to grill is where the meat and fat are layered up together so that when you chew the meat you’ll gently feel the deliciousness of fat and meat merging in your mouth.
Pork belly is such a tasty meat and in fact, beef ribs are similar.
Korean had to find the good parts remaining in the beef once the sirloin and tenderloin parts exported to other countries.
We only had ribs left to enjoy.
It’s also close to the belly area so… you know our bellies are… layered with fats and meats.
So once the pork’s good parts exported, Koreans were left with a good portion of the pork and loved it. After that we enjoyed beef ribs.
In the 1980s, beef ribs began to become famous.
Beef ribs became very popular, and it was bound to become expensive. In the 1990’s Samgyeopsal took over the popularity of beef ribs.
Then the price of Samgyeopsal rose as well, and it became quite more expensive than before.
For now, the most famous and loved cheap meat for Korean people is deep fired Chicken (called Chimaek which means Fried chicken and beer).
To summarize, in the 1980’s beef ribs was popular in Korea and then Samgyeopsal became famous in the 90’s. And after many years leading to the 2010’s, Korean ended loving Chimaek after all.
These pictures below are “Samgyeopsal” I ate in Korea.
However, all of what I’ve been telling you is what happened in Korea, but there are some differences between this and Korean food oversea.
Every cultures takes some time to spread to other areas.
We saw that in the 90s in Korea, Samgyeopsal was very popular but as for the Koreatown in Japan, Samgyeopsal wasn’t as popular.
Samgyeopsal in Shin-okubo has been the best since the past five years. Today, every Korean restaurants in Japan serve Samgyeopsal.
The pictures below is the Samgyeopsal I eat in a Koreatown restaurant in Shin-okubo a few years ago.
I introduced Samgyeopsal in Tokyo in my manga titled <I Want to Feed Yumin>.
I decided to introduce a Samgyeopsal served by a Korean restaurants from somewhere else because it’s a little boring to introduce the Samgyeopsal from Shin-okubo.
But today I realize it was the wrong decision. I should have introduced a restaurant from Shin-okubo…
Anyway there is a good place for Samgyeopsal aside from Koreatown’s restaurants.
It’s a Korean restaurant chain in Japan called “Ifuu”.
I visited there a long time ago and my first impression wasn’t good.
They don’t even have the basic form of Korean food. I couldn’t feel anything at all.
But the Ifuu in Marunouchi is a very nice place. Their atmosphere is good and the food is very nice so when my friends come to Tokyo, I usually bring them there.
That’s why I’d like to introduce the Ifuu restaurant from Marnouchi to you.
Here’s the scene introducing Samgyeopsal in <I want to feed Yumin>.
This Ifuu restaurant in Marunouchi really exists.
Because it’s a good restaurant and because I introduced it in my work, the editors in Shueisha had a new year party there.
But now the taste has changed a bit and the kind and nice waitress who could speak Korean no longer works here.
You can see her in <I Want to Feed Yumin>.
I haven’t been there for awhile.
Then, I found an Ifuu restaurant in Yokohama.
This story is way, way too long so I’ll finish by introducing this place to you.
The restaurant is in the center of Yakohama and is located in the building you see in the right side corner.
It’s kinda expensive for Samgyeopsal… for that amount.
The Samgyeopsal from the Koreatown in Shin-okubo normally cost about 1 000 yen, and Ifuu in Marunouchi is also 1 100 yen. But in here it is quite more expensive than other places.
However, even then I have two reasons to introduce you to this place.
The first reason is… they have a great view.
And the second reasons, the most important thing, you can enjoy very nice raw vegetables.
It is amazing! This is the first time since I began to live in Tokyo that I can eat raw vegetables as much as I want with Samgyopsal.
I felt like I became a sheep or a cow. You see, sometime when people eat too much vegetables, they’ll feel like they became a herbivore.^^
Yokohama’s beautiful night view while enjoying the aroma of sweet port belly is an amazing experience.
In Japanese cuisine they don’t serve much raw vegetables with dishes.
When the Samgyeopsal is about ready to eat, a waitress cuts it for the costumers.
There are waiters for the service and there are cute waitresses to help you as well.
Place some vegetables on your hand and carry over the grilled meat.
Pour the sauce called “Ssamjang” and then eat the meat and vegetable together.
And it’s also good to eat meat with rice.
Save some spot in your stomach to enjoy one last special Korean dishes.
That is Naengmyeon. (Usually, Korean enjoy to eat Naengmyeon after BBQ)
The Naeonmeyon there is “pretty good”.
It’s a Korean cold noodles dish.
When I said “pretty good”, it holds a very complex meaning.
It’s like memories. Good or bad I mean….
I mean I don’t want to recommend Ifuu’s Naengmyeon personally.
If you’d like to try a good Korean Naengmyeon, please visit “Jojoen” and try theirs.
Of course I also do like Ifuu’s Naengmyeon.
I have memories and experiences of the history of the big boom economy growing in Korea.
I’ll also tell this story later.
Wow… the bill was steep.
I have to pay a very expensive cost for Samgyeopsal.
It does seems to be more expensive than other Korean restaurants after all.
I think it’s because I can eat many vegetables as if I was in the jungle and can enjoy watching the beautiful night view of Yokohama-city.
Yokohama is the birth place of Omurice and they have the largest Chinatown in Japan.
The urban style night views with a Korean BBQ is not a bad combination for an enjoyable moment when traveling to Japan
It’s a pretty nice experience when you visit Tokyo.
But it asks of you a high price.