Moodeungsan Han-U Korean BBQ Beef

Where to eat Han-U in Korea

Not all Korean BBQ is equal, the best is Han-U 한우, Korean domestic beef. You can only experience this special taste in Korea because it is not readily exported or available outside of Korea. Japan has Kobe beef, Korean has Han-U. Han-U is fatty and melts in your mouth with some chew without being overwhelmingly fatty like some cuts of Kobe beef. If you are ever in Korea this is something you must definitely try.

My favorite place to eat this changes from time to time, but currently it is Changgo43 창고43 with locations in Yeouido and Myeongdong. I like this particular restaurant for Han-U because the meat comes in larger slabs, so you get to really taste the flavor and texture moreso than with the smaller thinner pieces at other restaurants. Most restaurants grill over a charcoal pit but this restaurant grills the meat in a heavy cast iron skillet.

The menu in Korean is on Changgo43′s website here. The menu is very short with 3 types of meat, some soups/stews, and fried rice “bokkeumbap.” The three types of meat are the Changgo Special KRW 36,000 / $35, Tenderloin “Anshim” 36,000 / $35, Sirloin “Deungshim” KRW 51,000 / $50. Prices are for one order which is 150 grams or 5oz. Each of the larger pieces in the video is one order. (Assumes a $1=KRW 1,020 exchange rate.) I tried one order of each and the $50 Sirloin is by far the best; the waitress told us they sell the most of this one. The soups and stews are $5-$6 and fried rice is $3. The fried rice is cooked at the end of the meal in the residual beef fat with kimchi and scallions.

Han-U is very expensive in Korea as it is the rare top quality meat from only domestic cattle, so you will see a lot of people on corporate tabs in the restaurant after work. The smell from grilling permeates your clothes, so the restaurant provides large plastic bags for you to stuff your jackets into so at least your jacket does not smell like a Korean cow. They also provide a black apron to protect your clothing. You will need to shower after eating this, and some dogs on the street may try to follow you home. Despite the pervasive odor and high cost this is truly worth it.

Where to eat Han-U in Korea: My prior favorite place to eat Han-U before Changgo43 was Moodeungsan (무등산) in Cheongdamdong. This is a uber fancy two story bbq restaurant. As soon as you walk in you will see fancy looking people grilling meat and a wall of signatures from celebrities who have dined there like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears. All of their meat is really delicious and their nengmyun is especially good. I have also heard good things about Twobbul 투뿔등심 but have yet to try.

Click here to see more photos and reviews of where to eat Han-U in Korea

hodogwaja 호두과자 korean walnut red bean cake

Korean Stovetop Walnut Cakes Hodogwaja 호두과자

One of my favorite Korean street snacks is Hodogwaja (호두과자), little walnut-shaped cakes stuffed with azuki red bean and walnut filling. During my childhood in Massachusetts, I could only enjoy these treats when I visited Korea, so I would try to eat as many as I could while I was there. Now that I am in NY it is easy to find them at the local HMart, however, the ones on the streets of Seoul are still the best.  I saw on Cocohodo’s website that they are planning to open a shop in NY. I personally like 천안옛날호두과자 which I found after an amazing dinner of Korean Hanwoo Beef at 창고43 near Euljiro 3ga.

I wanted to try making this snack at home, so I looked for recipes and videos. The real street snacks are made with a special cast iron machine, but since I do not have access to anything like that here in the US, I decided to use two of my Nordicware Autumn Cakelet Pans, with acorn and leaf shaped molds, and hope for the best.

Most of the Korean recipes online recommend using a waffle or pancake mix to make this cake, so I used Wholefood’s pancake mix. The first time I tried this the pancake mix alone was not sweet enough. The second time I added 1Tbsp of sugar for each cup of pancake mix and the results were much better. You can find the canned azuki red bean for the filling at a local Korean or Japanese grocery store or order from Amazon. The canned azuki red bean is so sweet that you do not need to add any sugar to it. A little goes a long way, I was able to make almost 50 of these little cakes with just one can of red bean filling.

I learned two things from mistakes made the first time around- 1) Put the flame on the lowest possible setting, because the flame is in direct contact with the thin pan, a medium flame burnt all my cakes. 2) I tried putting butter on the molds thinking that the cake would stick to the pan and not come out on its own. The butter is unnecessary, the cakes fall off of this nonstick pan easily. Also the butter burns quickly in the pan and the burnt butter does not look good on the outside of the cake. The Nordicware Autumn pan is good because it has acorn and walnut/pinecone shapes but any 2 pans with little molds should work.

Korean hodogwaja hodugwaja walnut red bean cake

The flame should be smaller than this or else the cakes will burn

Korean hodogwaja hodugwaja walnut red bean cake

Learning from my mistakes, medium heat burns the cakes quickly

I was able to make 24 of these little cakes with 1.5C of prepared pancake batter. The recipe is below but please watch the video first as it was hard to describe the pan inversion in words.

Hodogwaja Mini Korean Cakes with Red Bean & Walnut Filling

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 24 cakes

Serving Size: 1 cake

Hodogwaja Mini Korean Cakes with Red Bean & Walnut Filling

Recipe for Hodogwaja (????) Korean cakes filled with azuki red bean and walnut

Ingredients

  • 1C of any pancake or waffle mix
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 can azuki red bean
  • 1 package of walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the pancake or waffle mix as instructed with the added sugar. Most recipes will call for the addition of water, milk, and/or eggs. Put the mixture in a cup with a spout so it is easier to pour into the molds.
  2. Place the two pans directly on the oven at the lowest possible setting.
  3. Fill all the molds on the first pan halfway
  4. Quickly place one small spoonful of redbean and one walnut over each filled mold. Make sure to do this as quickly as possible because the cakes burn quickly since they are cooking in a thing pan directly on the burner.
  5. Fill the other pan with the remaining pancake mix, then invert the first pan over the second pan so that the shapes/molds line up. Continue cooking another 30sec-min until the batter in the second pan has cooked through. Use heat protectant gloves to remove the top pan, then take out each cake and place on a plate.
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Korean hodogwaja hodugwaja walnut red bean cake

hodogwaja ingredients pancake mix

Korean hodogwaja hodugwaja walnut red bean cake

Work quickly to fill the cakes with the red bean and walnut before the cakes burn

hodogwaja 호두과자 korean walnut red bean cake

Korean hodogwaja hodugwaja walnut red bean cake

japchae recipe korean food jencookskorean final dish

Japchae Recipe

Japchae is one of the Korean dishes I have cooked the most (it is probably tied with Kimchi Fried Rice). Koreans call this a “손이 많이가는 음식“, which translates to a dish that takes a lot of handiwork; however,this dish is worth all the effort. It takes longer than others because there is a lot of prep work: one must chop all the vegetables, marinate the beef, cook the vegetables and beef, cook the sweet potato noodles, and then add all ingredients together with a sauce, tasting along the way until it tastes just right.

This is one of my favorite dishes because it keeps well in the fridge and tastes just as good microwaved a few days later as it does when it’s fresh. The dish has noodles, vegetables, and protein so it is quite substantial; all you need is a bowl of rice to go along with it. Some people like to make japchae fried rice as well. The key to a delicious japchae is getting the sauce just right- you want the right balance of salty soy sauce with sweet sugar or honey, salt & pepper, and sesame oil. I like to start with a basic sauce and then keep modifying the taste at the end with extra ingredients until it tastes just right to me. Sometimes it takes five or so iterations of futzing with the sauce/seasoning at the end to get the desired outcome. I have the same issues when I make vinaigrettes. Loads of fresh cracked black pepper are key to making the flavors shine.

Japchae is common as a banchan at many restaurants so you don’t always have to order it separately off the menu. Surprisingly my favorite place to get japchae in NY is not at a restaurant in KTown, but at a buffet / deli, Café Duke, on 51st and Sixth. They have really perfected the sauce and just ladle it on. A non-Korean person actually told me I needed to try a delicious noodle dish they discovered and took me to eat it at Café Duke. I was really amused to see them ask for chicken instead of beef and extra red pepper flakes. This is akin to asking for a Philly Cheesesteak with chicken instead of beef.

Mise en Place, Japchae Ingredients
japchae recipe ingredients jencookskorean
Sweet potato noodles, dangmyeon (당면). You can find these at your local HMart. Make this a gluten free Korean dish.
japchae recipe sweet potato noodles dangmyun jencookskorean

Marinating and cooking the thinly sliced beef. HMart actually sells packages of beef like this for japchae. You can use any type of beef/steak and cut into thin slices at home.
japchae recipe beef marination
Click here to see the full japchae recipe with photos and video

Balthazar Bakery Englewood JenCooksKorean Entrance

Balthazar Bakery Wholesale Englewood

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the wholesale divison of Balthazar Bakery in Englewood, NJ. NYers are familiar with the famous Soho restaurant and bakery but most probably do not know that the bread, pastries, and cakes are actually made in the factory in Englewood, NJ and delivered to the city. Also many bakeries throughout NY and NJ actually source their bread from here, so if that delicious scone at your local coffee shop tastes familiar, it could very well be from Balthazar. If you want to try the bread fresh from the source I would recommend stopping by if you are in NJ.

The bakery is in a handsome red brick building a few blocks away from Englewood town center with ample parking out front. The storefront is really small so the line of ten on a Saturday morning snaked out the door. It was fun to see all the people who were regulars, but still so excited to put in their bread and pastry orders. The ordering and delivery system was very methodical and the line moved quickly. The bakery faces east and there is some amazing light pouring in through the main and side windows- it is true foodie porn to see all the beautiful fresh baked breads and pastries lit up by the natural sunlight.

I bought some hot cross buns (with yummy candied oranges and raisins), pecan sticky buns, cranberry scone, slice of carrot cake, and almond croissant for $13. The prices were less than expected, or maybe I am so numbed by New York City prices that any pastry under $3 feels not too expensive. The pecan sticky bun was by far my favorite and came in a mini and large size. I am going back to try their monkey bread and get more sticky bunds and a baguette next time.

Balthazar Bakery Wholesale Divison

214 S Dean Street
Englewood, NJ 07631
201-503-9717

My beautiful carbheavy haul from Balthazar and Yedang Tteok Jip. NJ carbs are so good, if you are feeling Korean savory carbs, I would also get Kal Gook Soo at Myung Dong Noodle House in Fort Lee.Balthazar Bakery Pastries and Bread JenCooksKorean

Balthazar Bakery Englewood JenCooksKorean Breads
Balthazar Bakery Englewood JenCooksKorean Pastries

Click here to see more photos of the storefront and factory