jjajangmyeon loving at chung gung, 청궁 중국집

8:54 AM Sian Mei Yeoh 1 Comments

i've only had four previous ones before.
one left a bitter taste in my mouth and the rest were alright - almost forgettable.

but this one was like no other.
the only one that made me crave for more.
(..at least thus far!)

the luscious, hearty dark savory thick sauce that clung lovingly onto the smooth, chewy noodles, as i slurped satisfyingly. 

it was one of the yummiest 짜짱면s i've ever had.

truth be told - the two times that i've been to south korea, not once have i ever considered trying this iconic korean chinese cuisine. only one reason that can justify the situation - there were just so many delicious korean dishes that i had to get my hands on. but knowing now what this noodles could taste like, i'd loved to try it in korea.

짜장면 (jjajangmyeon) dreams are made of white wheat flour noodles (수타면) crafted entirely by hand, topped with a black soybean paste, 춘장 (chun jang) which is made from roasted soybeans sweetened with caramel. the sauce is loaded with the good stuff of ground meat (typically pork), diced onions, potatoes, thickened with potato starch or cornstarch. for a touch of crisp freshness, raw cucumber sticks finish this hearty bowl of noodles. the supporting roles of pickled yellow radish (단무지) and raw onions accompanied with a little chun jang sauce are a must. the occasional guest stars are diced zucchini, daikon and/or seafood. 

it gradually gained popularity as jjajangmyeon makes its way into many menus across the different korean restaurants. one of which is 청궁 (chung gung) restaurant. located in koreatown in ampang kl, its authenticity can be vouched by the many koreans making a beeline for this restaurant.

update // april '17. the restaurant has moved downstairs - just next to the stairs heading to its previous location.

it may be a bit of a challenge to find the restaurant since it is on the second floor but look out of hanwoori and you're almost there when you've found the eatery's sign. as you enter its main door, its decor was a bit dated as the space was fully clad in finished wood as the furnishing was kept to a minimum. oddly in retrospect, it was the same simplicity, traditional and authentic qualities that  the dishes embraced in its execution.

even while the menu lured me with the extensive options, it was the typical almost inseparable complementary trio that i desired the most, the combination that has made its several tempting appearances my favorite variety show, 런닝맨.

짜장면 : jja-jang myeon | stir-fried noodles with chinese bean sauce (rm 15)

this bowl-full of goodness is what jjajangmyeon dreams are made of. the best part is - it's dream turned into reality. a pair of scissors were provided to cut the noodles, which may be shrugged off by some but i thought it was a nice added touch of authenticity. the lip-smacking black bean sauce balanced with a light sweetness were thickened just enough to coat the perfectly cooked noodles that had a slight bite. exactly how i'd imagine jjajangmyeon to be.

despite the lack of minced meat in the sauce it was satisfying as i easily 'inhaled' the noodles with gusto - almost a slick velvety mouth feel as i tasted the light savory, umami flavor. occasionally alternating with the crisp pickled danmuji to restart afresh again with more noodles. it was almost addictive that i crave for another bite as i chomped down on one.

짬뽕 : jjam-bbong | spicy seafood noodle soup (rm 17)

the fierce battle of preference between the two korean chinese signature dishes - the luscious jjajangmyeon vs. the fiery jjambbong has left some fans of korean chinese food divided into two camps - mainly dependent on the mood and weather, really. i very much prefer the third category - a proud supporter of 짬짜면 jjam-ja-myeon where these two very different flavor profiles of jjajangmyeon and jjambbong (separately, of course) complement each other in the most unexpected ways.

the fiery red soup of jjambbong base was slightly spicy sweetened by onions (both green and yellow) and fresh seafood contained the softened noodles took on the role to subdue the heat of the hot pepper powder that only left a warm sensation on the taste buds. the noodles were softer than its counterpart in jjajangmyeon and wished it was done slightly under.

탕수육 : tangsoo yook | fried pork with sweet and sour sauce (small | rm 35)

if you're expecting is the tomato-base sweet & sour pork that we grew up eating, you're in for some surprise. the korean take on this chinese favorite is different in almost every aspect from the texture of the pork down to the sauce. the thickly cut pork fingers lightly battered, deep fried for that familiar slightly crispy texture (could definitely have been crispier) encasing the moist, chunkier meat. on the other hand, the light sweet & sour sauce started with a plum-like sweetness base mingling with the light tartness of lemon for a citrus-y finish, served separately - typically poured over the plate of fried pork or dipping is also an option.

it was good especially since it wasn't cloyingly sweet but my preference still leaned towards the original chinese interpretation. the price tag is slightly steep but it is enough to be shared by 2-3 persons.

after our delicious encounter at 청궁 "chung gung", we finally understood why 짬짜면-탕수육 "jjam-jja-myeon-tang-soo-yook" combo is a match made in flavor heaven- tingling almost every taste buds and playing on the textural difference. start off with the hearty jjajangmyeon accompanied with the crispy, meaty sweet & sour pork and occasionally cut through the savoriness with the pickled yellow radish. then, bring it on with the spicy jjambbong only to seek for a relief from the heat by returning to the black bean sauce noodles once more.

my current benchmark for delicious bowl of 짜장면 goes to 청궁 중국집 "chung gung korean chinese restaurant". in fact, whenever these black bean noodles make its brief appearance on a few of the 런닝맨 episodes, i drooled as i watched longingly and immediately wished i was in chung gung gobbling down the craving with a huge smile. i'd say bring at least a friend to share the must-have duo of of jjam-jja-myeon. but if you can't, jjajangmyeon may be enough to entice you to return for more.

chung gung | location
c 6-, c7- d.e malaysia
1, jalan 1
one ampang avenue
68000 ampang
{opens mon - sun: 11:30 am - 9:30 pm
except for 2nd & 4th thursdays of every month}

disclaimer this is written based on personal experience and opinion. experiences and taste buds may vary for others.


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