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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

새마을 식당 (Sae Ma Ul Shik Dang): Korean Stew to Change your Mind

When you ask foreigners what kinds of Korean foods they like 90% will probably come up with bulgogi or samgyupsal, if they are not vegetarian. However, Korean stew will be on that list somewhere, but it is not something that most foreigners would actively seek out when they are hungry. It could be that most of us come from a sort of “meat and potatoes” culture and the idea of a stew as a main dish is not something that we’d want to go out and pay money for.

Recently, I wandered into the Sae Ma Ul Shik Dang in Mugeo with my wife for lunch. We were craving something a little spicy but didn’t feel like a greasy meat dish.  So we ordered a bowl of their famous “7-minute Kimchi Chi-gae” and a bowl of pork dwaenjang chi-gae. We were both expecting the usual Korean lunch which is good but nothing to write home about. However, when the food arrived, we were blown away.

Now, this chain of restaurants is quite famous, having been on numerous tv shows and showcased on “The Kimchi Chronicles”. Its unique yellow color roof with old style writing gives you a sort of 70’s vibe and the interior is what you’d expect. Nothing fancy just down to business of making your food amazing.

For 5,500 you will get a big bowl of rice, side dishes and the best stew you’ll eat in Korea. Your school’s cafeteria ain’t got nothin’ on these guys. The famous kimchi chi-gae is what I would start out with. It is not too fishy and has huge chunks of meat and kimchi. The flavor is almost sweet at times and totally makes you want clean your bowl.

If kimchi is not to your liking then their pork dwaenjang chigae will be more your style. Again, they’ve managed to bring out some amazing flavor without adding too much dwaenjang to make it smell and taste like an old sweat sock. It is just perfect and amazingly hearty. These flavors will keep you coming back again and again. They also serve some amazing meat dishes and their thin-sliced pork is great.

I have visited two of the four Ulsan locations and found that they cook a little bit differently. The mugeo-dong location, right beside the Wa Bar on the main drag near the University, has a better dwaengjang chi-gae. However, the Samsan location, across from Trevi and next to the new Holly’s Coffee, has a better kimchi chi-gae. However, both these dishes are game changers if you are on the fence about Korean food.

If you are looking for a good hearty lunch that will leave you feeling fully and supremely satisfied, then I truly recommend Sae Ma Ul Shik Dang.