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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Deliciousness at Chuncheon Dak Galbi

Dak Galbi (닭갈비) was one of the first Korean foods I tried upon my arrival many moons ago, and even though it burned my face off (I wasn’t much for spicy food in those early days), I loved it so much I have acquired a spice tolerance almost solely to enjoy this dish. If I was to rate this in terms of salsa spice levels, I’d say dak galbi is medium level, on average. If you like to set your mouth on fire, Bul Dak (불닭 fire chicken) is a similar dish, but meant to be much hotter.


It’s simple enough – dak is chicken, and galbi is rib meat, so dak galbi is the breast and back meat of a chicken, cooked up with cabbage, ddeok (떡 rice cake sticks), onions and red pepper paste (gochu jang 고추장).


Mmmm! Raw chicken! (don’t worry, it’s not raw for long)

Chuncheon DakGalbi (마실갈비) is my favourite dak galbi restaurant in Mugeodong. It’s a little Mom and Pop restaurant, run by a lovely old couple. Unlike many of the chain dak galbi places I’ve been to that use tiny amounts of meat, Chuncheon serves up big chunks of chicken in their dish. They also cook the whole meal in front of you, rather than preparing it out of site, and presenting it when it’s ready to go. This is a bit of a tease if you’re really hungry.


Step 2: add veggies and gochujang

The banchan, or side dishes, here are fairly simple. They serve the cold, vinegary radish-kimchi soup, shredded cabbage with thousand island dressing, and leaves and garlic for wrapping up the dak galbi when it’s ready to eat.

Not exciting, but not why you're here, let's be honest.

Not exciting, but not why you’re here, let’s be honest.

The Korean style of eating dak galbi is similar to eating bulgogi (barbequed meat), in that you wrap bits up in leaves to eat it. My brother introduced me to a different manner of eating it, though, and the two are a match made in heaven. Before you arrive at the restaurant, stop at a local bakery (there’s a Paris Baguette and a France Bakery nearby) to pick up a baguette. Either dipping the bread in the sauce, or piling the dak galbi into a sandwich will work. You may get strange looks from the other customers (the owners are used to seeing waygooks do this by now), but the way the spicy sauce soaks into the bread, and the crunch of the crust just seems to make the flavours in the meal really pop.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

If you’re still hungry towards the end of this dish (or if you didn’t bring bread with you), you can order a second round meal of bokumbap (stir-fried rice) made with your leftovers. Or if you prefer it, you can start off with this dish, which is dak-yache cheol pan bokumbap (닭야채철판볶음밥 – chicken vegetable hot-plate stir fried rice on this menu). Order the cheese to go with this, which is melted into it until it’s all gooey; it’s often called “cheesy rice” in the expat community. While the whole pan is filled with goodness, the best bit is at the bottom, where some of the rice sticks and gets crunchy. It’s worth scraping the bottom of the cast-iron to get every last bite.

cheesy rice!

cheesy rice!

You can also choose noodles (ramyeon or udong) or more deok (the thick rice cake noodles) to add a starchy component to your meal, if you prefer.

The prices here are all reasonable, with the most expensive dish, the Hot Dak Galbi coming in at 8,000 won per serving (200g). Unless you’re really hungry, 1 serving per person, or adding one additional serving to number of people is usually plenty (ie 5 people = 5 or 6 servings), especially if you want the second round of cheesy rice.

Here’s a translation of their menu (my photo of the menu is way too blurry to post, sorry).

화끈닭갈비 – Hot Dak Galbi – 8,000 per 200g

닭갈비 – Dak Galbi – 7,000 per 200g

감자전 – Potato Pancake – 5,000

닭야채철판뽂음밥 – Chicken vegetable stir fry on a hot pan – 4,000 per serving

비빔공기밥 – Steamed rice topped with mixed vegetables – 2,000

공기밥 – steamed rice – 1,000

사리 (떡, 라면우동) a coil of noodles (rice cake, ramyeon, udong) – 1,000

치즈 – cheese – small – 1,000, large 2,000

They also serve soju and beer.

The location of Chuncheon Dakgalbi is pinned on the interactive map. It’s in Mugeodong, near the Bubble Tea cafe and the Choco Haru shop, on the side road leading to the main road past the university.