After four decades of devoting himself to Chinese, the godfather of the Chinese cuisine Wang Yuk-seong has struck out on his own and opened a casual restaurant in this neighborhood, called ‘Jinjin’. Since the opening in 2015, this rather small place has become a popular destination for those willing to stand in line to taste the dishes whipped up by the former head chef of Koreana Hotel.
Don’t expect to see the usual “Koreanized” dishes such as tangsuyuk, sweet and sour pork, jajangmyeon, noodles with black soybean sauce, and jjamppong, noodles with vegetables and seafood, at this restaurant though. Here you will find a different range of selection on the menu including Mian Bao Xia, steamed rockfish with soy sauce and Szechuan spicy eggplant.
Mian Bao Xia is one of Jinjin’s most famous dishes. Minced shrimps are stuffed inside a sandwich with its crust cut off before deep-fried to a golden yellow. It is crispy outside and when you take a bite juicy and soft shrimp fill up the mouth. Coriander on the side deepens the taste. The master offers the dish without the common greasiness, leaving the taste buds clean.
The sight of steamed rockfish with soy sauce on the table alone is fascinating enough. Overwhelming in size, rockfish delivered daily are steamed, fried and sprinkled with soy sauce. Spiced up with coriander and ginger, this clean yet slightly fatty dish is a rare find in a small eatery.
Its stir-fried large crab meat is a thicker version of the usual crab meat soup, and filled with such fleshy meat that it feels as if the crabs are having a festival in the mouth.
All of its dishes, from black Berkshire pork fried and mixed with hot pepper sauce, and fat and juicy eggplant fried in Szechuan style to kid-friendly sweet and sour chili shrimps are delightfully delicious enough to bring out oohs and aahs, making it almost impossible to pick and choose before you order but also leaving you wonder if you should have ordered the other or more.
There is no doubt regarding the taste of the food whipped up by the 40-year veteran, but what makes Jinjin irresistible is not only that. Chinese cuisine has not been an affordable choice for the public. There are countless bistros, called “banjeom,” indeed that offer yangjangpi, assorted seafood and vegetables with mustard sauce, or palbochae, stir-fried seafood and vegetables. But people rarely order dishes other than jajangmyeon and japchaebap, stir-fried glass noodles and vegetables with rice. And the price is not even cheap.
Opting for Chinese restaurants at hotels or the restaurants on par meant you had to be ready to loosen your purse strings quite a bit. Jinjin on the other hand, makes you wonder whether it is okay for them to sell these dishes at the price on the menu. The fresh ingredients and superb tastes only add to the mystery. If you become a lifetime member with 30,000 won fee, you can enjoy its cuisine at even more attractive prices.
The “godfather” says it was his dream to have a life that gives. After a long career as a Chinese chef that brought fame and fortune along the way, Wang now wants to see more people enjoy Chinese cuisine in a more casual and fun setting without having to worry about the bill. What makes Jinjin a much loved, much talked about place lies on the chef’s philosophy.
Not after long, Jinjin has opened a branch Jinjin Gayeon across the alley and both are milling with customers. In late 2016, it has earned a Michelin star.
Come to Jinjin, a twinkling star in Seogyo-dong, and see the food, kitchen, and staff mingle into a warm harmony on the master chef’s beliefs.
Menu: Stir-fried large crab meat 21,000 won / Mian Bao Xia (6pcs) 15,000 won / Deep-fried chicken in hot pepper sauce 17,000 won / Steamed rockfish with soy sauce 35,000 won / Szechuan spicy eggplant 17,000 won