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[Industry Nights]: Jong Yoon

Chicken wings, pork ribs, barbecued intestines, rotten fish and other primo picks in Korea Town from the man behind Annion Kitchen...
Apr 25, 2013 | 11:04 Thu

Industry Nights is a semi-regular column featuring the haunts of chefs, restaurant owners, F&B managers, and other marginally sane people with good eating recommendations.

Jong Yoon is a graphic designer by trade and a restaurateur by profession. He's the owner of Annion Kitchen, that hip, handsome Korean eatery in Jiashan Market. He's got a new Korean barbecue joint in the works as well. We'll keep you posted on that.

I asked Jong for some Korea Town dining suggestions; he did not disappoint. One is just plain offal [hey-o!], but he also gave me his best pick for pork ribs, fried chicken and even the best place to dine on putrefying fish. Hungry yet?


Yang Gopchang at Obaltan

2/F, 1099 Wuzhong Lu, near Wanyuan Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

"Are you a vegetarian? Sorry, this place is not for you. Obaltan is my top-rated Korean resto. When I first ate here with my wife several years ago, we came back two more times that week. By the end of the month, we'd been ten times already. The specialty here is their barbecued yang gopchang. That's yang for beef tripe and gopchang for intestine. We Koreans love this stuff. When I was in college I couldn't afford to eat this kind of food; it was just too expensive. So after college, when I got my first paycheck, this was at the top of my 'things to eat' list. It's much cheaper here -- about 500rmb for two. In Seoul, you'll pay up to 1200rmb.

The taste of gopchang is rich and creamy. The yang is really chewy, but the more you chew, the more flavor you get. Together, it's a winning combination. I see a lot of locals who aren't so familiar with Korean food go for the pork belly here. That's just like going to Morton's and ordering a plate of pasta. Boo! After several helpings of barbecue, their pan-fried yangbob rice with gochujang, a sweet spicy chili paste sauce, is a must-try even you're too full."

Ganjang Chicken at Kyochon

182 Ziteng Lu, near Wuzhong Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

"Korean people love chicken, especially when it's fried. In my country, small shops sell it on every street corner for almost 24 hours a day. So we can pretty much get it whenever we want it. Kyochon Chicken is one of the biggest fried chicken chains in Korea. It's our KFC, and it's famous for their super yummy ganjang, or 'soy sauce fried', chicken wings.They actually had a shop at Thumb Plaza out in Pudong, but it shut down a few years ago. That was a dark day for all Koreans in Shanghai. Fortunately, it's opened up again out in K-Town. If you are a huge fan of fried chicken wings, you should visit and taste. I swear you will absolutely fall in love with them. And be sure to order an ice cold draft beer."

Fried Rice at Umaya

7 Donghu Lu, near Huaihai Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

"This Donghu Lu ramen shop across from Elefante is part of a chain from Nagoya, Japan. It's their first store outside the country. It doesn't seem to attract a lot of customers. I think that's just because it's so ordinary looking compared to its neighbors. But whatever it looks like, the food is really superb. I actually only order two items here: their ramen and their fried rice, and while you might find better ramen in town, no one can beat the fried rice. That's because they use lard. They wok-fry chopped pork belly before they add the chopped scallions, rice and soy sauce. It is one of the best bowls of fried rice I've had in my whole life. Seriously. What's more, it's open until 3am. Cool. After I close my resto and feel hungry, this is always my destination. Large fried rice with one mug of Asahi draft. Heaven.

Marinated BBQ Pork Ribs at Chonghakgol

2/F, 3998 Hongxing Lu, near Wuzhong Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

"Chonghakgol is another big Korean barbecue place out in K-Town. Ben Jia may be the most famous among other foreigners and locals, but this place is far better. I like this place's daeji galbi. That's korean for 'pork ribs.' This is Korean soul food. Drink a shot of soju. Then gnaw the meat off the bone. It's okay to use your hands. Probably not what you'd call good 'first-date' food, but daeji galbi reminds all Koreans of family and friendship. Chonghakgol has a new branch downtown around Jing’an Temple, but it's targeting a more local crowd. Head to the one in K-Town for the good stuff."

Fried Hairy Crabs at 184 Nanchang Lu

184 Nanchang Lu, near Sinan Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

"I’m a big fan of hairy crab. When autumn comes, I buy them live from a reliable supplier and cook them at home myself. I can put ten away in one sitting! After a friend of mine -- a real foodie from Shanghai -- brought me here, my world totally changed. It's a small hole-in-the-wall shop, but you'll see Lamborghinis and Porsches parked out front. The crab is the best I've ever had. I’ve also heard that the boss of this place was once a gangster, making this place even cooler.

There are two price tiers. 30 or 35 kuai per crab. The price depends on the sex of the crab. Once you order, he fries them up right in front of you. They only do take-out here; no seats. But it’s a must-try if you love hairy crab."

Fermented Skate Sashimi at Namhae Hoitzip

58-6 Ronghua Dong Lu, near Gubei Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

"Namhae Hoitzip is a Korean-style sashimi place, and it is not for the K-food novice. Most define food as something, well-cooked with good flavor. But hong eo hoe is fermented, almost rotten, skate fish. Most people are put off by the its disgusting ammonia-like stink. The closest approximation I can get to how this stuff smells is, oh, I don't know, outdoor latrine maybe. Seriously, chou doufu has nothing on It. This is the most difficult and adventurous level of K-food, the kind of thing you'd watch people on the TV show Fear Factor eat for money and prizes.

Needless to say, it's an acquired taste. The first time I tried it, I found it revolting. I tried it again just because I didn’t want to waste my money and food. After almost an hour, I got used to it. I chalked it up to a life experience and didn’t try it again for a long time. But several years later, the urge to eat it again struck me like lightning. After this second experience, it became one of my favorite Korean delicacies.

The liver of the skate is also delicious. It melts like snow when you put it on your tongue. Better than ankimo, the Japanese-style monk fish liver. Much better than foie gras. Seriously! Oh, they also do sannak ji, or live octopus. If you order hong eo, they'll serve you a small portion of it for free."