Donjjang – Korean Barbecue With Dramatic BIG Fire, Go For The Army Stew
Donjjang at 33 Mohamed Sultan Road is one of those Korean restaurants that completely goes under the radar – no Facebook page, no Instagram, not even a Google search entry.
Taking over Midnight House Korean Charcoal BBQ, Donjjang specialises in Korean BBQ and family style dishes.
Price is a little on the high side though. A basic barbecue beef set is priced at $200, while the pork set goes for $150.
During my first visit I went for the obvious choice of Army Stew aka Budae Jjigae ($45), good for 2 to 3 to share.
Some may wonder what the fuss is about this dish, since it compromised of mainly ‘cheap’ ingredients of processed food such as spam, sausages, baked beans and sliced cheese.
This is closely related to its origins, where after the Korean war, food was extremely scare and surplus processed foods from the US military bases became useful for the Korean. Thus, the name “Army Stew”.
To me, the main differentiating factor between competing restaurants is always in its base, that it has a balanced mix of spiciness, saltiness and slight sweetness (from the tomato beans), with the density not overly gravy-thick, or soup-like thin.
I found that Donjjang managed to strike this well, making this one of my favourite Budae Jjigae in Singapore. Though I could imagine some may wish that it can be spicier or more kimchi-tangy.
The first time I had the Jjajangmyeon ($18) here, I thought it reeked authenticity with its fermented black bean paste – thick yet smooth, matched with chewy soft noodles.
However, the second time I went, the restaurant was a lot stingier with the sauce and lacked the ‘oomph’ factor, and I spotted that the usual ajoomma was missing from the kitchen.
Now for the $150 *gasp* barbecued pork set.
There were some parts that had redeeming factors: The looks-like-the-boss-guy would flip the meats for you, then add a dramatic element of blow-torching the meats after adding something that came out of a vodka bottle. (I couldn’t ascertain if it was really vodka.
FIRE. WOW. Take out cameras. MORE FIRE.
The meats were well grilled, along with other accompanying ingredients of mushrooms, pumpkin, pineapple and kimchi. I wished there was more though. Just ONE sausage? ONE slice of pineapple?
Each diner would get a tray with 4 types of seasoning of dips, along with a specially made Korean fish sauce with chopped chilli, though we realised it was inconsistent as some of my friends didn’t get the gochuchang sauce.
Overall, I think Donjjang Korean Restaurant is worth a try for some of their dishes, though it can get too crowded, thus too hot, too noisy, and diners get too ignored.
Donjjang Korean Restaurant
33 Mohamed Sultan Rd #01-05, Singapore 238977
August 17, 2017