[Seoul, South Korea] For those who are not familiar with “Junghwa Yori”, the Korean-style Chinese food is a well-developed cuisine on its own with signature dishes such as Jjajangmyeon, Jjamppong and Tangsuyuk. More commonly seen on Korean dramas of late.

However, if you come to Jin Jin 진진 expecting the usual fare, you would probably be surprised.

Founded by Chef Wang Yuk-sung and Chef Hwang Jin-sun, the duo previously helmed positions in established Chinese restaurant, Great Shanghai, at Koreanna Hotel and have more than 40 years of experience with Chinese cuisine.

After which they founded Jin Jin, and aspires to popularize authentic Chinese cuisine in South Korea by pricing it affordable, as well as making it easily accessible to the mass local market.

They have also been awarded with Michelin Bib Gourmand for year 2020. Used to be 1 Michelin star for the previous few years though.

It was by pure coincidence that I came across Jin Jin. They happened to be situated along my daily route from Airbnb to subway station and their huge signage with red Chinese characters were too hard to miss.

Being curious on their food offerings, did a quick online search and voila, it is actually a Michelin Bib Gourmand listed restaurant.

The dining ambience was casual and loud, like what you would usually expect in Korean BBQ restaurant, just that every table was equipped with Tsingtao beer and Chinese Kaoliang instead of soju and mekju.

Unlike usual Korean-Chinese eateries, the menu at Jin Jin is kept lean and serves only 10 dishes.

No Jjajangmyeon, Jjamppong and Tangsuyuk whatsoever.

Also, no sight of huge assortment of banchan (side dishes). There were only peanuts, salted vegetables and coriander to go along.

I have to admit that this part is quite similar to SG Chinese restaurant.

Many online reviews raved over their Menbosha (6pc for KRW17,500, SGD20.30).

These “golden pillows” were deep-fried till golden brown to give its crispy bun exterior, and has a layer of firm-bouncy shrimp paste core sandwiched in between.

While deep-fried food can sometimes get jerlat (rich), this was surprisingly light and not that greasy.

I also ordered the Daegesal Bokeum (KRW24,500, SGD28.40) which on the menu, was described as stir-fried crab with mushrooms and various vegetables.

Half expecting the dish to be some whole crab stir-fried in Chinese sauce, the dish took me by surprise when served.

It actually refers to Shanghainese-style stir-fried crabmeat with egg white, bamboo shoots and mushrooms. In fact, one of my favourite dishes in Chinese restaurants.

While the texture was thicker and gooier than those that I have had before, the combination was flavourful and best to mix in few drops of vinegar to add that hint of sourness to the savoury dish.

Being a fan of Mapo Tofu (KRW17,500, SGD20.30), I found their rendition slightly underwhelming as the spice aroma and flavours were not that distinctive, probably mellowed down to cater to Korean taste buds.

I also took a liking to their XO Sauce Fried Rice (KRW8,300, SGD9.60). While it doesn’t have overpowering wok hei, you get a savoury mouthful of pearl grain rice embedded with occasional crunch from chopped assorted vegetables.

Other dishes include Five Spices Sliced Pork Appetizer (KRW18,500, SGD21.40), Gganpoonggi (Deep-fried chicken with soy sauce) (KRW22,000, SGD25.50) and Stir-fried Kailan with Beef (KRW24,000, SGD27.80).

(Photo credit: @2jenny_)

Interestingly stated on the menu, regular patrons have a “membership rate” and can enjoy the food at 20% off regular price.

Point to note, there are four Jin Jin Chinese restaurants located in the same Mapo-gu district and the main branch only operates for dinner.

Jin Jin 진진
123 Jandari-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 마포구 서교동 잔다리로 123
Opening Hours: 5pm – 11pm (Tue to Sun), Mon Closed
Google Maps – Jin Jin진진

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* Written by Lewis Tan @juicyfingers, a self-proclaimed coffee addict. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.

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