Octopus Hot Pot, a Korean delicacy not for the faint-hearted
Updated: Apr 28
INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA: There are many popular Octopus Restaurants in Korea and I won't claim that I know which is good or bad. However, my first experience is very unforgettable. It is a culinary experience like no other. If you are wondering what you want to eat in Korea and you don't want the usual BBQ or bibimbap, you might want to give this a try.
Nakji Jeongol (낙지전골) is one of many varieties of Jeongol in Korea. A Jeongol usually contains a variety of main ingredients and its main difference with Jjigae is that Jjigae is generally made with only one main ingredient, such as a Kimchi Jjigae. Nakji Jeongol is made with fresh Octopus and in this case, it also consists of pork belly.
Since we need to quarantine and wait for our negative PCR test result, we decided to stay at a hotel near Incheon International Airport for the first night. This led us to discover 짱구네낙지집 (Jjanggunne Octopus House) next to the hotel. They got a 4 out of 5 stars rating on Google Map, so we reckon it should be good.
The moment we stepped into the restaurant, after the vaccination status checks, we were directed to sit at a corner table. Being an Octopus restaurant, the menu is pretty straightforward. We get to choose between an Octopus Hot Pot, Octopus Soup or Raw Octopus. No surprises here, we ordered the Octopus Hot Pot in a heartbeat.
Immediately, a pot of spicy broth with chives, whole garlic, enoki mushroom and pork belly is brought to our table to simmer on the stove. As it is brought to a boil, I tasted the soup and I was immediately addicted to it. I can imagine this spicy soup will go best with a bowl of steaming white rice.
What happens next is something I won't forget. Two live octopuses were washed and dumped into the pot, the rest is history. Watch the youtube video and see it for yourself.
The other dish we wanted to try was their fried rice which uses what is left behind from the hot pot. The amazing concentrated flavour from the simmering hot pot is the perfect seasoning for the rice. I couldn't make out what is in the rice mixture and since my Korean is non-existence, I can only guess it is Korean Purple Rice with chopped up vegetables.
This is the final product of the beautiful fried rice. It is full of umami flavour with char bits from frying in the pot, just like a good claypot rice I get in Singapore.
We each had a free bowl of delicious clam soup. It is a supporting actor in this grand ensemble, but nevertheless, it is an amazing soup. Unfortunately, it will always be overshadowed by the Octopus Hot Pot. Don't get me wrong, we finished the soup till the last drop. It is just that good of a soup.
Address: 2850-7 Unseo-dong, Jung-gu, Incheon