Wangsimni, the Gop-Chang Street

Cow or pig intestines, so called as Gopchang (곱창) in Korean, is one of the most disputable dinner menus in Korea. What I mean by “disputable” is that there is a clear division between likes and dislikes regarding the food among people. Its greasiness and no good-looking shape push people away from trying it. Some also even say that the idea of eating intestines does not seem decent. However, personally I believe it is not a good idea to judge a food with its appearance. If you are going to say something about a food, you should try it first. Just like there are a lot of people whose personality is the total opposite of his first impression, you might have a different idea about a food after trying it. And especially for Gopchang, I am sure that you will have a second thought about it after your first try. Do you know why I am sure? – Because I did.

 

About Gopchang

Gopchang is cow or pig intestines which, for those with different cultural backgrounds than Korean, may be a totally new idea of food. However, do not forget that this is the food that a lot of Koreans consider as the ‘best’ idea of food. A lot of business men in fact enjoy eating Gopchang after a long day at work. They come with their friends to have soju hitting down grilled brown Gopchang. So, there is no need for being reluctant about the food. Gopchang tastes similar with beef and pork. Its unique nutty smell and oily taste also lets it have the unique sausage smell that intrigues your tongue. Its flavor also smells like bacon or crackling. Also, if you see the photo of Gopchang in the article, grilled Gopchang looks like deliciously grilled mushrooms or squid rings. The first look of Gopchang is not as bad as you might imagine. Then, its taste and mouth-feel would be your next question. Now that Gopchang is intestines of a cow or a pig, you may think that it would be tough and chewy to chew. Some would worry that Gopchang may be too grizzly to swallow. However, unlike the expectations, in fact Gopchang is very tender and soft to eat. In addition, Gopchang is good for the skin as it has a variety of iron and vitamins necessary for human body.

 

Interesting Fact about Gopchang

One of the interesting story about Gopchang in particular is that Koreans have spread the idea of eating Gopchang to Japan. When the Japanese have ruled over Korea for three years, they did not used to eat the intestines of the beef or the pigs. Thus they used to throw it away after eating other parts. Then all the Koreans obviously would eat the leftover Japanese have thrown away. Japanese at first would think eating intestines was disgusting but then they tried it too after seeing Koreans eating it. After all Japanese were impressed by its taste and from then on they have been eating it until now.

 

Wangsimni’s Gopchang Street (왕십리 곱창거리)

If you have lived in Wangsimni for quite a period of time, you might have seen a lot of Gopchang restaurants in the district. In fact, Wangsimni is famous for the restaurants which serve delicious Gopchang in large quantity. Many people from different districts even come to Wangsimni just to eat Gopchang. There are some Gopchang restuarants I would like to recommend: Hwangso Gopchang (황소곱창) and Gopchang-Jo (곱창조). Both restaurants provide the visitors with Gopchang in large quantity and in best quality. The way to get there is simple and straightforward. The maps below show the way to the Gopchang restaurants from the gate 6 exit of Wangsimni Station (왕십리역 6번출구).

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1. To Gopchang-Jo (Source: Naver Maps)                                                                                                     2. To Hwangso Gopchang (Source: Naver Maps)

The Most Delicious Way to Eat Gopchang

Just like there is a certain way to eat Samgyeopsal (삼겹살) in Korea – wrapping grilled Samgyeopsal, Kimchi (김치) and garlic with lettuce leaves, in the world of Gopchang there is also a
recommendable way to eat it. The very secret is hidden in chives. If you have a good sense, you might have noticed that every Gopchang picture in this article have the image of not only Gopchang but also chives. Chives is a must when you eat Gopchang as it stops the greasiness of Gopchang in your mouth. Also its refreshes the taste with its unique fresh smell. Chives also balances necessary nutrients in your body. By the way, although it is not recommendable to drink alcohol too much, you would not be able to avoid the temptation of soju while you are eating Gopchang. That is the reason why people generally eat it with Soju. It is the definite fact, I should say, Gopchang and Ssoju (소주) are the best match! Why not try a combination of a shot of Soju and a greasy slice of Gopchang today?

After trying Gopchang, I am sure that it will be one of your favorite food. After eating Gopchang, if someone asks “What did you like the most in Korea?”, you will certainly recommend Gopchang.

 

Article by Ahran from Korea, a Junior in Business Administration

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