Imagine having a large pan filled with chicken and rice cake marinated in a gochujang based sauce with a whole lot of cheese on top! These are all the things I love eating from Korean food and 닭갈비or “Dakgalbi” brings that joy to reality for me. The first time I had Dakgalbi was when my Busan friends wanted to take me to a recommended fried chicken place. But the store was closed down (which is common knowledge that in Korea, places open and close very quickly!) So instead we ended up going to 유가내 or “Yoogane” in Haeundae where they introduced me to Dakgalbi for the first time. Yoogane is a restaurant known for serving both Dakgalbi (stir-fried chicken with vegetables) and 철판볶음밥 or “Cheolpan Bokkeumbap” (Marinated spicy fried rice) with it’s most popular dishes. They actually have a big range of dakgalbi such as octopus, cuttlefish and even sichuan mala.
I was first introduced to Dakgabli but make sure you pick the dish 치즈퐁~닭 because you’ll miss out if you’re a cheese lover:
So what’s inside of Dakgalbi? Well, it usually contains rice cake, potato, marinated chicken with gochujang and additional seasoning (ginger, red pepper flakes, garlic and onions). Everything is mixed together the gochujang sauce but it’s not too spicy for you to enjoy however. The first time I tried it, the marinated gochujang on everything apart from the cheese was delicious. The cheese is surrounded on the outside for you to enjoy dipping in. But you must eat the cheese quick as it does get rubbery and stuck on the side. Now the spice is good, it’s mostly due to the mix of gochujang and seasoning which complements the flavouring. The spice helps balance the amount of food filled in the dish. I remember my nose running due to the spice but it wasn’t a huge difference from eating ddukbokki. Personally for me, the spice does build up a little but I think the cheese you have will limit the barrier of it getting any hotter for you. The pepper is forgotten about once you get used to the combination of food.
The best thing about 닭갈비 is that you can eat it by yourself or a group. Quite a few times, I’ve seen people go solo. And Yoogane is not the only place to get 닭갈비 as there are other places you can find and eat at. But Yoogane is affordable and everywhere especially in Seoul and Busan. It is cooked for you by the staff on a big grill and is a great start to slowly getting used to Korea’s obsession with putting spice into their cuisine.
If you are still hungry, there is a self-service station for people to have kimchi, shredded cabbage, radish and others. I would rank it as a rank 3 as the spice is quite comforting and not too much of a challenge. It’s a great combo with the chewy ricecake, marinated chicken and stringy cheese.