Exploring Jajangmyeon - Korean-Chinese Black Bean Noodles


#1

I had a sudden hankering for Jajangmyeon (Korean-Chinese Black Bean Noodles) a few weeks ago, and ran across Lee’s Noodles thanks to @ipsedixit and an Eater article.

It’s been years since I went looking for a good Jajangmyeon place, especially one that makes their own noodles by hand. @Sgee mentioned another place called Zzamong which piqued my interest. Figured why not try a few places and see what the state of Korean-Chinese Black Bean Noodles are in L.A.

Paik’s Noodles / Hong Kong Banjum

Ran into this place totally by accident, LOL. Waitress said they make their noodles by hand, and there’s this picture on the wall of this fierce, angry-looking Korean chef showing off some wok-fu. :laughing: Why not?

A relatively clean place, they have their menu on the wall in bright pictures.

Jajangmyeon (Korean-Chinese Black Bean Noodles):

Paik’s JJM has a thicker-style of handmade noodle, with nice chew to it (i.e., not overcooked, mushy noodles).

Their Jajangmyeon sauce which is made of either Black or Yellow Soybeans (thanks @ipsedixit for the clarification), turned into a Black Bean Paste and then sauteed with vegetables and meat, is on the sweeter side, but still has some salty notes. Chunks of pork, onions, cucumber add to the texture.

Surprisingly decent for a random place I walked into.

Paik’s Noodles / Hong Kong Banjum
3470 W. 6th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel: (213) 389-0410

Lee Man Gu Kyodong Jjampong
(Say that 3 times fast! LOL)
The L.A. Times had mentioned this place as a stellar Jajangmyeon restaurant. Had the hardest time finding this place. Turns out it was on the 2nd floor of this large indoor Korean shopping complex in a food court.

Jajangmyeon (Black Bean Noodle):

Kyodong Jjampong’s version was just as the LA Times had mentioned: It had a really finely minced up version of the Jajang sauce, with all the vegetables and meat diced up into tiny chunks. This did help give it a nicer mouthfeel I guess? LOL, but more importantly, there was a really good balance of savory and sweet, more savory and salty (not overboard) than Paik’s Noodles or Lee’s Noodles.

Had a good chew to the noodles, but I don’t know if they make theirs in-house or not.

Lee Man Gu Kyodong Jjampong
3500 W. 6th Street, #225
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel: (213) 384-1716

Zzamong
Finally, we tried Zzamong. The place was full when we walked in.

Waitress said they hand-make their noodles in-house.

Jajangmyeon (Black Bean Noodles):

Zzamong’s version of JJM had the thinnest noodles out of any of the places I’ve tried recently. There was some chew to the noodles, but it felt a bit too soft and overcooked (slightly).

But chowing down, ugh, the sauce was really super-thick (the “driest / thickest” sauce out of all the JJM places we tried), and it had something not quite right about the taste. It’s not bad, but it didn’t really shine. It was also the greasiest Jajang sauce out of all the places I’ve tried recently.

One other disturbing thing: I took part of the noodles home, and putting in the fridge, I noticed the sauce had disintegrated into black water! :open_mouth: I don’t know if their sauce was constructed with corn starch or something else, but it fell apart.

Zzamong
4255 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel: (213) 200-2331

So after trying these places, I think my favorite of these is still Lee’s Noodles Jajangmyeon. Their handmade noodles had the most soul, with a great chew and satisfying mouthfeel. Their sauce isn’t as savory and on point as the “classic” style that one might associate with Korean-Chinese Jajangmyeon: It’s a bit lighter and cleaner (less oily), and feels more delicate, but the overall combination is my fav! :smile:

Lee’s Noodles
401 S. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90020
Tel: (213) 351-9963

The most classic Jajang sauce in terms of flavor, and my second favorite might be Lee Man Gu Kyodong Jjampong.

If anyone has recommendations for good Jajangmyeon with handmade noodles, please let me know. Thanks. :smile:


Savory (with Touch of Sweet) Noodles with Soybean Sauce - A Zha Jiang Mian Journey [Thoughts + Pics]
Lovely Handmade Korean-Chinese Noodles - Lee's Noodles
#2

Fabulous report.

Like I said before, never let anyone tell you that the JJM at Lee’s is anything but legit.


#3

where’s the joint on olympic i think with the cold noodles and it’s actually ice-y in the fucking broth, just like a super frosty beer, and served with those metal chopsticks ???

or is this that fucking joint ???

it’s been a few years. my bad. i think i’m severely late to the party.


#4

@kevin Hmm… there’s a bunch of Korean Cold Noodle places (Naengmyeon) along Olympic. These places I’m talking about don’t serve that style of noodles.

I’ll leave it to the K-Town experts to chime in on that.


#5

did you try anthing else @ Zzamong? I live a couple of blocks away and it’s been on my list to try for ages. I heard that they do some pretty good Chinese/Korean food (but obviously not jajangmyeon).


#6

Yu Chun, perhaps? (I’m sure there are others as well.)


#7

i could probably tell by where it’s situated in the fucking minimall. maybe. or rather perhaps.


#8

Another great report. Good on you for getting out there like a pro. If you’re not jajiangmyun’d-out the version at Mandarin Garden on Olympic and Vermont is pretty damn good. Just wear a shirt you hate because when your slurp goes astray (and it will) that shit will never ever come out.


#9

thanks for the receommendation @mrgreenbeenz. I’ll have to check it out next time. :smile:


#10

@Chowseeker1999 – Thank you for including pictures; I can now say with certainty that these were NOT the same noodles I received with my Lee’s to-go order I described in the other thread. Yours look house-made, and mine certainly did not.


#11

Great report Chowseeker1999, my apologies for setting you astray with the Zzamong rec; eager to try the other places on your list.

LAgirl, given my disastrous recommendation take it with a grain of salt… check out their Jjampong (spicy noodles)


#12

Wonderful report! Do the black bean and yellow bean version taste any diff (maybe this is a question more for @ipsedixit)?

Couldn’t help but notice that the first restaurant has tang-su-yuk!!! Had it once at another Korean-Chinese place (now closed), and it was MIGHTY tasty. :smile:


#13

Yes.

They taste different but not so much because of the type or color of beans, but the method of preparation.

While generalizations are always fraught with errors, it can be said that Korean JJM (or zha jian mian, ZJM) typically uses fermented black paste, or chunjang, as the main and the primarily ingredient in the sauce (excluding things like pork, radishes, potato, etc).

Chinese (or Taiwanese) versions, by contrast, use tian mian jiang (甜面酱), which is a thick, dark brown sauce made from wheat flour, sugar, salt, and fermented yellow beans. But in addition to that there are generally other condiments added to the sauce, ranging from hoisin (or oyster) sauce, to soy sauce, to even miso. And of course things like dried shrimp or conpoy are quite common to give the sauce that extra dimension of briny umami.

Which is better? No better, just different.

Try them all. Then go and find your inner JJM (or ZJM) and then announce to the world that you have become one with the fermented bean paste


#14

Dont be too hard on yourself, bro.


#15

@Sgee no no! Thank you so much for the recommendation. :smile: It made me go out and try more places for Jajangmyeon, and gave me new perspective (been so long since I checked out places in K-Town for JJM).

And really, if you like Zzamong’s version the most that’s great. Did you get a chance to try Lee’s Noodles yet to see how it compares for yourself?