Located across the street from the Cheotmael First Prime 1-danji Apartments in Sejong, 옛날 해장국 & 족발 (Yetnal Haejangguk & Jokbal) restaurant is easy to overlook – it’s inside an unassuming little mall, with no ads out on the street. I only know of it because a friend who spent her childhood in Korea pointed it out to me while asking, “Do you want some congealed blood soup? I haven’t had it in years!”
양평해장국 (yang pyung haejangguk) is the star dish at 옛날 해장국 & 족발 (which, by the way, is open 24/7, with no rest days, the only 24/7 restaurant I know of in Sejong). Technically, haejanguk is a spicy meat broth with chunks of meats added, but most Koreans think “intestines” and “curdled cubes of oxblood” when talking about haejanguk. Haejanguk is usually seen as hangover food. In the same way Americans might go to IHOP after a night clubbing, haejanguk is kind of like the traditional Korean version of greasy diner food.
I always order the 특 size (i.e. super-sized version), and out comes a spicy, boiling hot broth topped with mung sprouts, green onions, sheep intestine, and blocks of congealed blood. The person who took me to this restaurant said, “Wow, this really tastes homemade.” Even to a lay person like me, it tasted incredibly delicate. There’s no metallic or iron-y aftertaste. If you told me it was a slightly tangy tofu, I would have believed you. Add to that the distinctly meaty flavor of the intestines, and it was a hearty meal.
The soup comes with a side of rice, and spicy oil which you can add into the soup base. Koreans usually dump all the rice into the soup, but that’s too hardcore for me – I like to keep the soup to rice ratio low, so I can control the spiciness factor.
Beware of the fresh green peppers that come as a side dish! Just a general life tip in Korea: these peppers are really tricky, because some are extremely mild and taste like a green bell pepper. Others (that look EXACTLY the same), will eviscerate your tongue. This place seems to only serve the dangerous type.
If you want the broth, minus the blood and the intestines, you can order the 소고기해장국 (sogogi haejangguk), which has the same veggies, but only slices of beef. I’ve had it once, but it was relatively bland compared to the blood and intestines.
Jokbal, Korean-style pigs feet, is the restaurant’s other specialty. When you order jokbal here, they give you gloves in order to eat with your hands. This place serves the jokbal cold, which makes the texture of the fat and collagen more noticeable. Taste-wise it’s fine, but the texture, which is similar to greasy, over-tough jello, threw me off.
Don’t worry if you are on your own. Plenty of people eat here by themselves. I come in by myself and order in my halting Korean, and the workers are super nice. 옛날 해장국 & 족발 (Yetnal Haejangguk & Jokbal) is the perfect spot for a midnight meal.
Directions: Take bus 215, 601, or 620 to the Cheotmael 1-danji stop. Walk up Nari 2-ro towards the Cheotmael First Prime 1-danji Apartments. You’ll pass Lee Chard Pro Hair on your left. Cross the street and walk inside the building with the Baskin Robbins. The mall, which looks like a regular building, has many entrances, but most of them have ads for “Ming” plastered on there (Ming is a Zagat-rated Chinese restaurant inside the mall).
Take bus 991 or BRT to the Cheotmael 2-danji stop. Walk towards the Cheotmael First Prime 1-danji Apartments. Starbucks will be on your left. Cross the street and turn right. Walk inside the building with the signs for Ming.
Price Range: ₩6,000-₩10,000
Dish Picks: 양평해장국 (Yang Pyung Haejangguk)
Hours: 24/7 Everyday