I was pleasantly surprised when FOY, Vicky emailed me and said she had a post ready! It was sorta like an old friend popping in for a surprise visit. It also seems that Vicky has a few posts in the pipeline, so I'm sure we're all looking forward to that! So I thought it would be appropriate to do a post on a restaurant Vicky first posted on back in February of 2007, Chon Ju Jip.
We used to grab a meal here when the restaurant was named Ko Hayang Jip, it then became Go Ba Woo, and now Chon Ju Jip. I've been told that even though the name(s) and menus have changed, the main cooks have remained the same. I'm not certain, but I can say that this place does some major bang up business later in the evenings. Go a bit early on, and the tiny place is usually pretty empty.
There are several dishes we enjoy, and though you won't see the hot pot, because it's been too darn hot for it, there is a decent variety represented on the menu. For us the dishes run from good to some fairly mediocre items. So I think we'll start with a few of our favorites, and work backwards.
But of course, no proper meal at a Korean restaurant can start without some panchan!
The panchan varies on each visit, so I won't go into each item. I will say that you'll probably find something you enjoy. We did notice that the panchan is on the salty side. One of our favorites is the Sesame Leaf (Kaennip - Perilla) panchan:
As I mentioned before, there's always a good variety, usually eight items, and we've been offered refills on each visit.
So let's start with the good. The Missus really enjoys the Kimchi Chigae.
Spicy and salty, with a good amount of pork belly lining the bottom, what's not to like?
It's a well put together version of this comfort Korean Dish, with a nice savory component you can taste beyond the spice.
I was surprised at the tenderness of the Daeji Bulgogi (Spicy Pork):
Melt in the mouth soft without being mushy, this was a pleasant dish. It was perhaps a bit short on the spicy end of the spectrum, but with a nice slightly sweet and fruity finish, I really couldn't complain.
But of all the dishes, our favorite is the Bossam:
Though I would rather have had lettuce as my wrapping tool instead of the hard slices of Napa, you won't have too many more complaints from me. After all, tender, well flavored pork belly, on a leaf with daikon kimchi, a smear of bean paste, chilies, and a slice of raw garlic, what's not to like?
The dish also came with some pretty low quality oysters, which were pretty much an afterthought in my opinion.
We ordered the combination Bossam and Den Jang Chigae ($19.95).
The Soybean Paste Stew was quite salty, and had a fishiness to it that caught you by surprise. After a few sips it seemed that our tastebuds adjusted. This was ok.
And here we start on some other dishes that were ok, but nothing special, like the Hamul Pajun (Seafood Pancake):
The Kimchi Jun suffered from the same gumminess:
Unlike the Daeji Bulgogi, the Bulgogi tasted under-marinaded, and the quality of meat used was very low, as it was rather tough.
Much like it's predecessor, the Dolsot Bi Bim Bap is served on a metal plate rather than a stone bowl. Dolsot means stone bowl.........
For some reason, the crust that forms on these metal plates is not nearly as good as what is formed in a stone bowl. Overall, other than the egg, there was nothing of interest about this version of Dolsot Bi Bim Bap which was topped with a skimpy amount of namul, shredded daikon, and what seemed to be a tablespoon of Bulgogi.
Our overall least favorite dish we've had a Chon Ju Jip was the Dduk Bokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce - $7.95):
To be fair the Dduk (rice cakes) were cooked perfectly, and the sauce was spicy, but sorely lacking in salt, or any other savory flavor. The boiled egg was a nice touch, but what's up with the mushy, overcooked, packaged ramen noodles? There were hardly any pieces of Dduk in this dish, and we were less than satisfied with this.
Like many of these places, YMMV - your mileage may vary, it's mostly a matter of watching what other folks are eating, and just trying various dishes to see what works out for you. I would encourage you to check out the Bossam though. And the various hot pot casseroles look really good, so I'm sure we'll be back for those.
4373 Convoy Street
San Diego, CA 92111