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Authentic Korean flavour in Hanoi

Dalgoogi Makchang is located in the Nam Trung Yen urban centre in Cau Giay District, which is dubbed as “little Korea”, about 10km from central Hanoi.
Since its establishment, Dalgoogi Makchang has become a popular rendezvous for many expatriate Koreans and Vietnamese lovers of Korean cuisine in Hà Nội. VNS Photo Lương Hương

Once having the opportunity to live in Seoul for nearly one month, I often crave the cuisine of “kimchi land” where I had so many unforgettable memories.

Following a friend's suggestion, I decided to have lunch at the Korean restaurant Dalgoogi Makchang, which specialises in makchang (beef and pork intestines), a popular food in Seoul that I had never tried before.

Dalgoogi Makchang is located in the Nam Trung Yên urban centre in Cầu Giấy District, which is dubbed as “little Korea”, about 10km from central Hà Nội.

Dalgoogi Makchang has been established in South Korea since 1999. Its branch in Hà Nội opened three years ago when its chef and owner, Jung Joong-jae, moved to the city and decided to make it his second home.

Since its establishment, the restaurant has become a popular rendezvous for many expatriate Koreans and Vietnamese lovers of Korean cuisine in Hà Nội. It is particularly crowded at weekends, so reservation is highly recommended.

Small side dishes in Korean cuisine,called banchan, are served as a gesture of hospitality. VNS Photo Lương Hương

Before the main course, I was served banchan, small side dishes in Korean cuisine. The set done on the house as a gesture of hospitality includes mostly vegetables: kimchi, salad, chives, garlic stem, rolled omelette and fried tofu. They can be eaten as appetisers, though they’re meant to go alongside the rest of the meal, particularly those with grilled meat or a bubbling stew.

Among those side dishes, I was incredibly impressed with kimchi, which is indispensable to every Korean meal. The dish looks spicy with the deep red chilli powder, but the kimchi served at the restaurant is not too spicy while maintaining its distinctive sour, salty and umami flavour.

The restaurant served three kinds of meat for the main courses – made from South Korea (premium), made in the USA, and made in Viêt Nam – a trinity of meaty goodness.

Containing a rich amount of fat, iron, vitamins, protein, and low cholesterol, makchang has many health benefits. VNS Photo Lương Hương

Of course, I selected its signature dish – makchang, which includes pork bung, pork tail, pork intestine smoked with oakwood, and ribeye steak. According to the chef, all the ingredients are imported from South Korea and have their quality guaranteed.

Containing a rich amount of fat, iron, vitamins, protein, and low cholesterol, makchang is supposedly to energise the whole body and strengthen the stomach and spleen. It also is said to protect one's intestines and minimise dizziness.

Diners at Dalgoogi Makchang do not have to grill the meat themselves as the waitresses help them with it. Unlike the Vietnamese style, where ingredients are often seasoned beforehand, the beef in Korean meals is rarely added with any spices to preserve its original taste.

The meat is cooked with slices of onion that eliminate the smell and potatoes that help absorb the oil. Grilled tripe and entrails contain a lot of fat, but the pans are designed with holes to get the oil drip through them. That’s why the diners will not feel greasy at all.

A dish of 'makchang'. The meat can be eaten as soon as its colour changes to brown, when it is chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside. VNS Photo Lương Hương

The meat can be eaten as soon as its colour changes to brown and the outer part get slightly sooty. This is when it is chewy, and crispy on the outside.

I was advised to taste the grilled makchang before dipping it in soy sauce to enjoy its original flavour. But it is a perfect match with the sauce and chopped scallions. Wrapping the meat in lettuce leaves and eating it with chives or kimchi also helps minimise the greasiness of oil and boosts the taste.

The pig tail smoked with oakwood and ribeye steak are absolutely my favourite. While the first has an attractive smell similar to sausages and a savoury taste, the second is juicy and tender with a rich buttery flavour, perfect for a meat lover like me!

After satisfying my stomach with meat and needing some relaxation from the grease, I decided on another couple of soups that sounded enticing: beef rib soup and soybean paste stew.

Galbitang is a nourishing soup with a delicate flavour. VNS Photo Lương Hương

Many Korean dishes have medicinal properties, and beef rib soup is one of them. The soup, called Galbitang in Korean, is a hearty, nourishing soup with a delicate flavour. The ribs are boiled with healthy ingredients such as Korean radish, onion, garlic, and ginger until they become tender.

My lunch was finished with a bowl of freshly steamed rice mixed with hot Korean soybean paste stew, or doenjang jjigae. Its intense, rich, savoury taste is a harmonious combination of its toothsome ingredients: Korean soybean paste called doenjang, soup stock, beef, tofu, courgette, potatoes and onions. It is a must-try dish for those who love miso soup.

Korean soybeans paste stew, or doenjang jjigae. VNS Photo Lương Hương

A lunch at Dalgoogi Makchang is pleasant and satisfying. If you ever wander to Hà Nội's "little Korea" and crave authentic Korean food, it is well worth giving it a try. VNS

Dalgoogi Makchang

Add: Lot 1C, A10, the Nam Trung Yên urban centre, Yên Hòa Ward, Cầu Giấy District.

Tel: 038 423 6788

Comment: Authentic, tasty Korean dishes, attentive service, cosy atmosphere. Reservation is recommended.

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