If you want to try something new in Japan, we definitely recommend going to Shin-Okubo Korean Town! Located near Shinjuku Kabukicho, there are a bunch of authentic Korean restaurants which sell Korean BBQ, Korean fried chicken and spicy food. They also have K-pop stores and Korean grocery stores, for those who love K-pop and Korean culture.
Goobne Chicken (굽네치킨)
Goobne Chicken is a fried chicken franchise in South Korea. Although there are many chicken franchises in Shin-Okubo, such as KangHoDong Chicken 678, BBQ Chicken and Hosigi Chicken, we wanted to try the famous ‘UFO Chicken’ by Goobne. This menu does not exist in Korea – they’ve developed this menu since Japanse people like cheesy food and it worked out really well! Sometimes you have to queue up to 2 hours to eat this menu.
UFO Chicken is like fried chicken combined with cheese fondue, and they place the chicken wings and drumsticks around the fondue pot – which looks like a UFO. You can choose one chicken flavour per person, and we ordered Gochu Basasak (고추바사삭) and Galbi Cheonwang (갈비천왕). Gochu Basasak is spicy and crispy while Galbi Cheonwang is a roasted chicken with sweet Galbi sauce.
Both of us like the chicken while it was a bit hard to dip the chicken in the cheese, it didn’t affect the taste! I personally wanted the Gochu Basask to be spicier, but I guess it’s because most Japanese people are not good with spicy food.
Hong Kong Banjeom 0410 (홍콩반점 0410)
Did you know that Korean-Chinese cuisine is a big thing in Korea? Although it’s called ‘Chinese’, you won’t be able to find this food in China. Korean people adapted Chinese food into their own style. This is also a franchise from Korea, owned by Jong-won Paik. He is a really famous restaurant franchise owner – his restaurants range from Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Western and cafes! Since most of his restaurants are really cheap as well, it is really popular in Korea.
We ordered Jjajangmyeon (짜장면), Jjampong (짬뽕) and Tangsuyuk (탕수육).
Jjajangmyeon is the Korean version of Zhajiangmian. While Zhajiangmian is more beany and salty, Jjajangmyeon is sweeter and there is less bean taste. Even Lena, who hates beans, really liked Jajangmyeon!
Jjampong is a spicy noodle dish with seafood. With Jjajangmyeon, Jjampong is one of the most famous dishes in Korean-Chinese restaurants. Since a lot of people could not make a decision between Jjajangmyeon and Jjampong, Koreans even made a dish that you can taste both of them! – Jjamjjamyeon.
Tangsuyuk is the Korean version of sweet and sour pork – the batter and the sauce is a bit different. Tangsuyuk is chewier, the colour of the sauce is clear and it is less sour than sweet and sour pork.
Korean Corn Dogs 핫도그
Koreans (again) adapted corn dogs into their own style. Have you only seen basic corn dogs with sausages? Koreans have made corn dog batter with potatoes, sometimes put cheese instead of sausage, or put both cheese and sausage in corn dogs! They also do toppings differently, they don’t just put tomato ketchup and mustard sauce – they also roll the corn dogs on sugar, put sweet chilli sauce, cheddar cheese sauce, parmesan and honey butter sauce as well!
Cheese Dakgalbi 치즈 닭갈비
This particular Korean dish gained a lot of popularity among Japanese people. Dakgalbi (닭갈비) is a spicy-marinated chicken that is stir-fried on a big pan. The spicy sauce is based on Gochujang, and you put vegetables and sweet potatoes as well when stir-frying. Cheese Dakgalbi is a modern version of Dakgalbi, rich cheese on top of the chicken cools you down from the spicy taste and makes you keep eating Dakgalbi. Most Koreans finish the dish by making fried rice with the remaining sauce.
Yeopgi Tteokbokki 엽기 떡볶이
Are you a fan of spicy food? Try this tteokbokki with your friends and you might end up in an emergency room (not joking). This will make your tongue, mouth, stomach and whole body ache due to its extreme spiciness! Some people cry while eating this, so make yourself mentally prepared and don’t forget to order milk or Coolpis (I know it sounds a bit weird, but it’s great for cooling down your mouth). Koreans relieve stress by eating extremely spicy food – why don’t you try the Korean way of relieving stress?
Korean Grocery Store
Shin-Okubo Korean Town has many Korean grocery stores, which sell Korean instant noodles, drinks, soju, pastes, side dishes, etc. If you are lazy to prepare and make food every day, I recommend buying some side dishes from Korean grocery stores because it lasts really long and the price is not bad too! Lena really liked Korean chocolate milk – she commented that the chocolate has a really thick chocolate taste, which feels like they’ve just melted the chocolate and made it into a drink.
Since Koreans are famous for having good skins, their skincare products and skincare routine became really famous around the world. You can find Korean mask sheets everywhere and in this Korean town, you can find authentic Korean cosmetics brands. They are not only famous for having quality skincare products, but also for good quality make-up items for a relatively cheap price.
K-pop has become famous, especially in Asian countries. You can find a bunch of K-pop stores that sell photo cards, posters, socks and slogans for K-pop fans. These stores have products for many different groups, such as Twice, BTS and IZONE, so if you’re a K-pop fan, don’t forget to stop by and check out!
This blog post was written by Jioh and Lena, Seibo Japan/Mobal Japan’s interns from South Korea and Texas.