#15: 곱창 (Gob Chang)

23 Feb

Should it really be a point of pride for a neighborhood to be renowned for the quality of its beef intestines?  I mean, being the “best” at something doesn’t necessarily make you “good.”  Before heading to the Gyo Dae neighborhood for my first encounter with the business end of a steer’s insides, I couldn’t help but assume that this was one of those cases.  But everyone I asked insisted that this was the place to go for “the best” 곱창.  And since this wasn’t exactly a food I was willing to say “Screw it, give me the cheap stuff,” I took the advice I was given and sought out a restaurant in Gyo Dae.

I’m not squeamish by any means.  I’ve eaten live octopus and drank camel’s milk freshly squeezed from the camel’s teat.  Hell, I even ate a wasp once in exchange for a free burrito.  So the idea of eating cow intestine never grossed me out; I just found it hard to believe that it would be an enjoyable experience.  But by now I’ve learned not to judge a food – any food – until I’ve tried it at least once, if not two or three times just to be sure.  Sure enough, my doubts proved unwarranted and in retrospect, I should have known from the get-go.  Think about it:  how could an animal that’s made out of steak be anything but delicious?

So last Friday, I made the trip to the cleverly named 교대곱창 (Gyo Dae Gob Chang), the best known restaurant in the area.  The original was so popular that it spawned two additions right next door and all three locations were full to capacity when we arrived.  The air in the restaurant was thick with the surprisingly pleasant aroma of various unrecognizable cow parts being grilled at all of the tables.  Our waitress gave us a plastic bag to store our jackets, even though I kind of like the smell of grilled food on my clothes – a sentiment that our cab driver apparently shared, complimenting my friend and me on the fragrance that tagged along with us after dinner.

After stashing our jackets away, my friend ordered for us and out came a pile of distinctly unappealing innards:  small intestine, large intestine, heart and a smattering of vegetables served in a large pan to be cooked at the table.  The heart and small intestine seemed to be served au naturel, with few to no spices.  The large intestine was stuffed with fat and sat on top of everything else and bore an unsettling resemblance to the waste product nature intended it to carry.

 

The side dishes were even more daunting:  three red, glistening cubes of raw liver and an unidentifiable skin-like substance, also raw.

How would Doug Funny have handled this one?

 

As the main course sizzled away, I decided to knock back a piece or two of the liver and its gray companion.  The gray stuff was tough to chew and vaguely gritty, but otherwise tasteless.  The liver, on the other hand, was soft and while I wouldn’t say it was tasty, it exceeded my expectations simply by not triggering my gag reflex.

Once the veggies and innards cooked down, they looked significantly more appealing.  In fact, once they were cut into smaller pieces, they didn’t resemble intestines much at all.  Grease from the fat stuffed in the large intestine had dripped out into the pan, allowing the flavors of all the foods to mix and mingle and the results were delicious.  The large intestines were a little hard to chew, but the flavor from the fat and the onions more than made up for it.  Afterwards, the waitress took our pan and used the drippings to fry up a hellacious serving of fried rice – some of the best I’ve ever had, in fact.

So, it turns out that being the best beef intestine restaurant in town is a moniker to be proud of.  It’s certainly not for everyone but if you’re willing to be a little adventurous, give it a try.  At the very least, go with your friends and stick around for the fried rice.

8 Responses to “#15: 곱창 (Gob Chang)”

  1. Pam Burkhalter February 23, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Graham – Another entertaining post! I actually did LOL at the section about the liver NOT triggering your gag reflex. Pictures of the restaurant AND the blogger would please this reader.

    • Your Sister February 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

      I’m only replying to Mom’s comment because I’m too lazy to figure out how to post my own original comment. I just wanted to point out that you also ate soap bubbles for a quarter one time.

  2. Arthur Skinner February 23, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Lov the post.

    I think I’ll stick to the part of the cow called a Filet Mignon (French for “cute fillet” or “dainty fillet”) a steak cut of beef taken from the tenderloin, or psoas major of the beef carcass, usually a steer or heifer.

    Do you know if your intestines dinner was produced from the steer of heifer, I’ve hear the heifer has the most flavorful and tender intestines, unless she was under sever stress in the field. 😉

  3. Bob Meloche February 23, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    It is only a guess, but the gray stuff has a tripe like appearance. Based on your taste description, (tough to chew and vaguely gritty, but otherwise tasteless) it could well be tripe. Bon Appetite!

  4. craig burkhalter February 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    You can have my portion. My students had an assignment to read your blog. They find it entertaining. Keep it up.

  5. Matt Venick March 2, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Ok, I’ll give. What does Doug Funny have to do with beef intestines? I’m quite curious.
    Great entry, bud. I’m hooked!

    • eastmeetsmacon March 2, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

      Doug spends an entire episode fretting over a dinner party at Patti’s house because she tells him that she’s serving liver and onions.

  6. Kurt March 13, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    This is amusing. I am still curious though. I spoke with someone very close to you and understand you have a problem with green beans. What would it take to get you to try one of those?

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