Fire Noodles in Black Bean Sauce – NJ
I’ve been going to Mandarin, a Chinese-Korean restaurant in Palisades Park, for years. They have best jajangmyun (자장면, wheat noodles in black bean sauce) in the area because of their noodles. The noodles are made in-house, and to attest to this fact, they used to have a monitors in the dining area showing the cooks hand-pulling the noodles in the kitchen. Now the monitors show Korean programming. I guess the people working out front got tired of watching the back of the house day in, day out. In any case, the noodles are still good, and late last year I learned about their buljajajangmyun (불자장면, literally “fire jajangmyun”) through my brother’s friend, Young. By the way, I have a somewhat funny story about him. When I started this blog, I used to get a lot of weird comments that I attributed to an evil troll. Later on, I discovered it was Young. See, “somewhat funny.” I guess pestering your friend’s little sister never ends, even when she’s no longer little. Regardless of the source, since then, buljajangmyun has become a favorite of mine and my brother’s.
Buljajangmyun ($8.95) at Mandarin is similar to ganjajangmyun (간자장면) in that the sauce is more intense, and the noodles and sauce are served separately. What sets the two apart, however, are the diced jalapeno peppers in the sauce. Lots of peppers. As a result, the sauce is spicy, extremely spicy. Proceed with caution. I’m warning you, your lips and stomach will burn. I consider it in a good way, you may not.
If you’re sensitive to heat, don’t mix in all the sauce at once. They always give you more sauce than necessary, so add it in little by little. Although the sauce being very thick, if you add too little, the starchy noodles won’t get sauced properly and stick. But really, if you can’t take the heat, order the regular jajangmyung ($6.95). There’s no shame in it. In fact, my mom considers the buljajangmyun a rip. According to her, why pay two more dollars for some peppers?
Of course the other option is the Jjambbong (짬뽕, $8.95), the same house-made noodles in a spicy seafood soup. When I was little, I always preferred jajangmyun over jjambbong because I found the latter too greasy (the vegetables and some of the seafood are sautéed in oil before being added to the soup), but now for some reason, I don’t mind the grease as much and every once in a while I order jjambbong. The jjambbong at Mandarin is pretty good, the noodles are chewy and the soup has a rich seafood flavor. If you can’t decide between the jjambbong or the jajangmyun, Mandarin has the split bowl where you can have half and half, one on either side (called Jjamjamyun, 짬자면), but I prefer to order the opposite of my dining companion instead and share. In the split bowl scenario, I notice you always get less of each. Why have less when you can have more? Especially if one person is ordering the buljajangmyun. Thanks Young for the tip! (No need to leave a comment.)
110 Broad Avenue, 2nd Floor (b/n W Harwood & W Edsall Ave; map)
Palisades Park, NJ 07650
What if they recorded them making noodles one day and just looped it everyday? Then they trucked in noodles after that. It would be the ultimate in trickery.
Evil troll will probably now be offended that I questioned his jjajangmyun joint.
@Nicholas – Haha, it’s possible, but I doubt it. It would be cheaper to make the noodles in-house! Also, not his joint. Just his tip about the fire noodles.
Have loved jajangmyun since I was a kid. Never had it with the jalapeños, although I’m betting I would love that since I’m prone to pouring sambal all over my noodles when I have them. Its awesome that they make their noodles, would love to try out this place as I’m always on the hunt for good Korean fare. Thanks for posting this!
How is this comparable to Shanghai Mong in Ktown?
@Connie – Chili oil is also good in jajangmyun. At Chinese-Korean restaurants where they don’t have chili oil, I always ask for red pepper for regular jajangmyun.
@someguy – I’m not too crazy about Shanghai Mong. I prefer Hyo Dong Gak. I feel their non-noodle dishes are better prepared.
Omggg I love both jjajungmyun & jambong!!! <333 I must stop by this place!! There's this other Chinese-Korean fusion place by KTown that my friend took me to before that also serves a good combo of jjajungmyun & jambong (so you get 2 in 1!!).
never have any of them here. i think Chinese-Korean restaurants are only exclusive for NY. you need a certain number of Chinese, Korean & brave NYC eaters to pull it off.
@Eileen – Oh I think you mean Shanghai Mong. They have the split bowl. That place is all right, but as I mentioned, I like Hyo Dong Gak better, even if they don’t have the split bowl.
@uken – Not just in NY. They have it in Korea and all over the US and Canada. It’s good! I’ll take you one day!
@uken. no I have to disagree with you. I’ve been eating jajangmyun in various locations around houston, tx. I definitely agree that the people who can pull it off are usually the chinese-korean people. I love this dish, and usually you can find this dish being the best in the restaurants that serve it with the chinese kimchi, tamugi/takwan, onion & the black sauce. love this dish.