The last time I wrote about Chung Dam Dong, I mentioned my favorite chulpan/stir-fry was the squid and pork belly. Well, things have changed and my new favorite is…
the baby octopus and pork belly (쭈꾸미 삼겹 철판 볶음; $34.99). I originally preferred the squid over the regular octopus because the squid was more tender and flavorful, but you get the same effect in octopus form if you order the baby octopus (jjookkoomi, 쭈꾸미). (Jjookkoomi is often translated as baby octopus, but it’s actually a smaller species of octopus. In Korean restaurants, it’s referred to as either small octopus, baby octopus, or short leg octopus. All of these are the same. Just order it if you like octopus.) It’s very tender, and because it’s smaller, all its little body parts get better soused in the fiery, garlicky sauce.
Also, I’d like to bring up something that happened this past Sunday. One order of any of the stir-fries supposedly feeds two people. However, it’s pretty big and it’s more than enough for three people to share, especially considering the fried rice they make you at the end with the leftover sauce and meat. I know this because I’ve ordered this several times, and even with three people we’ve taken leftovers home. So I’m not sure what the deal was with the waitress this weekend, but she kept insisting it wasn’t enough. In fact, when she was telling my sister-in-law this, and my mom replied we’ll order more if we think it’s not enough food, she actually interrupted her in a condescending tone and told her to let her speak. It was outrageously rude, and I almost went ballistic. No one puts Mommy in the corner! Fortunately, she gave up after a while and later a much more friendlier waitress took over our table. So if this happens to you, be strong! One order will sufficiently feed three people.
Also, one more tip. Make sure the gas is left on and stays on after the fried rice is made so some nooroongji (누룽지; crunchy, browned rice) forms at the bottom. Our gas went out midway (our grill was probably faulty, or cursed by the nasty waitress), and we got no crunchy rice action. We could have waited after the gas was lit again, but we were too impatient. When fried rice is staring you in the face, crunchy bottom or not, it’s hard to resist.
As I wrote previously, a spectacular meal can be had at Chung Dam Dong, but sometimes it takes a little more effort.
Chung Dam Dong (청담동)
118 Broad Ave, 2nd Floor (b/n W Edsall & W Harwood Ave; map)
Palisades Park, NJ 07650