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Jomaru Korean Hot Pot offers three meals in one

One pot of tabletop prepared gam-ja-tang can yield pork stew, noodle soup, and fried rice

A pot of gam-ja-tang — a Korean pork neck stew — finished on a tabletop stove
A pot of gam-ja-tang — a Korean pork neck stew — finished on a tabletop stove
Video:

FEAST!: Jomaru Korean Hot Pot offers three meals in one


Our server takes one look at me and decides I will need a bib. What she hands me is more like a plastic smock, or apron: it loops over my head and ties around my waist, covering my lap as well as my chest. But it doesn't matter. Five minutes later, I've already managed to land drops of spicy red broth on the few parts of my shirt the apron doesn't cover. My wife, who didn't need a bib, may never stop laughing.

Place

Jomaru Korean Hot Pot

2220 E Plaza Blvd., Suite D, National City


To be fair, it's my first time trying gam-ja-tang, and as the restaurant fills up with customers, I'm relieved to see it's not just me the waitstaff decides to sheath in plastic. Anyone with a white or light-colored shirt gets a bib. Which makes sense, because gam-ja-tang, simmering and served at your table, can get messy.


Gam-ja-tang is a style of pork neck bone soup, the specialty of Jomaru Gamjatang, a restaurant chain that launched in Korea 35 years ago, and has opened hundreds of locations, primarily on the other side of the Pacific. For the moment, Jomaru has precisely two locations in the U.S., both of them here in San Diego, operating under a name more accessible to American diners than gam-ja-tang or neck bone stew: Jomaru Korean Hot Pot.


I slept on the first shop, which opened on Convoy a couple years ago. But it must have been a successful launch, because a second location recently opened in National City. Hoping to make up for lost time — and find easier parking — that's where I went to inevitably stain my shirt.


The second U.S. location of Jomaru Korean Hot Pot, in National City. The first is on Convoy.
Sponsored
Sponsored


Jomaru offers a familiar hot pot set up, with a portable range providing heat on your tabletop. Unlike Japaense shabu-shabu or Korean BBQ, this is less to cook the food than to ensure it remains sizzling hot. The stew is brought to our table mostly cooked — that is, the pork bone broth is already swimming with oils and spices, the pile of neck bones stacked in its center already well-braised. Scallions, chives, potatoes, small bits of potato pasta, baby Napa cabbage, and large sesame leaves have been added just before leaving the kitchen, and will simmer down into the broth as our server stirs them in.


For two people, a $40 medium order will suffice; three or more will want a $55 large. The kitchen will send extra broth should you need it, and there's an option to add extra toppings ($15 for extra pork, $3-4 apiece for veggies or noodles).


I'm never squeamish about eating pork neck, because I know how terrific it tastes when cooked right, and sure enough, this stuff is fall off the bone tender: a pair of tongs is provided to fish the large, meaty hunks of bone out of the pot and into your bowl, but chopsticks are all you'll need to separate the morsels of flesh. A small, bone discard bucket is also provided.

After the stew is done, the remaining broth is used to cook fried rice


In addition to the regular toppings, you may add a choice of noodles: ramen, udon, or vermicelli (really, glass noodles). I definitely recommend doing this, because it's almost like getting two meals out of the same pot: one moment I'm eating gam-ja-tang like a pork and potato stew, the next I'm eating it like a pork noodle soup.


Perhaps more intriguing: for an extra $8, you get to eat gam-ja-tang a third way: as fried rice. Order this approach, and as you eat your way down the pot, your server will remove any lingering bones or vegetables, and take it back to kitchen, where rice is added to soak up the remaining broth. This comes back to your table with seaweed and diced daikon radishes, and now this time, the dish is cooked at the table, yielding a particularly flavorful fried rice with or without the addition of melting cheese. Finally, something I can eat without getting my shirt dirty.

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A pot of gam-ja-tang — a Korean pork neck stew — finished on a tabletop stove
A pot of gam-ja-tang — a Korean pork neck stew — finished on a tabletop stove
Video:

FEAST!: Jomaru Korean Hot Pot offers three meals in one


Our server takes one look at me and decides I will need a bib. What she hands me is more like a plastic smock, or apron: it loops over my head and ties around my waist, covering my lap as well as my chest. But it doesn't matter. Five minutes later, I've already managed to land drops of spicy red broth on the few parts of my shirt the apron doesn't cover. My wife, who didn't need a bib, may never stop laughing.

Place

Jomaru Korean Hot Pot

2220 E Plaza Blvd., Suite D, National City


To be fair, it's my first time trying gam-ja-tang, and as the restaurant fills up with customers, I'm relieved to see it's not just me the waitstaff decides to sheath in plastic. Anyone with a white or light-colored shirt gets a bib. Which makes sense, because gam-ja-tang, simmering and served at your table, can get messy.


Gam-ja-tang is a style of pork neck bone soup, the specialty of Jomaru Gamjatang, a restaurant chain that launched in Korea 35 years ago, and has opened hundreds of locations, primarily on the other side of the Pacific. For the moment, Jomaru has precisely two locations in the U.S., both of them here in San Diego, operating under a name more accessible to American diners than gam-ja-tang or neck bone stew: Jomaru Korean Hot Pot.


I slept on the first shop, which opened on Convoy a couple years ago. But it must have been a successful launch, because a second location recently opened in National City. Hoping to make up for lost time — and find easier parking — that's where I went to inevitably stain my shirt.


The second U.S. location of Jomaru Korean Hot Pot, in National City. The first is on Convoy.
Sponsored
Sponsored


Jomaru offers a familiar hot pot set up, with a portable range providing heat on your tabletop. Unlike Japaense shabu-shabu or Korean BBQ, this is less to cook the food than to ensure it remains sizzling hot. The stew is brought to our table mostly cooked — that is, the pork bone broth is already swimming with oils and spices, the pile of neck bones stacked in its center already well-braised. Scallions, chives, potatoes, small bits of potato pasta, baby Napa cabbage, and large sesame leaves have been added just before leaving the kitchen, and will simmer down into the broth as our server stirs them in.


For two people, a $40 medium order will suffice; three or more will want a $55 large. The kitchen will send extra broth should you need it, and there's an option to add extra toppings ($15 for extra pork, $3-4 apiece for veggies or noodles).


I'm never squeamish about eating pork neck, because I know how terrific it tastes when cooked right, and sure enough, this stuff is fall off the bone tender: a pair of tongs is provided to fish the large, meaty hunks of bone out of the pot and into your bowl, but chopsticks are all you'll need to separate the morsels of flesh. A small, bone discard bucket is also provided.

After the stew is done, the remaining broth is used to cook fried rice


In addition to the regular toppings, you may add a choice of noodles: ramen, udon, or vermicelli (really, glass noodles). I definitely recommend doing this, because it's almost like getting two meals out of the same pot: one moment I'm eating gam-ja-tang like a pork and potato stew, the next I'm eating it like a pork noodle soup.


Perhaps more intriguing: for an extra $8, you get to eat gam-ja-tang a third way: as fried rice. Order this approach, and as you eat your way down the pot, your server will remove any lingering bones or vegetables, and take it back to kitchen, where rice is added to soak up the remaining broth. This comes back to your table with seaweed and diced daikon radishes, and now this time, the dish is cooked at the table, yielding a particularly flavorful fried rice with or without the addition of melting cheese. Finally, something I can eat without getting my shirt dirty.

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The latest copy of the Reader

Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Shorebirds active in local tidal zones, full buck moon on Sunday

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Events July 21-July 24, 2024
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