The Jja Jang Myun At Cafe Hanover Looks A Hot Mess, But Is Pretty On The Inside

I’ve eaten a lot of things that are hard to take tasty-looking pictures of – i.e. every Indian steam table lunch ever – but when I took the lid off my latest Korean meal from Cafe Hanover on Hanover Sq. (at Pearl) my heart sank a little because it looked pretty unappealing. By that I mean it looked like there was an oil spill all over some udon noodles, and that became my introduction to the dish called jja jang myun on their menu, also known as jajangmyeon.

The dish is is listed under the “chef’s specials” part of the menu. (Can a place with steam tables and a buffet have a chef?) The description of pork, squash and onions in black bean sauce over noodles sounded kind of awesome and the price was right at $8.50.  It comes with a small container of kimchi and something neon yellow and pickled.

This is what I saw when I took the lid off. I mean, it smelled amazing, but I understood why some tourists walking by gave me a weird look when they  saw what I was eating, and started talking amongst themselves. The first note I will make is, if you don’t like onions (or have an important meeting after lunch), do not order this. The sauce had tons of finely diced bits of onion, what was either squash or potato, and a minimal amount of pork. The noodles were probably not entirely authentic, as they were the kind of udon found in Japanese soup, but worked at soaking up the sauce. It may be hard to tell from the picture, but this serving size could have fed a small family or at least two hungry office workers, so consider sharing if you’re down with slurping noodles with someone else.

I’ve only tried a couple of the Korean dishes at Cafe Hanover, but they were both winners and came in portions big enough for two meals. I’m thinking once winter and its accompanying carb cravings hit I’m going to be eating this ugly yet delicious dish again.

Cafe Hanover, 5 Hanover Sq. (at Pearl), (212) 809-6808



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