Nagwon Garden: Even Decent Jajungmien is a Good Lunch

I am always, always searching for great jajangmyeon, the Korean dish of fermented bean paste, zucchini, onions (and often pork), over fat noodles. There is something about it that makes me go through great lengths to get some. (Coincidentally, Meal Ticket just posted a recipe for the Chinese version, but I’d rather leave it to the pros) Previously, I could begrudgingly get my fix at Pastoral, weird service and all, but they’ve closed. So now I have to travel a little farther from home to seek it out. I found some at Nagwon Garden in West Philly.

But first, their banchan. I enjoyed the kimchee and potatoes, but I would advise to steer clear of the mushy looking cucumbers, they taste like a fish died in them.

After the banchan, I asked for a bowl of mandoo soup, expecting a giant bowl to be brought to the table. Instead I got a normal person sized serving. This wouldn’t make a main dish, but I have a feeling the giant bowl I was picturing is available if you ask for it. I probably confused the waitress by ordering this along with my jajaungmein. The flavors of the soup and the mandoo were surprisingly mild, you would barely know it was a Korean soup. I may have confused it for kreplach soup had a bout of amnesia caused me to forget where I was dining.  Despite its ambiguity, it was comforting and I enjoyed it.

When it came out, I was pleased that it looked right. But unfortunately the sauce was a little watery. The flavors were there, just not strong or thick enough to be the jajungmien fantasy vision in my head. The noodles were terrific, I am not sure if they are made in house. The giant bowl was $8 and could easily make 2 lunches, so while not the best version, you could do a lot worse. And the dish is such a unique combo of flavor and texture that even a not perfect version is a nice change of pace from your turkey sandwich.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • A giant bowl of saucy noodles that will feed me for 2 days, yes!

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • I have had better jajungmien
  • Whoever invented fish cucumbers should be flogged
  • I like a more seasoned mandoo

Nagwon Garden, 7650 West Chester Pike, Upper Darby, 610 449-1800


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