words by Joyce Kong
Many cultures utilize more unconventional cuts of the cow, even going within the cow for some choice bits. In Korea, I’m talking about gopchang (곱창) which is usually beef (sometimes pork) intestines. Gopchang is usually grilled Korean barbecue-style over hot coals, though sometimes it comes stir-fried with an assortment of vegetables in a spicy sauce. When raw, gopchang resembles a pinkish squiggle of gross, but it’s actually quite flavorful and texturally interesting when grilled and sliced into more manageable, bite-sized pieces. Gopchang tends to be quite fatty, and fat means flavor. Think buttery bursts of beefiness paired with a subtly pleasant touch of barnyard in each chewy bite. Koreans tend to enjoy the chewiness when eating gopchang, so to clarify, the rubber tire mouthfeel is a good thing.
Because gopchang is a part of the digestive tract, it’s important to choose a restaurant that cleans that tract thoroughly. Avoid the touristy street stalls around Dongdaemun. If you’re going to go street a la Psy’s Gentleman (he eats gopchang in the music video’s drinking tent scene), go to Wangsimni where there’s a specific area known of quality gopchang. Otherwise, stick to a place with a good reputation for squeaky clean, unctuously beefy gopchang.
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Gugongtan is a restaurant franchise that is booming in Seoul. Known for their grilled gopchang served on a round griddle with cheese and vegetables, Goo Gong Tan is a great place to spend hours drinking and chowing down on some gopchang! There are various locations across Seoul, but we recommend visiting the Hapjeong location for its inviting interior and the shops close by.
Kim Deok Hu, an already booming restaurant franchise name, has many stores open across Seoul for their gopchang. Kim Deok Hu has unlimited refill sets and great sides menu items like raw beef (육회), rice boxes and more, making it THE place to splurge with your friends. You can find their many locations through their website, but most of their franchises are in the Hongdae area.