Are Your Eyes as Big as This Stomach?

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Are Your Eyes as Big as This Stomach?

The headlines concerning fears about mad cow disease in Korea do not seem to have halted or even slowed the traffic toward some specialized restaurants here. On busy evenings, diners have to sign up for a long wait, often more than half an hour, to eat what's now considered a threat to the health of human brain tissue in the West: the internal organs of cows, a longtime Korean delicacy. Restaurant patrons and owners appear unconcerned, saying that the risk is limited to cows from Europe, or at least, outside Korea.

The fashion for cow's internal organs, yang and gopchang in particular, cooked Korean-style has caught on fast in Japan, too. Grilled yang, cow's stomach, and gopchang, intestine or tripe, are now so popular there that they have been given a Japanese name: horumon yaki horumon,the Japanese pronunciation of hormone, and yaki, meaning grill. According to some Japanese claims, the dishes contain animal hormones good for boosting stamina. Both yang and gopchang are pure Korean terms (and not Chinese-derived). Yang means stomach, gopchang literally iigreasy They have been eaten and enjoyed ever since Koreans settled on the peninsula. Yang dishes are usually made of only the gitmeori or the uppermost part of the cow's four-part stomach. The stomach is served grilled or boiled except for the third part, called cheonyeop , which is often eaten raw when very fresh.

Gopchang is the cow's small intestine. It doesn™t take a gourmet's palate to enjoy gopchang. First-time diners can also savor the distinctive texture, tender and chewy, and the delicious taste of gop or the greasy inside of the intestine when grilled perfectly. When gopchang is undercooked, it is too rubbery; when overcooked, it shrinks. For the optimal flavor and texture, gopchang should be cooked fast on a very strong fire.

At most specialized restaurants, yang and gopchang are sold together because yang is pricier than other meat parts, making the more-affordable gopchang a perfect partner to fill up a hungry stomach. Both the dishes taste best when cooked fresh, but growing demand has made less expensive frozen imports available. Most diners in Korea choose to eat these dishes in restaurants rather than at home because preparing them is time-consuming and laborious. Here the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition recommends some of Seoul's best restaurants specializing in yang and gopchang.

Geobuk Gopchang
Location: About 10 minutes’ walk from Gyodae subway station (line #2), across from Seoul National University of Education.

Tel: 02-586-0032 (Korean only)
Hours: 5 p.m. - 12 a.m.

Location: About 15 minutes’ walk from Sam-seong subway station (line #2), near the Bud-dhist temple Bongeunsa and the COEX mall.
Tel: 02-511-0068 (Korean and Japanese)
Hours: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Location: Behind the Korea Customs Service in Nonhyeon-dong in Gangnam.
Tel: 02-514-4587~8 (Korean and English)
Hours: 11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Dure Guksu
Location: About 10 minutes’ walk from Apgu-jeong station (Line #3), behind Samwon Garden
and Somang Church.
Tel: 02-3444-1421 (Korean only)
Hours: 10 a.m. - 11 p.m.

by Ines Cho

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