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Fiery, pungent tteokbokki

[Kim Mi Suk’s Favorite Restaurant] Tteokbokki, or rice cakes stir-fried in hot sauce, is one of the Korea’s representative dishes, having long been loved by most Koreans. However, there is a kind of tteokbokki that even Koreans hesitate to taste because of its unrivaled pungent-hot taste. Despite the name of the restaurant Jangsu Mandu, which implies that the place specializes in Korean dumplings, the main dish at this restaurant is a spicy tteokbokki.

I was introduced to this restaurant by a friend of mine who is willing to go anywhere for a chance to taste spicy food. When she first took me to the restaurant, I felt it was too far out of the way because you had to take an indirect route through rough streets to get there, but since then a new road that goes directly to the place has opened. Now the restaurant has become a familiar place that comes to mind whenever I want to eat something spicy.

Since then I have seen a number of tteokbokki restaurants pop up on the streets, but the deep fiery taste of this particular restaurant’s tteokbokki has yet to be surpassed, not least because of it stubbornly sticks to that deep, rich spicy taste. Thanks to the huge fan base for this taste, the restaurant is always crowded with a diverse set of people from families with, for example, an elementary school student or a preschooler to couples on a date.

You may know there are a variety of spicy tastes. The hot taste you can savor in this restaurant is the one that leaves a pungent taste on your tongue with the heat swirling in your head till sweat slowly forms from deep inside. In this situation, how could my chopsticks keep working to shovel tteokbokki into my mouth? When spicy food makes you sweat, you will be enraptured for reasons that cannot easily be identified. What do you think is the attraction that drives me to such uneconomical, irrational behavior? To visit the restaurant, I pay more for the transportation than for the food itself.

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