BUSAN, South Korea – At first glance, Keun Jip looks like any other run of the mill Dwajee Guk Bap joint. And despite the fact that the giant Korean letters spelling out their signature dish, “dwajee guk bap” (????) dominate the sign out front –to the point that the actual name of the restaurant is difficult to find– I’ve actually never ordered it.
When my friend, Mike, first took me to Keun Jip nearly three years ago, he described the meal we were about to indulge in called, “Haejun-guk,” as “pieces of pig spine in a bowl of deliciousness.” I wouldn’t say I’m squeamish when it comes to food, but having been, at that point, A) a newbie B) not a huge fan of pork and had thus far been on a strict diet of mandu soup and bi bim bap.
After the two steaming bowls of Haejun-guk came to the table, piled high with shredded greens and vertebrae, Mike went to work –tongs in one hand and chopsticks in the other, scraping the tender meat from each chunk of bone. I followed suit.
After a good 20 minutes of near silence, laced with the kinds grunts and moans that accompany ridiculously good food, our bowls
were empty and the bones that had been sucked clean were piled in a bucket. There and then I knew that I had just added an item to my list of staples.
When eating at Keun Jip, I’ve only strayed from the Haejun-guk (which actually means ‘hangover soup’ – and yes, it actually works) a few times. When dining there in larger groups, I occasionally order the Gamja-tang, a similar dish with a spicier broth and a couple of potatoes thrown in for good measure. In my countless visits to Keun Jip, neither of these soups has ever disappointed. And I’ve been hard pressed to find any dish that is either more tasty or filling for only five bucks a pop.
To get there: Cross the street from thePukyoung University front gate and take a left. Bosan Joi Go is about 200 metersdown, just before the GS 25. From the Kyung Sung subway station, take Exit 5. Round the corner toward Dunkin Donuts and continue straight until you see it on the right hand side. The restaurant kind of juts out of its own corner. Open 24 hours. Tel. 051-627-0094