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Ja Jang Myun in Annandale

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Prompted by a report last year in the City Paper, I ventured out to get Ja Jang Myun in Annandale. This is the noodles in black bean sauce concocted by Chinese immigrants in Korea that has become a staple.

This was my second attempt at JJM. The first was a big bowl of wet spaghetti in a tasteless black liquid at a place that has since closed down.

I headed to this former Pizza Hut across from the K-Mart with the name of the restaurant only in Korean followed by "Korean and Chinese Restaurant." Although this was supposed to be a good rendition of JJM, again it completely lacks flavor. It is chock full of onions and looks promising, but so far I see no reason to get it again. How do they make black beans and onions taste like nothing?

My guess is that in Korea, at least the noodles are handmade.

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  1. I'm not familiar with the dish. I do know that the restaurant on John Marr just uphill from the Popeye's is a Korean-Chinese place. Maybe it's worth a try there?

    3 Replies
    1. re: weezycom

      The place I went to is at 4210 John Marr, though I'm not quite sure where the Popeye's is.

      1. re: Steve

        Just the other side of Little River Turnpike. The place that weezycom is talking about was a Mexican restaurant a long time ago, then Chinese, now Korean. The Popeye's is on the corner, Shilla's is next to it, Food Corner and the big buffet place, either Il Mee or He Been, is in the next clump East.

        1. re: MikeR

          Yes, that's the place. It's squeezed in between Popeye's and the little strip mall where Duck Chang's is located.

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          Duck Chang's Restaurant
          4427 John Marr Dr, Annandale, VA 22003

    2. Try
      Da Rae Won in Beltsville: hand pulled noodles, earthy sauce. They also have some of the best Mandoo in the area. Sweet and Sour or Spicy chicken wings are also great.

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      Da Rae Won Restaurant
      5013 Garrett Ave, Beltsville, MD 20705

      3 Replies
      1. re: fudizgud

        I've heard a lot of good things about Da Rae Won. Hand pulled noodles definitely pique my interest.

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        Da Rae Won Restaurant
        5013 Garrett Ave, Beltsville, MD 20705

        1. re: fudizgud

          I love Da Rae Won! Can't beat their handmade noodles. But beware, they're closed some random day of the week - I think Tuesday or Wednesday.

          I always order the gan jja jang, which is jja jang myun with a little thicker and meatier sauce. Everyone I know loves this place.

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          Da Rae Won Restaurant
          5013 Garrett Ave, Beltsville, MD 20705

        2. Forget ja jang myun...champ bong or jamp bong at choong woon hwa (behind popeyes on john marr) is the noodle dish to get. It is a spicy chili broth with wheat noodles, seafood, bamboo shoots and cucumbers.

          You also get complimentary little dishes once you sit down. One is pickled daikon and the other is raw onion with the black bean sauce from Ja Jang Myun. The raw onion and sauce is enough for me to get the concentrated taste of ja jang myun without having the whole bland bowl.

          i wish champ bong would become the new pho!!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jelyna

            googling "champ bong" really brings funny results. i think it is "cham-bong."

            anyway, this link may be useful in identifying it by different names on menus around here (tho' this link is from the new york "best" board): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/315125

            (e.g. ""For jjampong, look for "noodle soup and seafood with hot red pepper" on the menu.').

            sure looks good to me: http://www.menuism.com/cities/us/tx/h...

            1. re: Jelyna

              As it so happens, I got the the jamp bong as well. It was ok. The problem with a lot of seafood soups/stews is that I'm not sure about the quality of the seafood - or the noodles. I imagine it is miles better in Korea. I much prefer the soon doo boo with a mixture of pork and seafood, ordered spicy at Vit Goel.

              Didn't Choong Woon Hwa close down? They had a pretty good jap chae and jellyfish salad, but overall I didn't think much of it.

              1. re: Steve

                Not really sure that JJM is all that much better. I've had pretty good rendition hear including at all the places mentioned above.

                I find that with a lot of folks used to western food JJM is just too gloppy and taste can be a bit of a challenge.

                Try gan cha jang. Much denser sauch. Almost like a paste. I like it better.

                I would also recommend (as folks above) champong which is my favorite dish at korean chinese noodle places.

            2. Maybe they're North Korean beans and onions...

              1. Of all the Korean noodles to eat, jjajjangmyun is kind of simple. Try the back counters at Lotte in Fairfax. One of them is a noodle shop that is ok.

                It's traditionally served with yellow daikon radish and white onions. It's not spicy, just savory with small bits of meat. By no means is the sauce on it meaty.

                Honestly, I don't think I've ever had it with hand-pulled noodles unless I was at a Chinese place that had them. Otherwise, I just make them with somen noodles at home.

                2 Replies
                1. re: dc_food_lover

                  Interesting, though, that the Beijing version, zha zhiang mien, is not nearly as simple.... or tasteless.

                  1. re: dc_food_lover

                    There used to be a place in Falls Church (on Route 50, in the same shopping center where Pho 75 and DC Banh Mi Sandwich are currently located) where they made these dishes with hand pulled noodles. It's long gone, however.

                  2. noodles served at the JJM place across the street from K mart and juke box diner does hand pulled noodles. You can hear them making it.

                    I would also disagree that JJM is tasteless. It has as taste, may not be to your liking. The gloppy texture can be a challenge to western taste. I still see very few non koreans in korean chinese places.

                    I thought A&J had JJM on the menu? I'm sure it very different other then using blk bean sauce as a base for the sauce.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Soup

                      A&J serves a classic Beijinger version which is in red bean paste sauce. It is not nearly as sophisticated as what you'd find in Beijing, but is tasty. Much more so than the Korean version.