With the abundance of hawker stalls offering local food at Old Airport Road Food Centre, Wooga Jjajang stands out like a diamond in the rough with its Korean-Chinese dishes.
This relatively-new hawker stall recently opened its doors to the public on 9 Aug 2023 and is headed by Chef Marcus Yu, a native Korean Chinese who isn’t new to Singapore’s food scene.
He shared with me, “At that time, many Singaporeans were not exposed to Korean culture and didn’t know what kind of dark-coloured sauce noodles I was selling.”
In 2005, the K-wave began to gain widespread recognition among the public and Chef Marcus started selling his jjajangmyeon at places like Beach Road, Amoy Street and then went on to work at the now-defunct Dong Bang Hong Korean Chinese Restaurant at Telok Ayer.
His daughter diligently lends her support to the stall on a daily basis, actively participating in its operational activities and customer service.
Chef Marcus wanted me to emphasise that jjajangmyeon was initially introduced to Koreans by Chinese migrant workers, and over time, the recipe evolved with a unique Korean twist.
What I tried at Wooga Jjajang
I gasped when I saw the portioning of the Bulgogi Kal-Guksu (S$7)— it was huge! The bowl of knife-cut noodles had slices of beef bulgogi, sliced onions, black fungus, chives and topped with seaweed strips.
The noodles had a nice bite and were complemented by the sliced onions which contributed a subtle note of sweetness and enhanced the overall textural experience. The seaweed strips also infused a slight oceanic essence to the entirety of the bowl.
The broth exuded a delicate and savoury flavour with hints of natural sweetness derived from the infusion of chicken and ikan bilis in the stock.
Furthermore, my discerning palate detected subtle undertones of clams, contributing an extra layer of complexity to the broth. With every spoonful savoured, it bestowed a comforting, gradual warmth upon my stomach.
The bulgogi beef slices were exceptionally tender, and the fatty portions melted like butter in my mouth. Additionally, there was a subtle, delightful charred flavour imparted by the charcoal used in the grilling process.
The Bulgogi Pork Belly Jjajang Myeon (S$8) was crowned with a generous serving of grilled pork belly slices and we opted to include their homemade kimchi for an additional S$0.50.
Upon mixing the jet-black, viscous gravy with the noodles, they underwent a transformation, shifting from their initial bright yellow to a deep, dark-brown hue.
I was astonished when I took a bite of the noodles. It was the first jjajangmyeon I’d ever tasted that had a subtle wok hei smokiness. Chef Marcus, I later learned, stir-fries the rich gravy in a wok; and now I know the secret!
The pork belly pieces were tender and the balance between meat and fat was perfectly proportioned. It was also infused with the smokey aroma from the charcoal.
The kimchi delivered a tangy and delicately-spiced experience with an addictive crunch, effectively offsetting the richness of the noodles.
Even though I don’t typically gravitate towards this Korean specialty, I may have just been won over by the homemade version from Wooga Jjajang.
On the topic of kimchi, the father and daughter duo are currently in the process of concluding arrangements for a dedicated factory space, where they can bottle their signature kimchi creations (yes, please!).
Our dining experience reached its finale with the Spicy Lala Kal-Guksu (S$8). Aesthetically, the dish featured numerous clams adrift in a broth tinged with a gentle shade of red. It was accentuated by a well-placed scoop of gochujang paste at the centre.
We tossed all of the elements together and watched the gravy take on a more intense vermilion shade. The flavour of the gochujang-infused soup reminded me of smoked paprika with a mild spice that didn’t overwhelm my palate.
The knife-cut noodles, al dente in consistency, bore a resemblance to wide linguine, presenting a commendable mouthfeel akin to that of the previous dish.
The clams exhibited remarkable freshness, and I found it particularly gratifying that not a single one harboured the often off-putting presence of sandy sediments.
Stumbling upon a Korean-Chinese stall that offers truly exceptional and distinctive noodles is a rather rare and delightful occurrence. I shall go ahead and boldly declare that the jjajangmyeon cooked by Chef Marcus stands as one of the finest I’ve had in Singapore.
As someone with a strong penchant for fusion cuisine, I’m naturally drawn to Wooga Jjajang’s innovative, non-traditional approach which boasts the distinct wok-infused flavours and delectable barbecued meats.
I invite you to try it for yourself and let me know if you share the same thoughts as me.
Expected damage: S$6.50 – S$8 per pax
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
51 Old Airport Road, #01-84 , Singapore 390051
51 Old Airport Road, #01-84 , Singapore 390051