MukJja has legit jjajangmyeon, tangsuyuk and more at Novena
Ever since Korean cuisine exploded in popularity in Singapore, the question “where to get the best jjajangmyeon” has been hotly debated among fans of the dish. And though there are a number of places that offer the dish, MukJja manages to always crop up in these debates.
Formerly known as Tae Woo Ban Jum Korean Restaurant, the eatery moved from Clarke Quay Central to its present location in Novena, taking on its new name, MukJja, in the process. It is a family-run business, and the boss is the main chef who prepares everything himself. With all the praise the restaurant has gotten over the years for its authentic Korean-Chinese, we decided to drop by the restaurant to see if it could live up to the billing.
Food at MukJja
Of course, we had to start with the Noodle with Black Bean Sauce ($14++), AKA jjajangmyeon. The dish arrived sporting its iconic glossy black look, where shreds of green-and-white cucumber added a dash of colour to the bowl.
The staff explained that their jjajangmyeon recipe is based on what their boss learned in the 1990s, which apparently was when the dish was at the height of its popularity. So while other restaurants might add different kinds of vegetables and ingredients, the authentic jjajangmyeon at MukJja focuses on pork and onions. And since onions are vital for the dish, fresh onions are delivered to the restaurant each day.
We gave the bowl a mix, and quickly the black bean sauce thoroughly coated the strands of wheat noodles. And what yummy noods they were—thick, chewy, and full of the fermented black beans’ savouriness, my colleague and I wasted no time slurping them up. The bits of pork and onion that were present in the sauce added additional flavour and sweetness to the experience, too.
For textural variety, the cucumber slices added crunch to each mouthful. You can add even more crunch, and some tanginess, with the side of yellow pickled radish. There’s also the option to introduce some spiciness with the chilli powder you’ll find on your table.
Our next dish was another noodle dish, the Spicy Seafood Noodle Soup ($17++), AKA jjamppong.
Though the soup looks red hot, it actually isn’t very spicy, especially compared to jjamppong you can find elsewhere. You may feel a slight burn at the back of your throat as you sip on it, but other than that it shouldn’t be difficult to handle for those who can’t take much spice. You can, however, request for the dish to be more spicy.
The broth, however, had a piquant flavour that improved not just the thick noodles, but also the various ingredients floating in the soup. These include the fresh and chewy squid, the crunchy vegetables, and earthy black fungus.
We then tried the Fried Shrimp with Chilli Sauce (from $39++). Despite the name and, again, the reddish colour, this dish was very mild in terms of spiciness, but it had plenty of flavour.
Each piece of deep-fried prawn was crunchy and fresh, and the sauce it was coated in gave it tanginess and sweetness. Now, even though the dish’s name implies that said sauce is chilli-based, the flavour of ketchup—similar to that of yangnyeom chicken—was most prominent in the dish, with that hint of spiciness coming from chilli oil and other spices. The presence of onions and carrots in the dish also added some aroma and texture to each bite.
No visit to a Korean-Chinese restaurant is complete without a helping of Sweet and Sour Pork (from $28++), AKA tangsuyuk.
Compared to gu lou yuk, our local version of sweet and sour pork, tangsuyuk is considerably sweeter. Sure enough, the crispy and juicy tangsuyuk here packed a sugary punch, and possessed a hint of sourness to balance things out.
If you share my preference for less sweetness in food, you might find this dish a tad cloying. There’s a way to mitigate this: you can request for the sauce to be served separately instead of being cooked together with the pork. While this isn’t the “authentic” way of enjoying the dish, it’s a good way to ensure the dish is not too sweet for you.
Ambience at MukJja
With a homely interior that sees plenty of natural light during the day, MukJja gives off the vibe of a welcoming family restaurant. The fact that it is also quite spacious and comfortable makes it a great place to dine and drink with some friends, especially if you’re in the mood for some soju.
MukJja is a five-minute walk from Novena MRT Station.
MukJja lives up to its reputation as a great place for jjajangmyeon and other Korean-Chinese eats. Fans of the cuisine should definitely give it a shot if they haven’t already.
Address: 275 Thomson Road, #01-07, Novena Regency, Singapore 307645
Opening hours: Daily 11:30am to 2:30pm, 5pm to 8:30pm
Tel: 6259 7479
MukJja is not a halal-certified eatery.
Photos taken by Melvin Mak.
This post is brought to you by MukJja.