Good Eats

Gebang Sikdang @ Seoul

I love ganjang gejang 간장게장 because my Teochew palate has been trained to eat these raw marinated crabs since young as we have a similar method of preparing raw seafood called 生腌 (“raw marinade”).

The First Michelin Honoured Ganjang Gejang

When one thing of Ganjang gejang 간장게장, one would normally not associate it with dining in a cafe setting. It is usually served as an entree, but here at Gebangsikdang, it is the star of their menu. And they do it so well, they have been award the Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2018. They offer both soy sauce marinated and spicy marinated crab dishes, based on female blue crabs caught in South Jeolla Province. Its specialty soy sauce, fermented with dried seafood and vegetables, adds to the umami flavor profile of the roe-filled, succulent crabs.

Soy sauce-marinated crab and stylish décor don’t always go hand in hand, but at Gebangsikdang 게방식당 (which means “Crab Party” in Korean), they do. A collaboration between fashion marketer Bang Geon-hyuk and his parents, veterans of the soy sauce marinated crab restaurant business, Gebangsikdang caters to a trend-conscious crowd with its polished interior and its wide selection of raw crab dishes. 

Ganjang gejang 간장게장 is a traditional dish that’s made by marinating fresh raw crabs in a mild soy-sauce based brine. These days everything can been brined using the same methods – sea prawns, abalones, etc. You do not need to order everything on their own, you can enhance the set menus with single order of abalone, prawns and other marinated items. I only learnt that at the end of the meal when we added an abalone.

새우장 Shrimp

새우5마리. 조개미역국. 셀러드. 반찬, 밥
5 shrimps, seaweed soup, salad, side dishes, rice

We tried their 새우장 shrimp paste; it came with 5 large shrimps still in their shell and not what was described in the name. Unlike its rich cousin the marinated crabs, the saeujang is only invented in recent times (2010?) because some do not like crabs. Unlike the Teochew porridge version of marinated shrimps, the Korean version is definitely much more hygienic.

Soy shrimp is good because it contains a lot of protein, and it is also good for diet because it contains less fat. Soy prawns contain chytoic acid, which helps prevent fat from accumulating and lowers cholesterol levels. It can also prevent cancer cells from proliferation and help prevent blood pressure from rising high. Of course these claims are not substantiated.

간장게장 Soy Sauce Crab

게장1마리, 조개미역국, 셀러드, 반찬,밥 (연평 도국내산 꽃게)
1 crab, clam seaweed soup, salad, side dish, rice (Yeonpyeongdo domestic crab)

We had to order the signature 간장게장 soy sauce marinated crabs. They used locally sourced blue crab, and the price fluctuates based on the purchase price of these crabs.

There is no graceful way to eat this; to get the meat, you have to scrape it out with your teeth kind of like how you would eat edamame. That, and a lot of sucking. Same with the legs, although you won’t get nearly as much meat out of those. There can be a decent amount in the claws, but you really need to be careful eating around that area because the shells can get stuck between your teeth. 

One of the best parts of ganjang gejang is mixing your rice into the shells with some of the seasoning sauce, roe, and fat. You will see your bowl of rice disappearing. That is why this dish is sometimes called a “rice killer”.

The set basically includes rice, soup, and basic side dishes. The difference between the ganjang gejang set and the shrimp set was that unseasoned gamtae 감태; it is very lightly and carefully roasted over an open fire, preserving the original flavour with stronger bitter green and oceanic notes than its seasoned cousin.

Another interesting banchan on parade was the acorn jelly 도토리묵; Dotori-muk 도토리묵 tastes slightly bitter and rather bland, and had to borrow the flavours from gochujang sauce.

We added a marinated abalone that had been sliced and topped with a dried date. The soy sauce used was the same as the crab so the resulting flavours were similar.

If you don to like to work your way through the crab shell and all, another interesting eat on the menu was the crab and roe on cold buckwheat noodles. The shelling of the meat and roe had been done for you and the marinade was used as the sauce for the cold noodles.

Mixed the noodles well and that you can enjoy the same deliciousness from the crab in the noodles.

Strangely the only cooked stuff in this restaurant are some tapas and Spanish paella, which do not look appealing. So if you are not into raw crabs, then this place is not for you. The owner speaks decent English, everyone else doesn’t. However everyone was very patient and tried their best when we went there for dinner. Highly recommended for the modern appreciation of a Korean classic.

Gebang Sikdang 게방식당
17 Seolleung-ro 131-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 강남구 논현동 선릉로 131길 17
Tel : 010-8479-1107

Visited Nov 2022

Michelin Seoul Guide Bib Gourmand 2018-2023

#간장게장 #gebangsikdang #michelinbibgourmand

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