The first stateside location for a prolific restaurant chain founded over 30 years ago with more than 200 outposts across Korea and China is now open on Convoy Street in the Seoul Plaza strip mall next to K-Town barbecue transplant Song Hak. Called Jomaru Gamjatang, it specializes in a Korean soup based on a pork neck bone broth seasoned with hot pepper flakes, hot pepper paste, and perilla seeds.
Jomaru Gamjatang serves the soup in a personal-sized bowl or larger pot for sharing accompanied by rice and assorted banchan, with optional add-ins like vermicelli, ramen, and rice cakes. Other variations include a spicy bean sprout bone stew and a soy-braised version. Gamjatang is known as a drinking snack (or hangover cure), so a selection of Korean liquor, from soju to makgeolli, a milky rice wine, is also offered.
The menu extends to starters and other specialties ranging from chive and seafood pancakes to bibimbap and bo-ssam, which are DIY cabbage wraps assembled with boiled pork belly, fresh oysters, radish kimchi, and fermented shrimp sauce.
Operating daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., the Kearny Mesa restaurant will likely be the chain’s only branch in San Diego, though the franchise owner is reportedly planning to open more locations in the Los Angeles area and other spots around the country.