Since the moment I started eating Korean food, my mother has always teased me and my tastes when it came to the cuisine she grew up with. She still jokes about my preference for what she considers junk food that’s “cheap” and “low class”. Back when I was a kid, if you took me to a classy, expensive Korean restaurant, I would still find the cheapest, unhealthiest thing on the table and focus on that instead of enjoying the finer options. Many years later, it seems that not much has changed, especially when it comes to comfort dishes that are questionably healthy, like 전 (jeon).
I went to 맛을 전하는 집 (Mateul Jeonhaneun Jip) with a friend of mine on a Friday evening. It was quite cold outside, and due to how late it was, many of the places we wanted to go for dinner had already started shutting down. Considering my love for this all things 전, which is often referred to as a savory pancake (I don’t quite agree, but I guess that’s the closest comparison), I certainly had no complaints. I had actually been wanting to review it for quite some time, but they closed for a while before opening up their newest location. It definitely helped that this place in particular had been described to me as one of the best in the city by multiple people.
Upon arrival, there was a moment of sadness as I realized that the restaurant only offered floor seating and Korean menus without pictures. Luckily, my ability to read Korean coupled with my friend’s previous visits to this establishments made it easy to make a selection from the large, varied menu. As expected, the main feature was 전, and there were certainly enough varieties offered to satisfy any craving for this classic dish. Some of the options included 육전 (yuk jeon/beef), 새우전 (saewoo jeon/shrimp), 돼지등심전 (dwaeji deungshim jeon/pork), 파전 (pa jeon/green onions), 김치전 (kimchi jeon), and even 홍어전 (hongeo jeon/fermented skate). For anyone not in the mood to eat something fried or in pancake form, there were other entree choices like 제육볶음 (jaeyook bokkeum/stir fried pork), 오리탕 (oritang/spicy duck soup), and 뼈해장국 (ppyeo haejangguk/bone hangover soup). Since I’m a sampler who likes to try everything, we ordered the 모둠전 (modeum jeon/assorted) to share.
After we placed our order, we received a small salad and an assortment of sides. We were also given a small plate of 김치전, which I’m still not quite sure was service or just a regular part of our meal. Either way, I was excited to try it, as our order didn’t come with what is pretty much my absolute favorite 전. Though I’m not the biggest fan of squid, I enjoyed every bite of this warm pancake that was slightly crisp on the outside while being ever so chewy on the inside. I’ve come to learn that there can be a lot of variety in how 전 is cooked depending on where one goes. Some places use a thick batter that can make things a little cakey. Some places like their pancakes floppy while others like them crispy and almost cracker-like. Me? I prefer something a little more balanced. I love crispy edges, but I don’t really want something deep-fried. I prefer my pancake flexible, but don’t want it to be soggy. I imagine there are others who have their own preferences, but for someone with my standards, the 김치전 I ate way too quickly was a good sign of what was to come.
As our food was made to order, it took a little while for it to come out. When our dish was ready, I was surprised to see such a large amount of food hitting our table. Considering the prices I had seen at other similar restaurants around the city, I was had made the mistake of underestimating what we’d be getting. It was a good thing we didn’t order anything else. The massive plate of fried goodness included different types of 전 like beef, pork, fish, mushrooms, peppers, perilla leaves, and even that pink fake sausage that I have a weird love/hate relationship with. It should be noted that this 전 was a little different from the flour batter pancake type that is often seen with more popular varieties. Instead, a lot of these were dipped in more of an egg mixture before being fried to perfection. There wasn’t anything on the plate I didn’t like, and it was interesting to see how this treatment handled so many different flavors, highlighting each ingredient while adding a nice richness to them.
At the end of the night, what was supposed to be a quick bite to eat turned into a rather filling meal at 맛을 전하는 집. It was a good thing a third person came to meet us at the restaurant, as my friend and I would not have been able to finish everything on our own. We all walked away rather satisfied, and the sweet owners who took such good care of us and kindly requested for us to return soon only helped with that. Though it was a little slow when I went, I’ve been told that this place can get a little busy. The owners informed me that big parties are more than welcome, but a reservation would be very much appreciated beforehand. Whether it’s for a snack or a full meal, I recommend this spot to anyone with a hankering for one of my favorite Korean comfort dishes. Be warned, this stuff is deceptively filling.
Address: 광주 북구 중흥동 278-16 (located near the Bukgu District Office intersection)
Phone: 010-9600-5285 / 010-3681-4917
Hours: 10:00AM to 11:00PM, Closed Sundays
Average Price Range: 8,000 to 10,000 per person