I’m a self-proclaimed budaejiage connoisseur. Also known as army stew or bootay-jiage as my friends call it, budaejigae is conceivably a deluxe ramen. Ingredients include, ramen noodles, spam, sausage, mushrooms, kimchi and cheese. And to you, maybe this dish seems repulsive because I mean, who the hell likes spam? (Me, that’s who.)
Budaejigae is a filling meal perfect for late-nights or for me anytime. It’s the affordable, group-friendly, all-in-one stew that combines spice, meat and vegetables in one.
Below, I’ve listed my favorite spots for a dish I could eat all day.
An underground restaurant that is home to yummy Korean dishes, paired perfectly with booze. The budajigae here is crafted in such a way that the soup is not too spicy, there’s just enough ramen, sausage and spam is plentiful and every bite tastes like you’ll need seconds and then some. I also appreciate the fresh green scallions and thickly cut tofu slices. There is not a single complaint I have about this fave spot for budaejigae.
Side note: their fried chicken is bomb here too.
By day, they’re a cafe serving adorable bear lattes and by night they transform into an alcohol-friendly restaurant, with a wait outside the door. They’re not your typical side dish friendly Korean restaurant. Instead, they offer up a few pieces of dukboki (spicy rice cakes) as your appetizer. Arguably an interesting teaser before your actual delicious meal.
The budaejigae here is a bit different. Instead of loads of spam, they add in more hot dogs than anything. They also toss in enoki mushrooms and the portion is a bit larger than other restaurants. I’m a spam gal and the broth is a bit more watered down here, which is why Take31 takes second on my list.
3. Her Name is Han
Okay, okay I get it. It’s not your typical Korean restaurant and if you haven’t figured it out by now my favorite spots for this dish aren’t your conventional 32nd street K-town restaurant. Her Name is Han is an adorable brunch spot during the mid afternoon but transforms into a modern-esque Korean restaurant by dinner time. I say modern-esque because of their display and explanation efforts. Whatever the case, the budaejigae here is bomb.
Topped with a slice of cheddar cheese, the broth, the spam, the everything combined and the aroma of spicy stew fills your lung with O-M-G goodness. It’s a rather large pot and while I love this spot, my complaint lies with the broth. Something about it, I can’t put my finger on it just yet but it’s different and it’s not that home-y goodness that tops off this stew. Still, it’s one of the better spots.
Beware it’s different. This new trendy restaurant has curated Instagram-worthy dishes. They’ve also crafted their own version of budaejigae. The broth is thicker and definitely spicier. Don’t try this as your first Budaejigae experience.
Different, but the broth makes this budaejigae on the top of its game. It stands out from the other restaurants producing this dish. Similar ingredients but notably something is just not right about this dish at the same time, although your mouth kicking with spice, you just want to take another bite. There’s definitely an it factor to this version .
5. Five Senses
So where does one go in K-town on 32nd street if they’re dying for budaejigae? I’d say here. The other guys on this block have decent budaejigaes but it just doesn’t hit the spot like Five Senses.
While Five Senses has somehow made it to my list, I’d say it’s not the best place to first experience budaejigae. They add in a small portion of ramen and the broth is thin and nearly clear. It’s missing that kick of spice and flavor you expect from all the ingredients added into the stew, which is surprising because they add in pork belly slices so one would expect that pork flavor to be soaked into the broth. Whatever, it’s one of the “better spots.”
And there you have it, my list of go-to spots for budaejigae in New Fork City. I’m sure in about six months, I’ll have to update this list. But for now, I hope you get to experience my favorite Korean stew, budaejiage at one of my top 5 restaurants.
Let me know if you like ’em. Until next time.