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a potato soup that is all about the spine – Gamjatang restaurant in Hannam-dong

There are some dishes that you can have a hard time persuading people to eat. Gopchang (intestines) is one (here). Gamjatang (감자탕) is another.

Pork spine soup or gamjatang in Hannam-dong, Seoul

Gamjatang literally stems from the word potato and I can confirm there are often potatoes in this dish. However what you are really there for are the hunks of pork spine which are littered around a big bowl of spicy Korean soup.

Pork spine soup or gamjatang in Hannam-dong, Seoul

Like many Korean dishes this one has a synergy with alcohol and, unsurprisingly, soju. It is particularly appropriate to drink this with soju as it is a slow burner. You get a big pot and have to bubble and stew it down to further tenderise the spine and potatoes.

Pork spine soup or gamjatang in Hannam-dong, Seoul

As you do this the spices intensify and the sweetness of the sweet potato based soju helps cut it. As done the rampant drunkness caused by the soju.

You then slowly wiggle your chopsticks in and out of the cavities of the spine sucking the meat out like some porcine equivalent of a crab. I think gamjatang is a must have on any visit to Korea for me. The mixture of spice, a base cut of pork and the style of eating it slowly and communally kind of epitomizes the Korean style of food to me.

Pork spine soup or gamjatang in Hannam-dong, Seoul

And best of all it is bloody delicious. The meat is some of the most tender you will have and the bits of spinal fluid and marrow add further depth and sweetness to it.

The final cool thing about this is that this is true ‘peasant’ food which means that it is cheap. When you check the pile of receipts in your pocket the next day with a painful head it may well be less than your taxi ride home and definitely less than your after-party at a room salon.

  • Name – Deh-han mingook Deh-Pyo Gamjatang (대한민국 대표 감자탕)
  • Address – South Korea, Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Hannam-dong, 634-1 (TeJc Gmap here)
  • Price – cheap


  1. I especially like to eat all the weird things that no one else does! I remember the good ol’ days when we first moved from Malaysia to Australia (we’re talking… 25 years ago now) when we would get chicken necks and giblets FREE from the butchers cos they thought it was horrible and would throw it out! I wish they’d never caught on to the fact that not only are these things edible, they are scrumptious.

    • I have to say I eat a lot more adventurously now having spent a bit of time in Asia. It is strange though that years ago wierd cuts were the standard in the UK. When my Gran went a bit doo-lally in her old age she escaped from her old person’s home and found her way to the local butcher and ordered a load of brain. I am quite glad she didn’t get to cook it.

  2. No persuasion needed for me, I’d get right stuck in. sounds awesome.

  3. james

    Thank you fo a comment on Gamjatang! not easy to try this for foreigners.
    Anyway I know “Gamja” actualy means spinal cord in dialect(maybe in Jealla province). Spine has small peices of spinal cord between small bones. ^^;

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