Gopchang is a Korean food consisting of beef or pork intestines. Mostly eaten by older generations, gopchang was thought of as an acquired taste, unappealing to young people. However, it is now hugely popular with Koreans of all ages, in part due to a viral video of MAMAMOO’s Hwasa enjoying it.
Hwasa is an idol from the K Pop group, MAMAMOO, and is a fixed cast member on I Live Alone. I Live Alone is a reality show that features the daily life of Korean stars, along with commentary from other members of the cast.
Hwasa is well-known for her unique eating style, savouring every bite of her meal. In fact, many of the foods she has eaten on I Live Alone has gone viral in Korea, with viewers heading out to her favourite restaurants or making the recipes at home. One episode shows her savouring peaches with Greek yoghurt and granola, a combination thought up by her co-star, comedienne Park Narae.
However, Hwasa’s influence on the popularity of gopchang is probably the most prominent example of all. Almost overnight, young people were lining up outside gopchang restaurants, dying to try it. And my friend and I followed suit…
One night in Sinsa-dong, my friend and I decided to try gopchang for the first time. We chose to visit Daehan Gopchang, a famous Korean franchise restaurant that now features Hwasa as their spokesmodel. What’s more, Daehan Gopchang was the location where Hwasa was first spotted enjoying the delicacy.
We made a reservation in advance at the Sinsa branch, which was definitely a good idea. It was a Friday night and there was a huge line of people waiting outside when we arrived, so we were relieved that we had a table waiting for us! The set-up at Daehan Gopchang is similar to that of a typical Korean barbeque restaurant. The servers are super busy and the atmosphere is rather hectic, so its best to flag down a waiter when you see them and order as quickly as possible.
Both my friend and I chose beef gopchang and, like other Korean meat dishes, it is typically eaten with liquor, such as soju. However, we chose to stick with water. Despite how busy the restaurant was, our food came out almost immediately. Similar to samgyeopsal (pork belly), you cook the meat on the grill at your table. We were also provided with veg to grill with the meat, such as pumpkin, mushrooms and onion.
Of course, we also were given complimentary side dishes. However, what we didn’t expect was a bowl of kimchi jjigae (stew). We could see other customers around us enjoying their kimchi jjigae while waiting for the gopchang to cook.
Compared to samgyeopsal, gopchang cooks relatively quickly. However, you should keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. The recommendation is to turn the gopchang pieces with the tongs every so often while it is cooking.
Depending on where you are from, you may not be accustomed to seeing intestines in cuisine, but it is definitely worth a try! In any case, it is customary to follow up the gopchang with fried rice, which is something even picky eaters enjoy, so bring your friends along!
You cook the fried rice in the same grill you cooked the gopchang, allowing the rice to soak up all the flavours of the pan. You might be kind of full by this point, but no doubt the delicious flavour will reel you in for more.
I ended up liking gopchang more than my friend who I tried it with, and maybe it is the kind of food that half of people love, and the other half don’t. Nonetheless, I still eat gopchang today but quite rarely, so eating it is like an event for me. Regardless of whether you enjoy gopchang like Hwasa or not, trying a traditional Korean dish for the first time is an experience worth having.
Daehan Gopchang Sinsa Branch Address: 33 Gangnamdae-ro 152-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Operating Hours: 12:00pm - 2:00am everyday Website: daehangopchang.com* *The English language site contains general info about Daehan Gopchang, as well as their USA branch. For Korean restaurant-specific info, see 대한곱창.com and use your browser translate function.
Via Subway: Sinsa Station (Line 3) Exit 8. Take the first left and then turn right and walk straight for approx. 3 minutes until you reach Daehan Gopchang.
Via Bus: Take bus no. 145, 148, 441, 542, 4212, 3030, Gangnam08 or Seocho03 to Sinsa Sageori.Garosugil stop. Take the first left and then turn left again, Daehan Gopchang is located straight ahead.