교동전선생 (논현점) (Jeon Seonsaeng)
Reviewed by Annie Namba on August 2, 2011 / Updated August 5, 2011
Even for someone like me who grew up in a Korean family, making 전 is challenging and requires more work than I care to put in regularly. It takes a 전 master to achieve both crispy edges and a soft, chewy middle, so when we crave that, we head to 전선생. They also carry many varieties of 막걸리, including our current favorite, 느린마을 막걸리.
동치미 and 김치 is served when you're seated. This helps to tone down the greasiness you might get from eating 전.
On this visit, we ordered their famous 교동 set (27000원), which comes with 9 different kind of jeon and a plate of 도토리묵, an acorn jelly salad. We also ordered a 감자전 (10000원).
느린마을 막걸리 (5000원) is our current favorite brand of makgeolli.
Of course, 막걸리 is our drink of choice, as it is the house specialty, and pairs well with jeon. This particular brand, 느린마을 is often hard to find even in supermarkets, since it is produced in limited quantities. I personally think this does have a very exclusive taste and texture compare to other 막걸리 brands, and we recommend you give it a try whenever it is available.
도토리묵 is part of the 교동 set or 12000원 if ordered separately.
The 도토리묵 is the first to come out. This dish is prepared with acorn jelly, plus sliced onions, chives, cabbages and sliced 고추, then dressed with 고춧가루, sugar, soy sauce and sesame seed oil. (Warning: This dish will give you serious onion breath.) The texture of the 도토리묵 might be hard to get used to if you're trying for the first time. It's even hard for us to pick this up with chopsticks (Aaron now uses a spoon to prevent accidents.) But this dish is a refreshing way to balance the greasiness of the 전.
모듬전 features nine different kind of 전.
As we finish up the 도토리묵, the impressive 모듬전 plate comes out. This is a must-try at 전선생. If I were to make this myself, I would be slaving in the kitchen for hours to prepare all the different ingredients.
Part one of the 모듬전 plate from left to right: vegetable jeon, meat jeon, 순대 jeon and tofu jeon
Although 전선생 is a chain, the types of jeon served in the combination plate vary from store to store, and depending on the season.
Part two of the 모듬전 plate from left to right: pumpkin jeon, fish jeon, sausage jeon, zucchini jeon and mushroom jeon
Obviously, the best part of ordering the combo is that you can try a wide variety of jeon, and the downside is that you may not like some of the varieties served. Me, I don't care much for the pink sausage jun. But if you go with many people, this shouldn't matter as much.
감자전 (potato jun)
The 교동 set would have been enough for us. But Aaron discovered one of my favorite jeon of all time not long ago and he wanted to order order it. 감자전 consists of little more than grated potatoes and salt, so the taste depends largely on the skill of the cook. We were quite surprised when this came out, as the size was impressively large. Other places serve 2-3 small jeon, but this one came out as a single, giant jeon, I think it was at least 12 inches in diameter. Even so, it came out perfectly done, with crispy edges and chewy, almost glutinous center.
So we rolled out of the place with our tummies about to burst... just a regular part of Korean life, I suppose.
- Food: 4/5 - The ingredients vary a little from one location to the next or depending on time of year and availability, so you can't expect the same experience every time. But at least 9 times out of 10, the result is excellent nonetheless.
- Service: 4/5 - Workers were friendly and accommodating, but nothing much stands out.
- Atmosphere: 4/5 - Casual bar feel yet clean and modern.