“Original,” truly original of jeukseok (on the spot) tteokbokki
“Original,” truly original of jeukseok (on the spot) tteokbokki
  • Pak Gee-na
  • 승인 2016.09.30 12:36
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Turning right on the second alley from the main entrance of Ewha, there stands a Korean snack food restaurant with yellow based sign written “Original” in black. From outside, it seems just like any other restaurants that can be frequently seen from university town. However, the store has been famous for almost 5 decades remaining its popularity since now for its special tteokbokki and fritters.
Opened in 1967, the Original first started as a street food stall near campus without having formal store name. The name “Original” was actually coined by Ewha students who frequently visited the store saying that it is the first and the original store that sold fritters
“I first started working in the snack bar that sold Udon then I decided to sell tteokbokki,” said Kim Jin-soo the founder of the Original. “I wanted to do something that was different from others. At that time, there wasn’t any store that sold on the spot tteokbokki and fritters. Even Sindang-dong which is famous for the tteokbokki did not sold on the spot tteokbokki.” Kim said. “So I guess I am the real original.”
“On the spot tteokbokki,” the main dish of the restaurant, a kind of tteokbokki that is cooked right away in front of the customers on the portable gas stove. Five different types of fritters such as  squid and sweet potatoes are also famous. The fritters taste best with the special soy sauce which is created by the Original with 38 different ingredients.
“One thing special about our fritters is that they have “wings”,” Kim said. “I think this is also why our fritters are popular. At first, there wasn’t any special reason but just to help students eat as much as possible with the same price with the wings. There was also joke between the students that they could fly and everything will go well if they eat the fritters with the wings.”
Among various menus, Kim recommend Yeolmunaengmyeon which is noodle made with young summer radish kimchi. He mentioned that he guesses he is also the first creator of the yeolmunaengmyeon since before he created the noodle it wasn’t frequently consumed in Seoul.
When asked about any hardships running the Original, Kim recalled a fire accident 20 years ago.
“There was a fire on the next store but the fire also swiped out our store,”  Kim said. “We couldn’t even get the support from the insurance. However, we just tried to take it positively hoping the superstition that when there is a fire in the store, the store will go well later on to be true.”
As if the fire really brought him a success, until now, many people come to the Original. However, Kim humbly said there was nothing special about the restaurant. He just mentioned that he always uses new oil every time he fries fritters.
“The only belief that I have in making food is to be conscientious,” Kim remarked. “Frequently there were lots of cases where people were cheating with the food using bad ingredients, but I think people should be conscientious about the food. And that is also related to unchangeable taste of the food.”
Following his own creed about food, Kim have met various kinds of customers for about 50 years. Among them, he recounted of some memorable ones.
“One day, the student who had visited our store became a grandmother and came here with her granddaughter,” Kim recalled. “She recognized me and it was very strange to see that we were both old but I was also thankful that she visited our store again.”
Kim also recollected a student who asked to pack the food fast since her dormitory curfew was 10 p.m. Even though the head resident was strict, she could not give up the food.
“I just wish that the Original could remain as a ‘trustful store’ that students can visit anytime,” Kim said. “Compared to other stores, Original provides food in a cheap price and I have a pride that visitors can trust our food and the taste of the food is unchangeable although the time goes by. I hope lots of students visit us like now.”

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