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In pursuit of pajeon.


Restaurants & Bars 13

In pursuit of pajeon.

Nab | Oct 28, 2012 07:01 AM

Pajeon = Korean scallion pancake. Not to be confused with Chinese style 'cong you bing', which is more pastry than pancake, you won't find that delicate mille-feuille flakiness in Korean pajeon.

But speaking of CYB, I am now reminded of an excellent tip-off from our very own lipoff on the subject:

Pajeon, at its core, is a straightforward water-flour-egg batter - but there are twists and turns, occasionally differing flours, varying seasonings or egg fraction, not to mention scallion treatment. Adjusting any of these variables can result in a wide variety of outcomes, and there's indeed a wide spectrum of pajeon styles - from thin & cracker-crisp to the light & fluffy. Some say an ultra-packed pajeon is a sign of pajeon pride & a symbol of generosity, as floppy as it may be. Whatever the style, I always look forward to pajeon within a feast - the requisite bite between slurps of soup or nibbles of banchan, as a mopper and a sopper, and always washed down by endless rounds of Hite and soju.

Pajeon can be found on probably every single Korean menu in town, most commonly haemul pajeon (seafood scallion pancake), which usually consists of chopped shrimp, squid, calamari, clams and sometimes (tho rarely) mussels or oysters. The bar is low for enjoying haemul pajeon, though the worst offense, an over-eggy omelet-y mushiness, is occasionally encountered. I get the sense that, in Korea and wherever else possible, the typical pajeon is elevated to other heights with piles of seasonal wild scallions which are a wholly different gustatory delight than the average mega-market scallion. I doubt that exists here, but we do have a wide variety of pajeon around town, sometimes variable at the same place.


Suishaya (Chinatown) - honestly, I don't have a great recollection of this one, as it's been a while since I've been to Suishaya and I'm not compelled to return anytime soon. Medium thickness, decent seafood serving, it looks a bit light on scallions but appears to have some possible regions of crisp.

Myong Dong 1st Ave (Allston) - thin and pretty crispy throughout, each wedge will practically hold its horizontal posture when picked up - the point here is straight-ahead crispy-fried, booze-soaking, K-pop-watching fare. Not the place to be looking for a proud pajeon.

Wujeon (Burlington H-Mart) - I could appreciate this ultra-thin, seafood skimpy version, as it was fairly generous with scallions pre-sauteed to release some onion jus, it's definitely a cheap food-court version, but pretty good.

ChungKiWa (Medford) - in contrast to Wujeon and MD1A this is a slightly heartier pajeon, a bit thicker and a bit eggier, but very well-balanced with some good crisp and flop. I can't recall the seafood ratio though.

Korea Garden (Allston) - definitely a standout, though a bit inconsistent, but when it's on it's a very proud pajeon, lots of seafood, big ol pieces of scallions, and a nicely browned and crispy shell with a slightly softer interior.

Westborough Korean Restaurant (Westborough) - another big-boy packed to capacity, it's thick, heavy, and floppy, but also a bit different from visit-to-visit - on one occasion it was a clearly-encased pancake with a discernible shell, and other times it's a bit better integrated. If you've got a table full of dishes (as you should here), having anymore than a single wedge will occupy a significant amount tummy real estate.

Bonchon (Allston) - possibly my favourite version, loaded with scallions and seafood into a thick, craggy pie with lacy edges and a Neapolitan-esque pizzapie quality - a perfect balance of textures throughout each bite.

Let's perseverate on pajeon for a bit here.

(order of pix: Suishaya, Myong Dong 1st Ave, Wujeon, Chung Ki Wa, Korea Garden, WKR, WKR take 2, and Bonchon)

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