Alright, you’re looking for a legit Kimchi Jjigae in Austin, Texas but you just don’t know where – or instead, you’ve tried other places, but they just don’t hit “the spot.” I found IT – the closest authentic Kimchi Jjigae in this area. There’s this new restaurant part of H Mart’s Food Court that opened up recently called ‘Damma.’ Damma is homestyle Korean cooking, which is very different to the first Korean restaurant you’ll see when you walk in on the left ‘Sogongdong Tofu & BBQ.’
When you walk through the doors of the Food Court, the restaurant is tucked in the VERY back, and then take a right. It’s between “MIX” street food and a hair salon. This section used to be a Japanese restaurant, but I guess either because it is not very visible within the food court or their sales just weren’t good enough, Damma came in and replaced them.
There are precisely two dishes I recommend to try first if you want to try this place out. I’m sure all their other stuff is good, but here are two failsafe options.
Also, can we talk about money for a second? Their prices are LEGIT OK for the area and what you are getting. For $9.99 you are getting a full entree with steamed rice plus banchan (or side dishes). With tax, you’re paying $10.81 for a complete meal that you don’t have to cook for yourself or buy ingredients you don’t use on a regular basis.
1. Kimchi Stew
If you are new to Korean cuisine, real Kimchi Jjigae 김치 찌개 doesn’t look like a sea of red pepper flakes, remember that (thanks)! The seafood/pork broth that they use is legit, clam-infused, and is just SOLID due to the Samgyeopsal (pork belly). Samgyeopsal is a fantastic enhancer used in spicy soups in Korea.
The broth isn’t overwhelming, nor is it “too thick.” It’s a perfect amount, including the number of red pepper flakes that are used. It gives that “tangy” buzz as the soup liquid hits your taste buds. It lingers a bit, leaving you to want more. Not too spicy where you’re like desperately trying to grab ahold on soda, water, or milk to calm you down. If you aren’t tolerant of spice at all – you really shouldn’t be getting this dish at all (go for bulgogi).
The ingredients that are edible and not used as part of the broth is pretty standard except for one surprise, glass noodles. That is legit authentic Korean right there. The stew all together has green onion, kimchi, large dices of soft tofu, samgyeopsal (a cup full of pork belly meat – they don’t skimp out!), glass noodles, and young Korean radish. The stew is served in an earth clay pot on a wooden tray. Your Kimchi Jjigae will be boiling in front of you even after you sit down. Don’t worry. It’s not SUPER hot that you can’t eat it.
What comes with the Kimchi Jjigae on the side is a bowl of freshly steamed white rice and a banchan (side dishes) platter divided into four different options.
The first option is kkakdugi (Korean Cubed Radish Kimchi). I’m pretty happy with how they have made it as its fresh, not sour (so you know it’s not old), and it has a mild to medium spice level to them.
As for the other two side dishes, they are both beansprouts – one spicy and another not. Both taste amazing and have been seasoned very well. The beansprouts are accompanied with black pepper, thin slices of carrots, and green onions. The last banchan option is a thicker seaweed with sparse onions included in the mix. This banchan option is my least favorite as it is a bit mushy for my taste.
Further reading & recommendations:
- Eat Jajangmyeon and Tangsuyuk at Lai Lai inside H Mart’s Market Eatery
- WHERE TO EAT IN AUSTIN, TEXAS
- Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill for Southern Comfort Food | Restaurant Review
- Korean Spinach Side Dish Banchan (Sigeumchi-namul &) Recipe
- LA Kalbi Korean BBQ Recipe (aka Galbi / 갈비 / Beef Short Ribs)
2. Spicy Mixed Noodles
Bibim Guksu or Korean Spicy Cold Noodles or 비빔국수 is a refreshing cold noodle dish usually traditionally eaten in the summer.
These noodles are hands down the best spicy noodles you’ll be able to find in Korean cuisine in Austin. I really need you to try this if you haven’t already. I’m not a boiled egg person, so I always give it to my boyfriend. But, the amount of spice from the gochujang (red pepper paste) and sesame oil is so delightful. They are definitely using specific ingredients to create this taste. It’s super refreshing, and you do get full after eating this dish.
These noodles are a notch up on spice when compared to the Kimchi Jjigae, but it’s so worth it. If you are in love with spicy dishes, don’t miss out on this one.
Oh btw, a pro tip is not to wear a white shirt like I did today. I’m a fricken mess, and of course, I splattered some of that fantastic Kimchi Jjigae on my shirt. Haha, after that, I had to put my head down closer to the bowl to eat. Man. Twenty-nine years old and still trying to adult. 🙂
We are now proudly a regular at Damma, and I love how it is within H Mart’s food court because… that means…. no extra money spent on tipping. Obviously, when you go to a full-fledge Korean restaurant like Charms BBQ, you must tip as usual. It just helps to be more of a regular at H Mart’s Market Eatery this way! Plus, food courts are super common in South Korea, so the tipping culture just doesn’t exist in this setting unless you want to be super generous.
Below is a quick Google map on how to get to H Mart and this restaurant has been added to my Austin Collection on Yelp for easy access on the go!