Korean Foods Explained: What is Gamjatang (감자탕)

Gamjatang or kamjatang (감자탕) is a lightly spicy soup always served with pork bones usually from the spine or the rib. Despite Gamja meaning “potato”, the soup is actually named after the type of pork bones also referred to as “Gamja”, or so I have heard. The soup is also cooked with a plethora of veggies such as potatoes, mushrooms, perilla leaves, onions, kimchi, and etc, but varies with the restaurant. 

gamjatang 감자탕 kamjatang
A small bowl of gamjatang before it is fully cooked.

Gamjatang is easily one of my favorite Korean foods which I fell in love with the instant I tried it. The flavorful, but mild spices in the soup, good balance of veggies, and of course the tender pork meat off the bone, make it irresistible!

평창할마이집 감자탕 gamjatang before cooking
What a large portion looks like before cooked.

The dish usually comes semi prepared with a topping of fresh vegetables and spices, unless the restaurant doesn’t have any burners for you to cook it. When served this way, you need to wait until the veggies become cooked down and edible. Usually that’s a good indicator that it’s finished.

What it looks like when it's about ready.
What it looks like when it’s about ready. Note all the veggies seem to have vanished.

Most people take out the soup and put it on a dish, but I typically put it on top of a bowl of rice to absorb the tasty broth.

평창할마이집 감자탕 in a dish gamjatang
Big chunky, soft potatoes. Pretty much like a baked potato in soup.
평창할마이집 감자탕 on top of rice
I like to put all the ingredients on top of the rice so it absorbs the flavor.
평창할마이집 감자탕 pork bone
A picture of the pork bone up close.

The pork bones have extremely tender meat that you can pick off with a spoon, or straight off the bone with no reservations! The meat is my favorite part because it’s so tasty and tender. Care should be exercised when eating in the latter manner as it can get a little messy!

평창할마이집 볶음 중
Stir fry in progress. So many veggies in this one!

Once all the ingredients have been finished off and you’re still hungry, you usually can opt to add a rice/veggie mix and stir fry (볶음밥) it with the leftover broth! It tastes incredible and extremely healthy.

평창할마이집 감자탕 볶음밥
The finished result!

As you can see gamjatang is a very filling meal and has endless possibilities. I’ve never had a bad gamjatang and I’ve always felt very satisfied. They often say that it is a dish for ajussis (아저씨) or middle-aged men, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying this very hearty masterpiece! Koreans also like to enjoy this dish with soju (소주), but maybe that’s just the ajussi in them talking. 🙂 Gamjatang is not well known among foreigners, but it is definitely one of those hidden treasures in Korean cuisine.

Gamjatang Restaurants I have reviewed:

Yangjae (양재): 평창할마이집

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Author: Ryan Mar

Just a guy simply making the most with life abroad. Love travel, photography, food, and just enjoying life. Currently blogging about beautiful places in Seoul, Korea, along with food, culture, and observations at findingtheseoul.com.

2 thoughts on “Korean Foods Explained: What is Gamjatang (감자탕)”

  1. wow Looks delicious! enjoyed reading your writing Ryan~ well.. I found a slight misspell in first paragraph..감장탕..lol can you recognize it now? 🙂 anyway it was delicate review!

    Liked by 1 person

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