In Seoul, there are a fair few alleys which are full of restaurants that specialise in a certain dish. In Sinsa-dong, there’s ganjang gejang alley, which is basically crabs marinated in soya sauce, and apparently the best (or most famous anyway) of them all is Pro Soy.
Housed in one of the nicer looking buildings, the interior was even better looking, and positively reeked of affluence. Once inside, we quickly made our choices, and were soon snacking on the provided kimchi, which felt a bit more delicate than other places. However, the plain boiled cabbage and seaweed was rather unusual (we assumed it was part of the banchan, and not meant to be eaten with the crab).
The crabs were marinated in soya sauce and presumably other stuff like garlic, sesame oil and sugar. For those who know their crabs, there are certain seasons which is best to eat them, and apparently winter is mating season, and when the females are full of roe.
We only had 2 crabs to share between us 4, which turned out to be somewhat of a blessing as the PigPig had a strong allergic reaction to it (known allergy to raw crustaceans), and another girl wasn’t that keen on it. I wasn’t complaining, and happily wolfed down a crab myself. The meat was exquisitely delicate, naturally sweet, but tempered with the soya sauce. It had a texture similar to the raw prawns typically seen in Japanese sushi.
One of the things we were keen on trying was sannakji, which was essentially live little octopi sliced up and served on a plate while still squirming. One is then supposed to eat them with a bit of soya sauce and sesame oil, which makes them squirm even more. I found picking them up a bit tricky, particularly as I’m not really good with the Korean metal chopsticks to begin with. Once picking them up though, they tended to stick to the chopsticks, as their suckers are still active.
Tastewise, they honestly weren’t that interesting. The natural taste of octopus is rather bland, to say the least, so mostly the flavour is soya sauce and sesame oil. The appeal is probably from the texture and the implied freshness of the produce.
Anyway, I was informed that the octopi are well and truly dead, and they squirm due to a reaction to the salt within the soya sauce. There is a slight danger though in that the suckers can cling to the oesophagus if not chewed well, so it’s definitely worth taking the time to chew this dish properly. I also didn’t feel them squirming within my mouth, if anyone was wondering.
To round off the meal (more of a light snack by our standards), we also ordered an egg and rice dish. We honestly weren’t really sure what the egg dish was supposed to be, but the table next to us was eating it so we decided to copy them. The egg wasn’t as smooth as the Chinese or Japanese style steamed eggs, and felt a bit rough, while the bottom was burnt from the hot stone bowl (?intentional). The rice meanwhile, was just plain rice, some parts a little burnt, in a very plain broth (more like water).
Altogether, the bill came up to KRW92,000, which was our most expensive meal in Seoul. I’m sure there are other cheaper places to try eating this crab, and they might be better or worse, but all I can say is that the crab at Pro Soy was really amazing. However, I wasn’t too keen on the egg and rice soup dishes, and you’re advised to just stick to the crabs, although the sannakji is worth checking out if you’re interested.
Pro Soy Crab 프로간장게장
Add: 27-1 Jamwon-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Directions: Subway line 3, Sinsa Station, exit 4.