It is also the reason I gained about 10 pounds in the last few months of my college career.
Okay, it certainly does look like a giant bowl of heart-clogger, or a red soup of death (those were the first things my American friends said when I brought them out to a gamjatang restaurant).
Quoting Wikipedia: Gamjatang or pork bone soup is a spicy Korean soup made with pork spine, vegetables, green onions, hot peppers and ground wild sesame seeds. It is a matter of contention whether the name of the soup comes from the word for potato (감자; gamja) or not, because the soup is frequently served without potatoes.
Now, the history of Gamjatang apparently goes all the way back to the Three Kingdoms Era (4th~7th Century), and the word Gamja(감자) actually originates from Korean name of Pork Spine (Gamja-bone, 감자뼈). That is why the stew is called Gamjatang, not because of the potatoes, but because of the pork spines. Which makes sense, given the long history of the cousine and the fact that potato was not cheap enough to be available to everyone until recently in Korea. (Source: 감자탕의 감자는 밭에서 나는 감자가 아니고... )
Where to get it
Gamjatang, if you are anywhere in Korea, should not be difficult at all to find. In the States, it might be a different story. If you go to any Koreatowns, or any Korean restaurants, chances are that they might have Gamjatang. But from my own experiences, I would not recommend just going to any Korean restaurant for a full Gamjatang experience.
So, if you are in Southern California, especially in Los Angeles, I recommend Hamjipark (함지박). (Yelp)
There are two restaurants. One in the middle of LA Koreatown (6th and Catalina), and the original one near West LA (Pico and Crenshaw). The original Hamjipark is a small restaurant - 6 tables if I remember correctly. It's been there for quite a while, and has been run by the same ol' grandma (turns out that my mother actually knows her). She makes all the side dishes and food. The other one is run by her daughter (the sign has one extra word that means daughter in Korean - 딸) and is much nicer and clean. but they have the same food, I think.
If you ever go here, Gamjatang ain't the only good food... good pork ribs and other traditional Korean food that you won't regret. Just remember, one Gamjatang is about 16~18 dollars. Do not be fooled by the price. It can feed 3 people just fine.
Here's a link to the recipe on Naver. If it turns out that people actually want it in English (or people read this blog at all), then I'll put it up later.