Thursday, April 14, 2016

My Six Favorite Naengmyeon 냉면 Places in Korea by Daniel Gray

Naengmyeon Comic!
Hi All, 

I was asked about my favorite naengmyeon places for an interview and I thought about it and came up with a list. I figured in a world with too many choices. I should curate my choices a bit so you don't waste calories. At my age, I can't waste any calories. I can only focus on the best. Click on the addresses to go to the Google Map!
Pyeongyang Myeonok Seoul
1. Pyeongyang Myeonok (평양면옥)

This place is the best for the broth and the noodles are made so fine. It's something that is so balanced that it is ethereal. Its after eating at lots of other naengmyeon places that you realize what the essence of the dish is. It's the light, pickled broth that is crisp like spring water; the floral buckwheat scent of the noodles; the hearty yet clean taste of the beef and egg; the crispness of the slivered pear and cucumber. 

Address: Seoul, Jung-gu, Jangchung-dong-1-ga 26-14 (서울특별시 중구 장충동1가 26-14)
Phone: 02-2267-7784
Subway: Euljiro-4-ga Station, Line 2 & 5, Exit 4, first right then first left.
Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, Line 2, 4, 5, Exit 5 (cross the street and go straight).

2. Woolae Oak Eujiro Place (우래옥)

Woolae Oak is like refined, modernized naengmyeon. The broth is a bit richer and with a beefy body, the noodles have a bit more chew to it. The meat has a bit more density as well. It's a great bowl of chilled noodles, but it is different from everyone else. I think it is the quality of ingredients that they use since they specialize in beef barbecue. It's a classic place and there are generations (since 1946) Koreans that go here to get their fix.

Address: 62-29 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea (서울특별시 중구 창경궁로 62-29 (주교동)
Phone: 02-2272-2767
Subway: Euljiro 4-ga Station (Subway Line 2 or 5), Exit 4. Go 10m and turn right onto the small alleyway. Go 50m to arrive at Woolaeoak on the left side.

3. Ojangdong Heungnam Jip (오장동흥남집)

Heungnam Naengmyeon has a lot more chew. I mean a lot more. It's because the area is known for adding potato starch to the noodles that adds that bite and silky texture. For Koreans, this chew is what they are looking for and its the main draw for this place. They make the noodles in house (see comic above). Their famous dish is their spicy fish mixed naengmyeon (회냉면) and it is the one I usually get because the sauce is quite delicious. I just have to have patience to mix it into the strong noodles before eating. It gives your mouth a workout. Scissors are necessary to eat this dish (to cut the noodles up a little).

Address: 114, Mareunnae-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 마른내로 114 (오장동)
Phone: 02-2266-0735

Nampo Myeonok
4. Nampo Myeonok (남포면옥)

Another classic place that grew up in the middle of the busy city hall district. They are famous for making their own turnip broth and for their mungbean pancakes. The taste is similar to Pyeongyang Myeonok and you can taste the light buckwheat smell of the noodles. I also like to get the Olbaan which is the hot naengmyeon soup here in winter time. It's warming and the flavor of the broth is quite soothing.

Address: 24, Eulji-ro 3-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 중구 을지로3길 24 (다동)
Phone: 02-777-3131

5. Myeongdong 1-bonji (명동1번지) in Chuncheon

I know, it's a dakgalbi place but it is the best for that makguksu. The difference between naengmyeon and makguksu is that the noodles are not as chewy. They are most like a fine soba noodle. What I love about this place is that the red chili past sauce is wave of flavors: tart, spicy, salty, savory. It's great with the fresh greens, a dash of sugar (yes... I know that sounds weird but, trust me, it really brings out the flavor of this dish) and a good amount of sesame oil. Even if you have eaten way too much, order this. Your stomach will make room for it. Oh, the dakgalbi here is the best as well. Like I said, it's their red chili paste sauce!

Address: 7, Geumgang-ro 62beon-gil, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do 강원도 춘천시 금강로62번길 7 (조양동)
Phone: 33-256-6448
Pyeongyang Naengmyeon. Photo by
6. Pyeongyang Naengmyeon (평양냉면) in Gyeongju

This was my first place to have naengmyeon in my life so its a nostalgic place for me. I went there a while back again to discover it is not the best naengmyeon in Korea. It's just generally alright. The broth is a bit vinegary and very brown, the noodles are a bit tough and the ice crystals in it just seemed crude. Anyway, my journey for naengmyeon started here and it is still good. I've just seen what else is out there. Still, if you need naengmyeon in Gyeongju, this is a solid place to go. 

Address: 109-2, Wonhyo-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do (경상북도 경주시 원효로 109-2 (노동동)