Review: Halmoni Calguksu (Grandmother's Knife-cut Noodles)
When it rains, I always see an extra long cue outside of Halmoni Calguksu in the alleys of Jongno 3-ga. It always has a line but on raining days there is an extra long line- like 25 people deep. The place is located in the alleys outside of Jongno 3-ga (Line 5) exit 6. Once you venture into the alleyways you'll find a whole new world of Korean food.
The restaurant has been around from ages. The grandmother- a kind, frail woman still comes by from time to time, but it is her daughter that runs the shop now. Her daughter is a robust force of nature- a general of the army of knife-cut noodle soup.
Her chefs in command make bowl after bowl of handcut noodles that are cooked in an anchovy and clam broth. As each bowl reaches completion another chef artistically garnishes it with black, roasted laver, crisp green onions, and 3 boiled slices of potatoes.
This takes all of 2 minutes and the machine is well-oiled and ready to churn out bowl after bowl of soup.
The noodles are rough cut- some are wide and others are thin. It is a texture bath of noodles for the mismatched cuts and the uneven cooking time makes some noodles soft, others chewy, and others just silky-perfect. I think it is fun to eat these noodles with heapings of their pepper sauce and kimchi.
I have to admit, I have taken some of my friends here and they didn't see what all the hype was about. They wanted something a bit more refined. I guess they didn't understand that's the charm.
4,500 won a bowl.