This is captain Aude writing in my last foodie log, at least for a few months.
With summer having already knocked at Seoul’s door, some of us might have been having a hard time finding the strength to forage for food. When it is 33 degrees outside, eating warm food seems like the best way to overheat while most rice dishes may feel like too much of an heavy load to carry. Many people are therefore tempted to bring some freshness in their lives by eating some ice cream (go and eat some bing soo, now!).
One other option I love in such times are cold noodle soups, namely bbibbimnaengmyeon or moolnaengmyeon. Cold noodle dishes vary in ingredients and noodle type: some are made with buckwheat, potato or sweet potato, and even arrowroot. Typically, the noodles are served in an iced broth, with julienned cucumbers, a few other veggies and a boiled egg or cold boiled slices of beef.
The two best known cold noodle dishes are mul naengmyeon and bibim naengmyeon. The first one originates from Pyongyang and is made with buckwheat noodles, a beef or pheasant iced broth, some sliced radish as well as a few other ingredients. Importantly, mul naengmyeon is not spicy. Bibim naenmyeon on the other hand, is usually spicy and doesn’t incorporate much broth. It usually is made of cold noodles mixed with a variety of ingredients such as cucumber, eggs, green onions, hot pepper flakes, Korean pear and sesame seeds, which you then proceed to mix together before eating. Some incorporate sliced cold meat, while others might contain raw fish, depending on the town and restaurant.
Historically, this dish has existed since the Joseon dynasty (1392-1897) and is originally from northern Korea. It used to be a winter dish, made when snow and ice were abundant and could be used in cooking, but with the advent of refrigerators, it soon became possible to make naengmyeon in summer. The dish became particularly popular throughout Korea after the Korean War.
YookSsamNaengMyeon - in Hyehwa.
In Hyehwa, there is one particularly good restaurant for eating Naengmyeon. It is called YookSsamNaengMyeon and is located within 10-minute walking distance from our hostel. YookSsamNaengMyeon offers both mul naengmyeon and bibim naengmyeon, as well as meat bibimbap and succulent marinated sliced meat portions! The restaurant is cozy, luminous and the naengmyeon and meat are particularly tasty when eaten together. So have a go at it if you are in Hyehwa!