Broad Avenue through Palisades Park is indeed broad enough to do a U-turn when you find a parking spot, but so much space usually seems like overkill, as traffic is sparse and this sleepy neighborhood always seems empty when I go for food. Most of the restaurants on this "main" drag close by 9 or 10pm, unlike the Korean neighborhoods of Queens and Manhattan. But don't be fooled, the food here is still worthy of seeking out, and this sleepy corner establishment is no different.
Only the Korean is illuminated in neon outside, but Halmae Noodle reads the smaller sign on the window. Either way, it means grandma and is a promise of old style traditional cooking.
The woman who runs the place first tried to speak Korean with the Thai in our group, then the Filipino, but when unsuccessful switched to English, all with a smile. I went with friends who brought their two year old boy, and he was treated like a king by the staff, brought his own cartoon bowl, spoon, and sippy cup.
The five of us were hungry, so we quickly ordered some appetizers, starting with the stir fried spicy rice cake ($9.99, below), a delicious and indeed spicy dish. We are always big fans of the texture and chewiness of Korean rice cakes, and these did not let us down.
Not being able to decide whether the dumplings should be fried or steamed, both orders ending up coming to the table as compromise. The fried dumplings ($8.99, above) and steamed dumplings ($8.99, below) both are available in shrimp or beef, and a winner remained undecided. All 20 were eaten in an attempt to crown the champion, maybe 20 more are necessary.
Almost glowing red with chili, the spicy noodles soup with beef and vegetables ($10.99, below) was a hit. The vegetables, beef, and noodles all seemed to have the same shape, and their soups do come with a choice of spice level in case your belly does not behave the same as a Korean.
Also red is the noodles soup with spicy soft tofu and seafood ($10.99, below), which comes loaded with mussels, shrimp, and squid, as well as big bricks of soft tofu, a little harder than most if we're being honest. This is the first bowl I have seen with the soft tofu and noodles together, which was fun.
Although we were at a noodle house, we for some reason could not turn down the kimchi and pork fried rice ($8.99 below), which was excellent. The big yellow egg yolk oozes through everything when cut open, and the kimchi has enough spice to make all the bites tingle a bit.
The website makes a point to show the three varieties of colors of the homemade noodles used here, which can be seen below. As far as I could tell, this was just coloring and not a difference in ingredients, so I asked a friend in Korea to do some translation for me. The colors come from different vegetables, used only for looks. The recipe comes from the owner's mother in Korea, who must now be the grandma from the menu. Make sure the noodles make their way into at least one of your orders, as they are very tasty.