>> North Korean Naengmyeon | Eat the World NYC

16 February 2017

North Korean Naengmyeon

While it might be more appropriate to write about naengmyeon in the summer, North Korea has recently made the news in more of its normal odd ways. With the leaders of the US and Japan meeting in Florida, Kim Jong-un has tested a ballistic missile that has the ability to reach Japan, and shortly after his estranged half brother was assassinated in Malaysia by seemingly random women in the crowd.

With our country now led by a madman as well, we can only hope North Korea is not in the news for the next four years, because it is doubtful the news will be good.

Stepping back from politics, North Korea has one very delicious contribution, the famous dish naengmyeon, now eaten all over the Korean peninsula and by Korean food lovers worldwide. It consists of thin buckwheat noodles, but each recipe is slightly different with various ingredients in addition. Normally the noodles are cut immediately by the server to make eating the long, chewy dish easier. It is always served cold.

Mul naengmyeon is the non-spicy version, served more as a cold soup. My preference is the spicy bibim naengmyeon, seen in three versions on this page. The most posh bowl found was at Miss Korea (10 West 32nd Street, Koreatown, Manhattan), a joint known for BBQ but also serving a full menu. Their yukhoe bibim naengmyeon ($21.95, below) is topped with marinated raw beef in addition to the noodles and spicy dressing.

Interior shows the grey/brown/green buckwheat noodles up close. These noodles are thin like vermicelli and stick together firmly, making the scissors almost necessary at the beginning. When ordering bibim naengmyeon, you are given the soup broth on the side, served warm. Spoonfuls of this can help cut the intense heat.

Right across the street at Gammeeok (9 West 32nd Street 2nd Floor, Koreatown, Manhattan), they also sell a popular bowl for $14, which includes a thin slice of beef brisket.

The best version I've found in New York City was actually the first sampled, back in 2011 at Chung Moo Rollrice & Dongas, (39-04 Union Street, Flushing, Queens). This friendly small shop specializes in other things, and their version may not be considered truly traditional. Rather than a bright red spicy dressing, the noodles receive a coating that includes a sweetness from sesame in addition to the sharp heat.

The favorite is also the cheapest, at $9.50

When searching for the right location to eat naengmyeon, it might make sense to find a restaurant that serves beer, especially if you are going for the spicy versions. As warmer weather returns to New York City in a few months, bibim naengmyeon and an ice cold beer or two can be the perfect antidote to heat and humidity.


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