MUL NAENG MYEON
Mul Naeng Myeon (물냉면) (MNM) is a Korean dish. Noodles in chilled broth, typically topped with slices of beef and/or pork, pickled radish, cucumbers, Asian pear, and half of a boiled egg. Some diners add dashes of vinegar and/or Korean mustard. The name of the dish literally means “water (mul) cold (naeng) noodles (myeon).” MNM in Korea can be found either in specialty restaurants or in barbecue restaurants that serve the noodles at the end of the meal.
Despite the sweeping definition, MNM not to be confused with other Korean chilled noodle soups, such as kimchi mari guksu. MNM is also distinct from bibim naeng myeon, which involves the same noodles but a spicy chili paste rather than broth.
This page presents an on-going list of every bowl of MNM featured on GMTD. They are categorized by style (overseas separately), then ranked by restaurant in order of preference.
[Note: Posts featuring MNM that were originally published on GMTD’s previous blog platform will be included in this list once they are migrated to the current platform.]
** highly recommended
! to be avoided
Pyongyang-style (PYS). Named after the northern city from which it purportedly originated. The noodles, made primarily from buckwheat, are doughy in texture, and thicker, not quite spaghetti but close. The broth is beefy, devoid of sweetness, seemingly insipid at first sip, but subtle at a deeper level. Some would argue that this style represents the real deal, the way that it was originally made in North Korea. Indeed, restaurants specializing in PYS MNM do appear to be predominantly patronized by older clientele, old people, who perhaps cling to lingering memories of MNM prior to the Korean War. PYS MNM restaurants are rare: less than 100 known establishments in South Korea, none known to exist outside of South Korea, not even North Korea.
In 2013, GMTD conducted a taste test of 8 PYS MNM restaurants in Seoul (see SSPYSP).
This is my favorite style of MNM. Indeed, PYS MNM is my favorite dish of all time.
- ** Jinmi Pyongyang Naengmyeon (진미평양냉면)
- 8.296 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 8.303 Maybe the New Best Mul Naeng Myeon
- 9.014 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 9.016 Probably the Best Mul Naeng Myeon
- 9.142 BBQ Platter
- 9.169 Chamchi Hoe
- 9.192 Tuna Pizza
- 9.294 Indubitably, the World’s Best MNM
- 9.295 Char-Grilled Hanwoo Strip Steak
- 9.348 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 10.057 Hindu Meal
- 10.193 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 10.354 Roast Lobster with Cheese
- 10.355 Laeng Myeon
- 11.189 1++ Hanwoo Sirloin Strip Steak
- 11.326 Jeyuk
- 12.085 Taste Test: HHS v PYS
- 12.215 Mul Naeng Myeon – Gobbaegi
- 12.243 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 12.290 Mul Naeng Myeon (à la Hubris)
- 13.064 (Post-Covid-19) Mul Naeng Myeon
- 13.102 (Better than Mil Myeon) Mul Naeng Myeon
- ** Pyongyang Myeonok (평양면옥) (Jangchung)
- ** Pyongyang Myeonok (평양면옥) (Nonhyeon)
- 1.888 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 4.285 Lechon Kawali with Adobong Sili
- 4.301 Arabic Spiced Chicken Kofta
- 4.290 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 5.003 Jaengban Ban
- 5.230 johndory Fish & unseasoned Chips
- 5.359 Jaengban Ban
- 6.216 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 6.250 Guksi
- 6.272 Chicken
- 6.298 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 6.313 Saengseon Jeon…
- 6.347 Amaebi Avocado Maki
- 7.018 Mul Naeng Myeon
- 7.040 Hot Pastrami … Sandwich
- 7.048 Soft Chicken Taco Supreme
- 7.095 Bulgogi
- 7.172 Pyeonyuk
- 7.198 The Best MNM in the World
- 7.294 Chaeggeut
- 7.299 Double MNM
- 8.157 The Best MNM in the World, Still
- 9.300 Chaeggeut
- 12.271 Mul Naeng Myeon
- ** Bong Piyang (봉피양) (Bangi) (4.179 The Piyang MNM) (12.091 Pyeongyang Naeng Myeon) (13.001 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- ** Bong Piyang (봉피양) (Cheongdam) (4.195 Hanwoo Jeontong Bulgogi) (5.004 Sitting Business, Eating Coach) (7.158 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- ** Byeokje Galbi (벽재갈비) (Bangi) (5.140 Pak Nasser’s Nasi Lemak)
- ** Byeokje Galbi (벽재갈비) (Daechi) (12.137 Bong Piyang Pyeongyang Naeng Myeon – Sun Myeon)
- * Bong Piyang (Daechi) (7.158 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- * Apgujeong Myeonok (12.177 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon – Premium) (12.183 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
- * Neungla-do (능라도) (Yeoksam) (8.198 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
- * Pil-Dong Myeonok (2.201 Mandu Guk) (4.148 The Pil-Dong MNM) (6.306 Mul Naeng Myeon) (9.145 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- * Woo Lae Oak (우래옥) (Jugyo) [TripAdvisor] (4.173 Jeontong Pyongyang Naeng Myeon) (6.179 Shrimp Tempura) (6.320 Sacheon-Sik Tangsu-Yuk)
- * Eulmildae (을밀대) (Yeomli) (4.071 Mul Naeng Myeon) (4.184 The Eulmildae MNM) (4.234 Dweji Galbi)
- * Neungla (Pangyo) (4.201 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon) (4.261 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
- Piyang Ok (12.217 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Geumwang Pyongyang Myeonok (12.219 Sunmyeon Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Eulmildae (을밀대) (Yeoksam) (4.077 Mul Naeng Myeon) (9.013 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Jangan Myeonok (장안면옥) (12.074 Gold Mountain Shashslyk)
- Samdo Galbi (4.362 How I Earned a Free Bowl of Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Buwon Myeonok (부원면옥) (8.161 Mul Naeng Myeon) (11.170 Bindae Ddeok)
- Eulji Myeonok (을지면옥) (4.163 The Eulji MNM)
- Pyeonglaeok (평래옥) (4.165 The Pyeonglae MNM) (4.189 Mandu + Dak Muchim)
- Pyeonggaok (2.065 Naeng Myeon) (4.207 Naeng Myeon) (4.319 Naeng Myeon) (9.298 Eobok Jaengban) (12.115 Naeng Myeon)
- Woo Lae Oak (우래옥) (Daechi) (3.048 Jeontong Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
- Daewonok (4.290 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Chin Chin (친친) (10.355 Laeng Myeon)
- ! Nampo Myeonok (남포면옥) (4.154 The Nampo MNM) (8.259 Naeng Myeon)
Ultimately, “Pyeongyang-style mul naeng myeon,” like the proverbial holy grail, represents an unattainable ideal. It’s now a product of divergent evolution following more than half a century of constant cultural/culinary change, distinct from its original form seven decades ago, distinct from its contemporary counterpart up north.
Hamheung-style (HHS). Named after the northern city from which it purportedly originated. The noodles are made from potato starch, thus extremely chewy, to the point of being rubbery, necessitating a few preliminary snips of scissors before they can be eaten, even though they’re thin as angel hair pasta. The broth is supposedly made from beef stock, but the flavor is dominated by sweet-and-sour tanginess. This is the style of MNM that has come to dominate both the domestic and international markets in recent years; unless otherwise noted, MNM is now HHS by default. No restaurant ever serves both PYS and HHS MNM.
Whereas PYS MNM is my favorite dish of all time, HHS MNM is so distinct that I don’t like it at all. As suggested by the lack of entries in this section, I almost never order it.
- Myeong-Dong Hamheung Myeonok (명동함흥면옥) (3.010 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Gangnam Myeonok (강남면옥) (12.085 Taste Test: HHS v PYS)
- Donga Naeng Myeon (동아냉면) (3.065 Mul Naeng Myeon) (3.190 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Cheonnyeon Galbi (11.314 So Yangnyeom Galbi)
- Chosim Hanwoo (3.196 Deungsim + Anchang)
- Golmok Naeng Myeon (고목냉면) (3.167 Mul Naeng Myeon)
Seoul-style (SS). Noodles are made from a combination of buckwheat and potato starch, making them chewy but not rubbery, pleasantly mealy. The broth, derived from beef/pork stock, is slightly sweet but free of tang. As far as I’m aware, “Seoul-style” is not yet a recognized category of MNM; I’ve not seen a restaurant use the term in reference to its own MNM.
I like it. A good balance between the extremes of PYS and HHS, this is the style that I would choose to introduce MNM to a first-timer.
- ** Samwon Garden (삼원가든)
- Hanoori (6.300 Shrimp Dumplings)
- Kangseo Myun Oak (Seosomun) (4.185 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
- Sariwon (사리원) (IFC Mall) (6.177 Bulgogi)
- Kangseo Myun Oak (Sinsa) (4.295 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon) (5.109 Mushroom + Mugwort Jeon)
- Yongsusan (용수산) (4.086 IZ’s Dol Janchi)
- Commtte (8.206 Mul Naeng Myeon)
Okcheon-style (OCS). Purportedly originating from the northern province of Hwanghae-do (incidentally, both my parents were born in Hwanghae-do). Like SS, the noodles are made from a buckwheat and potato starch, though a bit more chewy. The broth is also derived from beef/pork stock, slightly sweeter. The toppings tend to be minimal, usually half of a boiled egg and julienned cucumbers. OCS MNM is only available in a handful of restaurants in the town of Okcheon, where the restaurants all have the exact same menu.
I like it. In a venn diagram of 3 circles, each representing PYS, HHS, and SS, OCS would fall in the center where the 3 circles overlap. Fortunately, Okcheon is located on the way from home to the cabin, almost precisely halfway (when we lived in Oksu, the cabin was 99.9 km away, and Okcheon was at the 50.0 km point, precisely, no exaggeration) – so we often stop by for lunch.
In 2021, GMTD conducted a taste test of 4 restaurants in Okcheon (see OKPWMC).
- ** Okcheon Goeup Naengmyeon (옥천고읍냉면)
- * Okcheon Jeontong Naeng Myeon (see 12.327 Pyeonyuk Muchim) (13.024 Gambas al Ajillo)
- Okcheon Myeonok (옥천면옥) (3.210 Lemon Pork & Roast Pepper Salsa Wrap) (12.325 (Garlic) Abalones)
- Okcheon Halmeoni Naeng Myeon (옥천할머니냉면) (3.176 Barbecued Tandoori-Style Chicken)
- Okcheon Naeng Myeon Hwanghae Sikdang (original) (3.212 Mul Naeng Myeon) (4.230 Seven-Layer Burrito)
- !! Okcheon Naeng Myeon Hwanghae Sikdang (secondary) (4.204 Mul Naeng Myeon) (12.292 Wanja + Pyeonyuk)
I will someday analyze and arrange these in a more organized manner, but for now I will lump them together.
- Pyongyang Restaurant (Laeng Myeon Gwan) (평양랭면관) (Phnom Penh) (3.269 Fried Beef with Red Ants)
- Pyongyang Daeseonggwan (Beijing) (4.261 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
- Dandong Pyongyang Sikdang (Pyongyang) (4.261 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
- Pyongyang Sasil Laeng Myeon (Pyongyang) (4.261 Pyongyang Naeng Myeon)
- Choungsu MNM + Apgujeong Myeonok (12.187 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- CJ MNM + Apgujeong Myeonok (12.201 Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Pulmuone MNM (4.174 Pyongyang Mul Naeng Myeon) (11.158 Pyeongyang Mul Naeng Myeon)
- Pulmuone Chogye MNM (4.193 Chogye Mul Naeng Myeon)
(See also GLOBAL FOOD GLOSSARY)
(See also RESTAURANTS IN KOREA)