4.148 The Pil-Dong MNM


2 (Sun) June 2013

Naeng Myeon


at Pil-Dong Myeonok

-Pil, Jung, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

Seoul Searching for Pyeongyang-Style Perfection (1 of 8) (see also SSPYSP)

On a mission to determine Seoul’s best representative of Pyeongyang-style (PYS) mul naeng myeon (MNM), among 8 restaurants named in a newspaper poll a couple years back.

In no particular order, Pil-Dong Myeonok is the 1st restaurant to be reviewed.

On my prior visit, I’d tried the MNM and given it an informal 3.0 rating in the supplemental photos (see generally 2.201 Mandu Guk), but I wasn’t paying much attention at that time and didn’t discuss it in the post.  This time, I tried the dish de novo with a more critical/clinical mindset.

Traditional floor seating upstairs.
Interestingly, mul naeng myeon is referred to on the menu as simply “naeng myeon,” while bibim naeng myeon is called “bibim,” suggesting that MNM is the definitive form.
Befitting a grandson of northerners, IZ loves MNM, as does DJ.
Did You Know: Hardcore MNM establishments don’t offer spoons, even though MNM is a broth dish; custom calls for the bowl to be raised to the lips, broth sipped/chugged directly.

The tasting process: (i) two sips of broth; (ii) two bites of noodles; (iii) two bites of noodles with various toppings; (iv) another sip of broth; (v) another bite of noodles; and, if necessary, (vi) another sip of broth following an adjustments with vinegar and/or mustard (although the necessity of any such adjustment probably means that the game is already lost).

BROTH.  Very beefy, which would ordinarily be a good thing, in any dish, but in this case it was too beefy, suspiciously so, as if they’d added some concentrated stock to boost the beefiness.  True PYS MNM should be more subtle.  Otherwise, the broth was appropriately dry, neither sweet nor sour.  Score: 3.25.

NOODLES.  Insufficient buckwheat and too thin, thus reducing the characteristically doughy mouthfeel and starchy flavor of PYS noodles.  Score: 1.5.

TOPPINGS.  Sliced beef + pork, boiled egg (half), sliced scallion, sliced green chilies, red chili powder, sesame seeds.  Although I do like the piquant counterpoint effect of fresh scallions on rich dishes, the onion flavor came across too strong in a lean dish like this.  Same with the green chilies.  As for the chili powder and sesame seeds, neither really affected the flavor profile and just made the broth all messy.  Ultimately, I left most of the broth untouched because of all the crap floating on top.  Score: 1.25.

CONCLUSION.  Okay overall.  But the broth overshot the mark and the noodles fell way short.   It could serve as a gateway MNM for anyone who isn’t yet familiar with the hardcore stuff, which is admittedly an acquired taste.   Weighted score: 2.27.

PRICE: 9,000 won + 6,000 won for a double order (gobbaegi (곱배기)) or extra noodles after the fact (sari (사리)); the main photo shows a double order.

(See also FOODS)

(See also PLACES)

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