24 (Mon) June 2013
Mul Naeng Myeon
at Pyeongyang Myeonok
-Jangchung, Jung, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
Seoul Searching for Pyeongyang-Style Perfection (5 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, Pyeongyang Myeonok is the 5th restaurant to be reviewed.
Of course, I’ve had the MNM here many times before, but I returned to sample the dish de novo with a more critical/clinical mindset.
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. Delicately beefy. Totally dry. Austere. Haunting. When I first tried this MNM decades ago, I’d found the broth to be dreadfully bland; my initial thought was that the kitchen had mistakenly substituted tap water for the actual broth. But now, I believe that it epitomizes PYS broth. Adding even a drop of vinegar or mustard, thereby obliterating the subtle beefiness and disrupting the already perfect balance, would be sacrilegious. Score: 4.0.
NOODLES. Strong buckwheat flavor. Grainy and mealy – both good things for PYS noodles. Score: 3.75.
TOPPINGS. Sliced beef + pork + pork belly, boiled egg (half), pickled radish, salted cucumber, sprinkle of sliced scallions. Beef was tender and tasty. But the cold fat of the pork belly was kinda icky. Come to think of it, I don’t know why some of these places include pork in what is essentially, nowadays, a beef dish. Score: 1.5.
CONCLUSION. My respect for the MNM at this establishment seems to rise with every visit. And yet, something keeps me from falling completely in love with the dish. Maybe it’s too mean and lean. I might succumb on my next visit. Weighted score: 3.66.
PRICE: 10,000 won + (ouch) 7,000 won for a double order (gobbaegi (곱배기)) or extra noodles after the fact (sari (사리)); the main photo shows a double order.
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