26 (Thu) December 2019
at Chin Chin
-Seogyo, Mapo, Seoul, Korea-
with MtG and the Boys
2020 Winter Holiday in Korea, Day 3.
For lunch, we were agreed to meet at a restaurant specializing in mul naeng myeon.
This morning on television, by coincidence, a program about mul naeng myeon was aired by the History Channel.
One segment highlighted the landmark MNM restaurant Okryugwan in Pyeongyang, as well as a new restaurant in Seoul that purports to replicate the Okryugwan dish.
Today, for the first time ever, I shared a meal in Korea with the colleagues with whom I’ve broken the most bread in the Philippines over the past few years. RK currently has 114 GMTD-registered meals, mostly dinners, not counting what may be nearly as many unregistered lunches, as well as several more that I may not have counted before I got to know him. EK has 42 – when she departed as a consultant in January 2015, she had 32 – “more than anyone else in Manila, thus far (see 6.002 Pan-Grilled Shrimp in Roast-Pepper/Tomato Sauce – RK was at that farewell dinner). I was suppose that we see each other so often on a daily basis that the thought of meeting up while on holiday had never occurred to us.
When I was asked to suggest a venue, I did not hesitate to propose “my favorite restaurant in the world.”
My colleagues appeared to enjoy the food, especially the MNM – by now, I should think that I can read their reactions.
But beyond the food, we had a blast, just gabbing away – 95% about WHO, 5% other – like back in Manila.
- 8.296 Mul Naeng Myeon (4.0)
- 8.303 Maybe the New Best Mul Naeng Myeon (4.0)
- 9.014 Mul Naeng Myeon (3.5)
- 9.016 Probably the Best Mul Naeng Myeon (4.0)
- 9.142 BBQ Platter
- 9.169 Chamchi Hoe
- 9.192 Tuna Pizza
- 9.294 Indubitably, the World’s Best MNM (4.0)
- 9.295 Char-Grilled Hanwoo Strip Steak
- 9.348 Mul Naeng Myeon (4.0)
- 10.057 Hindu Meal
- 10.193 Mul Naeng Myeon (3.0)
- 10.354 Roast Lobster with Cheese
Chin Chin is a Korean restaurant. Purports to specialize in northern-style fare, including MNM, supposedly modelled on the Okryugwan dish, recreated by a North Korean defector who had once worked there as a chef.
It’s the restaurant that was featured on the History Channel program this morning. MtG and I had originally planned to have dinner elsewhere, but I called an audible upon seeing the program.
Having never been to Okryugwan, I can’t say how close the replication gets to the original MNM.
On its own terms, however, I wasn’t too impressed. The broth was light and tangy. The noodles were rubbery. The toppings were too busy.
Whether accurate to a specific restaurant, the MNM as even a vague approximation of the current style in the North does bolster my long-held, hard-earned theory that the actual mul naeng myeon in Pyeongyang these days bears no resembled to the so-called “Pyeongyang-Style” served in South Korea, which I refer to as “Contemporary Southern Pyeongyang-Style” (see generally 4.261 Pyongyang (Mul) Naeng Myeon).
Incidentally, due to the divergent evolution of how certain Chinese-based characters are used in different regions, “naeng” in the South is pronounced/written as “laeng” in the North.
The rest of the food was also meh.