13.185 Naeng Memil Guksu

Cycle 13 – Item 185

9 (Sat) July 2022

Naeng Memil Guksu


at Gwanghwamun Mijin

-Cheongjin, Jongro, Seoul, Republic of Korea-

with WHO colleagues

An afternoon gathering of Korean WHO staff members, both current and former, whether based here or passing through for the weekend.  The roster included RDE, whom I hadn’t seen in nearly 2 years (see most recently 11.262 Garlicpeno Pasta).

The resurrected pimatgol goes through Le Meilleur Jongno Town, a skyscraper that occupies several blocks of where pimatgol once ran.

Pimatgol was a series of side streets in old Seoul.  Running parallel to and hidden behind the larger storefronts along Jongro (the main thoroughfare leading to Gyeongbok Palace), pimatgol was home to cheap restaurants and shops frequented by commoners looking to avoid scrutiny from aristocrats and government officials, presumably on horseback – the name means “avoid (pi) horse (ma) alley (gol).”  When the neighborhood underwent renovation during the 2000s, the original buildings were demolished but a short portion of the old path was set aside in homage.

The thick red lines on the map depict the original segments of pimatgol.

Gwanghwamun Mijin is a Korean restaurant.  Landmark, established 1954.  Specializes in naeng memil guksu, served in the Japanese style of zaru soba – apparently, they were famous for bringing the dish to the masses in the wake of the Korean War (although I’m wondering if Korean people really felt like eating Japanese food less than a decade after emancipation).  The rest of the menu offers traditional Korean fare.

Always lines, even longer during the summer.

The food was okay.  Tasted like standard zaru soba.  Not worth the wait.  Not worth 11,000 won.

The place was so packed that we had to split the party in 2.

After lunch, we went to the WHO office across the street and hung out in the conference room for coffee and conversation – that was the important bit.



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