Lunch @ Myeongdong Jjolmyeon 명동쫄면 (Gyeongju, Korea)

October 19, 2017 in Korean

My crossfitters and I did a day trip to Gyeongju from Busan during our Korea trip in July 2017. So while we had our breakfast at 시골의맛, we settled our lunch at 명동쫄면 (Myeongdong Jjolmyeon) after visiting Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto.

And I must say, it was a proud moment for me as a ‘food lover’ when our local guide gushed over the selection of our eateries. He was very amazed at how we know about their local popular restaurants. =) But it was no easy feat for me too. With no English information of these restaurants, I prowled through many Korean blogs on Naver and depended a lot on ‘Google translate’.

Featured on episode 46 of my favourite Korean food show ‘Baek Jong Won’s Top 3 Chef King’ (백종원의 3대 천왕), 명동쫄면 (Myeongdong Jjolmyeon) specialises in jjolmyeon (쫄면) and has been operating for more than 30 years.

My crossfitters and I arrived at the restaurant on a weekday at 11.45am. Our local guide was worried about long queue as a famous (Korean) writer wrote about the restaurant just 2 weeks prior to our lunch. But we were lucky to be the 3rd group in line and were seated within 20 minutes.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) 오뎅쫄면, ‎₩6000 (above) – Fried fish noodle soup.

2) 냉쫄면, ‎₩6000 (above) – Cold noodle soup (oden jjolmyeon). We welcomed this dish very much as it cooled us down from the summer heat. Keke.

3) 비빔쫄면, ‎₩6000 (above) – Spicy dry noodle (bibim jjolmyeon). This was served with lots of crown daisy, a signature of jjolmyeon in Gyeongju. And because we don’t get to eat this often in Singapore, I am quoting Mr Baek’s words from the show to allow one to better appreciate the dish; “This dish is more like bibim guksu, but has the texture of jjolmyeon. Bibim guksu with savoury sesame oil instead of the usual sweet and sour taste. And the secret behind their lack of sour taste is because the owner used lemon juice instead of vinegar in the sauce.” I also learnt from the show that the sauce made with ground onion, ground garlic, sugar, salt and ground chili pepper powder was also matured for 4 days before used.

4) 유부쫄면, ‎₩6000 (above) – Fried tofu noodle soup (yubu jjolmyeon). Our local guide shared with us that this dish was unique because it’s not normally served hot. Again (keke), it’s from the show that I learnt the owner of 명동쫄면 came up with this idea because she had no dish to sell in winter. Haha. With egg stirred in, the broth contained radish, onion, anchovies, kelp and shittake mushroom. Noodle remained chewy although it’s in hot soup because these noodles were handmade with a ratio of 3:7 of potato flour to wheat flour. Owner also intentionally made the noodles thinner with the thought of making it easier for customers to swallow since thick noodles can become too tough. Who would have know so much thought was put into the food. Appreciative much!

Would I recommend 명동쫄면? A definite yes! Our guide kept thanking us for choosing 명동쫄면 (Myeongdong Jjolmyeon) because he had been wanting to try the restaurant too and we gave him the opportunity to. Hahaha.

But if one isn’t able to come in a group as big as us (we came in a group of 6. Or 7, including our guide), their bibim jjolmyeon and yubu jjolmyeon are their best sellers. Must try!

80-8 Nodong-dong, Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do (경북 경주시 계림로93번길 3)
+82 54 743 5310, Naver
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 11:30 – 20:30
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 6
* Closed on 1st & 3rd Tues

Dinner @ 華國飯店 화국반점 (Busan, Korea)

October 15, 2017 in Korean

One of my crossfitters had sudden craving for black bean sauce noodle (jjajangmyeon/간짜장). But instead of ordering delivery, we decided to have a proper meal at a restaurant. As we were shopping around Gukje Market, I decided to bring my crossfitters to 華國飯店 (화국반점) which was within walking distance. And was 華國飯店 (화국반점) featured on my favourite Korean food show ‘Baek Jong Won’s Top 3 Chef King’. Episode 14 to be exact which focused on black bean sauce noodle.

The restaurant was fairly empty when we arrived at the restaurant at 8pm. We were allowed to choose any table, and we chose to sit at the table nearer to the restaurant’s television. Haha. And being able to eat while watching television program (although we didn’t understand what’s going on since there was no English subtitles), it did feel like we were eating in the living room of someone’s house instead. Keke.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2, 3), my crossfitters and I ordered:-

1) Pickled radish & radish kimchi, Complimentary (above)

2) 탕수육, ‎₩15,000 (small) (above) – Oddly, this dish of Korean sweet and sour pork (tangsuyuk) was not on the menu. But since it’s almost a must to eat Korean sweet and sour pork with black bean sauce noodle, we requested for it when we were placing our order. To which the staff recommended us to get a small portion. However, we didn’t like this dish. The sauce which was poured over the fried pork was gluey in texture and bland in taste. It was only when we were halfway through our meal that we noticed other tables of locals separately prepared a dipping sauce of vinegar and soya sauce to go with the Korean sweet and sour pork. And that indeed made the dish tastier. So I guess one really need to know how to eat to appreciate the dish.

3) 간짜장, ‎₩7000 (above) – 干炸醬. And what set this restaurant different from the rest was that 華國飯店 (화국반점) served their black bean sauce noodle (jjajangmyeon) dry and with a fried egg. It was ‘egg porn’ at its best when we tore the egg apart with our chopsticks, coating the noodles evenly with yolk before we poured the black bean sauce over the noodle. Nice!

4) 짬뽕, ‎₩7000 (above) – 炒碼麵. Again, one can say we had to order spicy seafood noodle soup (jjamppong) to go with our black bean sauce noodle. Keke.

It was a mediocre dining experience for my crossfitters and I. We were particularly disappointed with the sweet and sour pork. Perhaps we weren’t too used to the different cooking style? Would I still recommend 華國飯店 (화국반점)? Well… I still would. Purely because one should trust Mr Baek’s recommendation. I am a blind faithful follower of Mr Baek! Keke. But do be reminded that the restaurant was featured on Mr Baek’s food show for their black bean sauce noodle.

華國飯店 화국반점
3 Baeksan-gil, Donggwang-dong, Jung-gu, Busan (부산 중구 백산길 3)
+82 51 245 5305, Naver
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Tues – Sun : 11:30 – 22:00
Ambience: 7
Value: 7
Service: 6
* Closed on Mon

Lunch @ 시골의맛 손칼국수&열무국수 (Busan, Korea)

October 12, 2017 in Korean

During my July 2017 trip to Korea, one of our day trips from Busan was to Gyeongju. And because we had private transport, my crossfitters and I were able to drop by 시골의맛 easily!

시골의맛 was featured on episode 41 of my favourite Korean food show ‘Baek Jong Won’s Top 3 Chef King’ where Mr Baek introduced cold dishes to forget the summer heat. Yeah! My crossfitters and I were in Korea at the right timing; Hot, hot summer. Keke.

As the restaurant is not centrally located in Busan, it’s a 1-hour metro journey from Busan metro station. But because my crossfitters and I were dropping by 시골의맛 for breakfast enroute to Gyeongju, it was a 40 minutes car journey from our accommodation (that’s located near Busan metro station) to 시골의맛.

But really, one can say we were thankful that the restaurant opened early at 8am. I was reeking my head really hard for a good breakfast place till I found information of 시골의맛 (as the show does not disclose the restaurant’s name). And 시골의맛’s location fitted perfectly into our itinerary. Keke.

We arrived at 시골의맛 pretty early in the morning at 8.45am which allowed my crossfitters and I to beat the queue. Phew.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) 열무국수, ‎₩6000 (above) – Yeolmuguksu. To enjoy this dish, one should cut the crunchy yeolmu kimchi (made with matured young radish from Ilsan in Gyeonggi) into smaller pieces onto the noodles before pouring in the slightly vinegary broth. And this was light and refreshing on the palate. Slurping the cold noodles was a good way to beat the summer heat.

2) 손칼국수, ‎₩6000 (above) – Sonkalguksu. But this warm bowl of chewy hand-knife noodle won our hearts and warmed our stomach (better). I guess we were more accustomed to eating warm food in the morning.

My crossfitters and I were satisfied with our meal at 시골의맛. If one is heading up to Gyeongju from Busan or even heading down to Busan from Gyeongju via private transport, I would recommend putting 시골의맛 on one’s itinerary.

However, if one plans to come by public transport, I say it’s not worth the 1.5 hours journey. Make that 3 hours since one has to travel back too.

시골의맛 손칼국수&열무국수
820-3 Icheon-ri, Ilgwang-myeon, Gijang, Busan (부산 기장군 일광면 일광로 132)
+82 51 723 5689, Naver
Overall: 6.5
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 7
Mon – Sun : 08:00 – 15:00
Ambience: 6
Mon – Sun : 16:00 – 20:00
Value: 7
Service: 6
* Closed on 2nd & 4th Tues