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Asia eats, korea eats

august 8: the best moolnengmyun in korea

Although my mom, my sister and I were supposed to go to church on Sunday, the first we thing we actually did that morning was go to a cafe. Because really, what else is there to do on a Sunday morning when all the shops are close and you only have an hour to kill? So cafe we did, at a little place called “Sweet  Buns.”

oo cool coffee drippy things

Since we had already eaten breakfast, the only thing we were looking for was a lil’ sumthing sweet. After all, the only we thing had for breakfast was… toast. A slice for each of us. NUTRITIOUS and FILLING, for sureee.

We originally went in looking for coffee and gelato, but my sister couldn’t resist the chocolate lure of Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome.

look at that incredible CRUMB STRUCTURE!!

I had a bite, and was immediately transported to dizzyingly delicious new levels of chocolate-muffinness. My sister, sitting next to me as I write this, says that this description fails to sufficiently capture the amazingness of this muffin (“that’s weak Eunice, that’s weak..”) Calynn says that when she took a bite of this muffin, the world was no longer round, but muffin-shaped. It was that good. It had an intense but not overwhelming chocolate flavor, but the best thing about it was the TEXTURE. It wasn’t as dense as some of the boulder-muffins you find in the U.S., but it wasn’t cake-spongey either. There was density, but it was a LIGHT density. Does that make sense…? I’ve never had a muffin before like this in my life; it was actually PERFECT. And to make it even better, the baristas actually warmed the muffin up before serving it to us – man, you just can’t find service like that in the States.

Seeing how the outside of “Sweet Buns”  was advertised as a gelateria, I was kind of disappointed to see that they only had like, 5 flavors to choose from. But this container MORE than made up for it.

GENIUS, I TELL YOU

Most gelaterias serve up to 3 flavors all smothered in one cup, which is fine in the beginning. But towards the end, all the flavors melt and mix together to form a weird fruity-creamy gelato soup at the bottom of your cup. And when I was young, I used to HATE having my food touch. I’m better about it now, but still… Blegh. But this gelato cup solves everything. You can choose 2 flavors, and they’ll melt in their own separate cups to form singularly-flavored puddles of gelato soup at the bottom. Let me tell you, gelato segregation is a very, very good thing. But why can’t you just buy 2 separate orders of gelato? BECAUSE THIS IS COOLER. AND CHEAPER. BUT COOLER TOO.

Now on to the gelato themselves… They weren’t anything specatular, but I guess I can’t really say that after eating at gelaterias like L’arte del Gelato in NY and Gusttimo’s in Seoul. The flavors were alright (the green tea tasted green tea-y, and the yogurt tasted like frozen yogurt) but I thought it was a little too sweet for me. I had to take sips of my mom’s Americano in between so it would cut through the sweetness. But the servings were cool, so it was alright. We actually took the double-cups home so we can reuse it later :D

By the time we had finished everything, it was time for the service to start, so we walked on over to the church. We met up with my grandparents there and once the service was over we went out to eat lunch. It was a scorcher of a day, so we decided on moolnengmyun. My grandpa took us to a FAMOUS nengmyun place called Woo Lae Oak, saying that this place serves the best moolnengmyun ever. AND I TRUST MY GRANDPA’S MOOLNENGMYUN-DISCERNING PALATE. And so does everyone else apparently, because it unanimously decided that we’d eat here.

Don’t let the calm exterior fool you – it was crazy inside. There were people milling about everywhere, with the waiter screaming out the numbers he had assigned to waiting people. The smaller groups were seated first, and with our family of 5 we had to wait a good 30 minutes before being led to a table.

They don’t serve water here; instead a hot tea-ish thing is poured into your cups every once in a while. It’s actually the water that the noodles were cooked in, so it’s got a very distinct buckwheaty flavor. It tastes moolnengmyun noodley, what can I say…

The first thing we were served was kimchi; this one was unique in the fact that it wasn’t fermented, so I guess technically it wasn’t a kimchi. More like cabbage salad with a kimchi dressing, maybe..?

Then the nengmyun itself came out. It was cool and refreshing and meaty, everything that a good nengmyun should be. It was just the eeentsiest bit fattier than the other nengmyun I’ve had; you can actually see a light oil skim on the surface of the broth in the picture. But that just made it even beefier tasting. The radish in there were a little salty, so after a couple of bites I just left them out and slurped down the noodles and the broth.

stuff you can add to your nengmyun: hot pepper sauce and mustard.

cold buckwheat noodles... mm..

Was it good? Absolutely. Korea’s best? Well, I can’t really say, since I’ve only had nengmyun from a couple of restaurants around here. But it does rank up there in the top 2, and I don’t know how I can ever going back to eating nengmyun in America. None of them can even compare to nengmyun here… Oh, how I’ll miss you, delicious icy cold bowl of meaty broth and brown noodles..

Yes, that was a good meal.. For dinner that Sunday, my grandpa made potato pancakes again, but this time with the potatoes we got from Pyeongchang.

Surprisingly, this pancake actually tastes its best when you let it cool, because it gets chewy in the center.

Still stays crispy on the outside, o’course. Mmm, oh man does this bring back memories.

I’m way behind on my blogging right now, so I’m just gonna end this here. I gotta catch up to at least today before I go to Lotte World tomorrow.. Blaahldkfalkdsajjaa..

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