A few weeks ago, I had dinner plans with one of my oldest and dearest Korean friends. She had been desperate to take me to her favourite naengmyeon and bulgogi places and we finally got around to finding a date that worked for us both. However after travelling across town and arriving at the restaurant, we found it to be closed for their monthly day off (which is why you should always call and check they are open). Instead she suggested that we go to try a North Korean noodle place she liked nearby. It is not often one gets a chance to try North Korean cuisine so I thought I should seize the opportunity with both hands.
I was surprised when we arrived at 평양며녹 that there wasn’t a queue a mile long, as the North Korean naengmyeon that the restaurant is famous for was having a total ‘it’ moment after it was talked about at the peace summit between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in. The restaurant itself has a dozen or so dishes but their specialty is the Naengmyeon and the Mandu, so that’s what we ordered. The Jeopal Mandu (6,000 for 3) were huge. I really liked these a lot. The skin was thick and soft, and inside they were stuffed with a mix of ground pork and veggies. While the taste was quite similar to the South Korean style there was slight distinction I think possibly with the seasoning used inside. I also really loved the slightly sweet and acidic soy based dipping sauce too. They were very tasty indeed.
I was interested to know how the Pyeongyang Neangmyeon (12,000) would compare to the southern version as it is one of my favourite summer dishes. My friend had warned me that the broth was much simpler than the southern style version. We still had the same accompaniments of pickled radish, the mustard and the vinegar and the handmade noodles were topped with boiled beef and an egg. I tried the broth without the accompaniments first and found it to be quite aloof in flavour but not totally tasteless. I then added in my mustard and vinegar. It was a lot more mellow than the south Korean version. If you prefer simple Korean foods where the ingredient speak for themselves, you would probably prefer this version. Personally I like my taste buds to be tantalised, so will stick with the southern style in future. Overall I enjoyed my meal but can’t say I would be in a rush to come back just for the mandu. However I think anyone who loves Korean food should give the North Korean food a try.
평양며녹 is located at 423-15 dogok-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Maebong station (line 3) and come out of exit 4. Walk straight and take the first left, then walk down this street and take the third right. keep walking until you reach the second right, the restaurant is just on the corner. For more information you can call them on 02-577-7784.