We’ve got summer weather here in Korea, which means it’s officially cold noodle season. Many gravitate to the more well-known naengmyeon varieties, but my go-to will always be the more rustic, hearty makguksu (buckwheat noodles). Like naengmyeon though, you’ll have a tough time deciding between two main varieties: mul (“water”) and bibim (mixed with sauce). Thankfully, here at Memil Janchi, they make it easy for you to decide by specializing in a single bibim that’s simply sublime.
If you’re willing to travel for good food, you won’t have any qualms traveling to the northwestern entrance of Bukhansan National Park, lined with terrific restaurants all offering a picturesque view of forests and mountains. Among them, only one really stands out because they serve one of my all-time favorite makguksu varieties called sogogi bibim memil myeon 소고기비빔메밀면 – literally translating to buckwheat noodles mixed with meat sauce. Having lived in Gwangwondo for quite some time, this is a strong statement because I’ve had the best throughout the region – traveling to Wonju on the west to Sokcho on the east and everywhere in the middle. None compare to this.
What sets this bibim apart from others is that it’s served in a large bowl packed full of chilled buckwheat noodles beautifully dressed with slivers of radish, cucumber, egg, seaweed, ground beef, and their addicting meat sauce. This might sound strange, but the meat sauce tasted just like spaghetti sauce with ground beef, albeit with a little more heat. Korean chili flakes are pretty mild to begin with, so maturing the sauce over a few days with other seasonings (like soy, sugar, sesame oil) isn’t a far stretch for comparison. As if it weren’t evident in the pictures, it’s a gorgeous dish that tasted just as good as it looked. Noodles had some bite to it, along with some earthy nuttiness, pairing perfectly with the fresh, thinly sliced veggies – and bringing everything together – the crack sauce. Finished in record time. And the sauce was so addicting I wish I had asked for an extra bowl of rice. Yep, that good.
There are a handful of items on the menu, like donkkaseu (deep-fried pork cutlet) and udon noodles, but the restaurant is clearly known for this standout dish. I’ve traveled long and far just to try out particular dishes, so the 3-hour trek just to experience this bibim makguksu was well worth the time and energy. Next time though, I’ll probably enjoy a short hike up Bukhansan to whet my appetite.
Food: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: 5 out of 5 stars
Memil Janchi 메밀잔치
279-88 Jingwan-dong, Eunpyeong-gu (은평구 진관동 279-88)
Hours: Open every day 11:00 am ~ 6:00 pm except Wednesdays
Click here for an interactive map: http://naver.me/GDE4rQQO