Summer finally arrived here in Norcal, late as usual. With balmy temperatures in the high 90’s out here in Coco county, I’m craving the Korean dish Mul Naengmyeon, savory cold noodles that is perfect for a hot day. I know, I know… icy cold beefy soup does sound weird, but trust me my friends, you can’t judge it until you try it! I was pleased to find that my favorite Korean restaurant in Concord, Korean BBQ Plus serves a very fine rendition. What makes it so special is that the broth is so icy cold that it is like slurping up a savory slushy. How do they do that, they must add shaved ice? It’s brilliant!
The broth is deeply flavorful with a spicy mustard oil, along with a good splash of vinegar and topped with thin slices of pickled radish, cucumber, thick slices of brisket and a hard cooked egg. You also are served a small blob of hot mustard that has the same nasal clearing properties as wasabi, and a bottle of vinegar for additional zip. This is a bowl I enjoyed on another visit with darker noodles that had a fantastic chewy elastic texture. These long noodles symbolize longevity of life and good health, but alot of restaurants will cut them with scissors because they are so unwieldy that I reckon they pose a health risk…
One of the reasons I like this particular restaurant is because they serve an impressive amount of banchan to each table, and you get the same amount regardless if there is only one person or a group (in which case you may receive doubles). The variety of dishes enhance the meal with bursts of flavor and texture, many are fiery hot, some are sweet and sour, delicate and savory, pungently pickled… it creates a complex banquet to graze through.
I found a recipe for this dish on Serious Eats that looks promising, and here is a post that comprehensively describes the many incarnations of Korean noodles; one of these days I want to try the spicy version with raw skate, which is fortuitously called hoe naengmyeon.