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hot summer, cold noodles

  • w

well, i don't know about you guys, but this heat is
killing me. one way i try to cool down is with some
cold noodles, in particular, naengmyon, the korean cold
noodle soup, and zaru soba, the japanese noodles with
dipping sauce. so i thought i'd share with some fellow
chowhounds my favorite places for each.

for naengmyon, i think dae dong myun ok on 32nd between
5th and broadway definitely is the place to go. it's
their specialty, and although i don't think it lives up
to the version at the queens branch, i certainly
haven't had better in manhattan. naengmyon basically
is angel hair buckwheat noodles in a cold beef broth
with various vegetables and meat on top. the meat
consists of a couple slivers of beef and the vegetables
some cucumber and a form of non-spicy kimchi. there's
also a slice of asian pear and my favorite part, half a
hard boiled egg.

what you want to do first is mix it all up, and
especially spread the noodles around since they start
out in a big clump in the middle of your bowl, and it
can be a huge pain trying to separate them at first.
then taste the broth. most koreans like to splash a
little bit of vinegar (on the table next to the soy
sauce) in there as well as some yellow wasabi mustard
(sometimes on the table, sometimes you have to ask for
it) to add a little spice. please don't add soy sauce.
you might just like it the way it is (personally, at
dae dong, i add just a touch of vinegar).

there are lots of things you can do with the egg.
(for more on this and a good long repartee on
naengmyon, skip over to the international section and
the latest few posts on "places to eat in seoul, korea"
thread). i like to eat it first after letting it soak
up some broth and dropping a little salt on it in
between slurps of noodle. one thing about the last
time i was at dae dong, though (about a week ago), the
egg was a bit hard and rubbery, probably out a bit too
long. then just eat away, noodles and beef, noodles
and veges, noodles and veges and beef, just noodles,
and spoonfuls of refreshing cold broth in between, or
if you've got the moxie just pick up the bowl and put
your mouth to it (don't worry, nobody will stare,
they'll think you're cool). my bet is the bowl will be
empty by the time you're done.

although it's certainly enough of a meal by itself,
it's usually eaten at the end of a meal of korean bbq.
it's a great way to wash it down. if you've got the
appetite, go for it. the kalbi at dae dong is great,
as i'm sure you'll smell as soon as you walk in.

as for zaru soba, i posted a couple weeks back about a
place called yodo on 47th between 5th and madison.
went there last night again and confirmed that the
food there is very good. they have two kinds of zaru
soba, both i believe with tempura. i don't know how
that works, so i just order plain old zaru soba by
itself. they also have something called inaniwa zaru
udon, which are thinner flatter udon noodles. i prefer
the buckwheat soba for their flavor. for me, it's udon
hot, soba cold. the dipping sauce comes with some
add-ins, scallions, a raw quail egg, sesame seeds, and
sometimes either chopped ginger or chopped radish. i
just dump it all in and mix it up. i also add some
green wasabi to give it some bite and clear up my
sinuses. then take the noodles, dip it in, and slurp.
please note, this can get quite messy, so bring a bib.

also, the sushi at yodo is excellent and reasonably
priced. their toro is $3.50 a piece and mouthwatering.

happy eating everyone and let me know what you think.

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  1. Sounds like great choices for the weather lately! I
    used to frequent Yodo many years ago and was happy to
    read that it is still so good. I will have to head
    uptown again and check it out!Have any favorites in the
    East Village location for those types of dishes?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Caroline

      don't go to the east village too often and when i do
      it's usually for sushi or to go drinking. sorry.

      1. re: wonki

        One of my favorite places for cold noodles, and in the
        East Village as well, is called Soba-Ya - it's on East
        9th Street between 2nd and 3rd. Just ate there last
        night, and in addition to excellent Zaru Soba, they
        have a couple of really good apps (and a nice Sake
        list as well!).

        Give it a try (especially when you can't get into
        Hasaki).

    2. I tried the cold noodles at Dae Dong, and was
      impressed. They were delicious, and the staff was very
      friendly. For some reason, I find that many of the
      Korean places have less than friendly staff. Has this
      been other people's experience, or is it me?

      Peter

      4 Replies
      1. re: Peter Flom
        j
        jonathan gold

        It's just you.

        1. re: jonathan gold

          actually, for a while korean restaurants did have a bad
          reputation for rude service, but i think they have made
          a concerted effort to change that in recent years.

          peter, glad you liked the naengmyon.

          1. re: wonki

            Personally, I think the language/cultural barrier has
            a lot to do with the service. I think, as Wonki
            pointed out, there has been a conscious effort in
            recent years to adapt to a more American, service-w/-a-
            smile approach in restaurants as well as in stores.

            As for cold noodles in the summer (some of the most
            delicious things on the face of the earth!), I have
            one to add: kong-guksu. Such a simple dish, but so
            rarely made correctly (main ingredient of the broth is
            pureed white beans), I've never found a place in
            Manhattan that served a decent version. Does anyone
            have suggestions?

            1. re: Aleece

              i don't think i've even been in a restaurant here that
              has kong-guksu, but i'll look out for it. i think woo
              chon might have it as a special over the summer.

      2. Thanks for the tip. I went to Yodo for lunch today
        and had zaru soba. Yum. The raw quail egg was new to
        me and a really interesting addition.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bob Dively

          my pleasure. nothing like helping a fellow
          chowhound. glad you liked it. the quail egg was a
          first for me as well.