Seoul has more to offer than bibimbab and barbecue. NELL MCSHANE WULFHART shares her picks for some seriously savory eats.
NENG MYUN (COLD NOODLES) One of the most refreshing summer meals in Korea is neng myun, or cold noodles. Mul neng myun is a classic version of the dish; a bowl of buckwheat noodles floating in a tangy, chilled broth enlivened by cucumber and pear. Where to try it: Nampo Myeon-ock offers a wide variety of Korean foods and an English-language menu. Nampo Myeon-ock; 125 Da-dong, Jung-gu; +82 2 777 3131.
HAE JANG GUK (HANGOVER SOUP) Hae jang guk is a traditional Korean remedy for the morning after a booze bender. The broth is studded with bean sprouts, cabbage, congealed ox blood and sliced scallions, served up boiling. Guaranteed to fix what ails you. Where to try it: Han Sung Ock has served this classic for over 70 years. With only a few tables, no website and a carefully guarded phone number, it’s a well-kept secret. Han Sung Ock; 96-4 Hyochang-dong, Yongsan-gu.
BIN DAE DUK (SAVORY PANCAKE) Made from ground mung beans and liberally stuffed with seafood or pork and kimchi, these savory pancakes might be Korea’s most moreish food. Dense, chewy and slightly greasy, bin dae duk are the perfect pre-drinking meal. Where to try it: JBD, a chain that specializes in a particularly delectable bin dae duk. Jongno Bin Dae Dug (JBD); 57 Unni-dong, Jongno-gu; +82 2 742 9494; jongnobindaedug.com.
SUNDAE (KOREAN SAUSAGE) Sadly, sundae is not a visually appealing food, but it’s a winner in the taste department. In a spectacular spin on sausage, casings made from pigs’ intestines are stuffed with a variety of ingredients, including finely ground meat, glass noodles and vegetables. Where to try it: Hovan is an excellent place for beginners to get their first taste of rich, flavorful sundae. Hovan; 85-2 Jae-dong, Jongno-gu; +82 2 733 4886.
SAM GAE TANG (STUFFED CHICKEN SOUP WITH GINSENG) Counterintuitively, the warm and hearty sam gae tang is usually eaten during the hot months to combat fatigue. A chicken is stuffed with herbs, then boiled. The result: chicken soup packed with nutrients and flavor. Where to try it: Korea Sam Gae Tang is patronized by long-time sam gae tang addicts. Korea Sam Gae Tang; 55-3 Seosomun-dong, Junggu; +82 2 752 9376.