Summertime in Korea has both the high-hanging sun and muggy air that make your armpits sweat just a little bit extra. But if you’re visiting Seoul, you can always eat Korea’s most popular way to combat the heat: icy cold naengmyeon noodles! Lucky for you, the most famous naengmyeon restaurants in Seoul are all found in one area. Read this to be cool 😉
If you don’t know what Naengmyeon (냉면) is, it’s an icy-cold Korean noodle dish that will give you that same refreshing feeling you had as a kid drinking Capris Suns on a hot summer day. And although on hot summer days, this noodle dish is also known as perfection, the two more common names you’ll find on menus are:
Mulnaengmyeon (물냉면), aka Pyeongyang Naengmyeon (평양냉면), comes from the North Korean capital Pyeongyang. This version of the Korean buckwheat noodle dish is topped with slices of cucumbers, asian pears, radish and beef in an icy-cold beef broth that’s totally slurp worthy.
Bibimnaengmyeon (비빔냉면), aka Hamheung Naengmyeon (함흥냉면), is the other North Korean city that’s left its culinary mark on South Korea. This version of the noodle dish has no cold broth to slurp up, but instead, the same slices of goodness are in a massively delicious spicy sauce.
Now that your memory has been refreshed (see what I did there? ;)) on this delicious Korean summer dish, here’s where to get some of the good stuff in Seoul:
There’s tons of food streets in Seoul, and for naengmyeon, Ojang-dong is where it’s at! These old school restaurants are frequented by the older Korean generation looking for that old school taste that only an authentic naengmyeon restaurant can offer.
Note: All three Ojang-dong Naengmyeon restaurants are right next to each other.
Access by Subway:
Euljiro-4-ga Station, Line 2 & 5, Exit 8, left at the large intersection.
Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, Line 2, 4, 5, Exit 6.
Ojang-dong Hamheung Naengmyeon (오장동함흥냉면)
If you just passed by this place without knowing, you might just dismiss it as an average Korean restaurant trying to make it in the restaurant business. But the troves of people and the long lines should tell you it’s been a big hit for a while. It’s so popular that it might not be the best place to gab it up with your girlfriends. Also, although they do have table seats, you might have to sit on the floor. It’s a super old school restaurant dedicated to damn good food. That’s it. So come if you’re looking for famous naengmyeon in Seoul with no frills.
Tip: For their spicy Hamheung Naengmyeong, you can choose between Hwenaengmyeon (회냉면), seafood or Bibimnaengmyeon (비빔냉면), beef slices.
Ojang-dong Heungnamjip (오장동흥남집)
This famous naengmyeon restaurant was opened in 1953, the same year as the cease fire for the Korean War. Luckily, a few authentic North Koreans setup shop to serve some of the tastiest naengmyeon found this side of the border. Just like the rest of these restaurants, it’s so unassuming and unpretentious with it’s simple seats and tungsten lights. But people come here for the famous naengmyeon anyway. Come here and order either their hoenaengmyeon (회냉면) or bibimnaengmyeon (비빔냉면) if you want what they’re famous for.
This is another Hamheung-style Naengmyeon restaurant that has essentially the same menu as the previous two. It might be a larger and brighter space for a more relaxed place to eat. And if you go at the right times, there won’t be any lines to pressure you into getting up. But the food here is what you should come here for. If you’re unsure of how to eat their naengmyeon, they have instructions on the wall explaining how: sip the broth, add half spoon of the condiments on the table and add vinegar at the end. We’re sure you don’t need instructions after that :).
Here’s a video via Discovering Korea.
Woo Lae Oak (우래옥)
Woo Lae Oak is one of the oldest restaurants in Seoul. It opened in the pre-Korean War era in 1946. And although naengmyeon is found pretty much in all corners of Korea, many of the older customers choose to come to this restaurant as it’s one of the few places in the city that has authentic North Korean, Pyeongyang-style naengmyeon. It also might be one of the most famous of all the naengmyeon restaurants; if you google ‘Woo Lae Oak,’ you’ll see tons of restaurants outside of Korea trying to piggyback off that famous name. If you’re in Korea, you might as well come to the original.
Pyeongyang Myeonok (평양면옥)
The naengmyeon noodles in this restaurant are nice and chewy with a clean taste that other naengmyeon restaurants have a hard time replicating. You can also order and grill your own bulgogi at the table for one of the best food combinations found in Korea. It’s also very close to all the other naengmyeon restaurants, but this one might be the closest to all the famous shopping in Dongdaemun. Shopping and refreshing noodles anyone?
Address: Seoul, Jung-gu, Jangchung-dong-1-ga 26-14 (서울특별시 중구 장충동1가 26-14)
Subway: Euljiro-4-ga Station, Line 2 & 5, Exit 4, first right then first left.
Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station, Line 2, 4, 5, Exit 5 (cross the street and go straight).
Pics: Korean Blogger 1, Korean Blogger 2
Tip: At most of these restaurants, if you want to eat more, you can order a larger portion of noodles for a little bit extra. Ask for 사리추가 (sarichuga).
Looking for more famous foods streets? Check out our post on:
Famous Food Streets in Seoul!