This weekend’s derecho wreaked havoc on DC, leaving thousands of people without power amidst a sweltering heat wave. I am fortunately not one of those people, but am still melting in this oppressive heat. While contemplating ways to beat the heat, I remembered an ice-cold bowl of naeng myun that I had at Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun in Los Angeles, the thought of which is instantly cooling me off.
Naeng myun is a Korean cold noodle dish, which actually originated in the mountains of North Korea. Chewy buckwheat noodles are served in chilled beef broth, with shards of shaved ice still floating in the bowl. Sitting atop the noodles is usually a perfectly hard boiled egg, julienned cucumbers, slices of lean pork, pickled radishes, and a dollop of punchy gochuchang (Korean fermented red bean paste). Everything about the dish–right down to the silver metal bowl that it’s served in–is cool and refreshing.
I ate naeng myun a lot when I visited Seoul last summer, but had yet to find an adequate replication of the dish in the States. That is, until I visited Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun in LA’s Koreatown, where virtually every customer in the restaurant was slurping a bowl of naeng myun. Submerged in an ice bath of savory beef broth, the noodles were long and elastic, with a slightly nutty taste. The gochuchang, and perhaps the addition of rice vinegar, added a refreshing tang and depth that cut through the savoriness of the broth. Even 20 minutes after my bowl had arrived, as I continued to eat my way through the dish, the shaved ice in the broth remained in tact, showing no signs of melting anytime soon. It’s a hearty yet refreshing dish, that gives you the strength and sustenance to withstand a hot summer day.
I’m not sure where to get the best naeng myun in the DC region (perhaps readers can point me in the right direction?). But until I find out, I’ll be fantasizing about Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun, in hopes of alleviating this sweltering heat wave.
Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun
3185 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
P.S. If you’re still in doubt about Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun even after my glowing review, go see Jonathan Gold and Anthony Bourdain wax poetic about the place here and here.
In my latest column for Zester Daily, I attended the second annual Korean BBQ Cook-Off in Los Angeles and interviewed contestants and judges on Korean food’s sudden rise in popularity. Chef Ludo Lefebvre (of LudoBites fame), Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold, and award-winning actress Sandra Oh were on hand to offer their thoughts on the trend and answer this burning question: Is kimchi the new sushi?
Here’s an excerpt:
Diners aren’t the only ones embracing Korean cuisine. Chefs are also hopping on the bandwagon, with Korean ingredients and flavors showing up more and more at high-profile restaurants around L.A., including LudoBites, where Lefebvre frequently uses kimchi in his dishes. “Korean food is a big influence in America,” Lefebvre said. “I am French, and I cook a lot with kimchi at my restaurant. I’ve made kimchi foie gras, kimchi with cheese, and now I’m working on a kimchi dessert.”
Korean chefs are incorporating American influences into their native cuisine as well, perhaps playing off the success of Roy Choi’s Kogi tacos. At the Korean BBQ Cook-Off, visitors waited in line for half an hour to try Kalbi Burger and Seoul Sausage Company, which sold Korean-inspired burgers and hot dogs. But it was Choonchun Dakgalbi’s signature dish of chicken, rice cakes, yams and cheese in a spicy red sauce that won the attention of the judges. Cook-off judge Oh presented the restaurant with the award for best fusion dish. “I love the fact that Korean food, especially in LA, is moving forward,” she said. “I’m totally there with you guys to expand Korean flavors.”
Read the full article at Zester Daily. And please Tweet, Like, and forward to your friends!
Posted in Media Pass, Necessary Reading
Tagged Jonathan Gold, Kalbi Burger, kimchi, Korean BBQ Cook-Off, Koreatown, LA Weekly, Los Angeles, Ludo Lefebvre, LudoBites, Sandra Oh, Seoul Sausage Company, Zester Daily