Tag Archives: noodles

Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun Beats the Heat

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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
(213) 382-3815
Yu Chun Chic Naeng Myun on Urbanspoon

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.

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China Boy’s Handmade Noodles

Chinese New Year parade in Chinatown

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post’s food section published a great article about hand-pulled noodles made right in the middle of Chinatown. Authentic Chinese noodles in D.C.’s Chinatown–who knew?! What a novel idea to  have Chinese food in Chinatown! (For those who have not been to D.C.’s Chinatown, it has very few actual Chinese businesses. The streets are filled with chains like McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Chipotle, all of which have their names translated into Chinese characters, as if to justify their being there.)

Since I was in Chinatown on Sunday to watch the Chinese New Year parade, I decided to check out China Boy, one of the noodle purveyors listed in the article. China Boy occupies an unassuming store front on one of the quieter streets in Chinatown (a welcome respite from the crowds on 7th and H). The restaurant is tiny with only a few tables for dining in (most people take out).

Yet surprisingly, this small storefront churns out “1,800 to 2,000 pounds of rice noodles for more than 100 Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai restaurants in the District, Maryland and Virginia,” according the Post article.

The menu is pretty straightforward. You can order rice noodle crepes, which is a large rice noodle sheet folded over fillings which include beef, shrimp, and roast pork, or char siu ($2.75-4.00). The rest of the menu has regular rice noodles, which you can order in noodle soup or stir fried as chow fun.

I ordered the roast pork noodle soup ($5.95), a hearty and simple soy-sauce based broth filled with soft, chewy rice noodles and sweet roast pork. It was a very large portion for six bucks and I was certainly too full to order the shrimp noodle crepe I had been eyeing during my meal.

China Boy’s noodles were a cheap and filling end to a great day. I’ll certainly be back again soon to try those delectable looking noodle crepes.

China Boy

817 6th St. NW

Washington, DC 20001

202-371-1661

China Boy

Pho-get about the weather

View of the snow from inside Saigon Bistro

I woke up this morning to find a pleasant surprise outside my window: the first snow of the season! I was so excited to run outside and build a snowman, but then I realized it was only 8:30 in the morning (which, on a weekend, is early for me). So I crawled back into bed and decided to wait until the afternoon, dreaming of the winter wonderland that would be waiting for me.

Silly me. By the time I woke up again, it was 2:30p! I hurriedly put on my coat and dragged my boyfriend outside with me. But, alas, the beautiful white snowflakes that greeted me earlier this morning had turned into brown slush. It was cold, grey, rainy, and just plain dreary outside! And to add insult to injury, we were both FAMISHED. (Sorry for sounding like a negative Nancy, but I was really disappointed!)

Dining room at Saigon Bistro

Cold weather always makes me crave noodle soups (must be the Asian in me) and luckily, Saigon Bistro was there to save the day. This sleek Vietnamese eatery opened fairly recently and took over the space that used to house the Fractured Prune and Aioli. With the lack of decent pho restaurants in the District, I’m truly grateful for Saigon Bistro’s arrival.

My boyfriend and I both ordered small beef noodle soups, or pho. Our soups arrived fairly quickly and piping hot, along with the usual condiments of bean sprouts, basil, jalepenos, and lime wedges. The noodles were just the right amount of chewy and served with generous portions of well done brisket and rare beef. The broth tasted light and fresh, though lacking the strong anise flavor that I love in Pho 75‘s. Despite this, it was still a respectable bowl of pho and certainly satisfied my craving.

Small beef noodle soup #3

At $7.99 for a small pho, Saigon Bistro is a bit more expensive than Pho 75. But, hey, I think the extra $3 is worth it, especially for not having to trek all the way out to Rosslyn or Falls Church for decent pho on a cold winter day. Saigon Bistro’s menu offers more variety, too. I will definitely be back to try the rice dishes (which are skewers of chicken, shrimp, or beef served with rice, salad, and fish sauce) and clay pot dishes (if these are similar to Hong Kong style bao zai fan, I’ll be so happy). Nothing on the menu exceeds $15 and portions are generous.

After slurping down the last of my pho, I felt refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to head back out into the cold. I forgot all about my earlier grumpiness and left Saigon Bistro with a full belly and a smile on my face.

Saigon Bistro

2153 P St. NW (near the corner of P & 22nd St.)

Washington, DC 20036

202-558-6188

Saigon Bistro on Urbanspoon