Finally, It's the Season for Mul Naengmyeon


Thin Wheat Line is a weekly exploration of all noodles Seattleite.

Noodle: Mul naengmyeon (pronounced mool nangmyun)

Source: Sam Oh Jung, 17425 Highway 99, #A, Lynnwood, 425-745-3535.

I actually took this picture a few months ago, when I was checking out Sam Oh Jung for the Favorite Restaurants issue. (At the time, I preferred Ka Won and the unfortunately-now-Chinese Chang Ahn Jung in Federal Way, but Sam Oh Jung is definitely a Restaurant Of Interest.)

Some Seoulites recently told me that you can eat these cold buckwheat noodles all year round. But they haven't lived through a Seattle winter. Who wants to sip cold beef broth in February? But after two decent weekends in two weeks, and with the sky looking like it does today, I think it's time to declare cold-noodle season officially open.

What makes Sam Oh Jung's mul naengmyeon, recommended to me by a few local foodsters, so good is their texture: Some naengyeon are so slippery and elastic that you feel like they are about to wriggle down your throat. SOJ's skinny noodles were stretchy and distinct, without seeming like rubber bands, and they have a clear flavor of buckwheat. The picture looks like a lot of murk, but it's actually a float of noodles underneath the surface of a very light beef broth, garnished with daikon and cucumber slices, egg, and occasionally Asian pears and ice cubes. You can squirt in a little vinegar or mustard if you want more kick.

If you think Korean food is all about the red pepper paste, this dish will come as a shock. However, if you do want the cold noodles covered in red pepper paste, Old Village carries bibimnaengmyeon. Also, do note: If you ever see cold noodles advertised with raw skate, double-check with your waiter to make sure it's not aged raw skate, a mistake I made in Federal Way last year. Some of the people who were along on that trip will never forgive me for the bite they ate.

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