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Pyongyang & Other Cold Noodles

Pyongyang Cold Noodles

Pyongyang Cold Noodles are not only the national dish of North Korea, but as of the last few years have started to take the world a little by storm.

So, what is the story with cold noodles from Pyongyang and why is the world going crazy?

Naengmyeon as Pyongyang Cold Noodles are also known are a bowl of icy cold buckwheat noodles that are served in a broth made of usually beef  and marinated in a sweet-spicy sauce. It is by far the most fameus dish emanating from the DPRK and is now traditionally eaten during the summer, although that was not always the case.

The origins of cold noodles on the Korean peninsula are generally considered to have centered around two cities, namely Pyongyang and Hamhung. Back in the days of the Goryeo dynasty people began to eat buckwheat noodles, the spicy bean paste sauce was then added to make it spicy and despite being served cold the spiciness was seen as a great way to warm you up.

Modern day Naengmyeon is severed not just in Pyongyang, but throughout Korea and indeed the world through both Korean restaurants and the legendary Pyongyang Restaurant Franchise.

How do you eat Pyongyang Cold Noodles?

You get the noodles plus meat in a cold broth (the noodles have been cooked) and then add vinegar and North Korean mustard to your liking. These are worth having just for the North Korean mustard. Personally I was not a huge fan at first, but the dish has slowly grown on me.

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Do you have to be in Pyongyang to eat Naengmyeon?

Not at all. In fact during the Korean war as some people fled south they brought the cold noodle dishes and indeed North Korean cuisine with them. Most decent Korean restaurants will serve at least one kind of cold noodle dish. It will never be as good as Pyongyang Cold Noodles in Pyongyang though…..

What are Hamhung cold noodles?

Hamhung cold noodles are spicier than their Pyongyang counterpart, as well as mixing buckwheat with either potato, or sweat potato for the noodles. This makes the noodle so tough that scissors have to be provided to diners! Will often include seafood instead of meat too.

Are there other Korean cold noodles?

There’s allegedly Chongjin cold noodles as well as a variety in the south. North Koream emigres went as far as Busan with their cold noodles desires and there is now a Busan cold noodle known as milmyeon.

Are their cold noodles in other parts of the world?

Well, yeah, there are loads actually. Xi’an cold noodles, where I formerly lived are extremely famous and popular, and even Japan took inspiration from the Korean cold noodle craze.

Unfortunately for the Japanese the cold noodle we know about is called bukkake udon. We tried it at a wonderful Japanese restaurant in Siem Reap, but with an unfortunate name like “bukkake” it was inevitable that we managed to get it all over ourselves (sorry).

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And the best cold noodles in the world?

Despite North Korea producing a song entitled “Pyongyang Cold Noodles are the best”, i’m gonna break with all the rules and opt for Xi’an cold noodles as my favorite cold noodle jam,

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