Jihye Chang

Bongpiyang, Seoul’s best chain restaurant

If you ever see “봉피양” (Bong Pi Yang) in Seoul, you must go inside and eat their cold noodle and dumplings. If your wallet is full, then try their grilled pork rib (galbi – 돼지갈비). If someone’s treating you, go for the grilled beef rib. (소갈비)

It’s one of the favorite chain restaurants among restaurant bloggers in Korea, and is rightfully so. Some branches are better than others, but overall the food quality is really high. It’s not a cheap place, but you will feel that your money was well spent no matter what you order here.

Mool naeng myun (Buckwheat cold noodle with savory cold broth, 물냉면) is a winter delicacy as the buckwheat is in season during the late fall-winter time. Photo below was taken in July 2012 at Bongpiyang, Hoja-dong branch.

Photo below was taken in November 2011 at Seorae maul Byukje galbi, which is a higher end franchise of the same company.

Mool naeng myun needs a few essential components: noodle made with lots of buckwheat that is not too sticky or chewy, but rather soft and fragrant; broth made with beef (originally it was made with pheasant, but now beef is the most standard ingredient) and some white kimchi broth (usually Dongchimi, which is a radish kimchi without the red pepper); and a few toppings such as sliced radish kimchi, slice of the beef that made the broth, sliced Asian pear, and sliced egg omelet or a hard-boiled egg.There are a few really famous and popular non-chain spots for this dish in Seoul – Woo Rae Ok (우래옥), Eulji myunok (을지면옥), Eulmildae (을밀대),  Pyung-Yang myunok (평양면옥), Pyung ga ok (평가옥), Pil dong myunok (필동면옥), Seobuk myunok (서북면옥), etc. (“Myunok” means a restaurant of noodles.) But Bongpiyang is always on the top 5 list of “The Best Mool Naeng Myun Places in Seoul” along with these famous places, and their naengmyun rarely disppoints. It is also a little bit easier and friendlier version than some of the other purist version of this dish – more beef flavor and a bit of tangy-ness in the broth.

Photo below was taken in November 2011 at Bongpiyang, Bangyi branch.

I know it is a bit strange for a lot of foreigners to eat noodle with cold broth, but once you get used to the idea, there’s nothing like it! The depth of the flavor is really subtle, and there is so much nuance in this simple, non-aggressive dish. Also the faint fragrance from really good buckwheat is very attractive.

Another popular dish at Bongpiyang is the grilled pork rib. As far as seasoned and grilled pork meat goes, this is one of the bests in Korea. Not too heavily seasoned, not too sweet, and the meat is juicy and tender. But it’s also one of the most expensive – about $25 per person for not a lot of pork!

And Bongpiyang doesn’t give a lot of side dishes. (At any other grilling place, you would get at least 4-5 different side dishes.)

They use really good wood charcoal for grilling, too.

Service can be very indifferent or slow, though.

If you like spice food, try the Yang Gom Tang (spicy soup with beef intestants).

The easiest location is probably Bangyi branch. Take subway line 5 (purple line), get off at the Bangyi station/ take exit 4. Walk straight and turn left at the first side road. Hyojadong location is also easy. Take subway line 3 (orange line), get off at the Gyungbokgung station/ take exit 3 and walk straight for about 3-4 min. It’s on your right side. There are many fun little cafes, cloth shops and markets around this station, so it will be fun to spend an afternoon here after eating lunch at Bongpiyang.

Enjoy!

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