Jihye Chang

“물냉면”

Woo Rae Ok, Best Cold Noodle in Seoul

Woo Rae Ok is even more popular and well known for Mool Naeng Myun (물냉면, Cold buckwheat noodle with broth) than Bong Pi Yang. It’s one of the most popular (almost revered as if it’s some kind of religious mecca) restaurants among restaurant bloggers, connoisseurs, old generation from North Korea who has a sentimental attachment to this dish, which originates from North Korea.

It’s a bit more “tough” in style compared to Bong Pi Yang. More beefy, and a bit more salty. It has more generous topping than Bong Pi Yang, too. The price is also serious – $11 for a bowl of this. But then it’s much cheaper than any decent pasta dishes you find in Seoul.

This is a restaurant that’s always full. If you catch it during their busiest hours, you will see something that’s so Korean – a parking and traffic crew directing the cars lined up in the alley-way (all the way out to the big road, sometimes making a big traffic jam)! And you may have to wait about 30-40 minutes easily, sometimes up to an hour. People come to eat this dish from other regions, and from all over Seoul. You will also see a lot of people with cameras taking photos of this dish.

Woo Rae Ok’s Bulgogi is also justly famous and popular. Bulgogi, thinly sliced beef marinated in sweet and savory sauce, is probably one of the most well known Korean dishes to foreigners, along with Bibimbap, and it’s usually prepared on the tabletop over a copper pan. Woo Rae Ok’s bulgogi is tender and perfectly seasoned, but is one of the most expensive one in Seoul. You have to spend more than $50 per person if you want to be full by just eating this.

Side dishes are simple – thinly sliced radish kimchi (more like pickle than kimchi), lettuce leaves for eating Bulgogi “ssam” style, salad, and Napa cabbage kimchi (more like salad, as it’s not too mature or ripe), and a refreshing “Nabak kimchi” (kimchi with sliced radish and slightly sweet and sour broth).

There are two locations – one in Jugyo-Dong, Eulji-Ro area and one in Daechi-Dong, Gangnam area. I prefer the original one in Eulji-Ro. You can take the subway line 5 or 2/ get off at the Eulji-Ro 4-ga station/ Exit #4/ walk straight and turn right onto the first alleyway/ walk a little and it’s on your left.