TL and I, in search of late-night eats after catching a showing of (500) Days of Summer (a good flick, unless its story happens to mirror your own, in which case the movie is torturous) wound up at Seoul Garden, which was still hopping at 11pm. The night was hot and muggy and I had naengmyeon on the brain. I barely even touched the panchan when it came out—all I wanted was something cold.
I hadn't had naengmyeon in ages, but I fondly remembered the thin, intensely chewy buckwheat noodles; the icy beef broth shot through with hot mustard and citrus; and the garnishes of sliced pear, hard-boiled egg, beef, and ribbons of pickled daikon and cucumbers. The best versions I'd tried had included a handful of ice cubes or crushed ice in the broth, too. It's a strange dish, to be sure, but it's also one of the most refreshing variations of cold noodles I can think of, beating out both cold soba and hyashi chuka.
At Seoul Garden the clean-tasting beef broth was deliciously cold, tangy, and sweet, but I was surprised at how clumpy the noodles were—when the server snipped the mass of noodles in four with his scissors, they remained into four solid sections instead of collapsing out into the broth. After failing to loosen up the noodles with my chopsticks, I gave up and ate some of the clumps whole. Otherwise this version wasn't bad, and actually I kept thinking about getting my hands on another bowl for a whole week afterward. During the humid summer days of NYC, a meal of naengmyeon just can't be beat.