Friday, July 1, 2016

연길냉면 YeonByeon Naengmyeon - Authentic Chinese in the heart of Seoul

Don’t let the name fool you. Sure they have delicious naengmyeon (cold soup), but this restaurant actually has it all! When it comes to Chinese food, you can be sure they have it on the menu.
YeonGil (or Yanji) is a Chinese area close to the North Korean border. Many Chinese-Koreans reside there and the food is a marvelous middle thing between Chinese food as we know it and standard Korean food. The naengmyeon is different both from their North and South Korean versions.
You know you are in for a delight as soon as the side dishes in the form of peanuts and “Chinese kimchi” (if I am allowed to see the world through Korean eyes for a second) is put on the table. The table is of course one of those rotating Chinese ones that make it so much easier to reach any plate that you want without sticking your arm in someone’s face when reaching for the deep-fried sweet and sour pork or just the napkins.
We settled to split four big dishes and not eat any rice or noodles on the side individually as you so often do in Korean Chinese restaurants here in Seoul. The first dish that arrived was fried eggplant with green bell peppers (fried as in wok or pan-fried, not deep-fried). The dish itself was amazing, but something was missing… Ah! Suddenly a translucent green thing took its place next to the eggplant dish. Two huge bottles of Tsingtao was exactly what was needed!
We also opted for the sweet and sour deep-fried pork. The batter itself is not made from flour but from rice cake powder. This gives it a crispy exterior on the outside, but almost a gelatinous consistency on the inside next to the pork. Pieces of pineapple give the dish its sweetness, and vinegar brings the sourness and acidity.
Next was a dish that’s not even on the menu, namely a shrimp dish on a bed of thin vermicelli noodles with a garlic sauce. I have a hard time eating steamed or fried garlic, so I devoured the other dishes instead.
Lastly, the Yeongil-style water dumplings which are very similar to Korean mandus with a softer shell and more filling were delicious.
Yeongil Naengmyeon is located just next to the Chinese street by Konkuk University station exit 6. It might be a bit tricky to find, but your efforts will be worth it! Prices are also cheap for being made-to-order authentic Chinese food!

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