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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Korea Roundup 2011: Kalguksu Pairings at Andong Gukshi Cheongwajeong

There's nothing like a nice, hot bowl of kalguksu on a cold, overcast day. That's exactly what we got at Andong Gukshi Cheongwajeong (안동국시 청화정) that's known for that very noodle dish, located in the suburban town of Suji .

I must say, the broth is key for any self-respecting bowl of kalguksu, literally translated as "knife noodles" for the way the noodles are hand-made and cut. And I wasn't too impressed with the strength of the broth of this one.

But what compensated for the weak broth was the banchan, or side dishes.
The Korean green onion kimchi above (thinner and more flavorful than the western variety) is a breath killer but a fantastic match for the mild broth.

The second side dish that did it was perilla leaves pickled with red pepper flakes and green onions. This also paired extremely well with the noodles. Usually, this side dish is consumed with rice as a way to wrap the rice (like with dried seaweed) but in this instance, it was used to wrap white noodles. Starch is starch but it was an unusual but delicious way to consume it.

And of course, how could I forget the venerable kimchi? I actually liked the perilla and green onions with the noodles and broth better but the kimchi was good too.

Also, I remember kalguksu joints used to give you a pickled green pepper relish that you could add to the noodles but this place replaced that with these strongly flavored side dishes that played that role of accents.

Check out the bowl of kalguksu by itself -- it looks lonely for sure. That's why it has these three side dishes to complement its milder flavor with punch.

Noodles + perilla leaves
Noodles + Korean green onion kimchi
Noodles + kimchi

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