Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bulgobimbap Envy

Yuk'ssam Naengmyeon (육쌈냉면) is a chain restaurant with at least 35 locations throughout Korea, including one in downtown Pyeongtaek. Naengmyeon, a kind of cold noodle soup, is part of their name, but that is not what I go there to eat. I go there for their bibimbap — a bibimbap served with a side of the most delicious, smoky, tender bulgogi. 

Even the NetBot, Eat Korea's robot taste tester, is enamored with their "Bibimbap Sut-bulgogi" (비빔밥 숯불고기). A former pescetarian, bibimbap pushes all the right buttons for her. Plus, being pickier about meat than most robots, she admitted she would rather eat a plate of Yuk'ssam Naengmyeon's sut-bulgogi than a full steak. As the only natural meat eater at Eat Korea, I am only a little inclined to disagree. Yuk'ssam has some really fantastic bulgogi. It isn't a substitute for a bloody steak, but I'm not a robot taste tester. 

Frankly, the bulgogi is what makes Yuk'ssam Naengmyeon stand out. Their main menu features naengmyeong, bibim-naengmyeon (cold noodles with veggies and no broth) and bibimbap. And each comes with a wooden dish of their signature meat. It has been some years since I ate their naengmyeon, but their bibimbap, a very affordable 6,000 won, tastes especially fresh. 

It is hard to ruin bibimbap, but it isn't easy to take a normal dish like bibimbap and make it extraordinary. The bulgogi does this. It takes this simple and delicious dish and makes every beef-bimbap'd bite a treat. The bibimbap is so improved by the meat that NetBot and I become quite protective of our meat portions. The meat is served on a single slab of wood, so portioning is subjective. There is enough to accommodate two people, but it is so good we are eventually seduced by the promise of a slice of bulgogi on every spoonful of bibimbap. The dangers of bulgo-greed are real. You never know when you'll have to correct the balance and steal some meat from the other side of the table. 

Yuk'ssam Naengmyeon serves lunch and dinner, opening at 10 am and closing at 10 pm. The service is decent. The place is clean, and it has lots of large windows offering a nice view of the street to diners. 

To get to the restaurant from Pyeongtaek Station, first hold out your right hand palm up and imagine the five streets in front of the station as the five fingers on your hand. Cross the street and walk down the index finger. You should be on the right side of the road. After one block turn right. You should see Yuk'ssam Naengmyeon not too far ahead of you on the second floor of a corner building.  

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2015.2.25 | 지도 크게 보기 ©  NAVER Corp.

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