• Ngoc Anh Tran

Must-try Korean Noodles in Melbourne

Noodles are considered a staple food for many Asian countries since ancient times. It is made from a variety of ingredients; wheat, rice, buckwheat and sweet potato. Korean’s have a long history with noodles and is considered to be a celebrated and cornerstone dish loved and enjoyed by many. What makes Korean noodles special is its subtle balance between colour, temperature, texture, nutrition and spiciness. Whether it is served hot, cold or warm, the flavours are abundant and many common Korean side dishes (banchan - 반찬) work to complement and boost the flavours of the cherished noodle dish.

(Kimchi - Korea's most popular side dish)

This blog post is a subtle introduction into the world of Korean noodles and my way of introducing to people my top 4 favourite Korean noodle dishes that are accessible for Melbournians, even during this period of uncertainty with the stage 4 lockdowns.

1. Kal-guksu (칼국수)

Traditionally noodles are rolled, spun, machined cut or stretched. However, Kal-guksu is a wheat flour noodle dish distinguished by its imperfect hand made knife cuts. It is also different from other Korean dishes, in that it contains very mild levels of spice, which makes it easy for everyone to enjoy. The noodles are typically thick with a bouncy texture that is enjoyable to slurp and chew.

The flavourful broth is the heart and soul of this noodle dish, which is commonly made from dried anchovies and kelp stock, however, can also be made from pork or chicken bones. This dish is served hot with various ingredients such as finely sliced carrot, zucchini, spring onions and topped with either chicken, seafood or minced pork.

(Haemul Kal-guksu - 해물칼국수, Knife cut noodle soup with seafood)

(Myeongdong Kal-guksu is a must-try dish when you visit Seoul, Korea)

The most common side dish for Kal-guksu is Baechu-Geotjeori 배추겉절이 (fresh garlic kimchi), it adds a fresh and spicy kick to this dish, in addition to adding a level of crunchiness to the overall experience which cuts through the richness of the broth and contrasts with the flavours making you crave for even more noodles!

(Freshly made kimchi adds a level of crunchiness to the noodle)

Recommended place:

Guksu - 249 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Order online for home delivery - https://www.marketseoulsoul.com/shop-1

2. Jajangmyeon (자장면) and Jjampong (짬뽕)

You may not have heard of Jajangmyeon and Jjampong, but if you have ever seen an episode of Korean drama or TV show, then you may have seen someone eating it! Jajangmyeon is the most popular dish for home delivery in Korea, just like takeaway pizza in western countries.

(Jajangmyeon appeared on the recent K-drama - Crash Landing on You and the popular Korean reality show - Running Man)

Jajangmyeon noodles are best identified as noodles with a thick dark sauce with gravy-like consistency; the dish itself is non-spicy and can be enjoyed by many. This dish consists of diced pork, onion, cabbage, potatoes and Chunjang 춘장 (Black Bean Paste). The unique bitter flavour of the Chunjang paste needs to be stabilised by deep-frying it in oil before adding it to the mixture with other ingredients. The secret behind tasty Jajangmyeon noodles is the smoky flavour which can only be achieved by the wok tossing technique above a big flame stove, a technique commonly used in Chinese cooking styles.

On the other hand, Jjampong seafood noodles are a well-known spicy Korean-Chinese dish, this fiery red noodle soup packed with so much seafood flavour is in stark contrast to Jajangmyeon, which has a sweet, savoury and rich taste. Jjamppong consists of fresh noodles, various vegetables and various seafood and it is served in a red hot soup base. Generally, people in Korea enjoy eating spicy food after having a dish that is rich or fatty, which acts as a way to counter and balance the palate. This is why Jjampong and Jajangmyeon noodles are considered to be both Yin and Yang, as the combination works well together, and as a result, are generally ordered together at some restaurants. Both dishes are inspired by Chinese cuisine, however, Koreans’ have adapted the dish to fit the Korean taste and they both have become a huge part of Korean food culture.

Recommended places:

Korchi City - 441-443 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Order online via UberEats for home delivery

Guksu - 249 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Order online for home delivery - https://www.marketseoulsoul.com/shop-1

Oriental Spoon - 291 Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Order online via UberEats for home delivery

3. Japchae (잡채)

Japchae is a type of noodle mix with various nutritious toppings such as spinach, capsicum, carrot, onions and mushrooms. The noodles are distinguished by the stringy and chewy texture that is the result of using sweet potato noodles. The dish is seasoned with sweet soy sauce and sesame oil and topped with bulgogi beef and thinly sliced egg strings. Most of the ingredients are prepared individually to maintain the natural flavours and textures, which are then mixed together. Japchae made to a high standard should have a balance between sweet and savoury flavours, a crunchy vegetable bite in addition to a bouncy noodle texture. This is one of the most popular Korean noodle dishes, and this is exemplified by the fact that it is extremely easy to find, and that almost all Korean restaurants offer a variation of this dish.

Recommended places:

Yeonga - 1 Cobden St, North Melbourne VIC 3051

Order online via UberEats for home delivery

CJ Lunch Bar - 2/391 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Order online via UberEats for home delivery

Bornga - Level 1/178 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Order online via UberEats for home delivery

There are many other amazing Korean noodle dishes not mentioned above which I hope to cover in later posts. If you have a favourite Korean noodle dish or have any suggestion and want to share with everyone on Korean takeaway options during this pandemic, feel free to leave a comment down below.

Stay safe and happy slurping!

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