[Seoul] Watching Netflix’s highly raved “Street Food” would give you that insatiable appetite to want to explore more of Asia’s hidden spots.
That was also part of the reason why I wanted to visit Seoul again, for Cho Yonsoon’s hand-cut noodle stall located within Gwangjang Market.
The stall was also recommended by Daniel Gray – the food writer of @seouleats fame.
Cho Yonsoon set up this kalguksu (knife-cut noodles) stall to support her family which was once deeply in debt, with recipe perfected from her very own mother’s.
Gwangjang Market which is one of Korea’s largest traditional markets, is not hard to get to (walking distance from Jongno Station).
Do also remember to leave some space for other street food such as the famed Mung Bean Pancakes, Tteokbokki (Korean rice cake), and Gimbap (seaweed rice rolls).
The market is also near Dongdaemun Market and Cheonggyecheon Stream, if you are planning your itinerary.
Gohyang Kalguksu is located somewhat near the middle of the cooked food section of the market.
Look out for the Netflix sign, a crowd of people, or Cho Yonsoon herself most likely wearing her signature bright pink attire (what she also wore for the show).
The stall starts operation at 9am, and while there wasn’t a long waiting line when I visited, the seats were almost always constantly occupied.
Cho Yonsoon’s smile was infectious. Despite the fame, she remained humble, asking customer what they wanted, where they were from, or how to eat certain dishes.
While I was dining there, I could hear her say “Hello” and “Thank you” in quite a number of languages.
If she dropped her smile, she was most likely serious at work, doughing up flour and knife-cutting them into noodles.
True enough, she did all these in an unhurried fashion, eyes not looking at the knife.
The items on the menu are straight-forward, with Hand-made Noodle Soup (5,000 Won), Sujebi – a type of Korean hand-pulled dough in soup (5,000 Won), Dumpling Soup (5,000 Won), Rice Cake and Dumpling Soup (5,000 Won), Steamed Meat or Kimchi Dumplings (5,000 Won) and Chilled Buckwheat Noodles (5,000 Won).
5,000 Won is about SGD5.80 or USD4.20.
While the Kalguksu looked simple, the clear soup was deceptively flavourful with subtle sweetness coming from the vegetables.
It wasn’t overly salty or anything, just a very clean taste that would want to make you having more.
The noodles had a slippery texture that would glide them your throat, and almost reminded me of udon – except that this was not as regular in terms of length.
There were some hand-pulled pieces found within, akin to the Mee Hoon Kway we are familiar with.
Portion is good enough to make you feel full, and I was guilty for not finishing it as I didn’t have space. But I would loved to swipe the bowl clean.
The Chilled Buckwheat Noodles (5,000 Won) aka Naengmyeon were thin and chewy, absolutely appetising and refreshing especially during the hotter summer weather.
The spicy sauce packed a punch, but was still manageable for most.
Between the Meat and Kimchi Mandu (5,000 Won), I preferred the former which appeared to be juicier and more packed.
These were decent dumplings, but I had better ones elsewhere in terms of the thinnest of skin and flavours.
Cho Yoonsun belongs to a generation that works tirelessly for her family and customers, and that alone deserves our respect.
I think one aspect people don’t see is, she is at her stall EVERYDAY, from morning till late night at 11pm without fail.
Such spirit and passion makes trying our her food all the more worthwhile.
Gohyang Kalguksu by Cho Yoonsun
Gwangjang Market, 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Jongno Station 7 or Euljiro Station Exit 4)
Opening Hours: 9am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)
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