#479 Ojang-dong Heungnamjip / 오장동흥남집 @ Ojang-dong’s Hamheung Naengmyeon Alley / 오장동함흥냉면골목, Seoul / 서울시
Since the weather was very unforgiving and I was on my very own solo trip to Seoul two Sundays ago, I decided to try a new dish that I have never tried at Seoul previously and the type of food that will be able to cool me down. This dish is none other than Bibim Naengmyeon! It is known that all the good restaurants that serve naengmyeon dishes can be found at the Ojang-dong Hamheung Naengmyeon Alley / 오장동함흥냉면골목.
Ojang-dong Heungnamjip / 오장동흥남집
Seoul, Jung-gu, Ojang-dong 101-7 / 서울특별시 중구 오장동 101-7
Naengmyeon is actually a North Korean dish and apparently, there are two types of naengmyeon. I have actually tried Mul Naengmyeon / 물냉면 twice. The first time was at one of the Korean restaurants at International Plaza in Singapore but as I was wearing braces at that time, it was so difficult for me to consume such chewy and never-ending long buckwheat noodles from the beef broth that was icy cold. The other time was just a small portion of it that we had at a BBQ joint in Gangnam during spring this year. The reason why I only took a couple of bites of this dish was because the weather was quite cold in April and the chunks of ice will only make you colder. Thus, I did not have a complete experience eating Mul Naengmyeon, which is the cold noodles that originates from the capital of North Korea, Pyeongyang.
I have no idea why people are telling me that Seoul was so cold back in early September but it ended being so hot and humid. I was contemplating on the dishes to try on my own and naengmyeon came to mind due to the weather. When I arrived at Seoul on Sunday afternoon, I did some research at night on the restaurant that serves the best naengmyeon. I wanted to try the mul naengmyeon once again but I did not know that there are two types of naengmyeon and ended up heading to Ojang-dong Heungnamjip / 오장동흥남집, which serves the best bibim naengmyeon / 비빔냉면, also known as hamheung naengmyeon / 함흥냉면 since it originates from the second largest city in North Korea, Hamheung.
Ojang-dong Heungnamjip / 오장동흥남집 opened when the Korean War ended in 1953. I believe naengmyeon was introduced when North Korea invaded South Korea during the Korean War. So if you look at the restaurant closely, you will see that it is quite old school with one area having proper tables and chairs and another area, whereby you have to remove your shoes and sit on the floor and consume the food in Korean and Japanese style. I was expecting to see many tourists since this restaurant is highly raved in blogs but 99.99% of the customers are local and all the servers are unable to speak English. I was so glad to be in this scenario since I love it when I head to an authentic restaurant. Knowing that I am unable to speak Korean, the lady who was serving me provided me with the menu that have pictures and descriptions of each dish. I just showed her the picture in the website recommended by a food blogger. She then pointed out that the dish is Hoe Bibim Naengmyeon /회비빔냉면 and ordered for me right away.
As seen in the video above, another server helped me to cut the noodles when I was served with the dish as the noodles are even more chewier than the mul naengmyeon since it is made from either potatoes or sweet potatoes. She also taught me to add the soy sauce / 왜간장, Korean mustard called geoja / 겨자 and vinegar / 식초 to my dish before mixing the pear, julienned cucumbers, radish, raw skate with gochujang sauce and cold noodles together. I usually enjoy having my eggs last or in between the beginning and ending of my meal. I found the naengmyeon so gratifying since I have never had a full experience of it before. Although it was too much for me, I ended up finishing the dish because it was just that good! I have no idea how some people can even order more noodles for their meal when there were a lot of noodles in one serving already. This got me stunned for a bit but oh well! Oh and I thought they were serving the naengmyeon with hot tea but it ended up being hot soup so that’s a nice surprise to warm the stomach with something hot before consuming the cold meal filled with spices.
Opens daily from 11:00am to 9:00pm
Nearest Station: Exit 8 from Euljiro 4-ga via Line 2 & 5
As it was a hot day outside and I was going on my solo hike to Yongmasan Mountain, this dish kept me cool for awhile and full for my entire hike. I am looking forward to try the best mul naengmyeon at Seoul in my next trip!
When Elynn took me to Penang earlier last month, I knew that I had to try the food served at Kota because it is known to be a famous restaurant that serves a fusion of Nyonya and Western cuisines. Moreover, it is located at a famous tourist and historical attraction called Fort Cornwallis.
Kota Dine & Coffee
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah,
10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
+60 4-263 9855
As Elynn stays at the main island, she drove a long way to George Town and oh boy, carpark can be a terror when parking outside Fort Cornwallis. Thankfully, we managed to find a slot! Since Fort Cornwallis is a tourist attraction, we have to pay the entrance fee when entering Fort Cornwallis. It costs RM10 per person for Malaysians, whereas it costs RM20 per person for foreigners. However, if you are dining at KOTA and will spend more than RM40, you will be able to get a rebate of RM20.
The first to forth pictures show some general pictures of Fort Cornwallis. As the weather was too hot, I did not managed to take pictures of the cannon. The fifth and sixth pictures depict the highly raved semi fine dining restaurant called KOTA. As you can see, what I love about KOTA is that the restaurant is enclosed by glass so that the restaurant can use natural light to brighten the place during the day. This allows the customer not only to dine with a view but also for social media addicts to take nice pictures. The interior has a minimalist design, which makes the cafe tidy, neat and clean. As the saying goes, sometimes less is more.
Once you enter the glass door, you will be greeted by the founder of modern Penang named Captain Francis Light. He made a significant contribution to Penang since Penang was leased to him by Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah of Kedah Sultanate in 1786 and he made Penang so successful while taking charge of Penang’s settlement until he died in 1794 due to Malaria. In order to protect Penang from the Siamese and Kedah, Francis Light built the original fort made with palm trunk stockade with no permanent structures.
The history mentioned above makes KOTA Dine & Coffee so much more memorable as the icon, food, location of place and even the name itself are linked to it’s roots. Firstly, Francis Light’s statue in the cafe takes you back to history since he helped Penang grow in many ways. Secondly, the food is a fusion between Nyonya and Western cuisines. As the tagline goes, When Francis Meets Rempah. This makes so much more sense now! After Francis Light took control of Penang, this is where the English was exposed to the traditional and local food in Penang. Likewise, Francis Light and his people may have introduced his food to the Penangites as well. Thus, the people behind the success of KOTA had a brilliant idea to not only serve Nyonya food, which is a mix of Chinese food, Malay food and food from other influences, they also incorporated the Western influences into their dishes. Next, since Fort Cornwallis is preserved until now due to it’s historical significance, the owners decided to name this cafe KOTA since Fort Cornwallis is also known as Kota Cornwallis.
KOTA actually has a set meal that costs RM59 (CAD$17.13 / SGD$18.73 / USD$13.82) and includes mixed appetizer, main course, dessert and a glass of beverage. This is actually very value for money for a semi fine dining restaurant like this. However, since Elynn and I were bloated from the heavy breakfast at Taman Sentosa with her parents, we only shared the Kota Flavour Signature Beverage and Nyonya Tiramisu, which costs RM16 (CAD$4.64 / SGD$5.08 / USD$3.75) and RM 19 (CAD$5.52 / SGD$6.03 / USD$4.45)respectively. As Elynn was feeling very hot due to the humidity and scorching sun outside, she found the Kota Flavour Signature Beverage very refreshing due to sprite contributing to it’s sparkling effect and the healing properties of calamansi, ginger bud, lemon grass, mint and chilli. Although I was so full, there is always room for desserts so I practically finish almost the entire glass of Nyonya Tiramisu all by myself since it was too sweet of Elynn. I enjoyed this dessert a lot because of how KOTA substituted some ingredients of the Italian Tiramisu with local ingredients in order for Penangites to still feel at home yet giving an oomph to the flavour. The whole milk is substituted by Santan, which is the liquid that is produced from the grated meat of a mature coconut. Espresso is replaced by pandan to contribute to the Nyonya taste. There is also a shot of kopi that is served, which is the local version of the roasted coffee without milk and sugar. In this case, the customer is supposed to drink the kopi alongside with consuming the Nyonya Tiramisu and not pour it over the Nyonya Tiramisu. Lastly, the chef uses coconut flakes instead of cocoa powder for the toppings of the tiramisu.
Opens daily from 10:30am to 10:30pm
Landmark: Fort Cornwallis
As I am so amazed by the creativity of the Nyonya dessert made by Kota, I am looking forward to try their other dishes such as Nyonya, Kari, Laksa, Hokkien and the Nasi Lemak Cake!