Obligatory Summertime Lunch: Naengmyeon From Chil Bo Myun Ok


Considering how hot it has been, a lunchtime post about Chil Bo Myun Ok is pretty predictable.  When summertime hits, so do the obligatory posts about naengmyun- a Korean cold noodle dish that it’s safe to say is only really craved by Koreans who grew up eating the stuff.  And the version at Chil Bo Myun Ok is considered one of the best you can get in K-Town, so of course that’s where I ended up on Friday.  But if I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t there for the naengmyeon.  I had read somewhere that Chil Bo Myun Ok served spicy galbi jim (stewed short ribs) sauteed with rice cakes, and had hoped that by some miracle of all miracles they sold a lunchtime version of the dish for under $10.  I say “miracle of all miracles” because not only is galbi jim one of the more expensive dishes you’ll find in Koreatown, but Chil Bo Myun Ok is one of the more expensive places in K-Town- even for naengmyeon.

It’s not that I don’t like naengmyeon.  It’s perfectly tasty, and definitely refreshing on a hot day.  And bibim naengmyun, the version that is covered in a gochujang based sauce, hits all the sweet and spicy notes I’m looking for in a tasty Koreatown lunch.  It’s just not something I crave.  But once I confirmed that the spicy galbi jim was (waaaaay) over $10, I figured why not try their signature dish as long as I was there.  And, who knows.  Maybe I don’t love naengmyeon because the only versions I’ve ever had are from cheap, crappy Midtown delis, or the free versions you get at the end of  all you can Korean BBQ meals.


It’s clear from the first bite of Chil Bo Myon Ok’s mool naengmyeon that it’s better than average.  The cold beefy broth is flavorful enough that you don’t even need to add the yellow mustard or vinegar (two standard naengmyeon condiments they expect you to add to the dish to taste.)  There was also a ton of asian pear, half a hard boiled egg, a slice of brisket, and some greens.  The noodles are a freak of nature, super thin and yet inexplicably difficult to bite through, so novices should beware of shoving too many down your throat at once.  Lose your grip on the stream of noodles, and the sensation will be like lowering a rope down your throat to save some small creature trapped in your stomach.  It’s a good amount of filling, and kind of justifies the $10 price tag.


Their bibim naengmyun is also $10, but can be upgraded to include chewy pieces of skate wing for just 50 cents (which are definitely an acquired taste.)  I normally like this dish better than the plain naengmyeon, but half way through it was a bit much even for me.  Alternating bites with sips of the hot beef broth they give you helps a little bit, but I would only order this again if somebody was willing to share it along with a plain (mool) naengmyeon.


The biggest disappointment of the whole meal was the practically non-existant banchan.  My Koreatown sherpa explained to me that normally naengmyeon isn’t eaten with kimchi or other banchan, so unless you order other dishes this is all you’re likely to get.

So… naengmyeon is still not my favorite, but I feel like I’m at least getting closer to understanding the appeal.  Don’t get me wrong, if you hate naengmyeon almost as much as you hate yourself, this place won’t change your mind.  But if you are a Korean food completist like me, who has never tried cold noodles before (the way they were meant to be eaten), this is a good place to start.  You just might want to do it before the weather starts getting cooler.

Chil Bo Myun Ok, 3680 W 6th St, 213-387-9292


1 Comment

  • naeng myun SHOULD be eaten with Korean barbeque, which is tough to eat for less than $10. Midtown lunch is WAY too limiting. I mean, if you want the best that it’s tough. You would’ve been happier if you had the whole bowl of mool naeng myun

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